Japanese debt-The end of the road?
The individual mind usually focuses on a few subjects only. Over the past weeks investors have focused on JPM, Grexit and Facebook, but let’s not forget about Japan’s downgrade. Yes, domestic investors are the main buyers of Japanese debt, and they have been “loyal”. The question is though, how much more debt can/want they take down. By Edward Hugh.
The recent decision by Fitch Ratings to downgrade the Japanese sovereign by one notch, from from AA minus to A plus, has all the outward appearance of being a predictable non event.
Yet something somewhere fails to convince me that this nonchalance is really justified . Something tells me that this process of rising debt and falling credit ratings cannot go on and on forever, and that at some point we will reach what Variant Perception’s Claus Vistesen calls “the end of the road”. In which case, we could start to ask ourselves, what then gets to happen next? Certainly there is nothing in conventional economic theory which can help us anticipate the answer, since this kind of end of the road point has not been forseen, anywhere, unless I am mistaken.
On one view, Japan seems to have invented what seems to be some kind of economic perpetual motion machine. Since the country has an external surplus, and can print its own money, there is a savings surplus, and no problem selling government debt, even at ridiculously low interest rates. And since the interest paid remains ridiculously low, then there is no problem servicing the debt, and if there ever was, why then the Bank of Japan could just buy even more of its own government bonds, effectively driving the interest rate even lower. In theory there is no good reason why it couldn’t even follow the lead being currently set in Germany, and push the rate into negative territory. Heck, the government would then be even earning income on its debt.
Full article here.