What next for Japan – MoneyWeek

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Itgoeswithoutsayingthatthisisaterriblehumantragedy。

Youonlyhavetolookatthepicturesspreadacrosseverynewspaperthismorningandovertheweekend,tounderstandthat。

ItsourjobhereatMoneyWeektolookattheeconomicandfinancialconsequences。

ParticularlygiventhatJapanisacountrywevealwaysbeenkeenonasaninvestment。

Sowhatisthelikelyeconomicimpactoftheearthquakeandotherdisasters?

Andwhatdoesitmeanforyourinvestments?

TheBankofJapanisbeingfarmoreaggressivethaninthepast

Unsurprisingly,Japansstockmarkettankedthismorning。

TheNikkei225ended6。

2%lower,itsbiggestfallsinceDecember2008。

TheTopixwasdownbyevenmore–around7%。

TheBankofJapan–Japan’scentralbank–haspumped15trillionyen(around$180bn)ofemergencyfundsintothemoneymarketstotrytocushiontheJapaneseeconomy。

TheBoJisalsoextendingitsquantitativeeasingprogramme(QE)。

TheQEscheme–whichinvolvesbuyingeverythingfromgovernmentbondstoexchange-tradedfunds–willnowbewortharound$120bn。

Theyen–whichhadatfirststrengthenedagainstthedollar–fellbackinthewakeoftheBoJsactions,whichweremoreaggressivethananalystshadexpected。

ThisisamarkeddifferencetowhathappenedaftertheKobeearthquakein1995。

Backthen,theyenstrengthenedsharply。

Thiswaspartlydowntoinsurerssellingoverseasassetstoraiseyentocoverthecostsoftheearthquake。

Thestockmarketalsofellbyaround24%inthenextsixmonths。

ButKobemaybeapoorguidetowhathappensthistimearound。

Theremaystillbepressurefromrepriation。

Buttherewereotherfactorsbehindthestrongyenin1995,suchastheMexicancrisisof1994,sayeconomistsatNomura。

AndtheBoJisclearlyreadytoacttokeepthecurrencyfromrisingtoostrongly。

Indeed,CapitalEconomicreckonstheyenislikelytocontinuetoweaken。

TheJapanesegovernmentwillhavetospendmoremoneytopayforreconstruction。

WiththeBoJbuyingmoregovernmentbonds,thisprospectwontnecessarilypushupbondyieldsyet。

Fornow,afiscalcrisisisnotimminent,aseniorvice-presidentwithratingsagencyMoodystoldBloomberg。

Butgiventhatthecountryisalreadyhugelyindebtedthenmorespendingjustbringsthetippingpointthatbitcloser。

Asforthestockmarket,asMarcusAshworthofExecutionNoblepointsout,theNikkeiwasupat19,000whenKobehit。

Soanydipmaybefleetingforallbutthemostbadlyaffectedstocks。

Whatabouttherestoftheworld?

Theresboundtobesomedisruptiontoglobaltrade,withfactoriesacrossJapanshuttingdownandthethreatofrollingblackoutsahead。

Butthemostobviousimpactrightnowfortherestofusisonenergydemand。

Fornow,thepriceofcrudeoilhaseasedoff。

Butthatmaybemoreasaresultoftherisk-offtrade–inotherwords,itsmoredowntospeculatorspullingsomehotmoneyoffthetable。

Japanistheworldsthird-biggestoilimporterasitis。

Anditllneedtoreplacethepowercapacitylostasitsnuclearplantshaveshutdown。

Aroundafifthofnuclearcapacityhasbeenlost,accordingtotheFT。

Ofcourse,theflipsideisthatwithfactoriesshuttingdown,therewillbelessdemandforpower。

Soitremainstobeseenhowthisplaysoutintheshortterm。

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Butinthelongrun,itshardtoseehowthiscanbepositiveforglobalenergysupplyanddemand。

Forone,thisisverybadnewsforthenuclearindustry。

Upuntilnow,theindustryseemstohavebeengaininggroundthePRwaroversafety。

Nuclearhasincreasinglybeingdescribedasagreenenergyandbracketedwithwindandsolar。

However,thislatestdisasterwillraisequestionsbothaboutsafety,andalsoabouthowfartheindustryanditsregulatorscaneverbetrustedtoabidebyandenforcesafetyrules。

Thebiggestbeneficiary,astheFTsuggests,couldendupbeingnaturalgas。

Gasemitslesscarbondioxidethancoalandisbecomingmorereadilyavailablethankstonewproductiontechniques。

Weecoverednaturalgasseveraltimesintherecentpast–youcanreadmoreaboutithere。

WellbelookingatthefullimplicationsoftheearthquakeasthingsdevelopinthenextissueofMoneyWeekmagazine,outonFriday。

Ifyouarentalreadyasubscriber,youcangetyourfirstfourissuesfreehere。

Fornow,myadviceis–ifyouhavemoneyinJapanesestocks,thisisntareasontobailout。

ButtheoutlookforJapanesegovernmentbondsisprobablyevenworsenowthanitwasbefore。

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