Something happened on Tuesday that hasn't happened since 2016: Japan's Topix index (which is widely viewed as more representative of Japanese equities than the Nikkei) tumbled by 1.2% in the morning session.... and the BOJ did not intervene.
Why is this notable? Because - in a world where everyone is now completely used to Plunge Protection Teams and central bank bailouts as if it is a perfectly expected event - this was the first time since at least 2016 that the Bank of Japan did not make an ETF purchase after the Topix fell more than 1% in the morning session.
To be sure, the BOJ's lack of intervention was to be expected: as a reminder, the central bank tweaked its ETF purchase program at the March meeting, with changes that came into effect in April. As part of its policy review, the BOJ on March 19 said it would buy ETFs as needed, scrapping the previously 6T yen annual target, but keeping its 12T yen upper limit on purchases
Previously, the largest drop that has not led to the BOJ buying was the 0.89% full-day decline on Feb. 24; In other words, any time the Topix would drop by 1% or more, the BOJ would step in or else there would be a market crash. Furthermore, before this year, the BOJ typically bought if the Topix fell more than 0.5% in the morning session.
But not this time.
Which is why on Wednesday stocks, which were already sliding amid fears of fresh Japanese lockdowns due to new covid cases, there was a 2% puke in the market as a frentic Mrs Watanabe panicked that the BOJ had finally forsaken her and everyone else.
However, realizing that two days in a row without ETF purchases would likely lead to a market crash, on Wednesday things got back to normal, with the BOJ buying 70.1BN yen of ETFs, the first purchase since March following the Topix index’s more than 2% decline in the morning session today.
And so, with the BOJ "blinking" and indicating that it can't possibly step away from plunge protecting for any extended period of time, expect Japanese stocks to soar when they reopen on Thursday, in the process assuring that when one day the BOJ's interventions no longer work, the crash will be one from which nobody will ever recover.