BOJ Rate Decision: Bank of Japan Keeps Policy on Hold After September Meeting
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has voted to keep its trend-setting interest rate at record lows, as policymakers continue to rely on record stimulus to keep the economy humming.
BOJ Policy Decision
In an 8-1 vote, the BOJ kept its benchmark interest rate at -0.1%, where it has stood since January 2016. The decision was widely expected by economists, who say the BOJ is unlikely to budge on monetary policy anytime soon.
The BOJ also maintained its purchase of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) so that the 10-year JGB yield remains at zero percent. Meanwhile, annual bond purchases continue to be held at ¥80 trillion.
The BOJ shifted course on monetary policy last September when it made yield-curve targeting its central concern. Since then, it has been status quo.
Economic Picture Brightens
Central bankers have been largely hands-off to let monetary policy do its job. Recent data suggest ultra-loose policies are finally having their desired effect. Japan is currently in the midst of its longest period of uninterrupted growth in more than a decade. Quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 0.6% between March and June, the fastest in more than two years.
In annualized terms, the economy expanded 4% in the second quarter, official data showed. That was much bigger than the 2.5% annualized gain forecast by economists.
Japan has now been on the right side of growth for six consecutive quarters and nine of the past 11.
Strong domestic demand and a synchronized global recovery lifting Japanese exports have been the main factors behind the growth.
Despite solid growth, inflation continues to lag the central bank target of 2%. Core inflation rose in July for the seventh straight month, but came in at just 0.5%. National CPI also expanded 0.5% annually in July for its seventh straight gain.
Inflation has been so disappointing that the BOJ recently postponed its inflation deadline for the sixth straight time. The move highlights the growing frustration with low inflation under the Abe regime.
Yen Losing Ground
Japan’s currency declined again on Thursday to trade at fresh two-month lows. The dollar-yen (USD/JPY) exchange rate reached a session high of 112.65 before paring gains. At the time of writing, the pair is up 0.2% at 112.51.
The yen has been in free-fall for the past two weeks as risk sentiment returned to the financial markets. The yen is a highly liquid reserve currency that usually receives strong bids during periods of instability. With investors pouring money into stocks, the yen has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.