ETF Securities Research Blog

BoJ unlikely to cut rates further

Yesterday, Governor Kuroda presented his “comprehensive assessment” of the BoJ’s monetary easing, a highly anticipated review that resulted in a market sell-off of long-dated Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) in July as investors feared a reduction in monetary accommodation. In his speech, Kuroda stated that the BoJ will continue to provide monetary easing while suggesting he will refrain from cutting interest rates further.

In his speech, Governor Kuroda insisted on the unlimited capacity of the monetary easing and signaled that the Quantitative and Qualitative Easing (QQE) will remain in place until the BoJ achieves its inflation mandate of 2%. He also observed that inflation is likely to remain close to zero in the near term and mentioned several external factors that have been acting as headwinds to the BoJ’s policy, in particular the negative impact of the announcement of the tax hike in April 2014. The increasing emphasis on structural reforms has been the leitmotiv of Kuroda’s recent speeches. We believe the Japanese government could play an increasing role, through fiscal and tax reforms, in elevating the potential of the economy and in turn lifting inflation expectations.

While investors were focusing on the risks to the size and the duration of the asset purchases, instead Kuroda emphasised the costs of negative interest rates for banks and pensions’ profitability. He added that concerns over the future of the financial intermediaries could weigh on people’s confidence and negatively affect the economy. Overall, Kuroda stressed that monetary policy “should be conducted in a flexible manner” and that the BoJ has a “broad range of options”.

At its next meeting on September 21st, we believe the BoJ could increase the size and enlarge the universe of its asset purchases in order to boost consumer’s confidence while leaving its policy rate unchanged. In the meantime, we expect the JGBs yield curve to remain steep. Long-dated Japanese yields were slightly up on the day, suggesting market participants are still expecting a policy change to steepen the yield curve and alleviate the adverse impacts of negative rates on banks’ profitability.