June 30, 2016, 3:00pm EST
Yesterday we looked at some key markets, some that have recovered nicely following the Brexit news, and others that are still down on either safe-haven demand or speculation of economic drags due to the Brexit. One particular spot that hasn’t fared well in the past week is Japan.
Japan is three years into a bold plan to beat two decades of deflation and restore its economy to prominence. The data shows that their efforts haven’t translated so well just yet. Inflation is still dead, and economic growth — about the same.
Two key tools in the Bank of Japan’s QE program, which is designed to drive inflation and economic activity, is a weaker yen and a higher stock market. Since they telegraphed their intentions of big, bold QE in late 2012, Japanese stocks have risen by as much as 140%. And the yen has declined by as much as 38% against the dollar. But over the past 12 months, about half of those “policy gains” have been given back. And post-Brexit the attrition has only worsened.
Still, after three years and big moves in the yen and stocks, the inflation objective remains a distant target. What does it mean? The Bank of Japan has to do more. A lot more.
We think they can, and will, ultimately destroy the value of the yen — mass devaluation.
Unlike the U.S., which is constrained by “flight to safety” global capital flows and a world reserve currency, Japan has the ingredients to make QE work, to promote demand, and to promote growth. Japan has the largest government debt problem in the world. They have an undervalued currency. They have a stagnating economy with big demographic challenges. They have are in a deflationary vortex.
They have the perfect attributes for a mass scale currency printing campaign. Not only can it work for their domestic economies, but it serves as the liquidity engine and stability preserver for the global economy.
In normal times, the rest of the world wouldn’t stand for a country outright devaluing their way to prosperity. But in a world where every country is in economic malaise, everyone can benefit – everyone needs it to work. It can be the solution for returning the global economy to sustainable growth. We wouldn’t be surprised to see USDJPY return to the levels of the mid-80s (versus the dollar)in the not too distant future. That would be 250+. Currently, 103 yen buys a dollar.
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