Numbness Is How It Happens

The more I look back the more I am convinced that this version of “reflation” was born Japanese. It all seemed to turn around in early July 2016, the very week that whispers of the, for some, long-sought “big one.” It was all over the financial press all around the world. Having gone as far as negative rates (NIRP) and finding only different ways to screw up, the Bank of Japan was firing up the helicopter at long last. The “deflationary” mindset which economists especially over on that side of the Pacific blame for more than a quarter-century of literally unbelievable stagnation might finally be vanquished.

Even in more measured quarters, it represented a possible regime change. Last summer was that in many ways for monetary policy, as it was the time in which central banks finally saw QE for what it could achieve – nothing. Therefore, even if you weren’t excited by the prospects of a money drop in Japan, more broadly even the serious consideration of the idea meant that for the first time in so many years central banks might stop fooling around with balance sheet expansion and actually try something else.

That something else, whatever other form it might take, at least had a chance of success where QE or NIRP so very clearly did not. It wasn’t huge hope, but it was hope nonetheless after more than a year of (justified) so very little.

For those excited by the “helicopter”, Japan’s policy meeting at the end of July 2016 was disappointing; for those merely looking for different, the Bank of Japan actually delivered if more quietly than the ridiculous noise generated by those other whispers. It wasn’t at all as sexy, but in terms of the genesis of “reflation” possibly far more substantial. Haruhiko Kuroda, BoJ’s governor, had ordered a “comprehensive” review of all its policy efforts to be released at its next meeting along with, it was widely believed, recommendations for new policies that BoJ might at that time act on.

I have to further believe that practically no one has actually taken the time to read the assessment. Rather than performing a much needed reckoning for past failure in order to pinpoint exactly where to start anew, it is still another whitewash of recent history. It is not an honest examination intended to actually achieve the reform of Japanese monetary policy so much as yet again a justification for monetary policy largely as it is.

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Disclosure: This material has been distributed fo or informational purposes only. It is the opinion of the author and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any ...

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