Pubblicato in: Demografia, Geopolitica Asiatica

Giappone. La tempesta annunciata incombe sul JGB.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-04-11.

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L’immagine del Giappone è ben rappresentata dal treno ad alta velocità Hokkaido Shinkansen.

«The Hokkaido Shinkansen’s occupancy greatly varies from month to month; the rate hovered from 40% to 48% during the July-September tourist season but fell below 30% in November, then to 19% in January and February»

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Quando era stato progettato avrebbe dovuto viaggiare sempre pieno. Stracolmo.

L’errore dei progettisti è stato non tenere in debito conto la demografia giapponese, l’unico fattore facilmente e sicuramente prevedibile su lunghi archi temporali.

Nel 2016 il Giappone aveva un’età mediana di 46.9 anni ed una percentuale di over 65 del 27.28%. I vecchi non viaggiano e quel poco che fanno non è certo sulle linee squisitamente commerciali.

Il Giappone è un popolo di vecchietti, che pensano non certo a lavorare, ma solo a mantenere la propria pensione al meglio. Il gusto di imprendere è tipico dei giovani, non dei vecchi. E con un tasso di fertilità dell’1.41 la situazione non potrà fare altro che peggiorare.

Se questi semplici dati fanno la consolazione di Russia e Cina, che stanno pazientemente aspettando che il popolo giapponese si estingua per risolvere in modo definitivo il problema nipponico nell’est asiatico senza aver dovuto sparare un colpo, d’altro canto non dovrebbero proprio rallegrare né i giapponesi né gli occidentali. Ma costoro sembrerebbero non darsene mica poi tanto cruccio.

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Però il calo demografico porta inevitabilmente ad un calo produttivo e ad una riduzione dei consumi: così la stagnazione economica diventa ogni giorno che passa meno risolvibile.

Avendo assunto a dogma di fede l’assioma secondo il quale la crescita economica sia stimolata da tassi bassi, la Boj da molto tempo tiene tassi di interesse attorno allo zero.

Ma, ovviamente, nonostante oltre venti anni di tassi infimi, di ripresa economica non se ne vede nemmeno l’ombra. Quindi, da bravi ideologici, i giapponesi persevereranno.

Ma il sonno dei ventiquattro milioni e mezzo di pensionati non sono mica poi tanto tranquilli.

I contributi pensionistici versati non hanno avuto modo di essere rivalutati nel tempo, il numero dei pensionati è in continuo aumento, ed il numero dei lavoratori che versano attivamente i contributi diminuisce.

La conseguenza è lapalissiana.

Il Government Pension Investment Fund non sa più a quale santo votarsi.

«The Bank of Japan’s zero interest rate policy is forcing Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund to take on more risk via an increased portfolio allocation to stocks, as near-zero yields have made Japanese government bonds nonviable as core holdings»

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«The GPIF aims to secure returns equivalent to the rate of wage growth plus 1.7 percentage points in order to make good on payouts»

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«The rationale behind the change is that a portfolio heavily biased toward JGBs would fall short of the yield target once the economy sheds deflationary pressures»

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«The new policy sets allocation goals of 35% for domestic bonds, 25% for domestic equities, 15% for foreign bonds and 25% for overseas stocks»

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«Before the realignment, 60% was the desired proportion for domestic bonds»

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Ma si sa che il diavolo si cela nei particolari.

Il Government Pension Investment Fund era uno dei principali acquirenti dei titoli di stato emessi dalla Boj, che li emette a piene mani per iniettare liquidità nel sistema. Incrementando così il debito sovrano che si avvia al 270% in rapporto al pil.

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Riassumiamo.

Il Giappone, come peraltro la gran parte delle nazioni occidentali, si sta semplicemente suicidando, sotto gli occhi compiaciuti dei suoi competitors.


Asian Review. 2017-04-05. Ultralow rate driving Japan’s public pension fund out of JGBs

TOKYO — The Bank of Japan’s zero interest rate policy is forcing Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund to take on more risk via an increased portfolio allocation to stocks, as near-zero yields have made Japanese government bonds nonviable as core holdings.

The GPIF aims to secure returns equivalent to the rate of wage growth plus 1.7 percentage points in order to make good on payouts. The fund overhauled its base asset allocation policy in October 2014 amid the reflation push by the government. The rationale behind the change is that a portfolio heavily biased toward JGBs would fall short of the yield target once the economy sheds deflationary pressures.  

The new policy sets allocation goals of 35% for domestic bonds, 25% for domestic equities, 15% for foreign bonds and 25% for overseas stocks. Before the realignment, 60% was the desired proportion for domestic bonds.

The heavier focus on equities resulted in an investment profit of more than 10 trillion yen ($90 billion) for October-December 2016, a quarterly record due to gains in Japanese and foreign stocks. Cumulative income after the portfolio overhaul has climbed to 11.7 trillion yen.

The solid returns are good news, but a concerning shift has been occurring in the fund’s domestic bond portfolio. Allocations on those low-risk assets has fallen below the 35% target and hit a record low of 33.26% at the end of last year. Funds from redemptions of its Japanese government bond-holdings have been redirected toward short-term assets, lifting their share to 6.46%, the second-highest level on record.

This scenario is playing out because the interest rate outlook adopted in 2014 widely missed its mark. Yields not only failed to increase, but the BOJ’s monetary easing policy drove long-term interest rates into negative territory at one point. Long rates are currently hovering near zero. Since JGBs will generate hardly any interest income under such a rate environment, it is “difficult to justify JGB buying,” a person close to the GPIF noted.

Dividends and interest income used to make up two-thirds of the GPIF’s cumulative earnings. If JGBs with relatively higher returns continue to be redeemed, the income from JGBs will shrink further. This would make the GPIF’s portfolio even more susceptible to stock market fluctuations than it already is in the foreseeable future.


Asian Review. 2017-04-05. Lots of empty seats on Hokkaido Shinkansen

In dead of winter, new bullet train only 6% full at night.

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TOKYO — A year since its launch, and the Hokkaido Shinkansen, which runs between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto stations, is struggling with low occupancy rates.

The rate through February was 7 percentage points higher than the previous forecast but still only 33%.

Passenger numbers have plunged with winter, dropping the line’s occupancy rate to below the 47% that the Hokuriku Shinkansen got its first year. The Hokuriku Shinkansen runs more or less west from Tokyo.

The Hokkaido Shinkansen’s occupancy greatly varies from month to month; the rate hovered from 40% to 48% during the July-September tourist season but fell below 30% in November, then to 19% in January and February.

By contrast, three airlines that have flights between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Hakodate saw their passenger rates during the 11 months from last April to February drop 5% below what they were in the year-earlier period.

The fastest that a bullet train can get passengers between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is four hours and two minutes. This barely eclipses the psychological four-hour barrier under which passengers are said to prefer trains over planes.

To attract passengers in the off-season, Hokkaido Railway, known as JR Hokkaido, plans to start marketing products with one-night stays in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto before or after business.

“We have not had so many business travelers,” President Osamu Shimada said.

Since some trains are only 6% full at night, JR Hokkaido plans to sell special round-trip tickets between Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto and Shin-Aomori stations for 4,000 yen ($35.92), about 70% cheaper than the normal price — but only to people who live near the stations.

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