BOJ's Shirakawa: possible for JGB purchases to rise even further

TOKYO Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:35am EST

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TOKYO Jan 29 (Reuters) - Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa told cabinet ministers that it is possible for the central bank to increase asset purchases even further to inject funds into the economy, minutes from a meeting of a top government panel showed on Tuesday.

The BOJ last week made an open-ended commitment to purchase 13 trillion yen ($143.4 billion) in assets each month from 2014 to achieve a 2 percent inflation target it agreed with the government. Most of the asset purchases are likely to focus on government debt.

"We've already announced in December that over the next year we will supply around 50 trillion yen in funds," Shirakawa said, according to the minutes of a Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP) meeting held last week.

"From 2014, purchases will increase again. We'll examine the situation every month, so it's possible for purchases to increase further still."

The CEFP is the government's top panel to decide economic policy and is the forum where the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet will monitor the central bank's progress in achieving 2 percent inflation.

The BOJ's forecast is for core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food but include energy costs, to rise 0.9 percent in the fiscal year starting from April 2014.

This is well below the inflation target, leading one private sector member of the CEFP to suggest that the BOJ issue price forecasts for the following fiscal year, minutes of the meeting showed.

In response, Shirakawa said that while prices are likely to continue rising, uncertainty about overseas economies means there are large differences in each monetary policy board member's views beyond fiscal 2014.

Japan's government has made reviving the economy and ending nearly 20 years of mild deflation a top priority, but some economists say it will not be easy to achieve 2 percent inflation quickly.

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