The newly appointed Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda pledged to achieve the 2 percent inflation target that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promising for months. Kuroda announced a bold set of policy measures Thursday.
The Bank of Japan said it will increase the government bond purchase program by 50 trillion yen ($520 billion) per year. The central bank will also expand its balance sheet by purchasing more foreign securities like ETFs.
Since he became the prime minister, Abe has urged the central bank to stimulate the country’s stagnant economy. In fact, reviving Japanese economy was the centerpiece of Abe’s election campaign. To beat the years of deflation, he favored aggressive measures that reduce the value of yen, allowing consumers to spend and companies to export more.
Abe’s strategy gained momentum after the nomination of Haruhiko Kuroda to succeed the outgoing Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa. Kuroda earlier headed the Asian Development Bank. Thursday’s decision was the first policy announcement of Kuroda as the BoJ chief.
However, some economists argue that achieving the 2 percent inflation target within two years is a challenging task. The aggressive measures will substantially devalue the Japanese yen, that will drive the value of other currencies up. Even without any strong action by BoJ so far, the yen has declined more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar since November on expectations that Prime Minister Abe’s words will translate into action.
Riding on the same hope, a number of hedge funds have been shorting the currency.
JPMorgan analyst Hirokazu Anai said in a research report that the Bank of Japan’s decision to continue buying Japanese real estate investment trust shares came as a positive surprise. However, newly listed REITs are not eligible for buying, at least for now.
Only REITs that have been trading on the exchange for more than 200 days with annual trading of 20 billion yen will be eligible for buying. Analysts believe that the decision will positively affect the TSE REIT Index.
The Bank of Japan’s announcement helped U.S. stock index futures open higher Thursday. S&P 500 futures were up 0.31 percent, Dow Jones futures gained 0.35 percent while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.27 percent.