Monetary policy in Japan: Win some, lose some
News On Japan via The Economist -- Jan 25
LESS than a month after taking office as Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe has been lionised by some prominent Keynesians. His talk of curbing the independence of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) in order to strong-arm Japan out of deflation has won praise from those who think central banks may eventually need to sacrifice their autonomy and monetise government deficits in order to reflate their economies.
Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate and columnist for the New York Times, describes this as a "looking-glass realm" in which virtue is vice and prudence is folly. "Japan, of all places, seems to be the first government to figure that out," he wrote on January 18th.
On January 22nd, however, the BoJ showed that there are limits to Mr Abe's power. True, the central bank for the first time set a 2% inflation target and agreed to open-ended asset purchases, which marks a big capitulation; Mr Abe gushed about a "regime change" in economic policy. Yet on close inspection, the BoJ fought back as hard as it dared, reminding the markets how hard it is to launch an economic revolution in Japan's consensual society.
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