Kuroda says BOJ has enough ammunition, wary of side effects

-A +A

TOKYO (June 10): The Bank of Japan can deliver more big monetary stimulus if necessary, but needs to take care with its side effects on the financial system, said Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

The BOJ will ease further if momentum toward its 2% inflation target is lost, Kuroda said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Kathleen Hays in Fukuoka, Japan, where central bankers and finance chiefs from the Group of 20 met over the weekend. The governor emphasized that the BOJ doesn’t need to act now, citing the health of the economy.

Kuroda’s comments come as investors question whether the BOJ’s ultra-aggressive stimulus program is sustainable, given the harm it has caused in markets and for commercial banks. Gross domestic product data released Monday provides some support to Kuroda, yet inflation is still less than halfway to his goal.

Asked if the BOJ still has the capacity to do "something big," Kuroda said: "I think so.” He cited four policy options: cutting the -0.1% negative rate further, lowering the target for 10-year yields, increasing the monetary base or boosting asset purchases.

"If the momentum to our 2% inflation target is lost, then of course, the Bank of Japan will swiftly respond by changing our policy," Kuroda said.

The yen weakened immediately after publication of the governor’s remarks, falling to as low as 108.67 per dollar.

The Federal Reserve is increasingly expected to cut rates this year, a move that would likely strengthen the yen. This has prompted more BOJ watchers to see additional easing as the central bank’s next move, given that a weak yen helps Japan’s efforts to spur inflation.

JPMorgan Chase & Co last week said it now expects the BOJ to lower its negative interest rate to -0.3% in September.

Trade Risk

Even before the escalation in US-China trade tensions in May, some economists had flagged the possibility of extra easing by the BOJ, given an unfavorable economic outlook and a sales-tax hike set for October. Previous increases in the tax have squeezed consumption and caused the economy to shrink.

The BOJ is widely expected to keep its policy unchanged at the end of its next policy gathering on June 20.

“It’s time for the BOJ to examine the data,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute. “The BOJ wants to be careful in adding stimulus because they don’t have many tools left and side effects are piling up.”