NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The G7 meeting on May 11 produced some favorable results for the Bank of Japan, with the final statements essentially suggesting that the group's finance ministers will not openly criticize recent policy moves to weaken the yen.As part of the Bank of Japan's historic stimulus program, currency devaluation is viewed as an important precursor to building a sustainable recovery in Japan's export-driven economy. At this month's meeting, the G7 reiterated its comments from February, which showed no intention to "target exchange rates." This opens the door for the Bank of Japan to continue adding to its easing program if current measures fail to generate inflationary pressures and promote visible growth in Japan. Moves in the currency markets are starting to gain wider attention, however, as the USD/JPY has seen forceful moves through the central psychological level at 100. This is the first time the USD/JPY has traded at these levels since 2009, with the yen dropping more than 15% against the dollar (and 13% against the euro) year-to-date.
Focusing on Banking RulesThe May G7 meeting comes at a time when the global economy is showing a sluggish pace of recovery and clear growth imbalances are present in certain areas of the world. This week's retail sales numbers in the U.S. showed declines for the second consecutive month, and the next round of GDP data out of the eurozone indicated recessionary conditions for the first quarter. Given the weakness in the broader economic environment, it is not surprising to see concern that Japan is artificially guiding its currency values in order to engineer a recovery fueled by exports. This is especially true when that recovery might come at the expense of other nations.
At this stage, true progress in the global growth story cannot be seen as a given, so it is somewhat surprising to see the G7 to avoid the topic of currency manipulation altogether. When we look at the comments made by representatives from each member nation, the focus is being placed on restructuring lending rules to prevent banks from becoming "too big to fail." The central goal is to shut down major lenders before they fail, in order to maintain a stronger semblance of financial stability and avoid excessive volatility in asset markets.
Opportunities for InvestorsWhen looking at Japan's planned programs and their implicit approval by global banking bodies, there are ways for investors to benefit from long term movements likely to follow as a result of expected currency changes. Specifically, this means selling assets that are denominated in Japanese yen. Continued weakness in the yen is expected for the long term, largely propelled by Japanese investors moving out of their domestic currency and into foreign bonds with higher yields. These activities will drive up currency pairs like the USD/JPY, and put selling pressure on yen ETFs like the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust ( FXY), ProShares Ultra Yen ETF ( YCL) and the Proshares Trust II ( YCS).
For investors focused on stocks, Japanese export companies should be an area of interest. The fast-weakening yen improves earnings prospects for companies like Toyota Motors ( TM), Sony ( SNE) and Honda ( HMC). Some of this upside activity has already been seen in Panasonic (the second largest TV manufacturer in Japan), which rallied strongly after releasing forecasts showing the company expects to return to profitability in 2013.
At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.