Japan intervened in the currency markets to weaken the yen on Monday, exposing the dearth of global economic policy co-ordination just days ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Cannes.
French officials said Tokyo’s action was unhelpful and underlined the risk of a return to mutually destructive currency wars.
In Berlin, officials stressed the need for co-ordinated currency intervention, such as the Group of Seven’s efforts to stop the yen appreciating after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March. Yesterday’s move by Tokyo, one official said, “looks uncoordinated”.
Currency markets have been in turmoil this year as investors pour money into perceived havens such as Japan and Switzerland. In September the Swiss Central Bank successfully imposed a “ceiling” on the swiss franc above which it would not let the currency rise. As a member of the G7, Tokyo is more restricted in the extent to which is can intervene, forcing the finance ministry to sell yen in short and sharp bursts.
今年以来，由于投资者将大量资金投向日本和瑞士等被视为避风港的国家，外汇市场一直动荡不定。9月份，瑞士央行(Swiss Central Bank)成功地设定了瑞士法郎汇率的上限，超过上限将进行干预。作为G7成员国，日本则在干预汇市的力度上受到更多限制，日本财务省只得采取突然行动、在短时间内抛售大量日元。
Jun Azumi, Japanese finance minister, arguing that the continued rise in the yen had been “speculative” and did not reflect the “fundamentals of the economy”. Tokyo sold billions of yen early on Monday morning in its third intervention this year.
While the yen has risen 41 per cent against the dollar and 46.9 per cent against the euro since the beginning of 2008, the G20’s French hosts are concerned that such unilateral interventions will foil its efforts to demonstrate global economic harmony at the Cannes summit on Friday. Hopes that China will allow the renminbi to strengthen were also hit by Tokyo’s move.
Immediately after the Japanese intervention, the yen tumbled and at one point was down 5.1 per cent against the US dollar, having previously hit a nominal postwar high of Y75.35. In an attempt to frighten traders from buying yen, Mr Azumi said he was prepared to keep going until he was “satisfied”.