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2013年9月12日 (木)

GDP改定値 肝心なのは成長の持続力だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 12, 2013
Amid positive economic growth, sustained recovery still vital
GDP改定値 肝心なのは成長の持続力だ(9月11日付・読売社説)

The relatively high growth rate announced recently is indeed encouraging. However, concerns remain over the sustainability of the economic recovery. Overcoming deflation is still a work in progress.

The nation’s real gross domestic product growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 3.8 percent increase from last year, up from the preliminary figure of 2.6 percent.

The revision came because capital investment growth, which was negative at the time of the preliminary report, turned positive for the first time in six quarters. A greater rate of increase in public investment also contributed.

The GDP growth rate remained high, at about 4 percent, following 4.1 percent in the January-March quarter. It appears that Abenomics, the economic policy of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including the Bank of Japan’s quantitative and qualitative monetary-easing steps and the government’s emergency economic measures, has borne fruit.

Govt must stay vigilant

The GDP in the April-June quarter will be a key factor in Abe’s decision over whether to raise the consumption tax rate from 5 percent to 8 percent in spring.

Akira Amari, state minister for economic and fiscal policy, said “another positive factor has been added” for the consumption tax hike. However, the government must not let its guard down.

Capital investment rose, but only modestly. The current high economic growth is sustained by the government’s economic measures and other factors. But if they lose their effectiveness, the nation’s economy could lurch to a halt.

It is important to realize dynamic, private-sector led growth.

Abe will reportedly decide on Oct. 1 whether to raise the consumption tax rate. It remains unclear whether the nation’s economy has regained enough strength to endure the tax increase. We believe the government should place priority on conquering deflation and postpone the consumption tax hike in spring.

When the consumption tax rate was raised from 3 percent to 5 percent in 1997, the subsequent economic slowdown resulted in a significant drop in corporate and other tax revenues. Fiscal reconstruction is essential, but vigilance must be kept over a risk that the tax increase may have the opposite effect on the economy.

It is also important to keep an eye on the international situation. Clouds have started to gather over growth in emerging economies. Also, oil prices have risen due to heightened tensions over the Syria situation.

The reactivation of idled nuclear reactors has been delayed in Japan, and currently about 90 percent of electricity relies on thermal power generation. It is feared that electricity rates could further rise if prices of imported fuel surge.

Because of an increase in prices of imported raw materials, a growing number of food companies and other firms have raised the prices of their products. Consumer spending, which has been robust recently, is starting to run out of steam.

The “unfavorable price hikes,” mainly caused by rising costs, and a consumption tax hike, if combined, would deal a heavy blow to household finances. It is important to create a “virtuous cycle” in which household income increases along with price hikes.

Although the average wage of workers has turned around and increased, this is primarily due to an increase in bonuses and overtime pay. In fact, the basic salary has fallen for 14 months in a row. Efforts must be made quickly to drastically improve workers’ wages.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 11, 2013)
(2013年9月11日01時34分  読売新聞)


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