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2014年2月19日 (水)

GDP1%増 成長シナリオに狂いはないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 18, 2014
Will economy grow as steadily as expected by government?
GDP1%増 成長シナリオに狂いはないか(2月18日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy package, dubbed Abenomics, is being put to the test in terms of whether it will achieve stable and sustainable growth.
 持続的な安定成長の達成へ、安倍政権の経済政策「アベノミクス」の真価が問われよう。

The nation’s real-term gross domestic product for the October-December period of last year edged up 0.3 percent over the previous quarter, according to the Cabinet Office, marking the fourth straight quarterly growth and a growth of 1.0 percent on an annualized basis.
 内閣府が発表した昨年10~12月期の実質国内総生産(GDP)は、前期比0・3%増となった。4四半期連続でプラス成長を維持し、年率換算の成長率は1・0%だった。

Personal consumption saw significant expansion as the demand for automobiles and other durable goods surged ahead of a consumption tax increase in April. Plant and equipment investments, which had been recovering at a sluggish pace, improved by an annualized 5.3 percent.
 個人消費は、消費増税をにらんだ自動車など耐久消費財の「駆け込み需要」で堅調に伸び、回復の鈍かった設備投資も、年率5・3%増と復調した。

Akira Amari, state minister for economic and fiscal policy, presented an optimistic view of the economy, saying, “Business is picking up steadily, centering on private-sector demand.”
 甘利経済財政相は「民需を中心に景気が着実に上向いている」と、楽観的な見方を示した。

But the annualized growth rate of 1 percent fell far short of the 2 percent to 3 percent widely predicted among the private sector.
 しかし、「1%成長」は2~3%が中心だった民間の事前予想を大きく下回った。

The primary cause for this tepid growth is that public works investments, which had served as an engine for growth, began to level off. Work delays caused by labor shortages at construction sites and sharp rises in material prices have grown more serious.
 伸び悩みの主因は、成長を牽引していた公共投資に一服感が出たことだ。建設現場の人手不足や資材高騰による工事遅延が、一段と深刻化してきたのではないか。

Exports, which were expected to expand thanks to a weaker yen, managed to achieve only a small margin of increase due to business slowdowns in emerging market economies and other factors.
 円安が追い風になったはずの輸出も、新興国の景気減速などの影響で小幅な増加にとどまった。

Another salient point is that exports failed to increase significantly, despite the weaker yen, because many Japanese makers had already shifted production bases overseas in an era of ultra-strong yen exchange rates.
 超円高の時代に多くの日本メーカーが生産拠点を海外に移したため、円安でも輸出があまり伸びなくなった面も指摘できる。

The challenges ahead

Certainly, domestic demand is robust currently, but the biggest challenge ahead is how to overcome the effect of a sales tax hike to 8 percent slated for April.
 確かに足元の内需は堅調だが、最大の課題は、4月の消費税率引き上げのショックを、どのように乗り切るかである。

In the scenario painted by the government to put the economy on a stable path of growth, the drop in demand expected in the wake of the tax hike will be compensated for by the implementation of a ¥5.5 trillion economic stimulus and the recovery of foreign demand. But the latest GDP figure can be seen as indicating that reality is beginning to fall short of government expectations under the scenario.
 政府は総額5・5兆円の経済対策や外需の回復で、消費増税後の「反動減」を補い、安定的な成長軌道につなげるシナリオを描く。だが、今回のGDPは、その目算が狂い始めた兆しも見える。

The government holds public works projects in high regard, treating them as a trump card to ward off the effects of a sales tax increase. But if they are delayed significantly, they may fail to avert a business slowdown.
 消費増税を克服する切り札として政府が重視する公共事業の執行が大幅に遅れれば、景気失速を防げないかもしれない。

Finance Minister Taro Aso has promised to urge government ministries and agencies to accelerate the budget implementation for public works projects, but it remains to be seen what can be done to resolve manpower shortages and other problems.
 麻生財務相は、公共事業の予算執行を急ぐよう各府省に促す考えを示したが、人手不足などを解消する有効策は不透明だ。

The central and local governments, along with the construction industry, must join hands to take all possible measures to ensure the smooth progress and completion of public works projects.
 政府と地方自治体、建設業界の連携により、公共事業の円滑な執行に万全を期さねばならない。

The suspension of nuclear power generation has necessitated massive imports of fuels for thermal power generation, which has had a huge adverse effect on the national economy. The value of imports has ballooned due to the yen’s weakening, as trade deficits pushed the GDP down. It is crucial to steadily proceed with the restart of nuclear reactors once their safety has been confirmed.
 原子力発電所が停止し、大量の火力発電燃料を輸入している悪影響も大きい。円安で輸入額が膨らみ、貿易赤字がGDPを押し下げている。安全性を確認できた原発を着実に再稼働すべきだ。

In addition to government policy, though, efforts by private firms, the main driving force for the national economy, will be indispensable in realizing sustainable growth.
 持続力のある成長を実現するには、政策対応はもとより、日本経済の主役である民間企業の努力が不可欠である。

Businesses that have seen their performance recovering are urged to return profits to workers in the form of pay raises, thereby boosting consumer purchasing power and driving a virtuous economic circle.
 業績の回復した企業が賃上げで利益を労働者に還元することで、購買力を底上げし、「経済の好循環」を後押ししてもらいたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 18, 2014)
(2014年2月18日00時15分  読売新聞)

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