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Betting On The Race To The Bottom
By: Bruce Krasting   Sunday, April 8, 2012 11:37 PM
Unlike in the USA, most of the Japanese leaders have acknowledged that the country's position is un-sustainable. Not a day goes by without it being the subject of an article in the press. On March 31, the Noda government formally proposed doubling the consumption tax from 5% to 10% in a desperate effort to shore up the government's empty coffers. The proposal for new taxes will be debated in the Japanese Diet in April. A final vote is anticipated in June.

I doubt this critical legislation will pass. The proposal has opposition from many political directions. It has fierce opponents within Mr. Noda's own party, the Democratic Party of Japan, but the real opposition will come from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Japan's politics are not unlike that of the USA. The opposition parties will do anything to undermine the efforts of those in power. My reading is that the LDP would support a tax increase as a philosophical matter, but it will oppose Noda's legislation with the objective of bringing down the government.

It's a good bet that the LDP will succeed, and the Noda government will be forced to call for new national elections. That would be a "worst case" outcome. As of today, polls show that there is substantial opposition to the new tax. Failure to pass new taxes would put Japan on a debt trajectory pointing to infinity.

Political instability in Japan is becoming a real issue. The country has had six Prime Ministers in six years. Another recession may kick in this summer. The trade deficit will be at levels never seen before. ($500m USDYEN must be bought every trading day to fund the deficit.) The failure of the country to pass new taxes will force downgrades of the public sector debt. Japan will be on track to exceed 300% Debt to GDP.

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I like USDYEN on the long side at 81 and under. EURYEN is hard to call, and for the time being is a "stay-away". If the EURYEN cross would somehow get down to around 100, I think it would be"safe" to get long.

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