TOKYO: The yen plunged to its lowest level against the dollar since 1998 on Monday as sky-high US inflation fuels a widening monetary policy gap between Japan and the world’s largest economy.
Japan’s currency has been weakening for months, accelerated by the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary tightening to tackle soaring inflation caused by the war in Ukraine and other factors.
But unlike the Fed, the Bank of Japan has said it will stick with its long-standing monetary easing programme which it hopes will lead to stable growth.
The increasingly polar policies have strengthened the greenback, and on Monday one dollar bought 135.19 yen.
It’s a level not seen since October 1998 during the Asian currency crisis, and marks a dramatic drop from January rates of around 115 yen per dollar.
“The ongoing backdrop to the yen’s fall is the growing gap between long-term interest rates in Japan and the United States,” Takahide Kinouchi, executive economist at Nomura Research Institute, said in a recent commentary.
And as higher oil prices fuel US inflation, “expectations are growing stronger that aggressive US monetary tightening will continue for the time being, causing US yields to rise further.”
Australian dollar looks to extend yield advantage over yen
US consumer prices for May hit a new four-decade high, rising 8.6 percent and topping what economists thought was the peak in March.
In Japan however, inflation has only just hit the central bank’s long-term target of two percent.
And while the figure represents a seven-year high, the BoJ sees current inflationary pressures as temporary, and believes its monetary policy is necessary to produce more long-lasting growth.
Benefits for tourism, exporters
As the war in Ukraine pressures global fuel and food prices, household brands from Uniqlo to 7-Eleven have anounced price hikes, with budget sushi chain Sushiro causing shock when it said it would no longer offer plates for 100 yen ($0.75).