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Monday February 11, 2013 - 11:59:16 GMT
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G7 to take on Japan's Weak Yen Policy Friday (FXA)

Courtesy of the WSJ and more recently Bloomberg, it has come to my attention if not everyone’s who has read the WSJ and Bloomberg reports that G7 is preparing an early curtain draw for Japan’s weak yen policy…as in at Friday’s G7 and G20 meeting in Moscow.

 

It is one thing for a BRIC member of G20 to manipulate its currency, and as we are learning again, it is quite another when one of your own is out their denouncing its own currency.

 

So in a “Network” moment, G7 ex-Japan has cried out “I (we) are not going to take it anymore!”

 

Background in “deep background” for the non-journalists in the crowd is when an official speaks to a news person off the record but with a message for the record. Let’s say hypothetically that Lael Brainard, US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs, spoke to Sudeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal and said the Obama administration is not happy with how Japan has explicitly talked down its currency and is setting a poor example for the rest of G20 especially in a period when many emerging economies are crying fowl over a global currency war led by countries where debt monetization is driving major currencies lower like USD, GBP, JPY and CHF. Brainard would hypothetically tell Reddy that you can’t quote me but you can indicate that the “administration believes” and “G7 will discuss” …

 

More recently Bloomberg has reported a very similar story out of London (I think – where the author of the report is based) and it reads much like the one in the WSJ at the weekend. Deep background on the topic at hand in two locations within a day of the WSJ report lends credence to the momentum building into Friday’s G7/G20 meeting in Moscow…Japan is being called out as a manipulator and will be told enough.

 

Does that mean G7 has a problem with Japan’s effort to use fiscal and monetary policy to support growth? Not in the least. No one in G7 is telling Japan to stop with the QE, inflation targeting and large fiscal stimulus. If the yen falls as a result of the policies then fine…but the market needs to do that all on its own and not be led to the water to drink by Japanese officials with explicit urging and implicit coercion.

 

Will it stop Japan’s weak yen policy? Perhaps. The yen has weakened a ton already and urging more from current levels in the face of G7 opposition is not very Japanese. And more than a few have noticed a remark from Finance Minister Amari earlier today that he wants the Nikkei 225 to rise to 13,000. Forest Gump knows that the Nikkei and yen are highly (inversely) correlated. Maybe the change in official Japan rhetoric is already in place (suspect this was part of the plan from the get go).

 

I doubt this new level of currency politics into Friday’s G7/20 meeting will usher in a sustained yen reversal higher. But it will make yen weakness from here a little more problematic – pace of decline slower.

 

David Gilmore

FXA

fxa@fxa.com

 

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