But in the last few months, the nation’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has pushed policy makers and other officials to take bold steps to revive Japan, one of the world’s largest economies. Their handiwork was evident Friday when the yen hit 100 to the dollar for the first time in four years.
Normally a weakening exchange rate might be taken as a sign of decline. The yen has fallen nearly 14 percent against the dollar this year, and no currency has fallen more except the Venezuelan bolívar.
In Japan’s case, it is a sign that the policies put in place by Mr. Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda, chairman of the Bank of Japan, are starting to work. A weaker yen makes Japanese exports more competitive around the world.
“Abenomics is about coming out on top in global competition,” Mr. Abe said during a live interview on the Fuji Television Network. “We’re finally seeing a correction of the excessively strong yen.”
Let's start by looking at a chart of the yen:
Since the beginning of October to now, the yen's ETF has dropped from 126 to ~96, which is a percentage decline of nearly 24%. The chart itself is incredibly bearish -- prices are making lower lows and lower highs, all the EMA are moving lower, momentum is in negative territory and the money is flowing out of the market.
However, this is one of the things that Japan wants to happen. Despite having record low interest rates, the yen become a safe haven currency after the recession, driving its value higher, as shown on the weekly chart:
From late 2008 to late 2011, the yen rallied from 90 to 130 -- an increase of 44%.
The above rally creates headaches for Japan, as their economic model (like most Asian countries) is centered on exports. And that area of the Japanese economy has been hurting for some time. First, consider this chart of real exports and real imports:
Japan has been a net importer for the last decade. And since the end of the great recession, overall exports are more or less flat:
This overall policy has a long way to go, but it's having the intended initial effects.