More mammoth stimulus in Japan

Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has unveiled a mammoth stimulus plan worth 20% of GDP. 

Japan has declared a state of emergency and announced a $990bn stimulus package in order to deal with the effects of Covid-19. While the number of cases in the world’s third-largest economy remains relatively low for now, a sharp increase in major urban areas in recent days has rattled the authorities. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also unveiled a mammoth stimulus plan worth 20% of GDP. 

Japan is likely to attract increasing attention from income-seekers jaded by sweeping dividend cuts in other developed markets, Jim McCafferty of Nomura tells Reuters. About 50% of Japanese firms have net cash on their balance sheets, leaving them well placed to honour dividend commitments. By contrast, the same is true for just 18% of the 100 biggest US non-financial firms and just 21% in the UK. The Japanese market currently yields 2.8%. 

Part of the bull case for Japan has long rested on the idea that cautious, cash-hoarding Japanese corporations were becoming more like their activist, buyback-happy Western counterparts, writes Jonathan Allum in The Blah newsletter. With Western governments now clamping down on dividends and buybacks, it would be a “supreme irony” if the Covid-19 crisis ends up seeing the rest of the world adopting some of the traditional features of Japanese capitalism, rather than the other way around.

Recommended

Why investors should beware of India’s surging stockmarket
Emerging markets

Why investors should beware of India’s surging stockmarket

The BSE Sensex benchmark index has soared by 90% since March, largely driven by foreign investors. But India's bull market is very vulnerable.
15 Jan 2021
This market did remarkably well in 2020 and almost no one noticed
Global Economy

This market did remarkably well in 2020 and almost no one noticed

Away from the headlines, two big things happened this year, says John Stepek. There was an important shift in the way governments think. And Japan’s s…
29 Dec 2020
Why investors can’t afford to ignore Japanese stocks
Share tips

Why investors can’t afford to ignore Japanese stocks

Japan boasts the broadest market outside the US, replete with cash-rich, resilient companies that have battled their way through 30 years of deflation…
28 Dec 2020
How Asia's RCEP deal has brought the return of free trade
Global Economy

How Asia's RCEP deal has brought the return of free trade

While Britain and the EU struggle to come to terms, 15 Asia-Pacific countries quietly signed the biggest free-trade deal in history. That’s a welcome …
25 Dec 2020

Most Popular

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021
House prices

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021

Lockdown sent house prices berserk as cooped up home-workers fled for bigger properties in the country. And while they won’t rise quite as much this y…
18 Jan 2021
The world’s fund managers are getting very bullish – be careful out there
Stockmarkets

The world’s fund managers are getting very bullish – be careful out there

The latest survey of fund managers shows them to be extremely bullish on all the same things. And that, says John Stepek, means the market is in dange…
21 Jan 2021
Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it
Inflation

Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it

The UK government borrowed £34.1bn in December, a record amount for that month. Britain's debt pile now amounts to 100% of GDP. How are we going to pa…
22 Jan 2021