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Consumer Prices (Mar.)

Headline inflation was unchanged in March, but we suspect this may be the last positive reading for a while yet. Corona containment and the prior plunge in oil prices should translate into inflation turning deeply negative over the coming months.
Tom Learmouth Japan Economist
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Japan Chart Book

Output will return to pre-virus trend eventually

With a record virus wave sweeping across the country and consumer confidence slumping, we’re slashing our forecast for Q3 consumption growth from 0.8% to 0.2%. While the government has refrained from declaring another state of emergency, spending was weakening even before virus cases started to surge. That means that GDP will remain much weaker in the near term than the pre-pandemic trend, forcing the Bank of Japan to keep policy loose even as central banks elsewhere are tightening the screws. However, we still expect that gap to close eventually, for two reasons. First, while the long-running rise in the labour force participation rate stalled over the last couple of years, the share of the population available for paid employment is now on the rise again. What’s more, mobility has recently reached pre-virus levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic, which suggests that households are learning to live with the virus even if currently they are not spending as before. The still very high household savings rate should fall in earnest before long.

8 August 2022

Japan Economics Weekly

The rise and fall of Japan's energy imports

Japan is still struggling to wean itself off fossil fuels despite a new government push to boost solar power. However, the country has become more energy efficient over the past decade, which has helped the economy weather the impact of rising global energy prices. Meanwhile, the government has recommended a 3.3% rise in the minimum wage, the largest move on record. While overall wage growth would get a boost over the next year, we think it would still remain well below the 3.0% level the BoJ maintains is needed to sustain inflation above its 2.0% target  

5 August 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Labour Cash Earnings (Jun. 22)

The jump in wage growth in June was mostly driven by a surge in summer bonus payments and the Bank of Japan’s 3% wage growth target will remain out of reach for a while yet. More positively, the strength in overtime hours suggests that Japan is finally learning to live with the virus.

5 August 2022

More from Tom Learmouth

Bank of Japan Watch

Asset purchases to remain low but rates on hold

At its June meeting we think the Bank of Japan may extend the deadline on its emergency lending facility from September to December. Beyond that point, it should further taper its purchases of short-dated debt as it digs in for a prolonged hold.

11 June 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan Wages (Apr.) & GDP (Revised Q1 2021)

While the marked acceleration in wage growth in April was largely down to favourable base effects, we think wage growth will remain strong throughout this year as the labour market tightens and overtime hours recover further as vaccines allow the domestic economy to fully reopen. Meanwhile, the upward revision to Q1 GDP and further rise in working hours in April suggests that the economy may have been a little more resilient than many were expecting in the first half of the year.

8 June 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan Retail Sales & Industrial Production (Apr. 2021)

The sharp fall in retail sales and weaker than expected rise in industrial production in April suggests the economy was subdued even before states of emergency were declared, supporting our view that the economy won’t have rebounded from its weak Q1 this quarter.

31 May 2021
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