Yen Discount Sale
Currency markets around the world are experiencing extreme fluctuations as governments try to stabilize economies. The Japanese economy is a prime example of this, but the government denies it is trying to keep the yen low compared to other currencies. In reality, the Bank of Japan is in a massive easing program to boost economic growth, which has caused the yen to weaken very abruptly in recent months. The big traditional manufacturers have strong political ties and believe that a weak yen could increase Japanese exports. This may have been true 30 years ago, but nowadays, Japanese firms need to compete on price terms and gain back technological advantages over their competitors.
The Bank of Japan saw the yen depreciate by more than 30% during 2013 through its vast monetary easing policy. Companies who currently rely on exports are profiting with a weaker yen, and have enjoyed record profits. The stock market is off and running with huge advances and financial companies, including major banks and security firms, are also reporting record profits and plan on paying out performance bonuses.
All seems good; however, once you pull back the onion layers you can see a problem with the trade balance. Imports in Japan increased remarkably during 2013, recording the largest trade deficit at more than ten trillion yens. They import most of the raw materials needed in manufacturing including crude oil. Many Japanese manufacturers, especially electronics companies, shifted their manufacturing to low labor cost countries in the Far East. Currentloy, the majority of consumer electronics products are produced overseas. These companies closed their domestic plants making it to difficult to return manufacturing to Japan. Now, these companies pay more for imported products.
The Japanese government is very optimistic with their comments about a rebounding economy and an economic expansion throughout the country. It also commented that a strong Japanese economy will secure leadership in the global market. It shies away from negative reports about the economy. Domestic production for consumer electronics continues to decrease and there's no sign of an upswing in the near future.
One of my business associates, a financial analyst, commented that recent yen depreciation should be viewed as big yen discount sale. More than a trillion-dollar fortune in Japan was lost to make $10 billion in profits for a few Japanese companies.
Dominique K. Numakura, firstname.lastname@example.org
DKN Research, www.dknresearchllc.com
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Headlines of the Week
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1. AIST (R&D organization in Japan) 1/23
The organization has co-developed a new fine-line circuit technology using a hybrid material of monolayer carbon nanotube and copper. It makes current capacity 100x larger compared to metal copper circuits.
2. Taiyo Yuden (Major component supplier in Japan) 1/23
The supplier has developed a new cavity generation process for embedded component multilayer circuit boards called “EOMIN.”
3. Nippon Electric Glass (Major glass material supplier in Japan) 1/24
The supplier has created a new subsidiary in China to manufacture glass substrates used in thin display panels.
4. NEDO (R&D organization in Japan) 1/27
The organization has co-developed a new thin-film transistor circuit generated via an organic material printing process.
5. Seiko Instruments (Major device manufacturer in Japan) 1/30
The manufacturer has commercialized a coin-type lithium secondary battery, “MS920T,” available at high operating temperatures (85 degrees C).
6. Kaneka (Major material supplier in Japan) 1/31
The supplier has acquired a technical license for organic EL devices from Universal Display in the U.S.
7. MURATA (Major component supplier in Japan) 2/3
The supplier has developed a new 3D anisotropic magneto resistance (AMR) sensor.
8. Taiyo Yuden (Major component supplier in Japan) 2/4
The supplier has introduced a new multilayer ceramic capacitor with a metal frame for tablet PCs and notebook PCs. It significantly reduces voice vibration phenomena.
9. Panasonic (Major electronics company in Japan) 2/4
The company has decided to spin off its semiconductor business and sell its packaging subsidiaries in Singapore and Malaysia to UTAC Manufacturing Service in Hong Kong.
10. Hitachi (Major electric and electronics company in Japan) 2/4
The company has announced creation of a new company, “Healthcare Group,” that organizes medical and healthcare divisions.
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