FXStreet (Delhi) – James Smith, Economist at ING, suggests that with the prospect of further ECB easing in March, we think there is a fair chance that the BoJ will follow suit with a 10bp cut at its meeting five days later. Key Quotes “Last week, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) caught markets off guard and introduced negative interest rates. The move, which will complement the existing QQE programme, takes the form of a three-tier system where only future current account balances are subject to a negative rate (similar systems exist in Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark). Perhaps the biggest lesson of all of this is that the BoJ is more sensitive to JPY strength than had been thought. Heading into the meeting, the yen was stronger on a trade-weighted basis than it was before the October 2014 meeting. Going forward, currency movements are likely to be a key gauge of whether we can expect further cuts. In March, this will heavily depend on what the ECB delivers, and given that further stimulus is widely expected, there is a fair chance the BoJ will follow with a 10bp cut. The case for near-term action is likely to be boosted by a further drop in consumer inflation expectations (an important factor in the BoJ’s reaction function), which are driven primarily by expected changes in food prices rather than oil. With the effect of a large yen depreciation in 2014 filtering out of the numbers, food inflation is set to fall pretty noticeably over the next few months and in turn will weigh on expectations. Whilst the probability of a near-term cut seems pretty high, we do not currently think that this will evolve into an aggressive easing cycle. The limitations of QQE are now well documented and we feel that an acknowledgment of this was implicit in January’s decision (after all, QQE would have been the go-to tool if it was seen as a viable option). Thus, rate cuts are now the major weapon in the BoJ’s arsenal and they will be wary of running out of ammunition too quickly. In the longer term, the BoJ will need to consider scaling back the pace of JGB purchases. Whilst it is hard to pin down when this process will commence, it could come as early as the autumn (post-election) or failing that, after the April 2017 consumption tax hike. Either way, when the decision is taken, it is likely to be coupled with further rate cuts to dampen any adverse market impact.” For more information, read our latest forex news.