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Economics & Strategy – Economics: First

Nobuyuki Saji, a member of the inaugural All-Japan Research Team Hall of Fame, tops the roster for a 12th consecutive year.

Nobuyuki Saji
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co.
"Saji-san is a world-class economist who provides a truly global view of Japan."

Nobuyuki Saji, a member of the inaugural All-Japan Research Team Hall of Fame, tops the roster for a 12th consecutive year. “Saji-san discusses not only macro economies but also individual industries — and sometimes individual companies even,” contends one buy-side enthusiast. “That is very helpful for equity investors like us.” The Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. economist is far less optimistic than his peers on the likely impact of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulus proposals. For instance, he believes that many portfolio managers are overstating the perceived positive effects of the weak currency. “From an exports perspective, since a lot of Japanese manufacturers shifted their facilities overseas in the past ten years, yen depreciation doesn’t help to increase exports apart from limited items such as auto parts,” explains Saji, 54. “Also, since depreciation oppresses people’s standards of living through price increases, personal consumption will decrease.” The autos sector will be “the only beneficiary” of the falling currency, he adds. Saji predicts that real gross domestic product growth for fiscal 2013, which began this month, will clock in at 1 percent — the Bank of Japan is projecting 2.5 percent — and will decline to 0.8 percent next year. He is also keeping a close watch on current account balances of Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia, Saji notes, experienced its first annual trade deficit in 2012, and its banking system’s loan-to-deposit ratio is rising. “Japan has a lot of loans to Southeast Asian countries, and many financial and nonfinancial corporations operate businesses in this region,” he says. “We have to pay close attention.” — Thomas W. Johnson


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