Asia: Japan in 2016

Asia: Japan in 2016A series of earthquakes struck Kumamoto in Japan’s southwest in April, triggering fears of a repeat of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011. Kumamoto city is located 115 kilometres (72 miles) from the Sendai nuclear power station, the only nuclear plant in operation at the time of the earthquake. The most recent…

TPP: Who Needs Uncle Sam?

TPP: Who Needs Uncle Sam?Can the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) survive without the United States?  That is what Asia is pondering with the election of Donald Trump, who has proclaimed he will pull out of the 12-member pact during his first days in office. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already said that the trade deal “has no meaning” without…

Negative Interest Rates: Insidious Killers

Negative Interest Rates: Insidious KillersPlagued by a persistent lack of demand for loans in economies that refuse to respond to more conventional stimulus attempts, several of Europe’s central bankers have cut key interest rates below zero for more than a year. Japan now has caught the disease in an economy that has not responded to any of Abe’s arrows,…

Japan: Business Cycle Disappears

Japan: Business Cycle DisappearsJapan's politicians and the Bank of Japan appear unable or unwilling to get a grip on their economic problems despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s vaunted quiver of economic arrows, the most potent of which – restructuring – remains sheathed. In effect, the country has broken its Economic Clock®, with crazy investment implications. A broken clock…

Bonn Climate Protesters Take After Japan

Bonn Climate Protesters Take After JapanThe fourth day of negotiations on climate talks in Bonn, Germany, have got underway with protesters chanting "Sekitan, Yamato, stop coal finance," criticizing Japan as the world's largest provider of coal finance. The Bonn talks are the prelude to negotiate the final details of an agreement before the major United Nations-sponsored climate conference in Paris…

Some Japanese Manufacturers Exit China

Some Japanese Manufacturers Exit ChinaIn early 2015, Panasonic and Toshiba announced that they would stop producing television sets in China. As Japan continues to decrease its investment in China, the two multinational corporations’ partial exit seemed to underscore an overall trend of Japanese firms withdrawing from China. On Feb. 23, Nikkei News reported that Citizen Watch Company had suddenly closed…

Japan’s Abe Tries Painful Structural Reform

Japan’s Abe Tries Painful Structural ReformIn his 29 April speech to US Congress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proudly referred to his administration’s “sweeping reforms to our agricultural cooperatives that have not changed in 60 long years.”  Those reforms ae a part of Abe’s crucial “third arrow” of structural reform, which has been stalled since he took office. But the draft bill presented to…

Grading Abenomics: It’s a C-

Grading Abenomics: It’s a C-Two years have passed since Shinzo Abe returned as prime minister of Japan and implemented a new economic policy that was quickly dubbed “Abenomics.” Enough time has passed to give a preliminary assessment of what Abenomics has accomplished. The answer? Not much. Abenomics consists of three parts, or “arrows:” a monetary policy of aggressive quantitative…

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia Boom

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia BoomThe best efforts of central bankers in the West and Japan to re-ignite inflation have thus far failed. The rest of Asia, which once seemed partly immune to the problems of aging and indebted societies, is now looking far more vulnerable to deflationary forces. Low and still-falling interest rates should in principle benefit these countries…

Womenomics in Japan

Womenomics in Japan“Womenomics” is a key pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy. In 2013, just 64 percent of Japanese women aged 15–64 were participating in the labor force — a low rate by OECD standards.  As Japan’s labor force is already in decline, it is wasteful that women, and particularly those with higher educations,…
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