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2008年12月22日 (月)

日銀も利下げ―資金が回るよう全力で

2008/12/22

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 20(IHT/Asahi: December 22,2008)

EDITORIAL: BOJ rate cut reasonable

日銀も利下げ―資金が回るよう全力で

The Bank of Japan on Friday lowered its benchmark interest rate from 0.3 percent to 0.1 percent. This is a reasonable policy decision given the current economic situation.

 日本銀行が政策金利を0.3%から0.1%へと引き下げた。この決定はまずは妥当だといえよう。 

The BOJ's latest Tankan quarterly business confidence survey indicated economic conditions are deteriorating faster than at any time since the first oil crisis.

 日銀が先にまとめた企業短期経済観測調査(短観)でも、景気が第1次石油危機以来の急スピードで降下していることがはっきりした。

Moreover, the U.S. Federal Reserve has recently cut its target interest rate to virtually zero and turned to an unconventional approach known as "quantitative easing."

さらに、米国が史上初となる事実上のゼロ金利と量的緩和政策に踏み切った。

The Fed's move, which pushed down interest rates in the United States below those in Japan, increased the risk that the dollar, already trading below 90 yen, could drop further against the yen.

日米金利が逆転して、すでに90円を突破している為替相場がさらに円高へ振れるリスクも膨らんでいる。 

The BOJ's rate cut is unlikely to be a very effective solution to the problem of the yen's unwanted strength. What is happening now is more the weakening of the dollar than the strengthening of the yen.

 円高対策としては、利下げの効果はそう大きいとは思えない。いま起きているのは円高ではなく、ドル安だ。

If speculative sales of the dollar grow uncontrolled to an alarming level, the Japanese government should step into the currency market together with the U.S. and other major economies in a concerted and determined attempt to rein in such speculation.

したがって、無秩序なドル売りが広がるようなら、政府は米国などと協調して為替市場に介入し、投機的な動きを断固として抑える覚悟が必要だ。 

The BOJ was cautious about a further rate cut because of the fear that lowering the target rate for overnight lending to near zero would hinder the money market from functioning properly.

 日銀はこれ以上金利を下げると短期金融市場の機能を低下させ逆効果だとして、慎重だった。

The central bank's concern probably explains why it reduced the rate to 0.1 percent instead of down to zero. Now, the BOJ's policy priority should be on supporting the credit markets where companies raise funds.

それが、いきなりゼロ金利にせず、0.1%ながらプラスを維持した理由だろう。今後は、企業が資金を調達する金融市場へのテコ入れ策がますます重要になる。 

To do so, the BOJ has launched a new, temporary program to buy commercial paper, a critical short-term debt instrument for businesses.

 そこで日銀は、企業が短期の資金繰りのために発行するコマーシャルペーパー(CP)を買い入れることにも時限的に踏み切った。

The bank has also suggested it may expand this program to cover a broader range of financial instruments used for corporate financing.

企業金融にかかわるCP以外の金融商品へも対象を広げる構えだ。

In a way, the BOJ has embarked on de-facto quantitative easing while keeping the interest rate above zero.

プラス金利を維持したまま量的緩和政策に踏み出した、ともいえる。

We applaud this decision, which represents a bold departure from the BOJ's previous refusal to go beyond accepting commercial paper as collateral for lending to commercial banks.

これまではCPなどを担保に銀行へ融資する範囲にとどまっていた。この決定も大いに評価したい。 

It is extremely unusual for the central bank, whose primary mission is to keep the value of the nation's currency stable, to buy debt instruments like commercial paper, a step that exposes the bank to the risk of corporate bankruptcies. Not surprisingly, the BOJ characterized the program as a temporary measure in response to the serious economic crisis.

 通貨価値の安定を最優先しなければならない日銀が、企業の倒産リスクを覚悟する形でCPなどを買い切るのは極めて異例である。深刻な危機を受けた時限措置としたのも当然だ。 

Should the corporate issuers of commercial paper and other debt securities bought by the BOJ actually go under, however, the central bank's balance sheet would be damaged. The kind of risk the BOJ is now taking on became reality when Yamaichi Securities Co. collapsed in 1997 after receiving emergency relief loans from the central bank.

 ただし、万が一にも倒産リスクが現実のものになった場合は、日銀の財務基盤が傷つく。似た例は、97年に破綻(はたん)した山一証券への特別融資でも起きた。

Back then, the BOJ prevented damage to its balance sheet by reducing the money it paid into state coffers from its profits by the amount of the soured loans to Yamaichi.

このときは、日銀が利益から国庫に納付する金額を、焦げ付いた金額だけ減らして解決した。 

The BOJ's plan to buy commercial paper and other debt securities will not produce the expected effects without government cooperation. The government should create a scheme to cover the losses the BOJ suffers from defaults with public funds to preserve confidence in the central bank.

 今回も、政府との協力なくしては、思い切った効果を発揮できない。焦げ付いたら財政で負担し、日銀への信頼性を保つ仕組みを設けるべきだ。 

At the same time, confidence in the BOJ's independence is also a crucial foundation for effective policy efforts.

 同時に、日銀の独立性への信頼も欠かせぬ基盤である。

Some Cabinet members had made remarks apparently intended to put pressure on the BOJ to cut the rate. But the government would be better advised to avoid any act that could undermine the BOJ's independence.

今週、日銀へ利下げを促すような発言が閣僚たちから相次いだが、日銀の独立を傷つけかねない行為は慎んだ方がいい。 

The central banks of Japan and the United States have started moving toward employing all policy tools available to deal with the economic downturn. They have apparently no other choice if they are to make effective policy responses to the ongoing crisis.

 日本と米国の中央銀行はともに、考えられる政策を総動員する方向へ踏み出した。当座の危機をしのぐために避けられない選択といえる。 

That, however, doesn't change the fact that they are taking drastic, potentially risky steps that will plant seeds of excessive liquidity, which could lead to inflation or another financial bubble in the future.

 だが、これにより生み出される過剰流動性の種が、将来のインフレやバブルを生む危険を伴う劇薬であることも事実だ。

The monetary authorities have a duty to map out a viable exit strategy for this unprecedented monetary expansion.

未到の政策の出口をどう構想するか。これも当局の重要な責任だ。

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