Blog Post

Will Europe pay for Japan?

As the Bank of Japan is rolling out its new programme of quantitative easing, a significant debate about the impact on Europe is emerging. Is Japan engaging in a “beggar-thy-neighbour” policy? Is Europe paying the price as other central banks are responding? Jean-Claude Juncker has already announced that the euro is overvalued while Jens Weidmann sees global central bank independence endangered. Let’s first look at the facts.

By: Date: January 28, 2013 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

As the Bank of Japan is rolling out its new programme of quantitative easing, a significant debate about the impact on Europe is emerging. Is Japan engaging in a “beggar-thy-neighbour” policy? Is Europe paying the price as other central banks are responding? Jean-Claude Juncker has already announced that the euro is overvalued while Jens Weidmann sees global central bank independence endangered. At the same time, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s deputy finance minister, already stated that Europe is in no position to criticise. Let’s first look at the facts.

Since the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 26 September 2012, the Yen depreciated significantly againt the US Dollar as well against the Pound Sterling and the Euro. However, the difference between the euro and the two other considered currencies is striking: The depreciation against the euro amounts to 20% while it depreciated by only around 14% against the US Dollar and the Pound Sterling.

So is Europe becoming the main variable of adjustment to reduce Japan’s current account deficit? A number of arguments are relevant in this context. First, Japan trades more with the US than with the Euro area. A smaller exchange rate adjustment may therefore still mean a larger current account adjustment. Second, as my colleague Zsolt Darvas is pointing out on this blog, the recent Japanese exchange rate movements only correct the value of the Yen to its long-run trend. Third, the recent strength of the euro appears to reflect a renewed confidence in the financial markets in the ability of the euro area to resolve its crisis. It is not related to any new monetary policy decisions taken in the euro area since the election of Shinzo Abe. Fourth, current forecasts by the European Commission predict an increase in the trade surplus for the euro area while Japan and the US are predicted to have increasing trade deficits.

For Japan, the monetary easing is appropriate. Its monetary policy needs to finally act decisively to counteract the persistent deflation in Japan. Until the monetary actions will lead to a shift in inflation, Japan’s real exchange rate will depreciate allowing for the external adjustment of Japan’s current account deficit. A persistent current account deficit could pose a risk to Japanese debt sustainability and should therefore be avoided.

From the point of view of Japan, it thus seems that a stronger euro is appropriate given the predicted trade surpluses in the Euro area. At the same time, it is clear that a stronger euro will render adjustment in the Euro area more difficult. Overall, these developments suggest that the euro area should not hope to achieve its adjustment by running external current account surpluses. Japan but also the US will want to keep their currencies weak. Europe should avoid a currency war by trying to ease monetary policy by too much. Too easy monetary policy will trigger further monetary policy action not just in Japan but also the US and the UK. Overly abundant global liquidity will then risk compressing yields on risky assets too much thereby laying the foundations for the next bubble. Instead, it is high time that the euro area addresses its domestic demand weakness with the right wage and fiscal policies differentiated appropriately across the area. Europe needs to fix its macro-policies and not rely on the ECB to do everything.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The international effects of ECB’s monetary policy

What’s at stake: the literature on monetary policy spillovers is abundant of studies investigating the impact of the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcements and actions on emerging market economies. More recently, economists have been investigating the effect of the ECB’s credit easing as well.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 24, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

ASEAN Against the World: Strength in the Numbers

Corporate debt in emerging markets has long been perceived as a relevant risk for the global economy. In reality, this perception might be true for some large emerging economies, especially China, but not for its neighboring countries, namely those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 19, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The forward guidance paradox

What’s at stake: the term “forward guidance” is used in economic jargon to describe central bank communications about the likely future path of policy rates. Standard monetary models imply that far future forward guidance has huge effects on current outcomes, and recent literature has been trying to reconcile this with reality.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 10, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Europe's global positioning and its trade implications for Asia

This event, taking place in Hong Kong will discuss Europe-Asia relations in the context of global developments.

Speakers: Alicia García-Herrero, Peter Mandelson, David Tweed and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bloomberg Hong Kong Office 25/F, Cheung Kong Center, 2 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong Date: July 7, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Oct
2
09:00

Europe and Japan: Monetary policies in the age of uncertainty

The 5th Bruegel - Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University conference will focus on monetary policy.

Speakers: Kosuke Aoki, Ulrich Bindseil, Zsolt Darvas, Lex Hoogduin, Miles Kimball, Eric Lonergan, Tamotsu Nakamura, Athanasios Orphanides, Wataru Takahashi, Tokiko Shimizu and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Sep
20-21
09:00

14th Asia Europe Economic Forum (AEEF)

The 14th Asia Europe Economic Forum will be held in Seoul on 20-21 September 2017.

Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Seoul, Korea
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

China cannot finance the Belt and Road alone

The One Belt One Road initiative holds great promise for the global economy, but will need a huge amount of finance. Initial presumptions that China would be able to provide all the finance are now unrealistic. Other partners should consider providing finance for some aspects, especially Europe - which has a lot to gain from the project.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 12, 2017
Read article Download PDF

Policy Contribution

Central Asia at 25

After a decade of growth based on hydrocarbon booms, Central Asian countries are faced with increasing challenges to complete their transitions to a market economy and towards economic development and integration.

By: Uuriintuya Batsaikhan and Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 5, 2017
Read article Download PDF More by this author

Working Paper

Regional and global financial safety nets: the recent European experience and its implications for regional cooperation in Asia

Comparing and evaluating financial assistance programmes of four euro-area countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus) and three non-euro-area countries (Hungary, Latvia, and Romania) of the European Union in the aftermath of the 2007/08 global financial and economic crisis. Asian countries can draw several lessons from European experiences.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 20, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Can EMU survive a multi speed Europe?

On 6 April Bruegel, as in previous years, hosted the presentation of the Euro Yearbook, a collection of experts’ insights on the construction of the European Monetary Union through 2016.

Speakers: Pablo Zalba Bidegain, Maria Demertzis, Fernando Fernandez, Javier Méndez Llera, Karl Pichelmann and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: April 6, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Central bank communication in a low interest rate environment

At this event, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Benoît Coeuré, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank at Bruegel.

Speakers: Benoît Coeuré and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 31, 2017
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Who would bet on currency unions after EMU crisis?

The European Monetary Union (EMU) was founded with the idea that nominal convergence would bring real convergence, but structural differences between members have proven wide enough to generate lasting asymmetric negative shocks across the euro area.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and David Martínez Turégano Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 29, 2017
Load more posts