Falling yen is bonanza for consumers, tourists

Cars for export await loading onto a freighter in Kawasaki, Japan. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan get about $2,000 more for each vehicle sold when the yen depreciates from 78 to 100 per dollar.
Cars for export await loading onto a freighter in Kawasaki, Japan. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan get about $2,000 more for each vehicle sold when the yen depreciates from 78 to 100 per dollar. (KOJI SASAHARA / AP)
Posted: May 18, 2013

Attention, bargain-hunters around the world: Japanese goods - from cars to televisions - are going on sale.

Credit Japan's drive to pump cash into its economy to stimulate growth. The extra money flooding its financial system is helping shrink the value of the yen. A dollar now buys about 100 yen compared with fewer than 80 last fall.

When the yen's value falls, many Japanese goods become less expensive worldwide. By contrast, goods made in Europe, Asia, and the United States become pricier compared with Japanese products. And as sales of Japanese products grow, Japan's economy benefits.

Here are two ways a cheaper yen will affect consumers and companies worldwide:

Cars and electronics. If you're a customer of Honda, Toyota, or Sony somewhere outside Japan, a falling yen is your best friend. It means Camrys, Accords, and PlayStations will likely cost less. And once foreign sales are converted into yen, more revenue flows to Japanese manufacturers.

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan receive roughly $2,000 more for each vehicle sold when the yen depreciates from 78 to 100 per dollar, according to an analysis by Morgan Stanley.

Tourism. Always dreamed of visiting Japan? It's becoming more affordable.

Mike Roberts, owner of Samurai Tours in Denver, which organizes tours to Japan, is booking more visits. "The number of tourists this cherry blossom season in March and April was the highest ever," Roberts says.

More than three million Japanese, mainly tourists, visited the United States last year, according to the Commerce Department's Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. They were the largest contingent of tourists from any overseas country. And now they'll pay more to visit.

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