An interesting economic experiment is underway in Japan—and its results will hold lessons for the rest of usby George Magnus / August 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
After the financial crisis in 2007/08, a barrage of research reports featured the headline “Turning Japanese,” invoking The Vapors’ 1980 hit song. What the authors meant was that Western countries looked as though they would follow the Japanese experience—following the bust of that country’s massive credit and financial bubble in the 1990s—of a banking crisis, escalating public debt, deflation and a lost decade of economic growth—or over two in Japan’s case. With Western countries also confronting the rapid ageing of society that Japan experienced rather earlier, the comparison hasn’t proven off the mark. But we might well be turning Japanese again in different ways, because of Japan’s latest response to its economic predicament.
Last week, the government, lead by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, attempted to breathe new life into the economic programme that bears his name, Abenomics. Abe’s programme revolves around the so-called three arrows of fiscal stimulus, monetary largesse and structural economic reforms. Many people have criticised Abenomics for having failed to deliver a sustained rise in economic growth and two per cent inflation, both of which suffered a relapse in 2015, with increases of just 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively. There’s no way that these setbacks can be brushed aside, but neither can Abenomics. Remember that Abe was only elected in 2012.
Japan is a rich country, with an income per head of over over $32,000, and th…