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Central Banks Gone Wild: Japan Raises Stakes in Losing Battle


It takes a lot to truly surprise those who follow and interpret the actions of central bankers around the world; partly because it is a central banker's job to clearly inform markets of their intentions to calm them, not roil them.

As my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss In the attached video, when the newly appointed Governor of the Bank of Japan announced plans to double its bond-buying over the next two years in a bid to push inflation to 2-percent, markets and their typically cool-headed observers, went nuts.

"Kuroda’s impressive inaugural policy setting meeting has been greeted with awe in the world’s financial markets," wrote Miller Tabak & Co's chief economic strategist Andrew Wilkinson.

"Huge moves in Yen, Equities and Bonds. The Yen slumped the most in 17 months, and the Nikkei jumped almost 3%," quipped Stifel Nicolaus trader Dave Lutz in his morning note.

The BOJ was "expected to boost bond buying by 50%, and have surpassed that. Looks like 100%," penned SocGen's Forex veteran Kit Juckes, adding that "the show of commitment is sincere/aggressive," and that the surprise move was "the kind of aggressive easing we are used to seeing from the Fed and would just love to see more of from the ECB."

In reality, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi chose his words more cautiously following the first post-Cyprus meeting, leaving the shock and awe tactics to the Japanese, at least for now.

For sake of an argument, let's say the ECB also saw the need to act, (rather than just "standing ready") and took steps to further weaken the Euro to boost competitiveness in the ailing economies of southern Europe. Would this move not be countered by - and counter-productive to - the Japanese? You bet it would.

And who's to say it would stop there?

The problem with devaluing your way to growth is that, to work, it's implied that your partners on the other side will choose to ignore it. If not, then you simply find yourself in a trade and/or currency war of matching interventions.

As Macke points out about this new era of central bankism, it's surprising it took Japan as long as it did to do it. After all, we've been at it here in the U.S. for over five years now.