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Bank of Japan’s extra goals help it play down inflation target, ex-official says

Bank of Japan’s extra goals help it play down inflation target, ex-official says
WIKIPEDIA.ORG

THE BANK of Japan (BoJ) will continue to diversify its goals so it can place less emphasis on achieving its price target, according to a former BoJ executive director.

“It’s become crystal clear that reaching the goal won’t by itself get the economy in its most desirable state,” Hideo Hayakawa, the former executive, said in an interview. “The target has become just one of a number of things the bank should be aiming for.”

The BoJ’s foray into supporting climate mitigation measures by companies is one example of the BoJ looking to fulfill new objectives while it struggles to generate price growth, Hayakawa said.

Mr. Hayakawa’s comments reflect both the continued failure of the central bank to achieve its inflation goal and the greater priority the BoJ has placed on stabilizing markets and keeping struggling firms in business during the pandemic. The remarks underscore the bank’s lack of appetite to go beyond its current measures to hit its inflation target.

The central bank is expected to keep policy on hold at a meeting ending Oct. 28, ahead of a general election. The BoJ will also release quarterly economic forecasts and is likely to consider sharply cutting its price forecast for the year ending in March, according to people familiar with the matter.

As European and US policy makers grapple with higher inflation, Japan’s weak price movements around zero stand out from other major nations, especially after more than eight years of Haruhiko Kuroda’s massive easing campaign, Mr. Hayakawa said.

While Mr. Kuroda has insisted that the bank remains completely committed to achieving 2% inflation target with aggressive stimulus, Mr. Hayakawa said it’s better to watch the bank’s actions rather than its words.

The BoJ has dramatically reduced the amount of asset purchases since the height of the pandemic crisis last year. It has bought only 873 billion yen ($7.6 billion) of exchange traded funds so far this year, about a quarter of what it purchased a year ago.

“The BoJ has been very clear if you look at what it’s doing,” said Mr. Hayakawa. “They are using quantitative easing to stabilize financial markets only when they get volatile in moments of crisis.”

The stimulus it employs to spark inflation, meanwhile, has been discreetly scaled back over the years with the March policy review that helped reduce ETF purchasing an example of the paring back, he said.

Mr. Hayakawa also said Japan’s consumer prices could rise above 1% next year once the heavy drag from cheaper cell phone fees falls out of inflation calculations. Even if inflation tops 1%, the BoJ is unlikely to declare victory and look to end its stimulus as he suggested it should, back in 2014. — Bloomberg

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