Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zero Inflation

Just got back from a week in Japan. The recent announcement by the bank of Japan that they are going to jump on the "let's debase our currency" bandwagon that the rest of the big Northern hemisphere economies are on is certainly good news for those of us in the South. In the space of a week The NZD went from Y78 to Y84! For the first time ever, I found Japan to be a cheap place to visit. Also interesting is the absolute lack of inflation for the last 12 years. I bought a ticket for the Nozomi Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo for Y14,050. The last time I did this same trip was 2001 and the price then was.....Y14,000. Amazing. Same thing with a glass of beer in Namba...Y500 then, Y500 now. To really gauge this in international terms consider this. In 2001 a beer in an Auckland city bar cost NZ$6. Last month I ordered a beer on Ponsonby road and nearly fell over when told the cost was NZ$9. Y500 is exactly NZ$6. Drinking in  Japan is starting to look like a bargain at this exchange rate. I have noticed this with all sorts of things. Even filling up the car was cheaper!  No wonder Osaka is full of Chinese tourist's buying everything in sight. Thanks Abe san!!! Now the interesting thing will be what happens to prices as soon as the BoJ cranks up the printing press. I get the feeling that after 20 odd years of price stability Japan is about to learn all about inflation.

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