This page has been archived and commenting is disabled.

"Econogate" and Japan

Bruce Krasting's picture




 

 

r&r

How about Reinhart-Rogoff? A couple of Bozos. These two Harvard economists have set back the debate on debt/deficits and the relationship to economic performance by years.

 

In 2009 there was “Climategate”, where scientists who wanted to see action on reducing greenhouse gases fudged data to “prove” their point. That blew up in a spectacular way, and gave those who appose efforts to curb CO2 the smoking gun they thought was needed to debunk all of the evidence on global warming. A few scientists derailed the debate on climate. We will have to wait 20 years to find out how much damage will result.

 

The R&R horror story is no different. As far as I’m concerned they deliberately fudged their conclusion that high levels of debt hurt economies. They have stated that they made an Excel mistake, but that is just a bullshit excuse. Harvard economists (and their staff) don’t make Excel mistakes – this stuff isn't so hard. I don’t accept the excuse they have offered. They fell down on the job, they look stupid today, and no one is going to accept the argument about dangerous debt levels for many years to come. We won’t have to wait 20 years to see the damage they have caused – this massive blunder will come home to roost in less than five years.

 

Liberal economists, led by Paul Krugman have been taking maximum advantage of the R&R induced "Econogate". Krugman has no less than 8 articles out since the revelation of the R&R "error". Any talk about debt levels in the USA are now a moot issue. R&R have dealt folks like Krugman all the cards they need to push their agenda of “More Debt is Better”.

 

For what it’s worth, I always thought the R&R study was flawed (debt>90% is a drag on growth). To include data from the 1950s from New Zealand was not relevant. R&R did not need to fudge the data, they just needed to focus on the industrial countries in the modern economy to look for evidence of the toxic affects of excess and rapidly growing debt.

 

Japan is all that the economists need to look for the evidence of the failure of More Debt is Better. For 20 years, Japan has been piling on debt with no evidence of success. Japan now has a debt load of 220% of GDP, an insanely high level.

 

Can more debt help Japan dig out of its hole? Not a chance. The efforts being undertaken in Japan today may buy a period of time of phony improvement, but it will backfire. Because Japan is now going super-nova with its monetary policies, I think the country is in for a very big fall. The question for Japan, and many of the other industrial countries, is whether growth through debt creation can offset structural issues. I say that monetary policy can only mask the structural issues.

 

Japan’s problem is population decline. An economy has no natural growth engine when population is in decline. There is no amount of money printing that can offset a low birth rate. Some data points from The Japanese National Institute of Population (Link):

 

 

Japan has been experiencing a natural population decrease since 2007.

 

In 2011, the total fertility rate — the average number of babies a woman gives birth to during her life — was 1.39. A total fertility rate of 2.07 is required to maintain population levels.

 

In 2010, there were no prefectures where the percentage of people aged 65 or older exceeded 30 percent, but in 2040 all prefectures will be like that.

 

In Hokkaido and 39 other prefectures, people aged 75 or older will account for more than 20 percent of the population.

 

In 2040, the populations in 1,603 municipalities or 95.2 percent of the total, will be less than in 2010.

 

Those are some of the data points about Japan’s population, some thoughts on what the numbers mean:

 

The population decrease means that the nation’s total tax revenues will decline.

 

Cases in which road bridges have been closed to traffic because of a lack of funds for maintenance and a drop in the number of users are increasing.

 

Forests exist whose owners are now unknown. The number of vacant houses are increasing.

 

As the population grays more and more elderly people will be unable to drive, making it difficult for them to buy food and other essentials or to receive medical care.

 

It’s the older population that produces the food Japan consumes. As the society ages, there will be less farmers to produce that food.

 

It will also become necessary for local governments to reactivate local industries such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

 

Japan is aware that it has a population disaster in the making. But in classic Japanese style they believe that the problem can be overcome if only the “right” choices are made. The conclusion in the report on population tells it all:

 

To overcome the difficulties caused by a graying and shrinking population, it will be vital to cultivate people who can come up with creative ideas

 

 

Japan Inc. believes that it can “cultivate” the people who will provide the leadership to lead the country out of the box. It still believes that “creative ideas” are all that is necessary to right a sinking ship. We are witnessing an example of those creative ideas in real time. The scope of the QE policies now being implemented have no precedent. There is zero consideration being given to the risks that Japan is creating for itself. Japan is making an "All In" bet. Japan has crossed over to Uber money printing. This "creative solution" imposes huge risks.

 

In what I consider to be a very important development, this weekend the G-20 fully endorsed the Japanese policies to endlessly print. Japan now has a global Green Light to QE itself into oblivion. Any suggestion that Japan’s effort to blow itself up will have no consequences to other areas of the world is just silly. The Japanese Finance ministers are saying that that their domestic monetary policies are not driven to weaken the Yen. That's a lie.

 

The USDJPN is going to cruise through 100 in the next few days. It's on the way to 110, and as I’ve maintained, there is a risk that things get out of control, and a move to 120 is now realistic possibility. There is nothing to stop further Yen weakness at this point. We are now in a full-fledged currency war that has been sanctioned by the G-20. The currency war will morph into a trade war before the end of the year.

 

Who believes that China and Korea are going to sit back and let Japan devalue themselves to short-term prosperity? Germany is not going to let Japan wreck its automobile export base. It will not be long before Detroit starts screaming foul. The US will be at economic odds with a strategic ally. It was just one week ago that Treasury Secretary Lew said that Japan should:

 

refrain from competitive devaluation and targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes.

 

What the hell happened in the last week to cause this turn around?

 

Is there a connection between the R&R screw-up and the conclusion by the industrial countries to applaud Japan's jump into the deep end of the pool with its monetary policy? I think so. At a minimum, the voices that would normally criticize such extreme measures have been silenced. Consider Paul Krugman's opinion on this from today:

 
My vague, unquantifiable sense is that the (R&R) debacle is changing the conversation quite a lot, even among the guys in suits.
 
 
The point is that the next time Olli Rehn, or George Osborne, or Paul Ryan declares, sententiously, that we must have austerity because serious economists tell us that debt is a terrible thing, people in the audience will snicker.

 

R&R's failure functionally legitimizes debt levels that are measured in multiples of GDP. I think they should be stripped of their credentials. Talk about a legacy.

 

remember

 

 

- advertisements -

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Mon, 04/22/2013 - 00:34 | 3482630 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

If it doesn't work for an individual's or a household's budget it doesn't work for governments.

The argument that somehow governments can spend more than they make and create prosperity is the ultimate canard.

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 01:45 | 3482705 strannick
strannick's picture

This guy is Krugman lite. R and R are the messengers they're trying to kill.

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 00:29 | 3482615 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture

What's all the hubub?

All one has to do is briefly study the dynamics of rat populations.

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 02:34 | 3482789 defender
defender's picture

Yeah, but politians don't like looking into mirrors, so you know that isn't going to happen.

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 00:07 | 3482581 dunce
dunce's picture

There was no mistake, it was carefully contrived fraud.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 22:16 | 3482306 Catullus
Catullus's picture

I think this back fires on krugman in a way he can't see. So you eliminate the 90% of GDP rule. Fine. But it goes back to the original question is "how much debt is too much debt?" Krugman can't and won't argue that there's no such thing as too much debt, though the Keynesian superstitions imply it. It's such a non-believable argument on its face. So you're either forced to look back and make a hard and fast rule based on empirical or simply say "debt has nothing to do with the boom and bust cycle."

I think it was faulty analysis. The % of GDP has been a mainstay of the economics community because they're easily gotten statistics. The one I think is better is the ratio of government spending to production. If the government can only subside over the society it feeds off of, how large can the parasite gets before it kills the host OR the host refuses to feed the parasite?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 23:49 | 3482544 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

The reason too much debt is bad is that debts are promises to repay the loan.  There is a point in which Popeye will no longer loan Wimpy any money, since Wimpy has never paid him back.  Our current debt problem is particularly ugly as the US is printing money and then buying things of actual value with it, just like counterfeiters.

So what could go wrong?  If some country manages to break the oil/dollar link, then the US is in big trouble.  China, Russia, India, and pretty much any other country that has been a victim of the US dollar are all doing their best to de-throne the dollar.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 21:28 | 3482101 ChanceIs
ChanceIs's picture

Bruce.  Give me an f&%*ing break.  You don't believe that R&R made an Excel error!?!?!  You probably don't think that Timmah made an innocent Turbo Tax mistake either.  You are harsh, harsh, harsh.

Max Keiser was on about R&R on his Saturday show yesterday.  I need to get into it in detail to comment meaningfully.  I read a few of their papers.  It seemed to me that they went back into the 15th century.  Looked at many, many instances of bubbles.  Off the cuff, I can't see why a goof inb New Zealand would have affected their results that much.  What I took away at the time was that:

1) Recessions arising in the banking world (e.g. vice real estate) take un plus longtemps to heal.

2) If you are at or above the  90% Debt/GDP ratio then you have next to no chance of growing your way out.  Kind of like when Mr. Shoosh takes your buckwheats paper.  

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 20:36 | 3481886 Coldfire
Coldfire's picture

You need credentialed apparatchiks to tell you that living beyond your means is unsustainable?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 20:34 | 3481873 IamtheREALmario
IamtheREALmario's picture

R&R should be tried for treason and if convicted by a jury of their peers as guaranteed by the constitution then hanged until dead... as is the law.

Oh, wait, Obama can just decide to hit them with a hellfire missile after one of his death panel sessions. No need for a trial or charges or anything... all the O'bozo needs is to want to keep them from talking.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 20:04 | 3481792 Withdrawn Sanction
Withdrawn Sanction's picture

In the 1970s, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein published a paper that showed a large negative effect on national savings because of the presence of social security.  Theoretically, the claim makes sense.  Why should a household save for retirement if the government's going to do it for them?  Subsequent research uncovered a coding error in Feldstein's analysis that undermined his empirical results and big empirical pissing match ensued.

Looks like R&R did the same thing (benefit of the doubt--perhaps unwarranted).  The theoretical argument still stands; although it will likely be lost in all the hub-bub about the empirical results.  So maybe the cutoff is not 80% Debt to GDP or whatever.  The critical point is that it is NOT possible to borrow one's way to prosperity, which is true for households, and it's true for nations.

If there is one good thing that comes out of this fiasco, it's that you'll be able to readily identify the charlatans in the debate immediately.  Mention R&R in connection w/debt levels and watch the reaction.  If they go empirically ballistic, a la Krugram (for example), they're charlatans.  

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:12 | 3481636 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

Just curious, is the Japanese economy based on usury like the US economy? I mean 35% credit card rates which should probably be 125% to save the banks.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:01 | 3481595 scatterbrains
scatterbrains's picture

I really don't think the money changers give a fuck about growth anyway, ponzi growth sure but that's over and recognizing that they've  pulled the rip cord on their *golden parachutes* via suppressed interest rates and are busily evacuating the plane right now.  When they've extracted as much as they can they'll probably blow Japan up or Korea maybe...some body's got to go just not sure who they've chosen yet..  but the money changers are safely  out of harms way by now, I'm pretty sure about that much.

 

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:17 | 3481478 FinalCollapse
FinalCollapse's picture

Can they CTRL-P new babies in Japan?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:37 | 3481525 andrewp111
andrewp111's picture

Sure. Japan should print for one expenditure only - paying women to have moar babies.  And they need to keep increasing the payment until the desired effect is achieved - and this may take lots and lots of Yen. No one knows what price point is required to put Japanese child bearing above replacement level, and there is only one way to find out. Taxing those women who don't have enough babies will also help align the incentives properly.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:48 | 3481561 Bear
Bear's picture

By paying more for babies they might reach their 2% inflation goal

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 23:55 | 3482563 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

Why don't they just import babies from the US.  Heck, two problems could be solved overnight if Japan were to take all the people on food stamps in the US.  The US's welfare class would drop to zero, and Japan could get its population back!  "But they don't speak Japanese" you say?  No problem, they don't speak English too good either.  /<humor>

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:16 | 3481475 FinalCollapse
FinalCollapse's picture

Since when Harvard PhDs know how to handle spreadsheet? 

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:12 | 3481278 besnook
besnook's picture

without any elaboration japan is best poised to survive the post apocalypse economy than most countries in part because their population is old and getting older.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:10 | 3481270 NoTTD
NoTTD's picture

Your comment on the "damage" done to the world by ClimateGate is nonsense.  The highest potential damage risk here in the real world was, and still is, from the Warmers themselves.  That they have been shown to be charletans is a boon to freedom, and may slow their totalitarian plans for the rest of us.  I say "may" because, like all good Leftists, the Warmers hold their beliefs in a religious fashion and will not be easily swayed from their desire to control every aspect of our lives.  For our own good.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:16 | 3481269 honestann
honestann's picture

This article is a mess.  Since the ideas are so scrambled up, I won't attempt to decode it.  Instead, I'll just focus on the fundamental point almost everyone evades or ignores.

This topic is a classic example of "focus all attention and argument in one domain in order to [purposely] ignore and avoid what really matters".

What if I was to propose that the economy would improve significantly if everyone of a certain age, race, religion or other characteristic (like "collecting government welfare") was executed?  I certainly hope that everyone would dump on me with both feet and tell me it doesn't matter, that we can't kill people who have not violated the rights of others, simply because it might be convenient for others.

Yet we talk about dumping endless debt on people without their permission in order to pay for goods and goodies for people who simply vote, and to pay for the endless benefits the predators-that-be enjoy.  And this isn't just a marginal issue, because already the next several generations are officially obligated to pay for the goods and goodies that voters and predators enjoy today.  So it isn't as if billions of people were outvoted or something --- they don't even exist yet, much less reach voting age.  Clearly "democracy" is no excuse, but here it doesn't even apply... unless you seriously believe in official enslavement of people who won't be born for many decades if not centuries.

The FACT is, there can be no justification for putting anyone into debt in the manner that is now customary and institutionalized.  Probably 99.99% of articles about debt utterly and completely ignore a fact that answers this argument without further analysis.

Unless you agree that it is appropriate for us to perform analysis on who should be killed or enslaved in order to improve the life of yourself, "the voters", or some other group of individuals you care to identify.

Humans are finished.

And they are finished because at least 99.9% are so completely brain damaged at this point in history that they cannot even untangle simple "sith mind tricks" like this one.  I mean, these kinds of fallacies should be clearly identified and exposed from first grade onward in any sane world.  But they aren't.  In fact, exactly the opposite is done.  Kids are taught endless examples of fallacies, and told the fallacy is sane, valid, correct, civilized, benevolent.  And if anyone points out the fundamental absurdity, they are made to stand in the corner until they relent.

Somehow, perhaps 1 out of 1000 (?or million?) kids manages to be observant, reflective and insightful enough to realize that the entire world of human beings is one monumental scam.  At that point, some decide to join the predators-that-be or predator-class and self-consciously originate, practice and/or take advantage of the diabolical practice of creating and furthering brain damage in the masses.

That humans allow such malevolence to be foisted upon themselves is pitiful.  It shows that the vast majority of humans are either insane, or corrupt, or both.  Which is why it is so obvious that humans are finished.  Humans either elevate the predators who destroy them, or destroy themselves.  The universe will not morn the demise of such lame creatures.

PS:  And my message to Japan is:  Default.  Shut down your central bank, and strip the predators who ran that criminal conspiracy of their ill-gotten wealth.  Institute an iron-clad "no debt" limitation on government.  And make "grams of physical gold" the official "money".  In 10 years you will exceed the top of your game, and you'll do so because you avoid all manipulations, not because you "excell" in them.

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 01:21 | 3482675 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

OMG I think I am in love.

You said:

What if I was to propose that the economy would improve significantly if everyone of a certain age, race, religion or other characteristic (like "collecting government welfare") was executed?

and that made me laugh, because it has actually happened a few times in history.  And yes, the economies did improve.

Then you said this:

we can't kill people who have not violated the rights of others, simply because it might be convenient for others.

And to that I say, "Why yes we does."  We (the US) do it every day.  Like this is actually news.

And of course you used:

brain damage

a few times.  Man I just love that as much as I love the term retarded.

People are actually pretty retarded when math is involved.  If and when Fish Gone Bad . com hits the mainstream, you should come and write with/for me.

Fish Gone Bad

 

 

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 00:13 | 3482591 Unpopular Truth
Unpopular Truth's picture

Honestann: Right-on. The people who should decide/vote on debt are the ones who will pay for it.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:11 | 3481630 ISEEIT
ISEEIT's picture

WTF?

You trying to get all serious and shit?

Know your role bitch!

-:)

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:48 | 3481394 besnook
besnook's picture

japan probably will default and have considered it as a final act of seppuku if this plan does not work.  this strategy is reminiscent of the "banzai" attacks on iwo jima and okinawa american film makers had a field day with but is actually a battlefield strategy going back to the tokugawa days when a local shogun refused to give up his land alive(or at least the sacrifice of all his samurai). the level of desparation, if accurately described, is what is really scary for the world. the internal counterparty risk is minimal. the japanese people will suffer immensely but the external risk will bring the world economy to it's knees. the japanese will respond much like they did post ww2 and revive the nation in their naturally socialistic culture with much less demographic issues. the west will suffer the most, devolving into total apocalyptic insanity before order will be restored from the rampaging masses because of the void of cultural norms, mores, tradition and institutions that bind most cultures.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:28 | 3481504 lizzy36
lizzy36's picture

Japan is already in soft default.

Through currency depreciation. The bonds they issued a mere 6 months ago (corporate and soverign) would now get 75 cents on the dollar of what they were issued at.

Biggest argument for gold (physical at home in the safe) is the fact that the second largest economy in the world just devauled it's currency by 25% and the G20 hopes that number reaches 50%. That is a soft default.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:45 | 3481738 besnook
besnook's picture

japan's devaluation(money printing) gives everyone else a lot of room to devalue(print) themselves while keeping all the currencies in "balance". interestingly the dollar has the most room since the flight to the safety of the dollar will increase it's value in the short term. i kind of agree with your soft default description but it is the entire western world that is defaulting.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:50 | 3480873 Dadburnitpa
Dadburnitpa's picture

"Any talk about debt levels in the USA are now a mute issue."

It's moot.  Snookie probably uses "mute" though.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:42 | 3481381 Bruce Krasting
Bruce Krasting's picture

It's moot. I'm mute.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 15:22 | 3480954 Clycntct
Clycntct's picture

What's a Snookie?

(S)

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 16:46 | 3481197 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Snookie is a type of mute used by jazz coronet players during the Speakeasy Era. But that's really moot.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:30 | 3480817 Don Levit
Don Levit's picture

The U.S. has been rolling over debt for a long time, except for 3 years or so of the Clinton era, in which there were "tiny" surpluses.

The fact that the principal has not been paid back, makes these loans, basically interest only.

If an entity treated a loan as such, it is reasonable to assume the entity is either unwilling or inable to ay back the loan  -  which should negatively affect the full faith and credit of the U.S. dollar.

I was under the impression governments earn this faith through their ability to tax, not through their ability to print.

Don Levit

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:21 | 3480788 CTG_Sweden
CTG_Sweden's picture

 

 

 

Since Japan is a very densely populated country it is probably not a great idea to get more growth by increasing the population like in the US. Especially now after Fukushima when they got less space to live left. And I think that people Like Bruce Krasting and Kyle Bass know that. I doubt that Japan would become richer by importing people from the Philippines although I know that many people think that the US has become richer by importing people from Mexico.

 

But I agree that a big public debt is a greater problem if the workforce shrinks. On the other hand people inherit more money if people only have one kid instead of two or three. So if the Japanese government shrinks the public debt denominated in JPY by creating inflation that advantage will be counterbalanced by the fact that value of people´s savings will shrink. But if people inherit more money because they got no siblings that is probably not such a big problem.

 

Shrinking the population and at the same time reduce savings by inflation is probably a bigger problem in countries with debt denominated in foreign currencies. But that´s not the case with Japan.

 

Furthermore, Japan will probably be a nicer place to live in if the can create a less densely populated country. Moreover, competition from South Korea and China reduces the need for labour.

 

Also remember that Japan has a significantly lower labour participation rate for women than countries like Sweden and Denmark, for instance. So my assessment is that Japan´s future problems as regards demographics are exaggerated. I think that they know what they are doing in this respect. But I suspect that they should have increased taxes more than they have so far, especially for goods that are generally imported, such as gasoline and diesel. The reason why they have been reluctant to do that is probably that you don´t win elections by increasing the gas price.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 21:29 | 3482111 ronaldawg
ronaldawg's picture

CTG said:

Since Japan is a very densely populated country it is probably not a great idea to get more growth by increasing the population like in the US. Especially now after Fukushima when they got less space to live left.

Have you ever been there?  Japan is not Bangladesh.  There still is a lot of open space.  Yes a lot of the population lives in Tokyo and Osaka but when I was stationed in Southern Japan, it was sparsely populated.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:14 | 3480763 Eric L. Prentis
Eric L. Prentis's picture

Professor Reinhart was employed as an economist at Bear Sterns and with the IMF, Professor Rogoff, with the Federal Reserve and the IMF. Both have tenured chaired positions at Harvard. Each is professionally aligned with the financial elite.

It seems very convenient that the Reinhart-Rogoff research shows a high-school mistake, that the ultimate, double-crossing financial elite shill, Paul Krugman, can exploit to get more debt spending to bailout the corrupt status quo. Can you say, “False Flag Event?”

 

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 16:46 | 3481194 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Maybe it would just be simpler to say that career economists are, by their nature, full of shit.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 13:40 | 3480631 Kickaha
Kickaha's picture

I enjoy your work, Bruce, but this is at least the second time that you have argued that a decline in population is catastrophic for a nation's economy.  I think your argument needs to be better refined.  Population is a neutral factor.   Populous nations can have a strong economy and comfortable lives for their residents.  So can smaller nations.  The "population" problem in Japan is a productivity crisis, not a population crisis.  Most elderly people reach a point where no matter how well-intentioned, and no matter how fine of character, they simply cannot produce more than they consume, especially when medical costs are considered.  It is sort of a taboo to even mention this fact, but not acknowledging this basic truth makes it more difficult to rationally confront the overall problems facing our world.

Too many children to care for can produce the same problem: per capita productivity too low to sustain the economic system or build the capital necessary for modernization.

Any nation attempting to support too many unproductive people is in store for a gradual evaporation of national wealth, following by the accumulation of ever-burgeoning debt as it attempts to keep its citizens alive, housed, and fed.

Industrialization further complicates any attempt to analyze this sort of situation.  Japan is highly industrialized and its actively working population is miraculously productive.  But the unwillingness of the first world nations to accepts marginally lower incomes and standards of living while competing with emerging third world nations has created a new crisis for manufacturing.  Emerging nations (which included Japan in my lifetime) saw opportunities to undercut the first world on price due to lower labor costs, and they have duplicated the capital expenditures necessary for industrialization and thereby wasting massive amounts of scarce capital and creating so much world-wide manufacturing capacity that margins keep dropping to the point where even highly productive labor is no longer adequately rewarded to a degree that the very young, very old, very sick, very stupid, and very lazy can be cared for by their fellow productive citizens.

Japan has passed the point of exhausting their national wealth.  They are passing the point where their society can only be sustained by money printing and borrowing.  The percentage of their citizenry crossing over the line from net producers to net consumers is growing daily. Adding a phalanx of youthful working Japanese is not a clear solution to this situation, if they cannot find jobs because the export model has been torn apart by lower-wage competition.

Actually, devaluing the yen is the last strategy available to them.  At last, the lower standard of living they should have strategically adopted decades ago will be forced upon them, and the export machine might keep them from collapsing completely, at least for awhile, until their competitors join in the currency/trade war.

I'm tempted to say the Japanese are kicking the can down the road, but it is more like they are kicking the satchel full of grenades down the road, due to the lack of any other choice in the matter.  If they don't give that satchel a good kick, they will have to watch their very old, very young, very sick, and very poor citizens freeze and starve to death when the time comes that nobody will sell them energy in return for the yen. 

Productivity problems eventually have a way of correcting themselves at the micro level.

 

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:21 | 3481251 smartstrike
smartstrike's picture

Throughout most of history human lifespan was very short. Based on your argument above that would imply extremely high productivity and very high standard of living? How wrong this line of though could be?

An economic productive unit is one that consumes more than he produces. The unproductive economic unit is one that hoards, invests in Ponzi asset appreciation schemes, stores money in tax heavens and lives as a parasitic rentier.

Nobility through the ages looked down with disdain at the peasants who produced all the food; all throughout the industrial age its the worker who produced all the goods. So whio was financially rewarded: the productive worker or peasant or the the parasitic vermin.

 

You need to specify for whom you are speaking. All compensated labor is a drain on profits, no?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:22 | 3481666 malek
malek's picture

Another brainwashed sheeple ("hoards").

Why don't you just declare, Orwellian style:
DEBT IS MONEY, SAVING IS SQUANDER, and AVAILABLE CREDIT LINES ARE WEALTH.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:27 | 3481683 nmewn
nmewn's picture

I'm still trying to figure out what a "tax heaven" is. Must be ruled by some fiat god or sumpin.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 13:33 | 3480610 JamesBond
JamesBond's picture

Abe wants to get more japanese women in the workforce.  How's that gonna help the birth rate?

 

jb 

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 16:44 | 3481190 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

 

Abe wants to get more japanese women in the workforce.  How's that gonna help the birth rate?

You meet the nicest guys at work, silly.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 13:50 | 3480676 Ungaro
Ungaro's picture

Not. They could start importing Filipinas, quite adept at baby-making. The problem is that Japan is still xenophobic, often inhospitable to all manner of gaijin. The economic center of the world has moved inexhorably westward, now in China. It started in Mesopotamia, moved on the Europe then off the continent to England, off to the US then to Japan, Taiwan and Korea and now it is in the Middle Kingdom.

The most challenging time is the loss of economic powerhouse status. It is then followed by an extended period of stagnation. The country then either reinvents itself or rebuilds after having been destroyed. Governments, by their intrinsic nature, are regressive institutions, not prone to reinventing themselves. Most developed countries' governments would rather face destruction than loss of power through reinvention and restructuring.

Is it any wonder that fear is the predominant emotion on the planet today?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:42 | 3481547 andrewp111
andrewp111's picture

They have no need to import gaijin. How about simply printing Yen to pay Japanese women to make babies, and taxing those women who refuse to make babies? Pretty simple, really.  It is just a matter of finding out what the price points are.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 17:01 | 3481240 besnook
besnook's picture

the cradle of civilization may have begun in mesopotamia but it emanated east from there to china first and then to the west and europe. ny the year zero china(and india) was an advanced community and the west was still barely out of caves except for the roman empire.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:30 | 3480816 BigJim
BigJim's picture

 Not. They could start importing Filipinas, quite adept at baby-making.

Maybe the Japanese have looked at living conditions in the Philippines and decided that importing too many of those people will result in Japan becoming more like the Philippines... and decided they'd prefer not.

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 22:15 | 3482308 Tompooz
Tompooz's picture

Actually, no. Filipino's are as close to Japanese as you can get and they have an excellent track record as emigrants.  MCArthur though so too.

They fit in far better than, say, Moroccans in Holland.

Japan is actually making Filipino's into Japanese citizens if they can produce the vaguest connection to a Japanese ancestor. Not too hard since many Japanese soldiers fathered children in the Philippines. 

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 01:32 | 3482683 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

Japanese soldiers fathered children in the Philippines.

Japan did a fair amount of payback in a few places.  As did the Moors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors).

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 14:25 | 3480799 suteibu
suteibu's picture

There is a difference between xenophobia - the fear of outsiders - and the homogeneous Japanese who do not fear outsiders as much as they respect their own heritage.  Most foreigners don't help their situation in Japan because they expect the Japanese to speak their language and accept them without assimilation into the Japanese culture.  Those foreigners who do assimilate rarely have problems being accepted.

Economists and globalists often cite Japan's need to accept immigration as a way to stimulate the economy and replace a dying generation.  But they fail to factor in the problems in Europe and the US in allowing large numbers of immigrants who don't want to - or seemingly don't have to - assimilate.  Why should the Japanese have to deal with those same problems which might help the short-term economy but have longer-term consequences which are harmful to the culture? 

What is wrong with trying to maintain cultural purity?  How does that negatively affect the lives of Americans or Europeans except those who would like more control over the Japanese?

Sun, 04/21/2013 - 18:30 | 3481519 Ungaro
Ungaro's picture

There is nothing wrong with maintaining cultural or ethnic purity and I have not said there was. I, for one, prefer a diverse, more heterogenous society but respect other countries' right to self-determination. Having lived in Japan for six years, learned the language and came to admire great many aspects of Japanese culture, society and daily life, I still afirm that Japan is a homogenous, often xenophobic society. The word gaijin itself has negative connotations and anything foreign is deemed inferior, at least subconsciously.

I was often called a henna-gaijin (strange foreigner) because I spoke and acted like a civilized (i.e.: Japanese) person but still looked very different. Marriage between foreigners and Japanese are not readily accepted. Yes, they seem to crave some elements of western culture (rock music, Hollywood films, McDonalds [pronounced: Macurodonardo], etc.) but the truth is that they hate themselves for it! 

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!