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2.5% inflation, border to reopen to tourists in June

Despite a huge pot of excess savings accumulated over the past couple of years, today’s 2.5% inflation print for April is likely to slow the post-Omicron recovery by spooking consumers not used to price hikes. Meanwhile, we doubt PM Kishida’s announcement yesterday that he will reopen the border to tourists in June will do much to repair Japan’s shrinking current account surplus given that Chinese tourists won’t be returning any time soon. As such, we still expect the yen to weaken further to 140 against the dollar by the end of this year. China Drop-In (12th May, 09:00 BST/16:00 SGT): Join our China and Markets economists for a 20-minute discussion about near to long-term economic challenges, from zero-COVID disruptions to US-China decoupling. Register now.
Tom Learmouth Japan Economist
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Japan Economics Update

The implications of an escalating Taiwan crisis

The extent to which neighbouring countries would be affected by an escalation of tensions between China and Taiwan would depend both on which sides they take and on the nature of restrictions imposed by the West and China. ASEAN countries are most reliant on China both as a source of imported inputs as well as a destination for exports, while major disruptions to semiconductor production in Taiwan would severely restrain Japan’s manufacturing industry despite its smaller trade links with China.

10 August 2022

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

More from Tom Learmouth

Japan Economics Update

BoJ may yet widen its tolerance band

The Bank of Japan resisted the temptation to widen its tolerance band for 10-year JGB yields today, but it did outline that it will from now on conduct unlimited fixed rate auctions every business day until yields drop back comfortably below its ceiling of 0.25%. While that has pushed down yields for now, we still think the Bank will eventually choose to widen its tolerance band to ±0.50%. Bank of Japan Drop-In (29 April, 15:00 SGT/08:00 BST): We’ll be discussing whether the Bank of Japan can get a grip on JGB yields and the yen in a special online briefing on Friday. Register now

28 April 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Retail Sales & Industrial Production (Mar. 2022)

The strong rebound in retail sales in March suggests that the post-Omicron recovery got off to a good start. Meanwhile, industrial production edged up last month, but it will continue to be held back by supply shortages in the near term.  

28 April 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Labour Market (Mar. 2022)

Employment bounced back in March and it should continue to recover over the coming months as long as the reopening doesn’t go into reverse again. That should push the unemployment rate back down to its pre-virus level of 2.5% by the end of the year.

26 April 2022
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