Japan is often said to have suffered two lost decades of growth beginning in the 1990s. This is a myth that the Japanese
created because they didn't want to compete with the US. During the 1980s, the Japanese made big inroads into the
American economy but they found that the more they forced their cars down our throats, the more Americans started to
work harder, smarter and advocate more for buying American goods.
Japan's response to America gearing up for competition was to fake two decades of economic failure including the world's
first ever dabbling with 0% interest rates. What was really happening was that Japan's economy was fine. Japanese people
were using all of their money to go on vacations and weren't bothering working much anymore. They were acting like the partner
at the law firm who just collects all the money from the people below them in the hierarchy.
Meanwhile, the Japanese illuminati yakuza moved their businesses to South Korea. South Korea became the front for competition
with America such as Samsaung vs Apple. The South Koreans work for far cheaper than Americans so they could compete
on price with America. It takes a South Korean 16 hours more work each week to make the same amount of money an American
worker makes. The South Koreans under the model of the Japanese also use slave labor for their products so they
can keep prices down by using slaves they don't pay.
The Japanese reaped all the windfall from South Korea's economic transformation while faking their own economic
collapse. Since Japan's economy was considered so weak, America stopped paying attention to all of the unfair
trade practices the Japanese engage in. For instance, it's impossible to sell American cars in Japan. The Japanese won't allow
them to be sold and the Japs themselves won't buy American because of their xenophobia and nationalism. No wonder Honda's
sell more - Japan sells them in the west and Japan whereas our cars are not allowed to be sold in Japan.
Eamonn Fingleton has lived in Japan since the 1980s and forcast the real estate crash that set off the "Lost Decades" of
Japan's economy. He wrote a
long piece in 2011 that shows that the Japanese faked their government statistics to create a false
myth of a Japan's "lost decades." The Japanese lie about everything. All of their government statistics - which say there wasn't
any grown in Japan -- were lies.
The real estate crash that created the "Lost Decades" was an illuminati bubble similiar to what later hit America in
2007 creating the Great Recession. Land values were artifically inflated with lies and fraud and came crashing down
quickly when people started realizing that real estate values were an irrational bubble.
Fingelton begin's his article by pointing out a basic contradiction in the myth of Japan's lost decades.
Question 1: Given that Japan's current account surplus (the widest and most meaningful measure of its trade) totaled $36 billion in 1990, what was it in 2010: (a) $18 billion; (b) $41 billion; or (c) $194 billion?
Question 2: How has the yen fared on balance against the dollar in the 20 years up to 2010: (a) fallen 11 percent; (b) risen 24 percent; (c) risen 65 percent?
The answer in each case is (c). Yes, all talk about "stagnation" and "malaise" to the contrary, Japan's surplus is up more than five-fold since 1990. And, yes, far from falling against the dollar, the Japanese yen has actually boasted the strongest rise of any major currency in the last two decades.
How can such facts be reconciled with the "two lost decades" story? I don't think they can. There is clearly a contradiction here, and after studying the facts on the ground in Tokyo for decades I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the story of Japan's stagnation is a media myth.
Certainly anyone who visits Japan these days is struck by the obvious affluence even among average citizens. The cars on the roads, for instance, are generally much larger and better equipped than in the 1980s (indeed state of the art navigation devices, for instance, are more or less standard on many models). Overseas vacation travel has more than doubled since the 1980s. The Japanese boast the world's most advanced cell phones, and the biggest and best high-definition television screens. Japan's already long life expectancy has increased by nearly two years. Its Internet connections are some of the world's fastest -- something like ten times faster on average than American speeds.
True, not all of Japan's indicators are equally impressive. The Tokyo stock market, for instance, has never recovered from its 1990s slump. Neither has the real estate market. (In the latter case, however, there is a silver lining in a major boost to living standards, in that young home buyers now get far more space for their money. In any case the implosion since 1991 has merely restored some sanity to valuations that had previously become -- very temporarily -- outlandish).
On the negative side, there is also the fact that Japan's economic growth rate, as least as calculated officially, has averaged little more than 1 percent a year in the last two decades. For those who propound the "stagnation" story, this is their strongest card. But it does not accord with the common observation -- undeniable to those who have known the country since the 1980s -- that the Japanese people have enjoyed one of the biggest improvements in living standards of any major First World nation in the interim.
If we believe the evidence of our eyes, we necessarily must look again at those economic growth figures. Preposterous though it may seem to an unacclimatized Western observer, it appears that Japanese officials have been deliberately understating the nation's growth. But why would they do such a thing? For those who know Japanese history, a clue lies in trade policy. The fact is that, constantly since the 1870s (with the exception of a brief interlude in the late 1930s and early 1940s), Japan's pre-eminent policy objective has been to keep ramping up exports. That policy came very close to derailment in the late 1980s as a groundswell of opposition built up in the West. By the early 1990s, however, the opposition had largely evaporated as news of the crash led Western policymakers to pity rather than fear the "humbled juggernaut." It is a short jump from this to the conclusion that Japanese officials have decided to put a negative spin on much of the economic news ever since.
What is undeniable is that just as corporate executives enjoy great latitude to juggle their profits up or down for different disclosure purposes (generally up for shareholders, and almost invariably down for the Internal Revenue Service), government officials enjoy even greater latitude to vary a nation's ostensible growth rate. The fact is that the calculation of economic growth depends on a myriad debatable assumptions (value judgments are critical because most growth these days takes the form of better goods and services, rather than more, e.g. better health care) and, while most governments like to plump up the numbers, it is a simple matter to plug in ultra-conservative assumptions.
At this point I ought to declare an interest: as a financial journalist and author who has lived in Japan since 1985, I have argued all along that the asset values crash was a self-contained phenomenon that did not slow the progress of the real economy. I have some authority for taking a contrarian view as I was probably the only Tokyo-based commentator in the late 1980s who publicly predicted the crash. (I have to add that, of course, I get a lot of flack for my challenge to the "lost decades" story. But that is nothing compared to the scorn that greeted my predictions of the crash in the late 1980s. To my knowledge, all the foreign analysts in Tokyo were bullish in the last months and, of course, their views were faithfully echoed in the Western press. The mantra, repeatedly endlessly by "respected experts," was that the Tokyo Ministry of Finance would keep Japan's real estate values and stock market prices firmly propped up forever. Extraordinary as it may now seem, almost everyone believed this. Yet many of the same people who propagated this story then turned around within a couple of months and became unabashed proponents of the "basket case" story.)
My argument is a complicated one and it is not possible to clinch the sale in a few words. But I can offer a few pointers. Anyone who knows East Asia knows that what is not said is often far more informative than what is said. It is interesting, therefore, to note that when Japanese leaders -- and their many semi-official spokesmen in places like Washington and London -- discuss Japan's seemingly endless litany of woe, they never mention the continuing spectacularly strong long-term trend in the trade numbers. Yet trade was the one issue that earned Japan the "juggernaut" soubriquet in the 1980s. Think about it: when did you last hear a Tokyo talking head mention, for instance, that the current account surplus is up five-fold in two decades? Or that Japan is unique among major First World nations in that it runs a balanced trade account (actually on some calculations a bilateral surplus) with China? Or that, on a net basis, its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and other foreign assets have multiplied probably ten-fold since the 1980s?
At the heart of my analysis is a story of extraordinary progress by Japanese manufacturing. The reason you don't hear much about Japanese manufacturers these days is that the best of them have moved from making consumer goods to concentrate on so-called producers' goods -- items that though invisible to the consumer happen to be critical to the world economy. Such goods include the highly miniaturized components, advanced materials, and super-precise machines that less sophisticated nations such as China need to make final consumer goods. The label on everything from cell phones to laptop computers may say "Made in China" but actually, via producers' goods, highly capital-intensive and knowhow-intensive manufacturers in Japan have quietly done much of the most technologically demanding work.
In the early years after World War II the United States utterly dominated the higher reaches of the producers' goods business.
Under pressure from foreign competition, however, American players one by one have closed down or outsourced in the last quarter of a century.
The competition has come principally from Japan, which now enjoys broadly as dominant and geopolitically important a position as the United States did in the 1960s.
Even if you don't hear much about this from the Tokyo talking heads, it is hard to miss it in global trade figures. (Fact: America's current account deficit multiplied five-fold in the 20 years to 2010 and the reason in large measure is because American corporations have exited the producers' goods business.)
The “lost decades” story is not just a hoax but one of the most absurd and transparent hoaxes ever promoted in the English-language media.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just read William R. Cline in the current issue of The International Economy. Echoing Paul Krugman who made a
similar case earlier this year, Cline points out that Japan’s seeming underperformance is an illusion that stems not from economics at all but from demographics.
Under the headline “Japanese Optical Illusion: The ‘Lost Decades’ Theory Is A Myth,” Cline records that whereas the U.S. labor force increased by
23 percent between 1991 and 2012, Japan’s labor force increased by a mere 0.6 percent. Thus, adjusted to a per-worker basis, Japan’s output rose respectably.
Indeed Japan's growth was considerably faster than that of Germany, which is the current poster child of economic success. (Japan’s workforce numbers began
falling about a decade ago in a development that reflects a long-term policy: in common with China, Japan is morbidly concerned about food security and,
even earlier than China, adopted a policy of population reduction. This was kicked off with the Eugenic Protection Act of 1948. Japan moreover backstops its
population reduction program with some of the world's tightest immigration controls.)
Cline, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, also points out that Japan’s much lamented
deflation is not a problem. Quite the reverse: in the last twenty years the Japanese economy has actually done better at times when prices
were falling than when they were rising. He adds that Americans make a big mistake in assuming that Japan’s gentle deflation bears any
resemblance to the highly disruptive deflation the United States suffered in the early 1930s. In reality Japanese deflation is similar to the
sort of “good deflation" in an earlier era of American history, between 1880 and 1900, when rapidly rising U.S. labor productivity consistently
reduced consumer prices and rendered America the miracle economy of the era.
Cline’s contribution is a welcome corrective but he does not go far enough. He fails to note, for instance, that Japan has continued to do
remarkably well on trade, whereas America's performance has been disastrous. Japan and Germany rank as the only two major advanced
economies that have increased their current account surpluses since 1989. By contrast the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, as well as, of
course, the United States have gone ever more deeply into deficit in recent years. Japan’s trade performance is all the more remarkable for
the fact that, far from falling as one might expect from the way the Japanese economy has generally been covered, the Japanese yen has on
balance risen on world currency markets (it is up nearly 49 percent since early 1990 when the so-called lost decades allegedly began).
While Japan faked their economic collapse, we handed them the economic crown. We took our eye of the ball and our economy is in a much riskier
position because of our poor trade policies. America should produce all of these producers'
goods businesses like we did in the 1960s. We also should demand fair economic trade like Trump is beginning to demand with China.
Japan and South Korea are abusing their markets just as much as China. We should hold Japan and
South Korea accountable.