Japan underwhelms markets with ¥28 trillion stimulus package

 
Jake Cordell
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Japanese market-watchers were left decidedly unmoved by the details of Shinzo Abe's latest policy
Japanese market-watchers were left decidedly unmoved by the details of Shinzo Abe's latest policy (Source: Getty)

Markets have given a lukewarm reaction to the long-awaited details of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest economic salvo.


The Japanese government today signed off a stimulus package worth a headline ¥28 trillion (£207bn), though critics said this figure betrayed the fact much of the spending comes in the form of cheap loans rather than direct state spending, and responded accordingly.

The yen strengthened on the news, climbing 0.6 per cent against the US dollar. The Nikkei 225, which closed before the final details of the package emerged, was down 1.5 per cent for the day on expectations the numbers would prove less impressive than Abe's claims the deal will boost GDP by 1.4 per cent over the next few years.

Bloomberg Intelligence suggested the boost to GDP would be just 0.1 per cent this year and 0.25 per cent in 2017.


Unveiling the package, Abe said: "We compiled today a strong economic package draft aimed at carrying out investment for the future. With this package, we'll proceed to not just stimulate demand but also achieve sustainable economic growth led by private demand".

In total, an extra ¥4.6 trillion will be spent in this financial year, with another ¥2.9 trillion coming next year on infrastructure projects and direct transfers to those on low incomes. The government will pledge another ¥6 trillion in low-cost loans for smaller firms. That takes the total "fiscal measures" announced to just ¥13.5 trillion - or less than half - of the headline figure.

Read more: Should the UK cut VAT to stimulate the economy?

"Policymakers aren't beating expectations," said Mansoor Mohi-uddin of the Royal Bank of Scotland. "The headlines were ¥28 trillion, but the actual new spending will only be a quarter of that."

Part of the package also includes a ¥1.3 trillion Brexit fund to help protect Japan from any spillovers from the UK's decision to leave the EU.

The news comes a few days after the Bank of Japan underwhelmed markets with a relatively muted expansion to monetary policy easing. The announcement of a widespread "review" to be conducted in September by the Bank confused the markets further, with many wondering which direction policymakers would head.

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