G-20 backs Japan stimulus with vow against devaluations

Global finance chiefs handed Japan leeway to reflate its stagnant economy by indicating its fresh round of monetary stimulus doesn’t contravene a pact to avoid a currency war.

Meeting for the first time since the Bank of Japan unleashed new measures aimed at delivering 2% inflation within two years, Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers said today in Washington that those actions are “intended to stop deflation and support domestic demand.” They echoed their promise of February that nations will refrain from “competitive devaluation.”

The language suggests international policy makers are willing to stomach a sliding yen so long as Japan remains focused on domestic steps to rally its economy and doesn’t seek growth at the expense of trade partners by driving its currency down. The yen has slid 20% against the dollar in the past six months and 6% since the BOJ said April 4 it would buy more bonds and double its monetary base within two years.

“Monetary policy should be directed toward domestic price stability and continuing to support economic recovery according to the respective mandates of central banks,” the G-20 said in the statement.

The yen weakened for a fourth day after the statement, falling 1.4% to 99.56 per dollar at 2:22 p.m. New York time.

Side Effects

In a nod to concerns that stimulus in one country can create challenges elsewhere by forcing up other exchange rates and propelling capital flows, the G-20 said it will “be mindful of unintended negative side effects stemming from extended periods of monetary easing.”

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said today the group’s statement gave him confidence to keep easing.

The G-20 missive made no mention of the Chinese yuan, although it repeated countries are committed “to move more rapidly toward more market-determined exchange rate systems.”

The yuan had its biggest weekly gain in six months after the central bank signaled plans to widen a trading band that’s been limiting appreciation since October. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew this week reiterated there’s a need for further gains, and UBS AG says the next move may well be announced in coming days.

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