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2013年11月17日 (日)

GDP減速 経済成長の持続力を高めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 16, 2013
Bolster self-sustaining growth despite decelerated GDP pickup
GDP減速 経済成長の持続力を高めたい(11月15日付・読売社説)

Although the pace of the nation’s economic growth since the beginning of the year has slowed, economic expansion remains in positive territory.

The government, together with the Bank of Japan, should steadily push ahead with the Abenomics economic policy of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to accelerate fresh economic growth.

The nation’s preliminary real gross domestic product for the July-September period, announced by the Cabinet Office on Thursday, showed a 0.5 percent rise from the previous quarter, the fourth straight quarter of improvement.

On an annualized basis, however, the growth figure is 1.9 percent, half the previous quarter’s 3.8 percent.

A major factor behind the decrease is the sluggish pace of personal spending, which has served as the engine for economic growth.

Exports, which were expected to increase on the strength of the weakening yen, turned to negative growth in the July-September period on declining demand from emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere.

What shored up the growth despite weak domestic and external demand in such major categories was expenditures on public works projects, which increased through a set of emergency economic stimulus measures.

Commenting on the latest GDP figure, Akira Amari, state minister for economic and fiscal policy, expressed a bullish point of view, saying the government believes “domestic demand has remained firm, indicating the economy will continue picking up.” However, this is no time for the government to let its guard down.

Higher growth achieved through public spending cannot last for long.

Price markups looming

Any uptrend will level off sooner or later if public spending-led growth is not replaced with self-sustaining growth through increases in private demand such as consumer spending and capital investment.

What should be of particular concern is rising prices of imported goods such as food and fuel, in addition to increased electricity charges due to idle nuclear power stations.

According to a survey by the Cabinet Office, 90 percent of households believe prices will be “higher than they are now” in the coming year. There are fears that consumer sentiment will ebb due to anxieties over increased prices.

Although consumption will likely become firmer from around the end of the year until the early months of next year due to a last-minute surge in demand ahead of a consumption tax increase on April 1, reactionary drops after the tax hike could be highly problematic.

Should consumer spending run out of steam, the economic recovery could plunge into an alarming state, falling into a serious “consumption slump,” just before realizing the “virtuous economic cycle” the Abe administration has been seeking.

The first-half aggregate profits of listed companies through September are likely to be double those of a year earlier. It is strongly hoped that firms enjoying good business performance will take the bold step of raising wages to help boost household purchasing power.

Boosting income for both regular and nonregular employees of not only large companies, but also second-tier, medium- and small-sized businesses is certain to become a key task.

The current slow pace of capital investment by private businesses is also a matter of concern.

Private-sector companies of course play a predominant role in realizing economic growth. All companies are urged to find a way out of being on the defensive, relying solely on cost curtailment, and instead draw up forward-looking business strategies.

The government, for its part, must redouble efforts to support corporate strategies through such measures as bold deregulation and cuts in effective corporate tax rates, which are significantly higher than those in other advanced economies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2013)
(2013年11月15日01時36分  読売新聞)


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