The recent intervention by the BOJ has quickly become the most contentious decision in global economic circles, with many wondering now that the world economy is off on a course of radical currency devaluation, who will be next, and how far will this game continue? If Albert Edwards, whose latest piece rhetorically asks (and answers) "what do devaluation, high unemployment, inequality and food prices spell? C-H-A-O-S" is correct, this could be the beginning of a rapid descent in which central banks around the world are all forced to use the nuclear option: ceaseless FX devaluation, but one coupled with an endless increase in the money supply a process which can only have one outcome - that predicted recently by Eric Sprott when he said that "we are now paying for the funeral of Keynesian theory." However, the biggest threat is that this most recent invocation of the nuclear option is coming at a time when the world is least prepared to handle it - social imbalances are at unprecedented levels, and if, as many predict, the price of key food products is about to surge (courtesy precisely of these failed central bank policies) to a point where the great unwashed end up on the wrong side of hungry, from there, to armed conflict, the line is very, very thin.See also: "The Financial Times Gets to the Heart of What Société Générale's Albert Edwards is Saying (Sept. 24, 2010)"
Edwards looks first at the immediate reasons that prompted Shirakawa to do what he did.
Since 2009 a cyclical recovery has been met with further yen appreciation which has been tolerated by the Japanese authorities. But with the leading indicators now topping out, yen strength is no longer tolerable (see chart above) - commentators who rightly point out that the real trade-weighted yen is not that strong have missed the point. It is the change in the currency as well as its level that helps determine export growth. A rise in an undervalued currency to a less undervalued level will still hit exports and can cause a recession.
The Japanese economy is decelerating. The PMI usually proves to be quite a good early warning of changes in the cyclical wind and it has begun to turn down decisively. (The current downturn may look moderate compared to 2008, but remember GDP contracted peak to trough by 8% during this period, one of the worst GDP declines of any industrialized nation.) The current downturn in the PMI is sufficiently bad to start ringing alarm bells - see chart below....MORE