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Thursday, February 08, 2007

BoJ: No Hurry To Raise Rates

Bank of Japan policy board member Hidehiko Haru has underlined what most Bonobo readers should already know, that internal consumption in Japan is week and that there's no threat that rising prices will cripple economic growth. Conclusion: there's no hurry to raise rates:

``Given that there's no evidence of any inflationary risk, there's no need to rush,'' Haru, 69, said today in a speech to business executives in Shizuoka city, Japan. ``Gradual adjustments will be needed and will be made based on improvements in the economy and prices.''

Governor Toshihiko Fukui and his policy board colleagues last month held the key overnight lending rate at 0.25 percent in a 6-3 vote, with most members saying they need more evidence prices will keep rising and consumer spending will improve. Fukui described data released since the decision as mixed, as exports and industrial production both surged to records while inflation slowed and household spending fell more than expected.

``Haru is basically saying there's no sense of urgency on policy,'' Katsunori Kitakura, chief treasury dealer at Chuo Mitsui Trust & Banking Co. in Tokyo. ``I don't think the BOJ will raise rates this month.''

Meantime he still doesn't seem to have gotten the full picture that this may be an ongoing structural issue with an ageing population, and he continues to hope for a 'turnaround' at some point:

``While the improvement in the household sector has been delayed, it is highly likely conditions will improve going forward,'' Haru said. ``Rising pressure on wages will steadily increase as labor shortages intensify.''

Wages fell 0.6 percent in December, the biggest drop in 16 months, the labor ministry said last month. Salaries increased only 0.2 percent last year, or about 5,500 yen ($45).

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