Prices on Nikon lenses and camera equipment took a big jump earlier this year, much to the dismay of myself and other Nikon customers. The change was due to a long-term increase in the value of the Japanese Yen compared to other currencies. Rumor has it that more changes are coming, due to even more appreciation of the Yen. This is bad news.
So, I got curious and did a little looking at the exchange rate between the Japanese Yen and the American dollar at various times.
Today, October 1, 2009, the rate is 89.74 Yen for 1 US dollar.
A year ago the rate was 106.05 Yen per dollar, and two years ago, the rate was 115.92 Yen per dollar. Looking farther back, October 1 each year going back to 1998, the rate was always between 105 and 135 Yen per dollar. So the current exchange rate is clearly out of the ordinary compared to what we’ve been accustomed to.
I’ve also heard that Nikon is aware of this problem and is considering ways to alleviate it. This might mean moving more of their manufacturing and/or assembly to other countries. That might be a good thing from a price standpoint, but would they be able to maintain the level of quality on their higher-end items? Who knows. (On the other hand, none of the Nikon equipment that I own was made in Japan anyway, so would it even matter for me? I guess a more relevant question is how it would affect prices and quality on equipment that I want to buy, not on what I already have.)
Of course, another solution would be for the value of the dollar to increase. It wouldn’t have to go up all that much, either. About 20 Yen is all it would take, and that’s not all that much. The catch is that it would have to stay there for a while, giving no hint of going back down to its current level. The other problem with this idea is that it doesn’t seem likely that the US government would want it to happen, because I’m guessing they are wanting to stimulate exports, and for that, a weak dollar is advantageous.
(All exchange rates were obtained from free services on xe.com.)