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2011年8月18日 (木)

GDPマイナス 安定成長への道のりは険しい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 18, 2011)
Bumpy road ahead to stable economic growth
GDPマイナス 安定成長への道のりは険しい(8月17日付・読売社説)

Business has certainly been picking up after losing steam in the wake of the March 11 disaster. But adverse elements such as a strengthening yen and electricity shortages are still looming large.

The government and the Bank of Japan must stay on their toes when it comes to economic and financial management.

Japan's real-term gross domestic product declined at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, recording negative growth for the third straight quarter--a sign widely believed to signal an economic slowdown.

But many economists dismiss such pessimism, saying the temporary drop in production caused by the disaster was a major reason for the decline in GDP. They expect positive growth in the July-September period.

By using every means at their disposal, private businesses have been rapidly restoring parts supply networks disrupted by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japan's fundamental manufacturing strength should be able to stem a further decline of the economy.

But ensuring sustainable economic growth will be easier said than done.

The yen has surged to the 76 yen level against the U.S. dollar. Economies of the United States and European countries, which are major importers of Japanese goods, have slowed due to fiscal crises.

Japan's exports, which have been recovering, will lose momentum if the economy is battered by a double whammy of the high yen and overseas business deterioration. This would be a punishing blow to many companies.


Address exchange rate

First and foremost, it is urgent to rectify the yen's exchange rate, which has appreciated further than the real strength of the Japanese economy warrants.

The government and the central bank must closely watch trends in foreign exchange markets and seek coordinated intervention by Japan, the United States and Europe.

Despite the plight of the private sector, the government has been slow in implementing necessary assistance.

No restart is in sight for nuclear power plants that have undergone regular inspections because the government has not formulated a firm energy policy.

Many companies are hesitant to invest in plants and equipment while the power supply remains uncertain.

Disaster reconstruction projects, which can be expected to boost domestic demand, have not progressed as hoped due to delays in recovery efforts, including debris disposal.

The government must have a greater sense of urgency and promote policies that give priority to pump-priming measures.


Deflation a headache

The government is also dawdling when it comes to tackling medium- and long-term challenges, including lowering the corporate tax rate and joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade framework.

The government must resolve these pending issues steadily so the hollowing-out of domestic industries will not lead to an ebbing of the national economy.

Prices also are causing some concern.

The GDP deflator, which indicates overall price trends, dropped more than 2 percent in the April-June quarter compared with a year before.

The consumer price index--which turned positive in April when calculated by the old method--has shown negative growth for 28 consecutive months after the data were calculated again by new standards, reconfirming the seriousness of the deflation gripping the economy.

Expanding demand at home and abroad and maintaining an easy credit policy will be essential for beating deflation.

The government and the central bank must put on their thinking caps and come up with measures to combat deflation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 2011)
(2011年8月17日01時25分  読売新聞)


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