After DXY support at 99 points were damaged on Tuesday due to powerful risk-on move, the currency continues to cede ground on Wednesday. Asian equities posted mixed performance; European stock indices apparently enjoy another day of gains. Gold tries to defend hard support at $1,700 per troy ounce, but hunt for yield seems to be gaining upper hand. The collapse of USD yesterday basically confirmed that the main trading theme in FX space remains “USD vs. risk-on” and all country-specific events affecting national currencies may not be reflected in USD pairs but rather finds its way in crosses. The tug of war between risk-taking and risk aversion camps, where USD seemed to be one of the biggest beneficiaries seems to stay in the market for some time, while volatility, in the historical perspective, remains elevated.
The Japanese government will spend an additional $1.1 trillion to protect the economy, showed government’s budget draft released on Wednesday. Together with the fiscal package of $1 trillion announced just a month ago, the total government spending related to the fight against the virus and recession caused by it will amount to a whopping $2.2 trillion, or 40% of GDP. Only the United States spent more – $2.3 trillion, but adjusting the spending for GDP size, there is, of course, not contest for Japan.
The government’s spending plan for 2020 imply an additional issue of 200 trillion yen of fresh debt. To avoid a jump in borrowing costs, the supply will have to be soaked up by some robust demand. Japanese bond market won’t be probably surprised or spooked by massive debt supply, since there is “omnipotent” Bank of Japan with its yield curve control program. By the way the YCC is probably the most radical degree of bond markets intervention in Central Banks’ practice. The essence of this program is that the Central Bank announces that it is ready to buy an unlimited amount of bonds of a certain maturity at some fixed price. In other words, it guarantees some price. Obviously, this sets a lower threshold for the bond price and also stabilizes it. The main difference from QE program is targeting the bond price, not monthly amount of purchases as in case of QE.
If bond price cannot go below some level it means that the yield to maturity cannot generally rise above some level (hence the name “yield control”). To see how this works in practice, let’s try to see some difference between behavior of prices of 10-year government bonds of the US and Japan according to our reasoning:
And indeed, we see that in the US, where the Fed has not yet introduced this program volatility of the price is much higher comparing to the price of JGB. We can also see the price floor around 100 pts for JGB.
Bank of Japan officially announced in 2016 that it would target the yield on 10-year government bonds in a narrow range near 0%.
Obviously, in the context of the government’s plans to massively expand the debt, the operation of the YCC essentially means a new large-scale QE. I repeat once again that this may not be reflected by USDJPY, but in cross-rates, these expectations, in my opinion, may determine the yen’s medium-term weakness.
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