Japan’s new economic religion of printing yourself out of trouble works. For the elite. This is a lesson learned from the Fed. But how are workers and consumers faring? And by implication the real economy?
Entries in Japan (91)
The dogfight over Japan’s biggest problem, its gargantuan government deficit, entered its annual ritual of leaks and pressure tactics that usually lead to a pre-Christmas draft budget with an even bigger deficit. But this time, it’s different. Very different.
The beneficiaries of Abenomics are now coming out of the woodwork with soaring profits – but they’re doing the opposite of what Abenomics promised they’d do: they’re diversifying away from Japan.
Today it was Hotel Okura Co., which operates landmark hotels across Japan. It confessed its restaurants had misrepresented 235 menu items. That followed confessions by leading department store chains, other high-end hotel chains, traditional ryokan hotels.... New revelations bubble up daily. And consumer confidence is taking a hit.
“The JGB market is dead,” announced with finality Tetsuya Miura, chief bond strategist at Mizuho Securities, one of Japan’s 23 primary dealers that have to bid on government securities. It had been “sacrificed” by the Bank of Japan, said another industry heavyweight.
TEPCO, the bailed-out owner of the Fukushima nuclear plant, famous for its lackadaisical handling of the fiasco and its parsimonious delivery of information, reported earnings today. It was a doozie! And a glimpse into what's in store for Japanese taxpayers.
Most powerful person in the world? Putin! Sez Forbes. At least, it wasn’t Merkel, who has been throwing her weight around when she found out that her Handy had been bugged by the NSA, just like our cellphones. We have to take it; she gets to make a big stink and gripe to Obama on the (bugged) phone.
Unemployment in Japan dipped to 4.0%, a gloriously low rate for most developed countries. But there are real reasons for this low number – a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What Will It Take To Blow Up The Entire Japanese Banking System? (Not Much, According To The Bank of Japan)
Buried in the Bank of Japan’s Financial System Report is a gorgeous whitewash doozie: if interest rates rise by 1 percentage point, it would cause ¥8 trillion ($82 billion) in losses across the banking system. Banks would be able to digest it. The system is safe. But then the report tallied up the losses of a 3 percentage point rise.
Trade is one of the critical elements in Abenomics. Devaluing the yen would boost exports and cut imports. The resulting trade surplus would goose the economy. But the opposite is happening. And it isn't happening in small increments, with ups and downs, but rapidly and relentlessly. It’s not energy imports. They actually dropped! It’s a fundamental shift.
After Snatching Olympics, Japan Suddenly Admits Fukushima Not “Under Control,” Begs For International Help
As the Fukushima fiasco hobbled from cover-ups to partial revelations, mega-utility TEPCO – famous for its parsimoniousness with the truth and lackadaisical handling of the fiasco – always pretended the situation was under control. But days after Tokyo scored the 2020 Olympics, that pretense fell apart. Now Prime Minister Abe begged for international help.
“I’m calling for zero nuclear power,” said Junichiro Koizumi at a lecture in Nagoya. Hugely popular prime minister from 2001 to 2006, he'd groomed Shinzo Abe to become his successor. Abe, now again PM, is trying to restore the scandal-plagued nuclear industry to its former glory. But Koizumi’s words ripped into his policies – and are having an impact.
A quarterly survey by the Bank of Japan brought a dose of reality to the glorious hype surrounding Abenomics, whose stated beneficiaries are the big banks and Japan Inc., including the formerly omnipotent nuclear power industry that Abenomics is trying to restore to its glory. But consumers are struggling with reality, apparently.
Supercar-makers Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce are reacting to the forces whacking global markets for luxury products: a corruption crackdown in China, Abenomics in Japan, and the Fed’s money-printing in the US. The idea that sales in China, which is printing billionaires by the dozens, are crashing is a hard-to-swallow concept for the industry.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com. The bad news from the Fukushima nuclear power plant has been the massive leaks of radioactive water into the Pacific, likely to get worse as Tepco, the operator, is unsure how to stop the leaks. But now there's a much bigger issue that could prove dangerous to much of the world, and again Tepco could be responsible.
TEPCO, owner of the Fukushima nuke, whose lackadaisical handling of the fiasco is a fiasco itself, was bailed out by taxpayers after the disaster. It got another bailout as the government decided to deal itself with the radioactive groundwater leaking into the ocean. TEPCO should be bankrupt. But to add insult to injury, the government said, let’s not hurt investors!
Trade is one of the aspects that Abenomics designated as critical. So the Bank of Japan has embarked on a radical money-printing program to devalue the yen and make exports more competitive. It would also render imports so expensive that buyers would cut back. The resulting trade surplus would save Japan. In theory. In reality, the opposite is happening.
Japanese banks, which should know a thing or two about banking crises, have once again clawed their way to the top of the heap of overseas lenders. And with their knack for impeccable timing, they’ve once again become the largest force in emerging market economies – just as financial turmoil there is coming to a boil.
So the Japanese economy is booming. GDP growth in the April-June quarter was revised up to 3.8%, driven by higher big-ticket spending and government outlays. The January-March quarter was revised up to 4.1%. Three quarters in a row of growth, fed by something we’ve seen before. In 1996. And it ended in tears.
For Japan’s megabanks, lending has rebounded. But instead of funding industrial projects in Japan, they’re funding acquisitions overseas and highfalutin real-estate speculation in Tokyo. They wrote up stock holdings and extracted fees from frenzied trading. Profits surged. They’re the prime beneficiaries of Abenomics. But smaller banks are not so lucky.