Forget Cyprus. A much bigger story in the coming weeks and months will be in Japan, where one of the greatest economic experiments in the modern era is about to begin. A country where government debt even dwarfs those of Europe’s crisis-ridden nations, Japan will attempt to inflate its way out of a 23-year deflationary spiral.
The overwhelming consensus among the world’s economists is that quantitative easing (QE) has saved the day in the U.S. and that Japan needs to follow suit, on a larger scale. I beg to differ and suggest this policy will almost certainly lead to a hyperinflationary disaster in Japan. If that’s right, it will have serious ramifications for other countries, dragged down by an acceleration of the so-called currency wars. More broadly though, it is likely to destroy the myth pushed by today’s economists that QE is a cure-all for downtrodden economies. It isn’t and Japan will become the template to prove it.
Monster stimulus on the way
The new Bank of Japan (BoJ) Governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, started work on Thursday and his first day on the job disappointed investors. At a press conference, Kuroda pledged to do whatever it takes to defeat deflation and reiterated the government’s target of 2% inflation. But he provided little in the way of specifics and investors promptly bought the yen and sold stocks.
More concrete measurers will almost certainly come by the central bank meeting on April 3-4. There are good odds that they may come even earlier via an emergency meeting of the bank.
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