The Yuan and Yen Need the Fed’s Help. They Might Not Get It.
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The Yuan and Yen Need the Fed’s Help. They Might Not Get It.

Being a loose monetary policy outlier is an uncomfortable place to be these days

Wed, Sep 20, 2023 9:46amGrey Clock 3 min

All eyes are on the Federal Reserve meeting this week. Central bankers at Asia’s two largest economies will be paying extra attention.

The Chinese yuan and Japanese yen are both hovering at their lowest levels against the dollar in more than a decade. The yuan has lost 13% versus the dollar since the beginning of 2022 while the yen has dropped 22%.

Both countries are grappling with weakening currencies—but their economies are in quite different situations. China must ward off deflation as its real estate implosion continues to weigh on industry and consumer sentiment. Japan, on the other hand, is contending with its highest inflation in decades.

Yet there are some important similarities too. Both countries’ central banks have pursued relatively loose monetary policies as growth challenges have mounted—in contrast with most other developed economies, which have been raising rates rapidly. China has been cutting interest rates and the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve to juice up its economy. Japan is hesitant to give up its longstanding policy of targeting ultra low interest rates in fear that the country could eventually slip back into deflation or near-deflation, too—a problem it wrestled with for years in the wake of its own burst asset bubble in the 1990s.

Widening interest rate differentials with the U.S. have put both currencies under pressure. Yields on Japan’s 10-year government bonds are 3.6 percentage points lower than on U.S. equivalents. The difference between Chinese and U.S. bonds is 1.7 points.

Both currencies have nonetheless staged a modest rebound from their lows lately. The People’s Bank of China warned speculators not to bet against the yuan earlier this month. Around the same time, Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda told domestic media that an end to the BOJ’s negative rate policy could be in the cards if its 2% inflation target is sustained.

The risk of capital outflows probably makes China uneasy. It saw net outflows pick up to $42 billion in August, the fastest pace since 2016, according to Goldman Sachs. Given the country’s semi-closed capital account, there are many tools it can employ to slow the pace of depreciation. Borrowing costs for the offshore yuan have gone up, which could deter some short-term speculators.

Yet ultimately, economic fundamentals—and monetary policy—will still drive the yuan’s trend. While the Fed looks likely to pause its rate increases, a stronger-than-expected economy could keep U.S. rates higher for longer. To stabilise its economy, China will likely need more monetary and fiscal stimulus than has been unveiled so far—meaning an even higher interest rate differential and probably, higher imports once fiscal stimulus starts to kick in. Both of those will tend to weigh on the currency, especially if U.S. rates stay parked at their current high level in 2024.

In Japan, meanwhile, the central bank looks likely to tighten eventually as it becomes more confident that inflation—at a low level—has become more baked into households’ expectations. Japan’s core inflation, which excludes fresh food, has stayed above the central bank’s 2% target for more than a year already. Japan’s 10-year government bond yields rose to their highest level since 2014 recently.

China and Japan’s plunging currencies may chart different paths going forward—especially since the yen is already down so far against the dollar over the past two years. But they could both use an assist from the Fed, which may not be forthcoming for quite a while.


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Going warm and fuzzy for the 2024 Pantone Colour of the Year

Prepare yourself for the year of the peach

Fri, Dec 8, 2023 2 min

Pantone has released its 2024 Colour of the Year — and it’s warm and fuzzy.

Peach Fuzz has been named as the colour to sum up the year ahead, chosen to imbue a sense of “kindness and tenderness, communicating a message of caring and sharing, community and collaboration” said vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, Laurie Pressman.

“A warm and cosy shade highlighting our desire for togetherness with others or for enjoying a moment of stillness and the feeling of sanctuary this creates, PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz presents a fresh approach to a new softness,” she said.

Pantone Colour of the Year is often a reflection of world mood and events

The choice of a soft pastel will come as little surprise to those who follow the Pantone releases, which are often a reflection of world affairs and community mood. Typically, when economies are buoyant and international security is assured, colours tend to the bolder spectrum. Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Israeli-Gaza conflict and talk of recession in many countries, the choice of a softer, more reassuring colour is predictable. 

“At a time of turmoil in many aspects of our lives, our need for nurturing, empathy and compassion grows ever stronger as does our imaginings of a more peaceful future,” she said. “We are reminded that a vital part of living a full life is having the good health, stamina, and strength to enjoy it.”

The colour also reflects a desire to turn inward and exercise self care in an increasingly frenetic world.

“As we navigate the present and build toward a new world, we are reevaluating what is important,” she said. “Reframing how we want to live, we are expressing ourselves with greater intentionality and consideration. 

“Recalibrating our priorities to align with our internal values, we are focusing on health and wellbeing, both mental and physical, and cherishing what’s special — the warmth and comfort of spending time with friends and family, or simply taking a moment of time to ourselves.”

Each year since 2000, Pantone has released a colour of the year as a trendsetting tool for marketers and branding agents. It is widely taken up in the fashion and interior design industries, influencing collections across the spectrum. 


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