Two days ago, we highlighted how Bank of Japan officials have been briefing Reuters about reducing its monetary stimulus earlier than markets had been expecting – around 1Q 2018 rather than later in the year. In particular, the yield curve control (YCC) is likely to be eased from the current target of zero percent for 10-year JGB yields. It seems the BoJ became frustrated that markets had failed to respond to his hints about the “reversal rate”, i.e. that central banks can lower rates too far and damage financial institutions and the provision of credit in the economy. The one (former) BoJ official who was prepared to go on the record explained.
“Reversal rate is a pretty shocking word to come out of the mouth of a BOJ governor. It’s unthinkable the BOJ would insert it in Kuroda’s speech without any policy intention,” said Takahide Kiuchi, who was a BOJ board member until July.
The BOJ may allow long-term rates to rise more by shifting its long-term rate target to five-year yields from 10-year yields around the first quarter of next year, Kiuchi said. “The BOJ could put a positive spin on the move by saying it can more effectively reflate growth by keeping short-term borrowing costs low while allowing longer yields to rise.”
We might assume that the BoJ is becoming obsessed with steepening the yield curve and we got confirmation of this overnight. A story which flashed up on Bloomberg about the BoJ tapering bond purchases at the super long end.
BOJ Bond Cut Shows Desire to Steepen Yield Curve: Merrill Lynch
Bank of Japan’s slight cut in buying of bonds maturing in more than 25 years suggests its desire to steepen the yield curve, says Shuichi Obsaki, chief rates strategist for Japan at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Yield curve has been flattening of late and the BOJ is probably sending a message that it wants the super-long yield curve to steepen.
In terms of the mechanics, the BoJ today cut its purchases of bonds maturing in more than 25 years to 90 billion Yen from 100 billion yen at the previous offer on 17 November 2017. This was the first cut since March. JGB yields rose on the news in Friday trading, as Bloomberg reports.
JGB yields rose across the curve after the BOJ trimmed outright debt purchase in the super long sector.
BOJ reduced purchases of bonds with maturity of more than 25 years by 10b yen to 90b yen; it was the bank’s first cut in the sector since March.
Purchase volume for the 10-to-25-year zone was unchanged at 200b
JGB futures closed regular day down 0.13 at 151.02; key futures suffered the biggest intraday loss since Oct. 2, losing as much as 0.21
10-year cash bond yield rises 0.5bp to 0.025%; 20-year yield gains 1bp to 0.57%; 30-year climbs 2.5bps to 0.830%
Falls in JGB futures were exaggerated by sharp rise on Wednesday
It appears that the BoJ had become panicked by the yield curve flattening after reports that the government might reduce the issuance of super-long bonds in the next fiscal year, i.e. to March 2019. On Wednesday, there was a meeting between officials from Japan’s Ministry of Finance and primary dealers to discuss the plans for issuance in the next fiscal year.
While inflation is remains far below its 2% target, the BoJ is being forced into a policy reversal due to the damage its NIRP/ZIRP policy is doing to the financial sector. However, it’s portraying its defeat as a victory via the supposed reflationary signalling of steepening yield curve. It’s utter nonsense and a shameful reflection on the depths which central bankers will stoop to.