BOJ’s Dismal Regional Report Sets Cautious Tone Ahead of Meeting

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The Bank of Japan made it clear it sees Japan’s entire economy as still reeling from the pandemic, despite a gradual pickup in business activity after a nationwide state of emergency was lifted in May.

In a quarterly regional report Thursday, the central bank lowered its assessment for all nine of Japan’s economic regions, cutting them across the board for a second straight quarter. The bank said all of the areas had either “deteriorated” or were “in a severe situation.”

The report comes ahead of a BOJ policy meeting next week at which more than 90% of economists expect the bank to make no major policy changes. After a raft of measures taken since March, more action isn’t needed because financial markets are relatively stable and companies aren’t facing significant funding problems, people familiar with the matter said.

The cautious tone of the regional Sakura report, the BOJ’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book survey, is likely to be reflected in a quarterly outlook the BOJ will release next week along with its policy statement. Many economists surveyed by Bloomberg see the bank making some downward revision to its economic projections.

In a speech earlier Thursday, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda repeated his recent mantra that the bank is closely monitoring the impact of the pandemic and won’t hesitate to take additional easing measures if needed.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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