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2008年6月17日 (火)


(Jun. 17, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Looming economic crisis needs flexible response

月例経済報告 景気後退への警戒を怠るな(6月17日付・読売社説)


The belated recovery from the bursting of the economic bubble of the 1980s and 1990s, which has been the nation's longest period of sustained growth since the end of World War II, appears to have at last coasted into the start of an economic slowdown.

In its monthly report for June, the government downgraded its assessment of the nation's economy. While maintaining its view that the economic recovery appears to be pausing, it also added that trends indicating weakness have been seen recently.



(belated=遅れた、手遅れの) (coast=海岸沿いを航行する)

The government's analysis indicates that the nation's economic growth has been leveling off, that the economy is unsteady and it is unclear when the situation will improve. The government and the Bank of Japan must be vigilant against an economic slowdown.


In mid-June, finance ministers from the Group of Eight countries, in a joint statement, warned that the future of the global economy is uncertain and elevated commodities prices, especially of crude oil and food, "pose a serious challenge to stable growth worldwide."



The global economy is facing a risk of economic downturn and inflation at the same time.



Rising costs, falling profits


Japan is not an exception. Rising costs for raw materials, such as crude oil, are eating into the profits of corporations that have been leading the Japanese economy. Even if raw material costs rise, they are unable to easily hike retail prices for fear of a possible drop in sales.


(eat into=食い荒らす、食い散らかす)

The monthly report also noted signs of exports weakening. Exports to other Asian countries, which have been rapidly increasing in volume, are hitting a peak. As stocks of electronic components, including semiconductors, increase, moves are afoot to reduce production in Japan.



Due to the influence of rising prices for gasoline and food, personal consumption has begun to decline. Sales at supermarkets and department stores have dropped sharply in the last few months.


Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 4 percent in real terms in the three months through March. But many private sector economists predict that GDP growth in the April-June quarter will be around zero or even fall below zero.


Another factor is the growing fear of a simultaneous economic slowdown and rise in prices.



Handcuffed on monetary policy


There is little room for bolstering the economy by relaxing monetary policy given the low-interest-rate policy already in place. In addition, the nation has a huge deficit to deal with, making it difficult to increase public spending on economic pump-priming measures. If inflation spreads further, it will become more difficult for the government to come out with concrete measures against it.


(pump-priming=景気にてこ入れする、景気を高揚させる) (come out with=~に対して対処する、行動する、行動を開始する)

The lack of a unified approach to economic policy among Japan, Europe and the United States also could become a destabilizing factor for the global economy. The European Central Bank is positive about a rise in interest rates in order to avoid inflation. But the United States is not in a position to raise interest rates due to its fear of financial system crash caused by the subprime mortgage crisis.


subprime mortgage crisis=サブプライムローンが引き起こした破壊的局面、状況、サブプライム問題)

If they fail to take concerted action, there is no denying that the disharmony could invite worldwide market trouble.


(concerted=一致団結した、共同による、協力しあった) (disharmony=不調和、不協和、不協調)

Given the unpredictable economic situation, it is important to react flexibly and come out with measures to mitigate the impact of any economic downturn.


(unpredictable=予想できない、予言、予報、予測、予知出来ない) (flexibly=柔軟な、順応性のある)


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2008)

20086170148  読売新聞)


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