Skip to comments.Quake Response Puts Yen on the Line (Peter Schiff on Japan)
Posted on 03/18/2011 6:29:03 PM PDT by sickoflibs
One of the immediate financial consequences of the catastrophic Japanese earthquake is that Japan needs to call on its huge cache of foreign exchange reserves to rebuild its shattered infrastructure. To pay for domestic projects, Japan will require yen - not dollars, euros or Swiss francs. As a result of these conversions, the yen rallied considerably after the quake struck.
But a surging yen runs counter to the macro-economic currency plans favored by most global economists. In order to maintain Japan's position as a net-exporter of manufactured goods and net-buyer of US debt, the yen needs to stay down. So, the G-7 group of the world's leading economies has intervened in the foreign exchange market by selling yen holdings, thereby pushing the currency down. In the short-term, their efforts appear to have been "successful," with the yen dropping sharply today.
Theoretically, this action is being taken to preserve export earnings, but this is only a secondary effect. Primarily, in making this move, the G7 is saying that the key to rebuilding Japan's earthquake-ravaged economy is to raise the price of everything it needs to buy.
After all, absolute purchasing power is far more important than nominal export earnings.
When the yen gains in strength, Japan earns more dollars from its exports, which could now be used to purchase the raw materials necessary to rebuild its infrastructure.
However, by weakening the yen, Japan earns fewer dollars for its exports, increasing the economic burden of reconstruction.
Conventional wisdom is that a weakening currency is a boon for economic growth and exports; however, history does not support this view.
For example, during the 20-year period from 1971 to 1991 - often referred to now as an economic miracle - the Japanese yen tripled in value against the dollar, an average appreciation rate of about 10% per year. This increasing purchasing power enabled the Japanese to enjoy steady economic growth and rising living standards.
Over that time, Japan's GDP grew at an average rate of 4.5% and net exports increased fivefold. Government debt as a percentage of GDP fell slightly to about 20%.
Over the following 20 years, from 1991 - 2011, the Japanese economy has been dead in the water. Yen appreciation slowed considerably, with the currency rising by approximately 50% against the dollar, or about 2.5% per year. However, over that time, the Japanese economy and net export growth essentially stagnated, with GDP growing by less than 1% per annum and government debt exploding to over 120% of GDP.
The real problem for Japan is that in the aftermath of the bursting of the stock and real estate bubbles, the Japanese government refused to allow market forces to repair the damage. Instead, it based its foolish approach on restricting the rise in its currency to maintain exports to the United States. In this cart-before-the-horse worldview, Japan assumed its economic growth was a function of its exports. In reality, exports flow from economic growth.
So, in order to engineer an export-led recovery, Japan embarked on an era of central government planning, Keynesian style pump-priming, and nearly endless quantitative easing. The result was disaster. The only bright spot was that the underlying strength of the Japanese economy kept a lid on consumer prices despite all the inflation deliberately created by the Bank of Japan. So even while good jobs have become harder to find, ordinary consumers have had the benefit of falling prices. It is ironic that Japan's "deflation" is cited as the primary cause of its malaise. If Japan's economy had been less efficient, its 20-year malaise would have been accompanied by increasing consumer prices, a.k.a. stagflation. This would have caused much more suffering to the Japanese people.
Still, as a result of its enormous economic policy errors, much of Japan's efforts over the past 20 years have benefitted Americans rather than its own citizens. A tremendous share of their purchasing power was transferred across the Pacific, helping to inflate a bubble economy in the United States. Of course, as the Japanese economy struggled beneath the weight of this massive American subsidy, it gradually passed the baton to China, which for the same foolish reasons was happy to run with it.
The unfortunate reality is that the Japanese government is doing more economic damage to Japan than the earthquake and tsunami did. This new round of inflation will overwhelm the ability of the Japanese economy to offset upward pressure on consumer prices.
Combine that with the lost output associated with the quake and the expense of reconstruction, and it becomes evident that inflation will soon become a major threat to Japan.
As this realization forces interest rates higher, the cost to Japan of servicing its massive government debt will be crushing.
There is still time for Japan to rethink its self-destructive monetary policy, let its currency rise, and allow its economy to recover. If they do, the US will experience its own disaster as the dollar tanks.
If you realize both parties in Washington think that our money is theirs and you trust them to do the wrong thing, this list is for you.
If you think there is a Santa Claus who is going to get elected in Washington and cut your taxes, spend a few trillion and that will jump-start the economy, this list is not for you.
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The Austrian Schools Commandments plus :From : link
1) You cannot spend your way out of a recession
2) You cannot regulate the economy into oblivion and expect it to function
3) You cannot tax people and businesses to the point of near slavery and expect them to keep producing
4) You cannot create an abundance of money out of thin air without making all that paper worthless
5) The government cannot make up for rising unemployment by just hiring all the out of work people to be bureaucrats or send them unemployment checks forever
6) You cannot live beyond your means indefinitely
7) The economy must actually produce something others are willing to buy
8) Every government bureaucrat should keep the following motto in mind when attempting to influence the economy: First, do no harm!
9) Central bank-supported fractional reserve banking is an economically distorting, ethically questionable activity. In particular, no government should ever do anything to save any bank from the full consequences of a bank run, no matter what the short-term consequences.
10) Gold is Gods money.
1) Businesses don't hire workers just because of demand for products or services, they hire because it makes them money. Sorry to have to state the obvious.
2) Government spending without taxing is still redistribution
3) Taking one man's money and giving it to another is not a job.
4) Paul Krugman and Bernake have been wrong about everything, as well as the other best and brightest Keynesian's who have been fixing our economy for over a decade.
5) Republicans in the minority (esp out of the White House) act like Republicans, in the majority they act like Democrats .
“So, in order to engineer [recovery], Japan embarked on an era of central government planning, Keynesian style pump-priming, and nearly endless quantitative easing. The result was disaster. The only bright spot was that the underlying strength of the Japanese economy kept a lid on consumer prices despite all the inflation deliberately created by the Bank of Japan.”
It’s like looking in a freakin’ mirror, ain’t it?
And, FWIW, the Almighty American Dollar is DOWN to 70.5 (the LOWEST I’ve seen it so far!) against the Euro.
HOWEVER, the Yen is at 80.775 against the American Dollar, so don’t tell ME that anyone living in America that has loved ones in Japan won’t be converting a few bucks to yen to ‘send back home’ in the very near future - in fact, they’re probably lined up around the block at Western Union as I type!
(The old, ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’ was not a BLESSING; it was a CURSE.)
And things are incredibly ‘interesting’ these days! ;)
love yer tag Ma’am...
(Well, being a Girl Scout is KIND of like being a Marine. You never really 'retire' from it...LOL!)
"Thank You for your sevice, Ma'am"...
As we say in Wisconsin, ‘You’re Lawrence Welkum!’ It was my pleasure and delight to serve. I just loved blowin’ stuff up, LOL!
I miss it every day...except on those days when I can blow stuff up here at home, LOL! :)