A sharply rising Japanese yen raises the possibility that the Bank of Japan will intervene in currency markets to push down the nation’s currency. The USD-JPY exchange rate plunged to 77.84 earlier this morning, below 78 for the first time since mid-February.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of Japan called financial institutions asking for the latest dollar-yen quote, typically a sign that a central bank is seeking to buy dollars to prop up the value of the greenback. The rising yen has had a negative impact on Japanese exports and threatens the country’s economic recovery following last year’s earthquake and tsunami disasters.
Both the yen and the dollar have been gathering strength against the euro as the financial crisis in Europe continues to defy resolution. Both currencies have attracted safe-haven buying, replacing even gold as a hedge against further disaster in Europe.
In October 2011, Japan sold about 9 trillion yen ($115 billion) when the currency reached an exchange rate of 75.31 to the US dollar. The country’s finance minister said today that he would “take decisive measures and I mean it.” A word to the wise.