Economic Stagnation in Japan
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Economic Stagnation in Japan

Exploring the Causes and Remedies of Japanization

Edited by Dongchul Cho, Takatoshi Ito and Andrew Mason

Japan’s dramatic transformation from economic success to economic stagnation offers important policy lessons to advanced countries everywhere that are struggling with stagnation. The term ‘Japanization’ is often used by economists to describe long-term stagnation and deflation. Symptoms include high unemployment, weak economic activity, interest rates near zero, quantitative easing, and population aging. In the global context, what can governments do to mitigate the downward trends experienced by Japan? This judiciously timed book investigates in depth the causes of Japan’s ‘lost decades’ versus the real recovery achieved by the United States, and the lessons that can be learned.
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Chapter 2: Japanization: is it spreading to the rest of the world?

Takatoshi Ito


Japanization is defined as a combination of (1) a lower actual than potential growth rate for an extended period; (2) a natural real interest rate below zero; (3) a nominal (policy) interest rate at zero; and (4) deflation (a negative inflation rate). A proposed Japanization index measures these conditions. Japan entered this state through (1) its 1990s overkill of the bubble; (2) a nonperforming loans problem resulting in a major banking crisis; (3) failure in engineering a soft landing of the banking crisis; (4) failure to adopt quantitative easing early and decisively to get out of deflation; (5) failure to adopt an inflation targeting regime; and (6) failure to adopt a large fiscal stimulus. Ongoing success of Abenomics in lifting the economy out of deflation shows it is possible to prevent or cure Japanization.

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