FT社评 日本央行须确保通胀达标
日期:2014-11-07 10:04


Fifteen years of deflationary conditions were a disaster for Japan. From the mid-1990s its economy shrank in cash terms, wrecking the public finances. Net government debt ballooned to more than 130 per cent of gross domestic product. Having previously dazzled its rivals during years of fast growth, Japan gradually transformed from economic exemplar to cautionary tale.

When Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, took office in December 2012 he made clear his intention to break Japan’s deflation. The Bank of Japan, under a new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, was ordered to pursue a goal of 2 per cent inflation. But after impressive early progress, the economy slowed, partly dragged down by an increase in sales taxes. Voices can now be heard doubting whether Mr Kuroda can succeed in putting the country back on to a path of rising prices
当日本首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)在2012年12月上台的时候,他明确表示打算结束日本的通缩。新行长黑田东彦(Haruhiko Kuroda)领导的日本央行(BoJ)被要求设定2%的通胀目标。但在最初取得明显进展之后,日本经济增长放缓,这在一定程度上受到消费税上调的拖累。现在有人表示怀疑,黑田东彦能否成功让日本重新回到通胀的轨道上来。
On Friday Mr Kuroda emphatically refuted these doubts by increasing his purchases of government bonds from Y60tn-Y70tn annually to Y80tn. In response, Japanese stocks rose 5 per cent, the yen fell 2 per cent, and even the US stock market hit a record high.
While central bankers are seldom encouraged to shock the market, Mr Kuroda’s stance should be applauded. Deflation is rightly described as a trap. When consumers and businesses expect lower prices they postpone spending, expecting their cash to go further if hoarded. This drains demand from the economy. Weaker prices acquire a self-fulfilling dynamic. Had Mr Kuroda played down his inflation target, it would have demonstrated that he could be beaten by wavering market confidence.
This is all the more important because management of expectations is critical to his task. Exports contribute just 15 per cent to Japanese GDP, and corporate Japan gains little from a weaker yen, since much of its operations and raw materials are overseas. Nor is there much to be gained from lower interest rates on bonds that already yield less than 1 per cent. Neither of these channels can match the potential benefits that would arise from breaking Japan out of its deflationary mindset.
Restoring inflation is only one of the “three arrows” of Mr Abe’s strategy to raise Japan’s growth rate. The prime minister still needs to shake up the overly rigid Japanese labour market, push forward trade agreements and encourage companies to spend their hoards of cash. But the rest of “Abenomics” will struggle if Mr Kuroda’s arrow misses its target. It is easier to encourage new workers into the labour market when wages are rising. The strongest reason for a company to invest is an expectation of rising sales. In the immediate future there needs to be support for economic demand in order to counter a further rise in the sales tax. All of these are arguments for Mr Kuroda to do more, not less.
The close vote in favour of Mr Kuroda’s latest action indicates growing concerns in the BoJ at the increasing use of quantitative easing. But the consequences of a failure to sustain positive inflation are far more serious. As its society ages and savers turn into spenders, the Japanese state has little prospect of managing its high levels of debt without higher nominal growth.
The market may have been shocked by the BoJ announcement, but it should not have been. Central bank credibility is about carrying through what was promised. Mr Kuroda has vowed to sustain a moderate level of inflation. Subdued sentiment built up over decades was never going to be dispelled in months. Should expectations of inflation remain weak Mr Kuroda’s task is simple: he has to do more.

  • nominaladj. 名义上的,有名无实的,名词性的 n. 名词词组
  • yieldn. 生产量,投资收益 v. 生产,屈服,投降,弯下去,
  • immediateadj. 立即的,即刻的,直接的,最接近的
  • expectationn. 期待,期望
  • announcementn. 通知,发表,宣布
  • fell动词fall的过去式 n. 兽皮 vt. 砍伐,击倒 a
  • disastern. 灾难
  • exemplarn. 模范,榜样;标本
  • impressiveadj. 给人深刻印象的
  • credibilityn. 可信,确实性,可靠