Japan is poised to join the world’s “currency wars” as it battles a triple crisis of crashing exports, recession and a suffocatingly-strong yen.
The country’s exports plunged 10.3pc in September from a year ago, dimming hopes of rapid recovery in the Far East. Exports to Europe crashed 21pc. Shipments to China fell 14pc as the Diaoyu-Senkaku islands dispute led to a slump in car sales. Honda, Mazda, and Nissan all saw sales plunge near 30pc as Chinese consumers boycotted Japanese brands. Nomura said the export slump will push country into full recession.
Stephen Jen from SLJ Macro Partners said the global storm is drifting eastwards into Asia, opening a “third chapter” of the crisis that will last well into 2013. “Many analysts have declared that the low in the global economic cycle is in place. We are not convinced,” he said, prediticting a rise in currency protectionism.
Japan is the awakening giant in this conflict. The yen has risen 30pc against China’s yuan, 65pc against the euro, and 80pc against Sterling since 2008. Tokyo is itching to fight back.
Mr Redeker expects the yen to weaken from 79 to 84 by Christmas, reaching 90 next year. “We think Japan will no longer be able to fund government debt (JGBs) from domestic investors as soon as 2015. They will have to print money instead. They can’t afford to let bond yields rise because JGBs already make up 25pc of bank balance sheets. A rise in yields would set off a crisis.”