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Japan’s Currency Hits Lowest Point Against Dollar Since 1990


In financial markets worldwide, the Japanese yen is stirring up some of the most dramatic action after it crashed to such an extent that at one point on Monday, it took 160 yen to match just $1. This is a stark contrast to just a few years ago when it required closer to 100 yen to equal a U.S. dollar. The yen’s depreciation has brought it back to levels last seen in 1990, following the collapse of Japan’s renowned “bubble economy.”

During the overnight trading hours in New York, the dollar briefly reached the 160 yen mark before retracing to 156 yen by midday on the East Coast. Such abrupt fluctuations are common in the foreign exchange market, notorious for its volatility.

Additionally, trading might have been erratic due to a public holiday in Japan, which shuttered its stock market. However, the rapid and substantial swings in the yen’s value led to speculation about potential intervention by Japanese authorities to support their currency.

The yen has been facing persistent pressure as the Bank of Japan maintains historically low-interest rates in a bid to stimulate inflation within its economy. Only recently did the Bank abandon its policy of keeping its benchmark interest rate below zero.

Following the Bank of Japan’s decision to maintain interest rates on Friday, the yen experienced another bout of weakness. Market reaction may have been prompted by uncertainty regarding the Bank’s stance on future rate hikes. According to a report from Bank of America Global Research, this could keep the yen under pressure well into the third quarter of the year.

Part of this pressure stems from the resilience of the U.S. economy. With inflation and economic indicators surpassing expectations, there is a growing anticipation for the Federal Reserve to maintain higher interest rates for an extended period. This has resulted in elevated U.S. Treasury yields and upward pressure on the value of the U.S. dollar.

While a weak yen benefits U.S. tourists visiting Japan, allowing them to get more yen for their dollars, it also aids Japanese exporters by enhancing the value of their sales in U.S. dollars when converted back into yen.

However, maintaining a weak yen poses risks, particularly the potential for inflation in Japan to exceed targets and adversely impact the country’s economy. Japan’s heavy reliance on energy imports, priced in dollars rather than yen, exacerbates this risk.

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