Abe Shinzo, the Japanese Prime Minister, advocates yen devaluation
Wall Street Journal: Abenomics Will Be Felt Beyond Yen
Hankook Ilbo(Korean): 아베노믹스 ‘거꾸로 효과’(Abenomics ‘Reverse Effect’)
Abe Shinzo had explicitly announced that he would artificially devalue yen in the hope that this will help its export-dependent economy. His idea was that devaluation of yen against other currencies, especially USD, would improve price competitiveness of Japanese products overseas. This announcement was quickly criticized by many nations dependent on export such as Korea and Germany.
The Japanese government said that it would pump ‘infinite’ amount of money supply in the economy until it reaches its target inflation rate of 2%, thus achieving the devaluation of yen. Wall Street Journal expected that the inflation rate would make it less attractive for Japanese households to save and invest their money else where or simply use them to go on shopping. “Deutsche Bank said in a note Wednesday, spurring a “meaningful reallocation” of these deposits into offshore assets.” Therefore, Abe’s policy should have helped to vitalize the consumer sector of Japanese economy and at the same time increase its export to foreign countries.
However, Hankook Ilbo, a Korean newspaper, has published an article that Abe’s devaluation of yen is actually having a reverse effect on Japanese economy. According to the report published by Japanese Ministry of Finance in February 20th, 2013, exports decreased 9.4% compared to the previous month, while imports increased 8.2%. This resulted in 1.63 trillion yen deficit.
The newspaper analyzed that the main reason for this deficit is the rising prices for the energy imports due to the yen devaluation. The nation has been importing more of energy supplies such as LNG, oil, and naphtha, as it tried to diversify energy usage and reduce nuclear power following the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. According to Hankook Ilbo, “If Japanese firms fail to significantly recover from this deficit, Abenomics will be hit hard.”
In addition, many Japanese firms are showing their reluctance in raising wages for workers, which is very important for Abenomics to work in order to revive the real economy. They believe that devaluation alone will not simply rejuvenate the economy. Many Japanese companies have been outsourcing their factories overseas and it would be very hard to retrieve all those back to Japan in very short period.
Of course, it has only been several months, so it will be hard to tell whether Abe’s yen devaluation is doing well for the Japanese economy. But, I think that, from reading these articles, it would be better off for a Japanese economy to appreciate yen due to significant the increase in the energy import. The devaluation certainly is doing no good for Japanese economy and disturbing other export-driven economies such as Korea, Germany and etc.