The Bank of Japan – barring the odd market intervention – does not surprise the markets. It has been the benchmark of Haruhiko Kuroda's tenure as governor – a tenure that has seen the yen tumble from its record high versus the dollar.
On Tuesday morning there were no surprises. Apart from a slight change in nuance on inflation expectations, which some regarded as faintly hawkish, the message at the post-policy meeting press conference remained overwhelmingly dovish.
Yet, given the blossoming recovery in economic growth, some – undeniably small – signs of reinflation and a tightening labour market, Kuroda could have equally been a lot more bullish without surprising the market.
Rob Carnell, chief Asia economist at ING, says: "BoJ watchers had imagined there might be some clue or even a vague hint of future policy change at the BoJ conference.
"But instead, Governor Kuroda stuck very firmly to the message that nothing is going to change anytime soon."
Let's look at the facts: gross domestic product growth rose for its seventh-consecutive quarter in the July-September period at an annual pace of 2.1%.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its estimates on Japanese growth for 2018 and 2019 – yet the Bank of Japan maintained its growth projection at 1.4% for fiscal 2017.
Inflation has been creeping higher: core consumer prices rose at an annual pace of 0.9% in November and are expected to remain at this level in December. The BoJ believes they will reach 1.4% in 2018 and will reach its 2% target by the end of fiscal 2019.
Yen strength a guide
Recent yen strength suggests the market was prepared for some tightening of policy – if not at least some indication that policy will be tightened in the not too distant future.
No mention. The one concession to the monetary hawks was that mention of "falling" inflationary expectations was replaced by the notion that inflationary expectations were "skewed to the downside". That's still a fairly dovish message.
Successive BoJ governors have attempted to lift inflationary expectations. Until you can get inflation to the point where people expect that prices will go up – prices will not go up.
Instead, if they believe they can buy things cheaper at a later date, they'll continue to put off buying them until prices fall.
Such has been Japan's collective mindset for more than two decades.
The BoJ has also had to deal with periods of rapid currency appreciation.