Bank of Japan's deputy governor warns against premature monetary tightening

Bank of Japan's deputy governor warns against premature monetary tightening

September 1, 2021
  • The Bank of Japan must avoid reducing stimulus even if rising raw material costs push up inflation, deputy governor Masazumi Wakatabe said, reinforcing expectations it will fall behind major counterparts in dialing back crisis-mode policies.
  • An advocate of aggressive monetary easing, Wakatabe also said the BOJ was unlikely to follow suit when the U.S. Federal Reserve enters a tightening cycle given Japan's low inflation.
  • Japan's economy emerged from last year's pandemic-induced slump helped by robust global demand. But a resurgence in infections have dashed hopes for strong rebound.

The Bank of Japan must avoid reducing stimulus even if rising raw material costs push up inflation, deputy governor Masazumi Wakatabe said, reinforcing expectations it will fall behind major counterparts in dialing back crisis-mode policies.

An advocate of aggressive monetary easing, Wakatabe also said the BOJ was unlikely to follow suit when the U.S. Federal Reserve enters a tightening cycle given Japan's low inflation.

Unless accompanied by strong domestic demand, cost-push inflation alone will not generate a sustained pick-up in prices toward the central bank's 2% target, Wakatabe said on Wednesday.

Japan's economy emerged from last year's pandemic-induced slump helped by robust global demand. But a resurgence in infections and supply chain disruptions have dashed hopes among policymakers for a strong rebound in July-September growth.

"Even if the Fed were to shift to a tightening phase, that alone won't prod the BOJ to adjust monetary policy," he said.

"It's crucial to avoid tightening easy monetary conditions prematurely by looking just at near-term moves in the core consumer price index," Wakatabe said in a speech.

Japan's core consumer prices in July fell 0.2% from a year earlier, narrowing their pace of declines for three straight months due to the boost from rising food and fuel costs.

But analysts expect inflation to stay well below levels seen in the United States and Europe, as state of emergency curbs to combat the Covid-19 crisis weigh on household spending.

While warning of the hit to consumption from the pandemic, Wakatabe said Japan's economy will continue recovering with strength in corporate activity offsetting the weakness in domestic demand.

"Pent-up demand may reach a significant size," and eventually help boost consumption once restrictions on travel and dining-out are loosened, he said.

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