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Japan sinks into recession – but there is more to the story than the mainstream narrative would care to admit — Bill Mitchell

Summary:
Last week (February 15, 2024), the Japanese Cabinet Office released the latest national accounts estimates for the December-quarter 2023 – Quarterly Estimates of GDP for Oct.-Dec. 2023 (The First preliminary) – which showed that the economy had slipped into an official recession (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth) and in the process had moved from being the third largest economy in the world to become the fourth behind the US, China and Germany. According to the media release – 2023年10~12月期四半期別GDP速報 – the quarterly growth rate was -0.1 per cent (annual -0.4 per cent). Domestic demand was weak, contributing -0.3 per cent while net exports contributed +0.2 per cent. Part of the story is related to a ‘valuation drop’ because the yen has depreciated in recent months, undermining

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Last week (February 15, 2024), the Japanese Cabinet Office released the latest national accounts estimates for the December-quarter 2023 – Quarterly Estimates of GDP for Oct.-Dec. 2023 (The First preliminary) – which showed that the economy had slipped into an official recession (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth) and in the process had moved from being the third largest economy in the world to become the fourth behind the US, China and Germany. According to the media release – 2023年10~12月期四半期別GDP速報 – the quarterly growth rate was -0.1 per cent (annual -0.4 per cent). Domestic demand was weak, contributing -0.3 per cent while net exports contributed +0.2 per cent. Part of the story is related to a ‘valuation drop’ because the yen has depreciated in recent months, undermining the value of exports and increasing the value of imports. But while there is some hysteria in the ‘markets’ and the mainstream economics commentary about the result, caution is required because the data will be revised (it was only preliminary) as more data comes in and it is highly possible for the negative to become a positive. But, I also take a different perspective on this from the dominant narrative in the media as you will see if you read on.

There is quite a deal of misunderstanding about the so-called ‘lost decade’ in Japan, following its dramatic real estate crash in the early 1990s.

The current narrative builds on those misunderstandings and constructs the GDP outcomes as if low growth is a problem.

If you look at the next graph you will start to get the point....

William Mitchell — Modern Monetary Theory
Japan sinks into recession – but there is more to the story than the mainstream narrative would care to admit
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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