Posts Tagged: reconstruction costs

 

In an effort to halt expansion of Japan’s massive public debt, Japan’s Prime Minister Seeks Doubling National Sales Tax.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said containing Japan’s public debt load, the world’s largest, is critical after Standard & Poor’s downgraded credit ratings on France, Austria and seven other European nations.

Europe’s fiscal situation “isn’t a house burning on the other side of the river,” Noda said on TV Tokyo Holdings Corp.’s program on Jan. 14. “We must have a great sense of crisis.”

Noda reshuffled his cabinet last week, aiming to win support for doubling Japan’s 5 percent national sales tax by 2015 to trim the soaring debt. S&P said in November Noda’s administration hadn’t made progress in tackling the public debt burden, an indication the credit-rating company may be preparing to lower the nation’s sovereign grade. 

Japan’s government, which has enjoyed borrowing costs that are around 1 percent, wouldn’t be able to manage its finances if bond yields surged to 3 percent, Noda said last week. The country risks seeing a spike in government bond yields unless it controls a debt load set to approach 230 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Nov. 28.

‘Worse and Worse’

Japan’s finances are “getting worse and worse every day, every second,” Takahira Ogawa, Singapore-based director of sovereign ratings at S&P, said in an interview on Nov. 24. Asked if this means he’s closer to lowering Japan’s credit rating, he said it “may be right in saying that we’re closer to a downgrade.”

S&P rates Japan AA- and has had a negative outlook on the rating since April. Ogawa said Japan needs a “comprehensive approach” to containing its debt burden, which the government has projected will exceed 1 quadrillion yen ($13 trillion) in the year through March as the nation pays for reconstruction costs from March’s record earthquake. 

The International Monetary Fund has said a gradual increase of Japan’s sales tax to 15 percent “could provide roughly half of the fiscal adjustment needed to put the public-debt ratio on a downward path.”

No Winning Play for Japan

If Japan hikes taxes and reduces spending, the Yen will strengthen, and Japanese exports sink.

Demographics and balance of trade issues suggest there will still be insufficient buyers of Japanese bonds that need to be rolled over. Raising taxes in a global recession is not a wise thing to do as it will inhibit growth. 

On the other hand, if Japan turns to printing, which I believe it eventually will, Japan would likely go into an inflation spiral.

Massive Debt Rollover Problem

There are no winning plays for Japan, given a debt load set to hit 230 percent of gross domestic product. The US would be advised to pay attention.

 

 

Standard and Poor’s said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration hasn’t made progress in tackling the public debt burden, an indication it may be preparing to lower the nation’s sovereign grade.

Japan’s finances are getting worse and worse every day, every second,” Takahira Ogawa, Singapore-based director of sovereign ratings at S&P, said in an interview today. Asked if this means he’s closer to cutting Japan, he said it “may be right in saying that we’re closer to a downgrade. But the deterioration has been gradual so far, and it’s not like we’re going to move today.”

S&P rates Japan at AA- and has had a negative outlook on the rating since April. Ogawa said Japan needs a “comprehensive approach” to containing its debt burden, which the government projects will exceed 1 quadrillion yen ($13 trillion) in the year through March as the nation pays for reconstruction costs from March’s record earthquake.

The yen pared gains after Ogawa’s remarks and traded at 77.09 against the dollar as of 2:43 p.m. in Tokyo. Yields on Japan’s benchmark 10-year government bond rose to as high as 0.98 percent today from the previous close of 0.965 percent before the nation’s markets shut yesterday for a holiday. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.8 percent to 8,167.28 as of 2:49 p.m. Tokyo time.

Tax Measure

Japan’s lower house of parliament today approved legislation that would add an additional 2.1 percent levy to an individual’s annual payment. Lawmakers revised the government’s proposal to extend the period of the measure to 25 years, from 10 years, to help pay for earthquake rebuilding. The measure takes effect in 2013. >> Read More

 

Uncertainty over Japan’s fiscal situation as it rebuilds after last month’s earthquake and tsunami prompted Standard & Poor’s to change its outlook on the country’s long-term debt rating from stable to negative, the ratings agency said Wednesday.

Standard & Poor’s stressed that its sovereign credit ratings on the world’s No.2 economy remained unchanged, but said the March 11 disasters cast some doubt over the country’s economic performance and future debt load. >> Read More

 

All those hoping  to see a prompt bounce back in Japan to baseline economic levels may be in for some disappointment. Reuters reports that according to various sellside analysts, the impact to Japanese GDP (which is virtually tied with China for the world’s second largest economy), could be anywhere between 3 and 5%. “Quake-hit Japan  faces a recovery and reconstruction bill of at least $180 billion, or 3 percent of its annual economic output and more than 50 percent higher than the total cost of 1995′s earthquake in Kobe. The Kobe earthquake is estimated to have cost $115-118 billion, or 2 percent of GDP in 1995 terms. This time — in a still unfolding disaster — initial estimates from Credit Suisse and Barclays put the cost at $180 billion. Mitsubishi UFJ Securities and Sarasin expect the cost could run as high as 5 percent of GDP. Mitsubishi’s estimates take into account a wider economic cost including a loss of tax revenues, subsidies to various industries of the affected area, loss of productivity following rolling blackouts on top of straight reconstruction costs.” And it could be far, far worse: “some extreme projections of the longer-term cost look at figures closer to $1 trillion over several years.”  Which means either the government will leave those with insurance policies to split pro rate proceeds that refunds amounts owed at a big haircut, or in tried US fashion, will have to step in with emergency transfer funding measures, capitalized through the issuance of tens if not hundreds of billions of new debt. As for who will buy that debt, we look forward to Bill Gross’ next letter for clues thereto. In the meantime, look for global GDP to be cut by at least 1-2% by the sellside pundits “shortly” especially as the way for QE3 is paved by the likes of Jan Hatzius who is lucky to have a force majeure on his second “Golden Age” call.

More details from Reuters:

 
 

The world’s third-largest economy, already saddled with public debt double the size of its $5 trillion output, must rebuild its infrastructure, including roads and rail to power and ports — in a scale not seen since World War Two. >> Read More

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Technically Yours,
Team ASR,
Baroda, India.