Aggressive measures by the BoJ and a staunch tone by PM Abe must continue to maintain pressure on the Yen. But is the recent rally enough? Japan's Economy Minister stated on Monday [Jan. 2013] that "the Yen has come to a good level....if it falls to a three-digit level it would boost import prices, weighing on the everyday life of the nation."
The market needs progress, not just rhetoric in order to play its part. PM Shinzo Abe is building up the pressure, and he has a history of speaking out about the Japanese economy, but has done little to actually show for it. Abe was elected as the 90th PM of Japan by a special session in 2006, but only served for less than a year. Perhaps now is his time to shine as he stood on a strong platform of pressuring the BoJ to tackle deflation by means of inflation with aggressive monetary stimulus and greater cooperation with the newly elected government. The monetary-fiscal cooperation interferes with the Bank's legal independence, but talks still continue amid the threat of a constitutional change to the BoJ's independence so long as the Bank abides by Abe's recommended 2% inflation target.
So called 'Abeconomics' has a direct market effect, causing a bounce off 2012 September lows in USD/JPY to extend to its current rally. The market's reaction is welcomed as a softer Yen helps boost Japanese exports and paves the way for inflation. But will this inflation come with growth? Abe's  $117bn stimulus is projected to boost GDP by about 2% while creating 600,000 jobs. Nomura estimates that the the stimulus will help deliver real annualized GDP growth of 3.5%; and with ongoing disaster recovery from the 2011 tsunami, we could see more government-led growth. Economists worry that this is a big gamble for a sustained recovery. Nikkei Business Daily cites the growing probability of large spending in rural regions and the government's ability to prioritize projects. This is why there is so much pressure on the monetary side.
In comes Shirakawa, the current BoJ Governor. Shirakawa announced an additional $128bn as part of the Bank's monetary easing programs in the fall . Japan's total spent on asset-buying programs has now past the $1tn mark, which is quite excessive. Meanwhile, the Japanese economy is stuck in its fourth recession since 2000. Much of this downfall is due to a strong Yen which halts export growth. A sluggish global economy, and the struggle to recoup from the 2011 tsunami disaster is added pressure on Japan. Nevertheless, the Japanese economy has continued its constant debt buildup and fiscal woes for about 20 years now. At some point, this cannot be sustained.
The market implications are clear. Further Yen weakness could continue so long as the BoJ abides by Abe's commands. The market needs to see progress on Abe's strategy in order for the Yen to weaken by theory. The USD/JPY shorts could pave the way for the April appointment of the next BoJ Gov, creating another profit opportunity in the pair. So far, Abe is meeting this week with monetary policy experts to begin the discussion on who will be the next BoJ Gov. Abe stated that he is looking for a "bold leader...someone who shares our views." [in comes Kuroda, current BoJ Gov.]
BoJ policy impulse is a market positive, but Japan's economy continues to struggle. News that Japan entered a technical recession stalled the upside in USDJPY, causing bearish engulfing patterns seen in the above intra-day chart. Momentum is turning south, as seen in the bearish MACD cross on the second panel.