In yen's fall, the end of Japan's higher living standards
South China Morning Post -- Feb 24

The Japanese yen has plunged 17 per cent against the dollar and more against the euro since its high in November last year. Some officials in the Abe government gleefully egged on the currency sellers. Their aggressive attitude has sparked fears of a currency war. But while Japan's official attitude may be distasteful, a yen fall is justified: it would happen on its own sooner or later, without the Abe government cheering it on.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the world has seen major currencies depreciating in turn. The dollar fell as the US Federal Reserve printed money, first to bail out America's bankrupt banks, then to stimulate the economy, and now to prop up the property market.

A fall in the euro followed as the euro zone's debt crisis sparked fears of a break-up, and the European Central Bank rushed in to keep bankrupt governments afloat.

Now recession and deflation are sending Japan's central bank down the same path of printing money. Relative to the US and Europe, the Japanese economy has deteriorated. The yen, which had not reflected this change, has been adjusting accordingly.

This rotating currency devaluation isn't a war. The turn-taking reflects comparative economic fundamentals. It is as if a central banking plutocracy is colluding to debase paper money without causing panic. Today's central bankers, no matter where they are, are cut from the same cloth: they believe that printing money could help. Indeed, it has helped some people, including the bankers who plunged the world into crisis while fattening themselves.

For the rest of us, the money printing has merely imposed an inflation tax. In terms of the ostensible reason for printing money - to drive economic growth - the policy has failed miserably. After five years of loose money, the economies of Europe, Japan and the US contracted simultaneously last quarter.


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