The Bank of Japan unleashed the world’s most intense burst of monetary stimulus on Thursday, promising to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years, a radical gamble that sent the yen reeling and bond yields to new lows.
New governor Haruhiko Kuroda committed the BOJ to open-ended asset buying and said the monetary base would nearly double to 270 trillion yen ($2.9 trillion) by the end of 2014 in a shock therapy to end two decades of stagnation.
The US Fed may buy more debt under its quantitative easing, but with the Japanese economy about one-third of the size of the US, the scope of Kuroda’s “quantitative and qualitative monetary easing” is unmatched.
“This is an unprecedented degree of monetary easing,” a smiling Kuroda told a news conference. “We took all available steps we can think of. I'm confident that all necessary measures to achieve 2% inflation in two years were taken today.”
The move knocked the 10-year bond yield to a record low, and nudged Tokyo share prices just shy of a 4-1/2 year closing high.
“The result is nothing short of regime change,” HSBC’s Japan economist Izumi Devalier said in a report. “The BOJ has now made a much firmer commitment to achieving its 2% inflation goal, and has demonstrated that it will do anything short of foreign-bond buying to achieve this goal.”