Japanese Economy During Shinzo Abe’s Term as First Prime Minister

December 17, 2012

Abe’s first stint as Japan’s prime minister lasted exactly one year and ended on September 27th.  His reputation back then was much as it remains now.  He’s a foreign policy hawk.  In 2006-7, he practiced toughness in dealings with North Korea and other Asian neighbors and denied atrocities committed by Japan during and before the […] More

Japanese 2Q GDP Better than Forecast

August 14, 2011

Japanese real GDP contracted 1.3% at an annualized rate (SAAR) between 1Q and 2Q, half as much as expected and less than the drops of 2.5% in 4Q10 and 3.6% in 1Q11.  Real GDP was 1.0% lower than a year earlier, the same on-year drop as in 1Q11 and below forecasts of minus 2.5%.  Nominal […] More

Fearful Markets

May 12, 2011

Commodities and stocks have been hammered.  The dollar and yen are stronger.  Investors fear a commodity market squeeze from higher margin requirements.  Another worry is that European leaders may not agree to a larger aid package for Greece.  Weak overnight data are meanwhile weighing on economic growth prospects.  Then there is the fast-approaching end of […] More

In Limbo Between the ECB Decision and the U.S. Jobs Data

May 6, 2011

The ECB’s apparent decision to delay a second interest rate hike until at least July sent the euro down as much as 2.6% intra-day against the dollar on Thursday.  As investors await the other main event of the week, the U.S. Department of Labor April Jobs report, the dollar is unchanged from its close yesterday […] More

Stronger Euro and Commodity Prices

April 8, 2011

Gold at $1471.20 per ounce is at another record peak. Silver hit a 31-year high of $40.23 per ounce. Oil reached a 30-month high of $111.68 per barrel and is 1.1% stronger on the day. The ECB’s tightening yesterday has buoyed the euro, which at $1.4411 is 0.7% above yesterday’s closing level.  The dollar also […] More

Concerted Intervention by G7 Lifts Yen

March 18, 2011

G7 finance ministers and central bankers released a joint statement announcing that Japanese authorities had requested and been granted the help of concerted intervention by the United States, Canada, U.K., and ECB to join Japan in providing intervention support today.  The statement expresses confidence in the “resilience of the Japanese financial sector and economy” and […] More

All-Time Record Low in Dollar/Yen

March 17, 2011

The yen strengthened to a new historic high of 76.25 per dollar before the Asian open, breaking the old peak of 79.85 reached April 19, 1995.  At 78.35/USD, Japan’s currency still shows a net overnight advance of some 2%.  An unnamed source claims that G7 finance ministers and central bankers plan a conference call at […] More

These are Trying, Confusing and… Yes, Even Interesting Times

March 11, 2011

Recovery from the severest global financial crisis and recession since the 1930s is less than two years old, and many advanced economies continue to experience crippling rates of unemployment that have kept central bank interest rates at historic lows.  A tripling of oil prices from less than $34 per barrel in February 2009 to more […] More

End of February Data Releases

February 28, 2011

Monday’s tend to have fewer data releases than other days of the week but not when they coincide with the end of the month. Oil prices are steady and below $100 at $97.89 per barrel amid confidence that Gaddafi will be squeezed out of power. The dollar has lost 0.6% against the euro and 0.7% […] More

Japan’s Safe Haven Appeal

February 24, 2011

The yen’s advantage in times of geopolitical turmoil and rising oil prices is not intuitively obvious.  Japan imports virtually all of its energy needs, and Middle Eastern hydrocarbon fuel comprises a big share of that purchase.  Japanese economic activity is looking better but only in relation to late 2010 when such stumbled rather badly.  Prime […] More