Japan’s money stock, or currency in circulation and bank deposits, rose at the fastest annual pace on record in May as companies hoarded cash to guard against slumping sales from the coronavirus pandemic, central bank data showed on Tuesday.
The data underscores the disruption the health crisis is causing to corporate activity and the flow of money, leaving policymakers dealing with the stiff challenge of reviving an economy in the throes of a deep recession.
Japan’s M3 money stock – or currency in circulation and deposits at financial institutions – rose 4.1% in May from a year earlier, marking the biggest increase since comparable data became available in 2004, Bank of Japan data showed.
The increase was faster than a 3.0% gain in April.
Of the total amount, deposits at financial institutions jumped 10.1% in May, the fastest pace of increase since 2017, to reach a record 770 trillion yen (5.60 trillion pounds).
“Companies are borrowing more amid the coronavirus pandemic and parking money in bank deposits, so they have more cash at hand to meet immediate funding needs,” a BOJ official told reporters.
Data released on Monday showed Japanese bank lending rose at the fastest annual pace on record in May, as cash-strapped firms tapped loans to pay for fixed costs that emerge even when they are suspending operations.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a state of emergency in April requesting citizens to stay home and businesses to close.
Although the emergency was lifted in late May, analysts expect the economy to recover only moderately from a deepening recession in the face of the pandemic’s sweeping global impact.