Who would have thought that the Japanese Department of Finance would announce formally on its website that holders of Japanese bonds have to join the queue to get repaid when the time comes. A carefully worded response in its FAQ by the MoF, gave no clear indication that bonds would be definitely repaid when they mature rather that they would “redeem them responsibly”.

 

This has got to be the icing on the Japanese cake. The otherwise bland website of the Japanese Ministry of Finance, more specifically the FAQ page on government bonds, has been catapulted to stardom on Facebook and Twitter. Not in a good way. As you flip through the MoF’s website, page after page, you will mostly see zero Facebook likes and zero tweets. Social media and the MoF ignore each other.

But go to the FAQ page, skip down past the categories of Budget, Taxation, and Tariffs to item 4, Government bonds. Under the second group, skip past Tax questions for individuals, Miscellaneous (Is it a crime if I make a copy?), Price and yield questions, and Coupons to the infamous question 5: “In case Japan becomes insolvent, what will happen to government bonds?

Tweeted 1,645 times, liked on Facebook 3,733 times!

The MoF website isn’t some blog to be ignored (at your own risk) but the official voice of the most important ministry of the most indebted country in the world, whose debt will reach 240% of GDP by the end of this fiscal year. The country borrows over 50% of every yen it spends, and it spends more every year. With no solution in sight. Other than more borrowing. Certainly not cutting the budget, which would be too painful. It wouldn’t be enough anyway. Even cutting the budget in half would leave a deficit. And the recently passed consumption tax increase? It will raise the tax from its current 5% to 8% in 2014 and to 10% in 2015, way too little to deal with the gigantic problem, and years too late. Yet it won’t kick in unless GDP grows at least 2% per year—which has practically no chance of happening.

No, there is no longer a good solution. And everyone knows it.

About 95% of Japan’s debt is held within Japan by government-owned institutions, the Bank of Japan, banks, companies, pension funds, and directly or indirectly by individuals. Hence the question—”In case Japan becomes insolvent, what will happen to government bonds?”—is of primordial importance to just about all Japanese adults.

The question and its answer weren’t decided by some underling. Each word was carefully weighed by experts in the highly hierarchical bureaucracy of the MoF. As these words were polished and examined for every nuance, they were passed up the ladder until they landed on the desk of an official at the very top who approved not only the wording, but also whether or not that question should even be on the website. And the official answer is:

 “Rest assured that the Japanese government will redeem the bonds responsibly.”

“Rest assured!” How bondholders can possibly rest assured under these circumstances remains a mystery, in particular since the MoF then proceeds to tell them exactly how they will get kicked in the groin: bonds will be redeemed “responsibly.”

Not when they mature, but responsibly.

Thus, we have the MoF’s official action plan for the moment when the big S hits the fan, the moment when Japan with its declining wages and shrinking working-age population can no longer save enough to mop up all the government bonds necessary to keep the government afloat [read…. Japan’s Slow-Motion Tsunami].

A selective default. Bonds will retain their “value,” but the government won’t redeem them when they mature. It will redeem them in bits and pieces, stretched into all eternity, as it sees fit. You’ll die before you’ll see your money.

This is THE answer, the official answer we’ve been looking for all along, and now we find it on the MoF website where it would have remained hidden in plain sight had not some enraged Japanese spread the word via Twitter and Facebook.

When the legendary savings of the Japanese are drying up, as they’re in the process of doing, the word responsibly will take on a new meaning within the context of one of the greatest recent acts of governmental irresponsibility: creating that debt monster in the first place.

 

Source: TestosteronePit

Advertisements