In a turbulent session for FX, the Yen soared as much as 1.4%, the most in three weeks, after Finance Minister Aso says the government will "leave actual policy measures to BOJ", sending the Nikkei lower by 1.4%. European stocks and U.S. equity index futures are little changed despite the slide in the key carry pair as the Fed starts its two day meeting.
With the yen strengthening ~12% against the US dollar and the Nikkei down ~10% YTD, it seems Haruhiko “Peter Pan” Kuroda is having a difficult time working his magic in favor of Abenomics. As the WSJ reports, Kuroda is under increasing pressure from the Prime Minister’s advisers to coordinate efforts to jumpstart the economy. Earlier this month, we first reported of the secretive meeting between Kuroda and Bernanke, where the former Fed Chairman urged Japan to unleash helicopter money.
"I'd like to think that logic and reality will prevail; that distaste for being told how great the world is has become sufficiently revolting and obviously false to stir the world’s populace to end the imbalances. But that, again, will take time, perhaps a good deal of time; until then, whenever it hopefully is, central banks continue to operate with impunity even though the risks of their intemperance rise exponentially..."
After breaking a multi-year stretch of 9 daily record highs in the Dow Jones, overnight global markets saw some early weakness with Asian stocks retreating after BOJ chief Kuroda dashed hopes for so-called helicopter money, triggering yen’s steepest rally in a month and pulling the Nikkei lower by 1.1%. This however did not last long, and around the European open the traditional ramp in the USDJPY helped European equities shrug off early downside, while US equity futures have already recovered half of yesterday's losses.
In a surprising rejection of Ben Bernanke, BOJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda said that there will be no helicopter money in Japan, amid increasing speculation over monetary and fiscal policy in the world’s third-largest economy. Given the current institutional setting, there is "no need and no possibility for helicopter money," Kuroda said in a BBC Radio 4 program that was broadcast Thursday. “At this moment, the Bank of Japan has three options with quantitative and qualitative easing with negative interest rates."
It appears that the Cleveland Fed got an earful for ABC's report which originally disclosed Mester's "qualified support" for helicopter money (and anyone else who touched on it) and overnight we have been bombarded by emails from the same regional Fed, which urgentl want our readers to know that "Mester did not in any way advocate helicopter money."
With global rates at zero to negative, money will continue to chase U.S. Treasuries for the higher yield. This will continue to push yields lower as the global economy continues to slow. What would cause this to reverse? It would require either an economic rebound as last seen in 50’s and 60’s or a complete loss of faith in the U.S. to pay its debts such as a collapse of the Government and the onset of the “zombie apocalypse.” We no longer have the drivers of manufacturing, demographics or credit expansion for the former, so I am ready for the latter.
"Adopting helicopter money in the strict sense is impossible as it's prohibited by law," said one of the officials. "If it's about the BOJ buying huge amounts of bonds and the government deploying fiscal stimulus, we're already doing that." Japan shouldn't make its central bank directly underwrite government borrowing, "or it could suffer the kind of runaway spending and inflation that followed a similar move in the 1930s."
The idea (now being pushed by a surprising number of people who ought to know better) that governments should take advantage of historically low interest rates to “invest” with borrowed money has an obvious fatal flaw. That is, accumulating even more negative or zero-rate debt will make it functionally impossible to raise rates to “normal” levels, which is to say levels where markets can once again function as mechanisms for moving savings into productive investments. It’s not a stretch to call this the end of capitalism and the beginning of a new Dark Age.