Japan Posts Second Biggest Trade Deficit In History

Tyler Durden's picture

For those who may not have noticed it, the headline says "deficit" and pertains to Japan: once upon a time a booming export economy. The reason: the ongoing collapse in export trade, after May exports dropped by 10.3% from a year ago, and just better than April severe economic contraction of 12.4%. Consensus was for an 8.4% decline. The net result was a monthly deficit of 853.7 billion yen, or $10.7 billion, the second biggest inverse surplus ever. And just like in Europe, where things are going to go from insolvent to perfectly solvent any minute now... just not yet... so in Japan the economic renaissance which will cause the economy to surge (unclear how: no new monetary stimulus, and the recently announced fiscal stimulus of Y500 billion in new loans will do precisely nothing to boost anything except for some corrupt bureaucrats Swiss bank accounts) is coming any minute.... just not yet. Bloomberg says: "Shortages of power and parts have disrupted production and slowed overseas sales, prompting Japanese companies including Honda Motor Co. to forecast weaker earnings. Higher unemployment in the U.S. and weakening demand in Asia indicate Japan won’t be able to rely on global demand to pull itself out of a slump caused by the quake." And the understatement of the weekend comes from BNP economist Azusa Kato: "The state of the global economy is a little worrying. Both the U.S. and Europe aren’t doing that great and emerging economies are also tightening at an incredible pace, increasing uncertainty." Surely this enough is enough to explain why futures are up, since the Fed has no option but to do QE3. Alas, as the dumber by the minute algos continue to not realize, the market has to plunge from here (just like what crude has been doing for the past 2 weeks), before the Fed gets the greenlight to engage in Operation Twist 2.

More from Bloomberg:

Recent data suggest the economy’s contraction has extended into this quarter. Machinery orders fell 3.3 percent in April, the first decline in four months, a sign companies are reluctant to spend after the March disaster. The unemployment rate climbed and households cut spending in April.

Honda Motor, Japan’s third-largest carmaker, last week forecast a bigger-than-estimated 63 percent decline in full-year profit, citing production disruptions on parts shortages and the strong yen.

Hitachi Ltd., a Japanese electronics and power-equipment maker, projected that net income will drop 16 percent in the year ending March 31 after the disaster crippled its factories.

“Given a slowdown in the overseas economy, it’s difficult to expect a long-term economic expansion, although a recovery in production is becoming clear,” Junko Nishioka, chief economist at RBS Securities in Tokyo, said before the report. “A V-shaped recovery scenario for later this year is looking fragile.”

There is some good news: the ongoing collapse in exports to the US, means less imports by the US, means an artificially smaller trade deficit, means higher GDP. Alas, only in the land of economic bean counting is one nation's undisputed collapse the reason for another's growth.

Shipments to the U.S. fell 14.6 percent in May from a year earlier, compared with a 23.3 percent drop in April, the report showed. Sales to Europe decreased 8.8 percent.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest market, fell 8.1 percent, compared with a 6.8 percent drop in April. Shipments to Asia, where countries from South Korea to the India have raised borrowing costs to quell inflation, slid 8.7 percent.

An increase in energy prices pushed up import bills. Crude oil prices have gained about 20 percent in the past year and Japan gets virtually all of its oil from abroad. Imports rose 12.3 percent in May from a year earlier, today’s report showed.

“Japan’s trade deficit could remain intact for a prolonged period,” Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo, said before the report. Still, “the driver is likely to change from decreasing exports to increasing imports,” which isn’t bad as it reflects domestic demand for reconstruction.

As we have claimed since early May, the only possibility for Japan to regain control of its economy is through another massive quantitative easing episode, which however will shift the scales in the USD-JPY carry currency race well to the benefit of the ridiculously strong Yen, something that the banking clergy, whose sole purpose in life is to extinguish the greenback, may not appreciate too much.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
HungrySeagull's picture

because no one was yet born when Japan reported the lost Generation back in the 80's It's the young just graduated from University now working in Government making thier way discovering just how bad things are.

Thomas's picture

Seeming glaring omission of Tsunami effects. Let us not forget they are digging out of a lot of rubble right now. They also have had a complete shut down of any exports of their glow-in-the-dark ag and fishery products.

slewie the pi-rat's picture

hey, T:  just < 1/2 metric ton of japanese green tea was stopped @ a paris airport last week.  too radioactive.  now, they hafta figure out how to dispose of it!

Popo's picture

Even Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are blocking Japanese food imports.   

Thomas's picture

Green Fluorescent Tea. Madison Ave could market it in a heartbeat. 

Oh regional Indian's picture

Hmmmmmh. I had dinner last night with my old business partner from Japan.
All is well. Government has everything more under control now.Remember Yoshi? Yoshi quit AliBaba and is now working in his own trading company, importing mini power stations from Korea. Because in Japan we are so dependent on Nuclear power. Even hospitals buy from him. And now Tokyo is no problem. Business is good. We got new USA clients.....

I just sat there open mouthed...



HungrySeagull's picture

We ran on Generator power for a week after substation was destroyed some time ago.

Power is good. Big power is better, espeically the kind you can move.


Samurai does not want one big Nuke plant anymore. Samurai dreams of a million little drifting butterflys providing power through the beams of sunlight among the Bonsai.

Samurai eats good this year selling mini power.

Misstrial's picture

And of course, there is this:


"A sting operation undertaken by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society resulted in a court case for a Californian seafood dealer who imported endangered whale meat from Tokyo and sold it to restaurants within the state.

Expected to plead guilty, 50-year-old Ginichi Y. Ohira was charged in Los Angeles federal court with knowingly selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose, considered a misdemeanor, in violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act."




RobotTrader's picture

Risk assets are rolling over in Asia, more bids coming into U.S. Fiatscos and AAA-rated, Gilt-Edged Uncle Gorilla Notes.

New chart pack I made with updated futures here:





Reese Bobby's picture

You forgot to explain why that is bullish.

disabledvet's picture

i like new.  what about you?  time to "swing some lumber" as I "sense dissension among those who wish to exterminate the Americans"--especially "those on home front" who "hate America with particular relish"


Zero Govt's picture

Nikkei up 0.60% today on the historic deficit news... pleasing to see Japanese investors confidence remains high (today!) while the country crumbles ....I'm just miffed i'm all out of money shorting the US Indexes to short these muppets too!

Boston's picture

Risk Off = Treasuries Up

It doesn't get any simpler (and easier) than this.  Why fight it?  


Yen Cross's picture

 Exactly right Boston +1

Popo's picture

... because it flies in the face of the "locally" preferred inflation argument?

holdbuysell's picture

Not sure how long TPTB can keep directing people's gaze away from what's coming. 

Zero Govt's picture

when 48% of Americans polled think a Depression is due in a year you need to ask who do TPTB think they're kidding any longer with their smoke and mirror games...

...and now Obumma has shot his bolt ($Trillions) after promising ending recession with stimulus, what the fuk does he think he's doing running again?!! 

HungrySeagull's picture

Oh yah, 4 more years of the big wad smearing everything from hotel floor over the whore to the wall and ceiling?


No thanks Ugh.

gwar5's picture

I saw that poll too, and could only conclude that the other 42% must have been illegal aliens who don't speak the language. 

Yen Cross's picture

 Watch out for the 200hr SMA 80.30 area. Kampo is rumored on the bid, that area can't be broken into Europe.


StrawberryBlonde's picture

The NKD is hovering just above a critical level of support:   http://screencast.com/t/UaarOpSn


XRAYD's picture

So what about our "soft patch" which hindered production here due to shortages in the supply chain due to constraints in Japanese production?


The patch will now be softer and spread wider or deeper?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I keep wondering...  Do we buy MORE Japanese bearings now...?  In anticipation of these items becomin unavailable...?

JIT is DEAD for our bearing import company in Peru!

On July 16 we will have more knowledge, from the President himself of one of our Japanese suppliers.

Supply chains are now a real issue.  My hunch is that those who can AVOID stocking "just enough" (JIT, that is we stock MORE) will be winners if we have what our customers want while our competitors do not.

HungrySeagull's picture

Buying Bearings from Japan is too hard.

Go to Japan, collect a few plane loads or cruise ship loads of hungry, tired and desperate Japanese holding onto hope of salvation through thier days of misery and trial.

Bring them to your homeland, give them a safe haven and allow them to enjoy life making Bearings for you. They will be grateful and provide good bearings.

Itsalie's picture

And the Japanese were upset by CNBC report that their neighbors across the Sea of Japan had bought $16b of JGBs in April? They should be happy that at last they have become the Bernank's model student - "print money - be happy - crush your own currency"!

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

This news is Glow in the Dark,bullish,right...???

holdbuysell's picture

For those one-stop shoppers:

Saw this in Costco the other day for the first time. It's been available online for some time, however.

Is this marketing spend prompted by inventory liquidation (lackluster sales after Japan disaster), or due to increased demand? Not sure.

Regardless, this was different. The display is huge.


Printfaster's picture

Freeze dried Mormon conversion.  Comes with a bishop, and a map to your nearest stake.

Misstrial's picture

Yeah, Costco is *the* place for emergency food supplies.


HungrySeagull's picture

100 Items to disappear first.  -- google it.

No I am not Mormon.

I use a west coast supplier for the goods.

I understand some in Kansas are pretty damn timely with the Case of MRE's or whatever once the Military contracts are filled first.

ebworthen's picture


With Government Motors and Chrustler being propped by U.S. Gubermint (taxpayers) and fancy pants elites buying Hyundai's and Audi's and Chinese flat screens poor Japan is in a world of hurt.

Remember how hard Ray La "Hood" hit Toyota over recalls?  Yeah, like that.

Now that TPTB are in bed with China for everything from plastic crap at WalMart to CAT to John Deere to 100 years of agricultural research paid for by the U.S. taxpayer Japan is in full "U.K." syndrome.


Yen Cross's picture

+1 What ever happened to that "Cresent Wrench" La Hood?  Crustler is propping up Fiat as we speak. Or visa versa?

disabledvet's picture

just for starters.  "Look at the battle between the State of Washington and South Carolina."  This is what we get when we get "bailouts."  Corporate USA hasn't even woken up to the truth--the whole "world trade" fallacy.  "Chimerica" is no "chimera" of course--but the "special-ness" of this relationship is based upon that oh, so Chinese of traits:  RELATIONSHIPS!  Rationality runs deeper in the American marketplace than any other--well beyond the point of madness really.  Still--blood lines always run deeper.  No less a man than Barak Obama himself should understand that.  "His mother was from Kansas."  Reminds me of story of young boy "Island hopping" and "having to be talked out of wearing teath around his neck."

nathan1234's picture

Met a Japanese friend who likened the Fukshima incident to the rebuilding of Japan after Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Said the present generation have no skills other than computers and books. Now they have realised that others skills like Farming , Fishing etc are important for their survival as jobs have now become scarce.

HungrySeagull's picture

It will be very difficult for me to readapt to a life without technology. In those days it's long slow summers with ball game at night followed by winter working to keep the trolley line clear on the corner so that the cars dont have to deplete the sand box so fast.

Especially knowing the newspaper now is full of shite and the telly even worse.


Maybe I drop wood for a bit of food and warmth on the left overs after the village quit buying the prime stock wood cut for the day.

lucylary's picture

I love that all of the fragility of a flower opening is captured, helping us appreciate black nike shox what goes in to one little bud opening to the world. It's simple, it's sweet, and I do believe nike shox torch this morning meditation is a wonderful start to the day, no matter what the weather outside the window.If you are lucky enough to have a perfectly sunshiney spring day where you are, watch anyway. These stunning videos can only make it nike shox mens shoes even better.

BarrySoetoro's picture

Two factors that weren't mentioned:

1. In the aftermath of the triple-crown earthquake/tsunami/meltdown, Japan was importing A LOT of coal and oil to keep the lights on.  This undoubtedly skews their trade balance significantly. 

2. From personal experience at my own company in attempting to get shipments from Japan, I discovered that in the mad rush to get coal into the country, ships were being paid a premium to haul coal into Japan.  Finding a boat to haul goods out of the country was incredibly difficult.

Yen Cross's picture

 So you defaulted/re-negociated contango? I doubt it! I know coal costs from Pan pacific.

  Boats are applenty. I ( have plenty of them!

Hobbleknee's picture

So all those extra boats bringing in coal were going back home empty?

BarrySoetoro's picture

I doubt it, but considering that the West Coast of the US isn't exactly on the way between Japan and Australia...

Yen Cross's picture

 Ok, I see where this is going now. It makes sense.