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2014年12月22日 (月)

国際市場の波乱 「逆石油ショック」を警戒せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nations must be wary of market turmoil caused by ‘reverse oil shock’
国際市場の波乱 「逆石油ショック」を警戒せよ

The recent sharp decrease in crude oil prices has triggered instability in the international money market.

Crude oil prices, which hovered around $100 per barrel three months ago, have dropped below $60. Oil-producing Russia has seen the ruble being sold at less than half its previous value against the U.S. currency.

Earlier, the Russian central bank greatly raised its key interest rate, hoping to defend the ruble. However, the action has done little to achieve its intended goal. Observers have said the ruble’s depreciation may combine with higher interest rates to further worsen the condition of the Russian economy.

Low crude oil prices usually benefit the global economy as a whole. However, many experts see the current flagging demand for crude oil as a sign that the world economy is starting to slow down. Widespread uncertainty over future prospects is causing major stock price fluctuations in not only Russia but also other newly emerging nations, Japan, the United States and Europe.

There is no denying that additional unrest in the money market could develop into a “reverse oil shock,” dealing a serious blow to the world economy.

Monetary authorities in every nation need to keep a closer watch on speculation while also cooperating in stabilizing the market.

A key factor behind the current market fluctuations is the monetary surplus caused by the major monetary easing promoted by Japan, the United States and European nations after the Lehman collapse of 2008.

Massive amounts of funds that have flowed into crude oil markets and newly emerging nations are circulating in search of an investment destination, a situation contributing to accelerated market turmoil.

Eyes on U.S. monetary policies

The immediate focus of attention is on what will result from U.S. monetary policies. In October, the United States ended its quantitative monetary relaxation, and it is believed to have decided to raise interest rates as early as next year.

There are growing concerns that higher interest rates could result in a sudden, massive flow-back of funds into the U.S. market, causing a sharp drop in currency values in the emerging economies and creating a new economic crisis.

A statement issued by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday included a reference to a “patient” approach to raising rates. Similar language was used by the Fed before increasing rates in 2004. However, the latest statement also said the Fed would adhere to its previous stance of keeping the key rate near zero for a “considerable time.”

All this apparently signified an attempt by the Fed to balance the wording of its statement. The Fed seemingly hoped to avoid fueling speculation that it would raise its key interest rate at an early date, while also indicating readiness to opt for a rate increase.

After the Fed’s statement, stock prices sharply rose both in Japan and the United States, indicating the Fed’s response to the current situation has been successful.

We hope the Fed will seek “dialogue with the market” to prevent unnecessary market confusion, while at the same time carefully promoting an exit strategy tied to its zero-interest policy.

Such newly emerging countries as China and Brazil, both of which have served as engines for the world economy, have continued to experience a business downturn.

There is a pressing need for these nations to resolve the problems hindering their growth, including insufficient social infrastructure and excessive restrictions on trade and investment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 21, 2014)Speech


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