When investors buy Japanese equities, they don’t really buy a slice of that economy; they buy shares in corporations that operate both in Japan and around the world. “Japan, Inc.” (i.e., Japanese corporations) is showing a profit picture that differs dramatically from the country’s economic growth rate.
The recent bout of aggressive monetary policy easing by the Bank of Japan (BOJ), combined with the direct purchases of equities by the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), has brought on a new period of positive sentiment toward Japanese equities.
We believe that the ultimate success of Abenomics will be judged over a period of multiple years, and while certain actions—especially those from the Bank of Japan—have been significant, others, like structural “third arrow” reforms, will take time.
For much of 2014, Japan disappointed investors who were expecting greater stimulus from the Bank of Japan (BOJ). Prior to its most recent action on October 31, the majority of economists expected no additional action from the BOJ1. The surprise easing announcement—which consisted mostly of tripling its purchases of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs)2 —sent the yen down and stocks up.
On October 31, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) unleashed a surprise round of further stimulus to its monetary policies. This additional monetary easing occurred the same week that the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) completed its monetary policy program, showing a transition in global central bank accommodation leadership.