Monday, December 16, 2013

Economic miracle or stopgap people pleaser?

Japan's concerted efforts to escape from the doldrums of decades of deflation and reduce its public debt burden at twice the size of the nation's economy have been packaged into a well-publicized policy initiative spearheaded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and dubbed "Abenomics."The three-pronged strategy to kickstart the world's third- largest economy has involved massive amounts of fiscal stimulus and moves by the central bank to ease monetary policy to fortify expenditure by multi-sized corporations and emerging enterprises here, as increased deregulation has sought to encourage more investment in "special zones" by making more capital available to startups and businesses looking to relocate to, or expand in Japan.Investor optimism and appetite has been lifted to a degree on the back of the government's fiscal moves in twine with the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and has been reflected and bolstered by a relatively bullish stock market and underpinned by a consumer price index which indicates the nation is moving in the right direction away from deflation, as consumer costs chart an upward trajectory.But the road ahead remains a potentially fraught one for such an aggressive policy initiative, with the central bank under intense pressure to hit the government's 2 percent inflation target in 2014,knife sets meaning the BOJ will almost certainly have to roll out further fiscal stimulus measures to engineer the achieving of this target,MB STAR or risk losing investor confidence at a precarious time, as Abe seeks to hike the sales tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014 and to 10 percent a year later."But the questions on all economists' lips are, 'Is the embryonic uptick sustainable, have the right mechanisms been put into place to cushion the inevitable toll the tax hike will take and will Abe's third arrow -- structural reform -- the most critical prong in the Abenomics approach, be achieved in a pragmatic and sustainable manner to underpin the entire economic reformatory process?'" Sinclair said.

Sinclair intimated that the first two prongs of Abe's approach seemed to be hitting their targets, with massive amounts of quantitative easing being somewhat successful in buying up government debt and helping reverse the nation's decades-old deflationary cycle,garage equipments as well as weaken the yen and give a lift to export-dependent Japan, which relies on a weak yen to boost profits made overseas when repatriated into the Japanese currency.He added, however, that the realization of structural reform would be where the true miracle lies and, as yet, this remains to be seen.Abe's has embarked on an ambitious plan to revamp Japan's healthcare industry, energy industries and the IT industry in a bid to ensure a sustained economic growth through the waning effects of quantitative easing and beyond the inevitable downturn sparked by an increase in consumption tax that will curb consumer appetite to spend in the short term.Other endeavors include plans to augment engineering companies' abilities to export nuclear and high speed train technology abroad, as well as actively increase the number of female workers that comprise Japan's soon-to-be-dwindling labor force.The latter, recently dubbed "Womenomics," reflects a growing belief that female workers could be the key to the success of Japan's economic future.Abe has publicly stated that females in this country are Japan' s most "underused resource" and this demographic must be tapped for the future good of the country's economy.For this to happen there needs to be a huge ideological shift, right through the core consciousness of Japan Inc. -- the traditionally conservative domain of men -- and the lure of managerial-level positions in companies for women for this to take place. This, however, could be a paradigmatic shift in Japan's workplace that some economists and sociologists think could take decades.

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