2010-09-14

From Tokyo With Love

Case study for deleveraging and demise of carry trade


While the equities have not achieved much as the crow flies the USDJPY pair has a good story to tell for the power of deleveraging. Now when you think of Japan, you would imagine the spectacular collapse of the Nippon star, decade long deflationary cycle and developed world govt with highest debt to GDP ratio. Not an example of something which will inspire currency confidence and hence appreciation. But look at USDJPY (look at other pairs EURJPY, GBPJPY or NZDJPY as well) and you will find that after hitting a high of 147 in 1998, JPY is been in a constant down trend and broken out of a massive flat bottom apex in a classic fashion. So what is causing the whole world to buy JPY? Not a deep desire to buy Japanese assets but simply the desire to unwind a carry trade position. On back of envelop basis, if you had borrowed 147 YEN in 1998 and sold that to buy 1 USD and invested that USD, you would still be sitting on that 1 USD asset today (+ dividends etc). However that 1 USD would only get you 83 YEN today so you are short by nearly 64 JPY. That’s a big loss you are looking at.
Japanese Central Bank has made threats of interventions but I would think that they learn from the experience of our friends at Swiss National Bank who finally threw out the policy of intervention (and failed to stop the rise of CHF). I would think intervention if any would be short lasting and opportunity to buy YEN at weaker prices. I feel the significant low of 79.70 will be broken though that level is likely to offer some support and can be used a first target. I expect once 79.70 is broken, YEN would reach mid 60s level against USD towards Q1 2011. Against other currencies like EUR and GBP the results can be further spectacular. Yen is in a well defined downward channel and an interesting play on world that is deleveraging.