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2013年5月18日 (土)

GDP高成長 「異次元の回復」とは気が早い

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 18, 2013
Jan.-March GDP growth does not equate to full economic recovery
GDP高成長 「異次元の回復」とは気が早い(5月17日付・読売社説)

Thanks to the yen’s depreciation and rising stock prices due to a favorable market response to Abenomics, signs of the nation’s economic turnaround are becoming evident.

To ensure a genuine, sustained recovery, both the government and the Bank of Japan must continue carefully steering policy measures.

Gross domestic product in the January-March period rose 0.9 percent in real terms from the previous quarter, resulting in the second straight quarter of expansion. This figure translates into a real 3.5 percent GDP gain on an annualized basis, a markedly high growth rate.

In particular, consumer spending was firm during the three-month period, buoyed by such factors as “financial asset effects,” which link surges in stock prices to stimulation of consumer purchases. Exports also strengthened due to the weakening of the yen.

Not out of the woods yet

It is truly encouraging that both domestic and foreign demand have rebounded.

The Nikkei average has also retaken the 15,000 level, indicating continued upbeat market sentiment.

Referring to the 3.5 percent growth rate, Akira Amari, state minister for economic and fiscal policy, praised the Abe administration’s economic policy by saying, “Steps toward an ‘extraordinary’ level of economic recovery have begun thanks to the implementation of ‘extraordinary’ policies.”

Still, it seems premature to suggest the economy has fully bounced back.

This is because corporate capital spending, a key to robust growth, remains weak. Improvements in the job market are also lagging.

The government must steadily implement the fiscal 2013 budget to prop up the economy with the “two arrows” of budgetary appropriations and the central bank’s quantitative and qualitative monetary easing.

Whether the recent positive effects will lead to private sector-driven growth hinges on the “third arrow” of the Abe administration’s three-pronged approach to economic revival.

The Abe Cabinet has been discussing ways to promote industries with high growth potential through such avenues as the Industrial Competitiveness Council, chaired by the prime minister.

Several administrations prior to Abe’s also devised growth strategies, but none succeeded in yielding tangible results.

We strongly hope this administration’s strategies prove effective in fostering technological innovation and bolstering Japan’s international competitiveness by taking the private sector’s proposals into account.

Such tasks as lowering corporate income tax, which is considerably higher than in other advanced economies, and trimming employment regulations must also be urgently addressed.

The private sector needs to step up and play a leading role in achieving economic recovery. Companies must break away from defensive management practices that are overly dependent on corporate restructuring and take up the challenge of driving profitability.

Adverse effects of weaker yen

A further depreciation of the yen, however, is cause for concern. Having fallen to 100 yen to the dollar, the nation’s currency may decline further, which could worsen adverse side effects such as rises in prices of imported raw materials.

If the weaker yen continues to drive up fuel costs for thermal power generation, pressing utilities to raise electricity rates again, households and companies will be severely affected.

Furthermore, to resuscitate the domestic economy, nuclear power plants should be gradually restarted as long as their safety is confirmed.

Running counter to the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing measures, long-term interest rates are on the rise, which has triggered anxiety over the potential for private sector recovery.

Both the government and the central bank must keep a close watch on trends in the financial market.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 17, 2013)
(2013年5月17日01時16分  読売新聞)


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