Japan: Trump's victory and Fed's hike prompt sharp depreciation of yen
December 19, 2016
The Japanese yen (JPY) has been depreciating sharply against the U.S. dollar since Donald Trump’s victory in the 8 November presidential election and, in particular, following the United States Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its benchmark interest rate at the 13–14 December meeting. On 15 December, the JPY marked the weakest reading since February this year; it traded at JPY 118.2 per USD. This was 8.2% weaker than the level observed on the same day in November. That said, on an annual basis, the Japanese yen still gained 2.9% against the greenback.
The sharp weakening of the yen mostly reflects expectations that Trump’s policies will boost growth in the world’s largest economy via stronger fiscal stimulus and that the Federal Reserve will have to hike rates, thereby widening U.S.–Japanese interest rate differentials. This situation contrasts with the dynamics observed earlier this year, where rising risk aversion due to an uncertain global outlook had led the yen to strengthen to a nearly three-year high.
If sustained, the depreciation of the yen could cause a rebound in exports, translating into an improvement in businesses’ earnings, higher inflation, and stronger investment and manufacturing activity. Nevertheless, Trump’s unclear policy plans will cast a long shadow on the yen’s performance in the coming months.