iShares Japan

My buy order for EWJ was ignored on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a large order. I was just putting it in to see if I could pick up the ETF on the cheap.

Unfortunately, I got a bit too clever on the limit (previous close less 10%) so I did not get filled. By 10am, I was pretty sure that I had missed the boat.

Why is that important?

Because the market meltdown in Japan and subsequent bounce are not being driven by rational calculations of the damage to the economy…it is just guesswork at this point. Nor is it a rational response to the nuclear power plant disaster. Our only comparable nuclear power accident scenarios happened decades ago.

It was the dramatic movement of money.

Smart Money Investors panicked and stabbed the sell button as soon as they saw their competitors doing the same. No one was waiting to see if mutual funds were going to be redeemed on the back of the shocking pictures and videos that blanketed the airwaves and bandwidth.

But, foreign investors only own about 25% of the Japanese equity market. There was only so much they could do. And once the selling pressure eased off…investors jumped in and bid the market up (both in Tokyo on Wednesday and EWJ not long after the opening bell on Tuesday).

The lesson in all this is that the weight of money can have dramatic effects on the value of assets. Japan’s “big picture” has not changed since last week. This week it is still the world’s #3 economy with an aging population, strong export sector, shocking level of government debt and extremely low interest rates. In the short term, it has sustained a mighty blow from Mother Nature but it has the institutions and experience to deal with the disaster. Fundamentally nothing much has changed. Emotionally, there have been several very big shifts.

What does the Fund King System have to say about it?

Asian IndicesThe System was not built for “Black Swan” events like this. What it can tell you is that Asia leading up to this event had some pretty crummy numbers behind it. Japan was the strongest of a weak bunch but the whole region is under a dark cloud of uncertainty over China’s short term economic outlook.

The first shocks have hit the market and there will undoubtedly be more aftershocks. One of the longer lasting aftershocks will be in the energy sector. As governments around the world (like Germany) take a close look at their nuclear power programs, the demand for oil is likely to rise. With the popular uprisings in Northern Africa and the Middle East threatening to disrupt the supply side, oil prices are likely to remain firm for the foreseeable future.


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