Japan Real Time Charts and Data

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Japan related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Japan data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Japan Once More Back in Deflation?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Savvy Housewives and Mum and Pop Investors

This time Bloomberg has a new angle on all this:

Yen sales by Japanese mom and pop investors this week exceeded professional traders' bets against the currency on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Net short positions on the yen against the dollar, or wagers Japan's currency will fall, reached $1.1 billion among traders using borrowed funds on July 4, according to Tokyo Financial Exchange. Based on estimates of the exchange's market share, the total position of Japanese individual investors is about $19.15 billion, compared with a record $19.07 billion of bets by traders on Chicago's market.

This comparison gives a measure of the scale of what is happening. As they say:

Japanese pensioners, businessmen and housewives are taking advantage of the Bank of Japan's 0.5 percent benchmark rate to borrow yen to buy higher-yielding currencies in New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia. The growing popularity of so-called carry trades has added to declines in the yen, which dropped against all of the 16 most-active currencies in the past year.

and there is more to come:

``The yen will fall further due to the growing presence of those Japanese retail investors,'' said Toru Umemoto, chief currency strategist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo. ``Those mom- and-pop investors have invested only 3 percent of their total financial holdings of 1,500 trillion yen in overseas assets. They will invest more.''

In Japan, individuals have opened 664,802 margin trading accounts at brokerages that lend money for currency bets, almost double a year ago, according to Tokyo-based Yano Research Institute Ltd., publisher of an annual report on the business. The number may exceed 1 million by the end of March, said Kaz Shirakura, senior researcher at the institute.

``The arrival of Japanese households as major investors seems to have affected foreign-exchange markets,'' Nishimura, 54, said in a speech at a meeting at the Brookings Institute in Washington on July 2. ``The gnomes of Zurich were accused in their day of destabilizing markets. The housewives of Tokyo are apparently acting to stabilize them.''