One of the most beaten-down economies of the last couple decades was one of the top performing stock markets in the world this year.
With three weeks left to go, the Nikkei – Japan’s benchmark index – has outpaced all other major global markets with nearly 50% gains. That’s quite a departure from the last two decades. The Nikkei has been in steady decline since peaking in late 1989, falling 70% entering the year.
Japanese stocks didn’t exactly make up for those two-plus lost decades in just one year. But the Nikkei is at its highest point in six years.
Why the sudden gains? The answer is simple: money printing.
New prime minister Shinzo Abe abandoned the country’s unflinching stance against money printing to preserve the value of the yen. Now, the Japan’s economy has done a complete U-turn. No developed nation is printing money at a faster rate, and Japan aims to double its money supply by next year.
The yen, of course, has been completely devalued. But stocks have soared.
No index among the world’s 20 largest economies came close to matching Japan’s returns. Only Argentina’s benchmark Merval index, with a whopping 83% return, managed to top the Nikkei.
Here are five other global markets that have flourished in 2013:
- Pakistan: +48%
- Nasdaq: +34%
- Greece: +32%
- Ireland: +29%
- S&P 500: +26%
With Japan’s central bank planning to double(!) the country’s money supply next year, expect another strong performance from the Nikkei in 2014.