Equity Purchases by the Bank of Japan Reach a New Milestone
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Equity Purchases by the Bank of Japan Reach a New Milestone

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Bank of Japan Equity Purchases

The Briefing

  • Domestic equities held by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) reached $434 billion in November 2020, the highest value ever recorded on its balance sheet
  • The BoJ began buying equity ETFs (exchange-traded funds) in 2010 to help stabilize its economy
  • The BoJ has now surpassed the country’s Government Pension Investment Fund as the largest owner of Japanese stocks

Equity Purchases by the Bank of Japan Reach a New Milestone

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) increased its equity holdings to $434 billion in November 2020, surpassing Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund to become the country’s largest holder of domestic stocks.

This milestone will likely capture the attention of global policymakers, as the BoJ is the only central bank to purchase equities—a practice it first began in 2010. These purchases were intended to stabilize the Japanese economy after the 2008 financial crisis, but have carried on ever since.

Why Does the Bank of Japan Purchase Equities?

For decades, Japan has experienced a stubbornly low rate of economic growth relative to its peers. Despite the BoJ’s best efforts to boost growth, this trend has continued after the events of 2008.

YearJapan (% GDP growth)South Korea (% GDP growth)U.S. (% GDP growth)
20104.2%6.8%2.6%
2011-0.1%3.7%1.6%
20121.5%2.4%2.3%
20132.0%3.2%1.8%
20140.4%3.2%2.5%
20151.2%2.8%2.9%
20160.5%2.9%1.6%
20172.2%3.2%2.4%
20180.3%2.9%2.9%
2019 0.6%2.0%2.2%
Average1.28% 🇯🇵 3.31% 🇰🇷 2.28% 🇺🇸

Source: World Bank

No stranger to unconventional policies, the BoJ believes its equity purchases will add a sense of security to the stock market, and as a result, encourage greater levels of investment. Since these purchases began, the Nikkei 225, an index tracking 225 large Japanese corporations, has generated a total return of roughly 160%.

A Drop in the Pond

While $434 billion in equities is by no means a small amount, it pales in comparison to the BoJ’s total assets of $6.7 trillion. This includes $5.1 trillion in Japanese government debt, and $59.4 billion in domestic corporate bonds.

These figures fall in line with other central banks including the U.S. Fed, which currently has $7.4 trillion in assets on its balance sheet. Whether the Fed will also begin purchasing equities, however, remains to be seen.

Where does this data come from?

Source: NLI Research Institute, 2020
Notes: Data as of Nov. 30, 2020.
Figures based on a conversion rate of 1 JPY = 0.0096 USD.

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Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Using data from the UN, this chart shows civilian death toll figures resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war death toll

The Briefing

  • In total, since the war began in February there have been over 7,031 Ukrainian civilian deaths
  • Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, such as missiles and heavy artillery

Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has wrought suffering and death on a mass scale, with many Russian attacks targeted at civilians.

We’ve created this visual using data from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how many civilians have died in Ukraine as a result of the war, as well as how many were injured and how many were children.

The Numbers

As of early December, it is reported that 7,031 people in Ukraine have died because of the war — 433 of them children. Another 11,327 have been injured, 827 of which are children. In total, this is over 18,000 people killed or injured.

The figures are difficult to verify due to differing reports coming out of both Russia and Ukraine. The UN OHCHR anticipates that the numbers could be even higher.

The State of the Conflict

The war began on February 24th, 2022 and less than a year in, millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, and thousands of civilians have been injured or killed.

According to the UN, most of the civilian deaths have been caused by wide-ranging explosives such as heavy artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes, and have been concentrated in Donetsk and Luhansk and in other territory still held by Ukraine.

Additionally, new estimates from Kyiv report approximately 13,000 Ukrainian military or soldier deaths, which has yet to be confirmed by the army.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monthly reports on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Note: Data on deaths and injuries can vary wildly depending on the source.

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