Tag: demographics

It is one year since the election of Shinzo Abe in Japan. He immediately embarked on a radical economic policy to stimulate the Japanese economy, which had suffered from years of stagnation. There have been three parts (or three arrows) to his policy: fiscal policy and monetary policy to stimulate aggregate demand and supply-side policy to increase productivity.

As the previous post explains:

“The first arrow is monetary policy. The Bank of Japan has engaged in extensive quantitative easing through bond purchases in order to drive down the exchange rate (see A J-curve for Japan?), stimulate expenditure and increase the rate of inflation. A target inflation rate of 2% has been set by the Bank of Japan. Part of the problem for the Japanese economy over the years has been stagnant or falling prices. Japanese consumers have got used to waiting to spend in the hope of being able to buy at lower prices. Similarly, Japanese businesses have often delayed stock purchase. By committing to bond purchases of whatever amount is necessary to achieve the 2% inflation target, the central bank hopes to break this cycle and encourage people to buy now rather than later.

The second arrow is fiscal policy. Despite having the highest debt to GDP ratio in the developed world, Japan is embarking on a large-scale programme of infrastructure investment and other public works. The package is worth over $100bn. The expansionary fiscal policy is accompanied by a longer-term plan for fiscal consolidation as economic growth picks up. In the short term, Japan should have no difficulty in financing the higher deficit, given that most of the borrowing is internal and denominated in yen.

The third arrow is supply-side policy. On 5 June, Shinzo Abe unveiled a series of goals his government would like to achieve in order to boost capacity and productivity. These include increasing private-sector investment (both domestic and inward), infrastructure expenditure (both private and public), increasing farmland, encouraging more women to work by improving day-care facilities for children, and deregulation of both goods, capital and labour markets. The prime minister, however, did not give details of the measures that would be introduced to achieve these objectives. More details will be announced in mid-June.”

In the webcast and article below, Linda Yueh, the BBC’s Chief Business Correspondent, considers how effective the policies are proving and the challenges that remain.

Webcast

Has Abenomics fixed Japan’s economic fortunes? BBC News, Linda Yueh (16/12/13)

Articles

Why Abenomics holds lessons for the West BBC News, Linda Yueh (13/12/13)
Japanese business confidence hits six-year high, Tankan survey shows The Guardian (16/12/13)

Data

World Economic Outlook Database IMF (Oct 2013)
Bank of Japan Statistics Bank of Japan
Economic Outlook Annex Tables OECD
Country statistical profile: Japan 2013 OECD (15/11/13)

Questions

  1. Demonstrate on (a) an aggregate demand and supply diagram and (b) a Keynesian 45° line diagram the effects of the three arrows (assuming they are successful) in meeting their objectives.
  2. Why has Japan found it so hard to achieve economic growth over the past 20 years?
  3. How has the Japanese economy performed over the past 12 months?
  4. What lessons can be learnt by the UK and eurozone countries from Japan’s three arrows?
  5. Why is the second arrow problematic, given the size of Japan’s general government debt? Does the proportion of Japanese debt owed overseas affect the argument?
  6. In what ways do the three arrows (a) support each other; (b) conflict with each other?
  7. Why is the structure of the labour market in Japan acting as a break on economic growth? What policies are being, or could be, pursued to tackle these structural problems?

On 30 August, Japan’s opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), won a landslide victory in the Japanese election. Although there are signs that the Japanese economy is beginning to pull out of recession (see Green shoots as autumn approaches), deep economic problems remain. Unemployment is at record highs; it has the highest national debt as a proportion of GDP of any of the G8 countries (see OECD Economic Outlook Statistical Annex Tables; consumer spending remains subdued; deflation seems entrenched; exports have slumped; bureaucracy is deeply embedded in government; and it has a rapidly ageing population.

So what is expected of the new government and what can it do? The following articles address these questions.

Japan’s Hatoyama sweeps to power (video) BBC News (31/8/09)
New Japanese government seeks a strategy for growth The Nation (Thailand) (1/9/09)
Japan’s new leader faces tough task Radio Australia (1/9/09)
Hatoyama faces daunting economic task BBC News (31/8/09)
DPJ needs to reinvigorate domestic economy of Japan China View (1/9/09)
Analysts worry DPJ’s policies may be a bane to Japan’s economy Channel NewsAsia (31/8/09)
Hamish McRae: Post election, what do the Japanese really want to do with their country? Independent (1/9/09)
Japan’s Government: Five Ways to Fix the Economy Time (1/9/09)
The vote that changed Japan The Economist (3/9/09)

Questions

  1. Paint a brief picture of the current state of the Japanese economy.
  2. What policies are advocated by the new government and what difficulties lie in the way of achieving the policy goals?
  3. What supply-side policies would you recommend for Japan and why?