The proxy for global industrialism, Japan, is in so much trouble economically we are likely no more than 90 days away from massive BOJ action. Let’s call it a yen flood. Japan’s ominous GDP data released last night makes this inevitable. The only question is how, and through what channels will Japan strike.
My take is that something is cooking with the IMF. As readers may know, the IMF has the ability to create “money” known as SDRs–Special Drawing Rights. Given that the Anglo-American banking system is in terrible shape, and that peripheral Europe from Ireland to Austria is starting to crackle, I’d say that action is forthcoming. Bailing out the entire world was probably in the stars anyway. After so many governments have tried to bail out the banks, someone has to bail out the governments.
The two currencies causing problems for the world’s reflationary efforts just now are the yen and the dollar. Both are too strong. Equally, the yen and the dollar this decade have played key, global roles in the extension of credit via their structural weakness. While I’m not making a case for resurrection of conditions that got the world into its current mess, it’s certainly true that the global policy response is an attempt at stabilization. Getting the yen back towards its previous carry-levels would do a lot, right now, to ease pressures.
Here are two possibilities. One, the dollar is devalued against gold. Second, Japan essentially lends yen interest free to the IMF, which forms the backing of a large expansion of its balance sheet of SDRs. Those SDRs are then used to recapitalize banking systems from Austria, to Ireland. The result of these two actions is that the brunt of the dollar devaluation is borne in part by gold, to ease the race-to-the-bottom effect on other currencies. In the case of the yen, weakness does get restored against most foreign currencies, but, Europe is willing to pay that price as a recipient of IMF recapitalization.
These are of course elaborate and sophisticated methods to accomplish something simple: Money Printing. Global devaluation of paper currencies, reflation, and rescue of banking systems. Those are the goals. The world will be no richer for it.