International Finance in Japan Thesis

Pages: 9 (2608 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Economics

International Finance in Japan

This work will provide a detailed discussion of the various ways the recent financial crisis in the United States and the ongoing U.S. recession in theory and in practice is affecting Japan.

In a recent report entitled: "U.S. Financial Crisis a Boon for Japanese Banks" Daniel Harris states that for global investors "...there may be a glint of hope in recent events: the crisis in the U.S. financial sector may serve as a long-awaited boon for Japan's 'megabanks'." (2008) Banks including Mizuho Financial (MFG), Mitsubishi UFJ (MTG) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial (SMFJY.PK) have been effectively "...stuck in a stagnant domestic growth cycle that has limited the extent to which they have been able to compete at the aggressive level of their U.S. counterparts. Many employees at Japan's Nomura (NMR) talk of a stifling, hierarchical culture that has so far led to a disproportionate number of that investment bank's biggest rainmakers seeking out jobs at higher-paying hedge funds." (Harris, 2008)

I. BANKS in JAPAN

However, the financial sector crisis in the United States has resulted in a change occurring and it is reported "....investors willing to take the risks may be able to get in what amounts to the ground floor of the next boom in the Japanese investment banking industry." (Harris, 2008) Growth at Japanese megabanks has been slow in recent years and ADRs in Mitsui UFJ are going at $8 which is the same price as in 2004. Additionally reported is that Mizuho is "trading around half its 2004 valuation; after a brief lift-off, ADRs in Nomura are back at 5-year lows." (Harris, 2008) According to Harris this can be attributed to "perceived hostility to foreign investment among Japanese companies, at the same time as China's big banks have opened the floodgates to American and European fund managers looking to get a slice of the Asian growth equation." (Harris, 2008) the following facts are reported by Harris that demonstrate change on the horizon:

1). In recent days Japanese banks have shown uncharacteristic savvy and aggression in competing for the U.S. assets of their market counterparties. Making the headlines was Mitsubishi UFJ's $8.4 billion acquisition of around 20% of Morgan Stanley (MS). That makes Mitsubishi look decidedly savvier than China's private sovereign fund (earlier in the year, China Investment Corporation, a $200 billion acquisition giant, snapped up 10% of the bank for around $5.5 billion).

2) Nomura is picking at slices of Lehman Brothers, days after Barclays looked like it was the only international investment bank in the bidding, with a $1.75 billion offer for the U.S. business. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, which invested $901 million in Barclays (BCS) in July, is also said to be sniffing around the Lehman carcass.

3) Mizuho Financial is strengthening ties with the new Merrill-BoA conglomerate, after having invested $1.2 billion in Merrill (MER) in January this year. (Harris, 2008)

Harris reports that buying a cluster of Japanese banks "at valuations close to, or at 5-year lows - looks like a savvy buy right now...[and] may be the only safe and effective way for U.S. financial institutions to get a spread of risk in an ultra high-growth regional economy. Japanese banks have benefited from increasing synergy with their U.S. competitors, while they arguably understand the risk management side of the business better than anyone else today." (Harris, 2008)

II. JAPAN CARMAKERS

The work of Hiroko Nakata (2008) entitled: 'U.S. Financial Crisis puts Brakes on Japan Carmakers" states that the financial crisis in the United States has impacted the 'Big Three' U.S. automakers and sent them tumbling into a time of great financial difficult as the sales and profits of carmakers in Japan are being damaged "forcing them to review their alliances." (Nakata, 2008) the North American market is critical to Japanese automakers and because of this "...they are suffering along with their U.S. counterparts. To make matters worse, the continuing credit crisis has boosted the yen against the dollar and other major currencies, eroding the carmakers' profits earned overseas." (Nakata, 2008)

Mazda Motor Company owned 1/3 by Ford Motor Company is being put on the auctioning block by Ford as it seeks to."..sell part of its stake in Japan's fifth-largest automaker to a number of Japanese firms, including Mazda itself. Analysts wonder how much of a financial burden Mazda will have to shoulder now and down the road. As long as Ford maintains some stake in Mazda, stays invested in three jointly operated plants in the U.S., Thailand and China, and continues its projects with the Hiroshima-based maker, Mazda's burden will be limited to share buybacks. But if Michigan-based Ford is forced to sell off its entire stake and dissolve its joint ventures and projects with Mazda, it will be more than Mazda can bear, analysts..." (Nakata, 2008) Mazda reports the funds just aren't available to purchase back "all of the three plants." (Nakata, 2008)

Koji Endo, senior car analyst at Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) Ltd. states a belief that "...the current alliance is likely to continue for at least several more years, until their ongoing joint research and development projects conclude." (Nakata, 2008) Projects are inclusive of compact and environmentally friendly vehicle development and according to analysts "the most likely scenario is that Ford will sell a 20% stake in Mazda and remain the top shareholder." (Nakata, 2008) it is unsure at the time of Nakata's report as to who might purchase the Mazda shares and rumors heard names such as "Hiroshima Bank, nonlife insurers Tokio Marine Holdings and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group Holdings Inc., trading houses Sumitomo Corp. And Itochu Corp., and parts maker Denso Corp. Mazda has declined comment." (Nakata, 2008)

In the meantime it is reported that Mazda "...has taken steps to lessen its dependence on Ford, which has been an investor since 1979. Since 2001, it has increased the number of dealerships that solely handle its models. Currently, 51.5% of all Mazda dealers in the U.S. And more than 90% in Europe sell only Mazda vehicles. In March, Mazda reached an agreement with two Japanese financial entities to buy a 96% stake in Ford's wholly owned auto finance company in Japan. In the U.S., Mazda this month started a tieup with a JPMorgan Chase & Co. auto finance firm and severed a deal with Ford's group finance firm." (Nakata, 2008)

Nakata reports that the car market slowdown while negatively affect carmarkers in Japan and seriously that the Big Three "...is not a minus factor for those with a strong lineup of hybrids and fuel-efficient compact cars," said Osamu Kobayashi, a chief analyst at rating agency Standard & Poor's." (Nakata, 2008) it is predicted that carmakers in Japan "...are likely to have a tough time in the upcoming quarterly earnings season..." (Nakata, 2008) in conclusion, Nakata (2008) states that the "sharp decline in car sales around the globe [were] cited...[by]...analysts and the yen's surge against the dollar and other currencies, including in emerging markets India, Indonesia, and Brazil, as the major reasons for the deteriorating profits."

III. RESPONSE of JAPAN to CRISIS

The work of Martin Schulz (2008) entitled: "The Globalization of Boom and Gloom: The U.S. Financial Crisis and its Impact on Europe, Japan and Asia" published by the Fujitsu Research Institute examines the financial crisis in the United States and what has resulted which on the part of Japan and Europe was to simply wait "hope that the storm would simply pass" According to Schulz, Japan "...did not even get scared enough to blame anybody. After its own experience with a finance/real estate driven bubble and crisis, policymakers and companies felt comparatively comfortable in the knowledge that Japan's finance had already taken the medicine the U.S. is now about to swallow, and that Japan's painful decade-long internal restructuring might have insulated her companies from external trouble." (Schulz, 2008) Schulz states that there was a mistake made in relation to having underestimated "the extent of global integration not only in finance, but also in production and consumption that has emerged during the last decade. In the old days, during the U.S. S&L crisis or Japan's financial crisis of the 90s, the direct impact of a financial crisis would have been more or less contained to the originating country, with some staged spillovers into the economies of partner countries, including related rescues of financial institutions." (Schulz, 2008)

IV. JAPANESE ECONOMY

Schulz relates that the conditions in Japanese corporations are "...facing a fast and severe deterioration of their business environment. It is not only exports to the U.S. that are faltering. With Europe heading towards recession and a looming financial crisis almost simultaneously with the U.S., overseas demand takes a big hit, which is bad enough in an economy that has been flat or shrinking on the domestic side for almost a decade. The real danger now looms in Japan's (in the meantime) most important East Asian markets. Fast growing, developing countries and corporations depend on healthy export markets and on cheap, readily available credit and finance. And… [END OF PREVIEW]

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