BOJ's ultraeasy policy under pressure as inflation hits 40-year high

TOKYO, Nov 19 (Nikkei) - The Bank of Japan faces mounting pressure to adjust its ultraloose monetary policy following October price data showing inflation significantly above its 2% target, with some market watchers predicting a tightening within a year.

Japan's core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh-food prices, increased 3.6% on the year in October -- the fastest clip in 40 years. The recent rise in prices has been "significant," BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda told the lower house Financial Affairs Committee on Friday.

The BOJ had predicted an inflation rate of 1.1% for fiscal 2022 back in January. It upgraded the forecast to 1.9% in April, then 2.3% in July, then 2.9% in October.

The central bank also raised its fiscal 2023 forecast to 1.6% in October, closer to its 2% target, in an upgrade that drew significant market attention. Kuroda has recently adjusted his language to hint at the possibility of an exit from monetary easing, saying that conditions are starting to line up and that inflation is approaching the BOJ's goal.

In a monthly economic survey published Nov. 10 by the Japan Center for Economic Research, 28 of 33 economists predicted a monetary tightening in the future. Eleven said the tightening will happen within the next year.

Still, Kuroda publicly remains committed to large-scale easing. He said Friday that inflation will still fall short of 2% in fiscal 2023, reiterating previous forecasts. ...continue reading

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