The Japanese yen is slightly lower at the start of the week. In the Asian session, the yen fell as low as 131.35, which marked a 20-year low.
Will BoJ step in to defend the yen?
The speed of the Japanese yen’s depreciation has been remarkable, falling 12% against the US dollar in just three months. The formula for the yen’s slide has been relatively simple – US Treasuries have been moving higher, while the BoJ has fiercely defended its yield control curve, capping the 10-year yield at 0.25%. Since the yen is extremely sensitive to the US/Japan rate differential, the dollar has pummelled the yen.
Moving forward, the BoJ isn’t about to change its stance and allow JGB yields to increase. The central bank is committed to an ultra-loose monetary policy and has been using debt financing, with the government’s debt currently at a staggering 250% above GDP. This means it becomes a huge expense for the government if JGB yields move upwards. US Treasury yields continue to move higher, with the 10-year yield inching higher on Monday to 3.13%. The risk on USD/JPY remains tilted upwards, but the question is whether the BoJ will continue to sit on the sidelines and allow the yen to sink.
Does the BoJ have a ‘line in the sand’ when it comes to the exchange rate? There had been talk of the 130-level triggering intervention, but that hasn’t happened, as the BoJ and Japan’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) have limited themselves to jawboning that they are monitoring the situation and are deeply worried about the yen’s rapid descent. According to a BoFA note on Monday, 140 is a key line that could trigger yen intervention. The 140-level has held since 1998, and if breached, the MoF could respond and buy yen in order to stabilize the currency. In the meantime, the yen will likely continue to lose ground, with the Federal Reserve expected to continue to tighten at an aggressive pace.
- USD/JPY faces resistance at 1.3136 and 1.3218
- There is support at 1.3000 and 1.2918
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