Gold Lures Japan’s Pension Funds as Abe Targets Inflation

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Source: Bloomberg – Gold Lures Japan’s Pension Funds as Abe Targets Inflation

Notable Excerpts:

Japanese pension funds, the world’s second-largest pool of retirement assets after the U.S., will more than double their gold holdings in the next two years as the new government pushes for a higher inflation target, according to an adviser to the funds.

Assets held by Japanese pension funds in gold-backed exchange-traded products may expand to 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) by 2015 from less than 45 billion yen at present, said Itsuo Toshima, who represented the Tokyo office of World Gold Council for 23 years through 2011.

New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to spur inflation to 2 percent and end the yen’s appreciation means Japanese pension funds now have to hedge against rising prices and a currency decline after two decades of stagnation. They’re set to jump into gold after 12 straight years of gains with the precious metal now 14 percent below its all-time high reached 2011. Gold priced in yen reached a record a week ago.

The nation’s economy has been mired in deflation, with consumer prices kept below 3 percent since 1991, as the bursting of an asset bubble in the late 1980s led to stagnant economic growth as land values dropped to about half of what they were.

Bullion posted its longest run of annual gains in at least nine decades last year. Credit Suisse Group AG said Jan. 3 gold will average the most ever this year and joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in predicting the 12-year bull market will probably peak in 2013.

Gold rose 70 percent as the Fed bought $2.3 trillion of debt in two rounds of monetary easing from December 2008 through June 2011.

Pension money invested in bullion is ‘peanuts’ at the moment,” Toshima said. “If 1 percent of their total assets shift to the metal, the gold market would explode.

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