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2008年12月23日 (火)

月例経済報告 景気「悪化」はすでに深刻だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 23, 2008)

'Worsening' economy already bad enough

月例経済報告 景気「悪化」はすでに深刻だ(1223日付・読売社説)

The government has, at last, explicitly admitted that the nation's economy is "worsening."


In the monthly economic report for December, the government lowered its assessment of the economy for the third consecutive month, saying it was "worsening," after stating in last month's report that the economy "has weakened further." It was the first time in nearly seven years that such serious language as "worsening" appeared in the government's economic assessment reports.


The report was the seventh downgrading in monthly assessment this year and indicates nothing less than an accelerating day-to-day deterioration of the economy.


Due to large-scale reductions in production in such export industries as automobiles and electrical appliances, many workers are losing their jobs. Even profitable companies are being driven under due to tightened lending.


Following the government's announcement of measures to boost the economy and secure employment, the Bank of Japan lowered its key interest rate to near zero and moved to take what was, in effect, a quantitative monetary easing policy. The government and the central bank finally seem to be taking the crisis seriously and enacting policy measures to address the situation.



Further action needed

But that is not enough for us to feel relieved. The government must hurry to enact a second supplementary budget. It also should take whatever steps are necessary in a prompt fashion, closely watching economic trends and shaping effective fiscal and monetary policies.


Sluggishness in the corporate sector is serious. In the six monthly reports for the second half of the year, assessment of the three key categories of production, exports and business confidence were each downgraded three times.


The corporate business slump is having a negative effect on the employment situation. The December report said the situation is "rapidly worsening," a more severe assessment than the previous monthly report that said it was "worsening." Consumer spending, which stayed "flat," likely will begin to decline if things continue on their present course.


The Japanese economy, which initially had been seen as being less affected by the financial crisis than the United States and European nations, tumbled suddenly, probably because Japanese companies were not as strong as previously thought.



Even mighty have fallen

Toyota Motor Corp., which had seemed invincible and posted more than 2 trillion yen in operating profits last fiscal year, now expects an operating loss of 150 billion yen this fiscal year.


Toyota is not alone in facing the negative effects of a profit structure that relied primarily on external demand--particularly that of the U.S. and European markets.


Obviously restoring business performance is the top priority for corporate management, but companies also must gain some perspective on the need to balance profit structure and improve their stamina to cope with changes in circumstances.


Some people may see the government's assessment of the "worsening" economy too late. Many observers in the private sector realized the economy had entered a recession by early in the year.


We wonder if the government was primarily concerned with the political situations in its reluctance to officially declare that the economy is deteriorating for about a year since the beginning of the present economic downturn.


It was particularly hard to understand the October assessment that said the economy "has weakened further," a downward assessment from just "weakening" in the previous month report. We consider it of little use to have such "monthly literature" that uses vague expressions with subtle differences of language in assessing the economy.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 23, 2008)

200812230141  読売新聞)


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