As interest rates look set to rise in the U.S. and in Europe as these economies seem to be picking up steam it may be wise to wonder what effect higher interest rates in the world will have on Japan. The search for yield makes the money flow, in general, to those places paying the best return while taking risk into account.
Japan depends on debt to keep their government running. In fact they have one of, if not THE highest debt to GDP ratios in the world. This has been so for some time. Usually when a country reaches the 90-100% debt to GDP level alarm bells start to go off for lenders to that country. This happened in the U.S. a few years ago, and the bells rang loudly, particularly in the political circles. The U.S. debt, as a percentage of GDP has improved. Of course this is a ratio, and is dependent on the level of debt as well as the level of economic activity. (GDP)
Investors are always on the lookout for the next BIG thing that may derail a recovery or cause turmoil in financial markets. Japan may be a big deal in the future with the level of debt they are in and if interest rates rise around the world. Japan has been the source of lending from Japanese banks at the same time their government has propped up those banks with borrowed money. This has been going on for decades now, since the 1990's real estate bubble burst in Japan. (the US has repeated the pattern remarkably so far) Japan's government does hold a high level of domestic debt, meaning they have borrowed from their own citizens to a great extent. How much more they can save and lend to their government is an open question, particularly if exports take a hit due to decreased competitiveness caused by currency or energy.
Here is a list of world countries and statistics of debt. Pay attention to the debt/GDP numbers.
World Debt Levels
And the chart of the Japanese Yen as represented by the FXY ETF.
The chart says look out for a rise in the value of the Yen. A rising Yen makes repayment of debt more difficult and usually is the result of a rise in interest rates in a country, but is actually a valuation RELATIVE to the world. Any rise will crimp a country with a high level of debt. And there is a good chance of a financial dislocation with any sudden moves. ( google "Reflexivity") A rising currency makes exports less competitive and Japan depends on exports.
Safe havens like gold usually do well in these scenarios.