The mystery deepens on who exactly is buying the yen.
Over the summer, as the yen swelled in strength versus the greenback, some blame was placed on the shoulders of China, who had been snapping yen at a record pace through July, according to Ministry of Finance data.
Then, just as quickly as they had been buying, they started to sell. In August, China sold 2 trillion yen ($24 billion) after scooping up 2.3 trillion from January to July.
In September, according to the latest data released Tuesday, China sold another 700 billion yen, putting it down 400 billion for the year.
So is China out of the mix?
Maybe not. Bank of America--Merrill Lynch strategist Tomoko Fujii notes that the the data also show major purchases from accounts in the U.K., a favorite banking spot for emerging market governments. As economists have long notedChina uses private banks in London and Hong Kong to conduct some of its foreign purchases. That makes it difficult to use government statistics on holdings of its bonds to know exactly who is buying what.
In August and September, London accounts took in 8 trillion yen, more than making up for the sale of yen from Chinese accounts. Hong Kong accounts added another 5 trillion yen. Of course, there's no way to know how much of that might be coming from China, if at all. It could be from macro hedge funds or other governments keen on the Japanese currency. And since London is the world's capital of foreign exchange trading, it makes sense that the U.K. is a major source of yen demand.
There are good reasons besides foreign buying for why the yen is strong. Quantiative easing by the Federal Reserve to keep U.S. interest rates low makes it less attractive for Japanese investors to put their savings into dollar denominated investments such as Treasurys.
And Japan has a persisent current account surplus, which is a key booster of a currency's strength. The current account surplus hit $19.9 billion in September. To help weaken the yen, Japanese officials are now encouraging businesses to use then to invest abroad.
也许不是。美国银行-美林(Bank of America --Merrill Lynch)策略师藤井知子(Tomoko Fujii)指出，还有数据表明一些大手笔的购买是来自英国的帐户，英国是新兴市场政府锺爱的开展银行业务的地点。正如经济学家长期以来指出的，中国利用伦敦和香港的私人银行进行部分海外购买行动。这使得利用政府有关其债券持有量的数据来判断究竟是谁在买些什么变得困难。