Turning Japanese?

Day after day we see reminders that Messrs Darling and Brown, the Laurel and Hardy of international economics, were right about one thing.

When this global recession began, we we're indeed "uniquely placed".

So much so that soon we will be the only country in the fucking world still in recession, watching hungrily from the shadows while the other major nations gleefully rub one another down with 50 euro notes after their champagne baths.

And we're not exactly snapping at their heels either. We're stuck in recession, and even if the figures are massaged to show us coming out of recession in 2010 just before the election (golly, do you think Gordon would stoop to that?) we're a long way from the end of the tunnel.

The Spectator gives some horrifying clues regarding where we might be headed by looking at a similar-sized island nation on the other side of the world. Japan.

Twenty years ago that the Japanese equivalent of the FTSE index, the Nikkei, hits highest ever. Back in 1989, it was at 38957. Since then it has plummeted, and this week is hovering around the 9400 mark.

The poor ol' Japs have endured twenty - twenty - years of high unemployment, drifting in and out of recession, with new 'green shoots' promised by self-serving politicians every few month, while things repeatedly refuse to 'get better'

But how did they make such a mess of it? What did the politicians do?

Well, they tried to hide the problems from the public, to save their own skins. Major activities were kept in the dark. That ring a bell, does it? Can you think of a government that lent 62 billion to banks a year ago and forgot to to fucking tell anyone?

The Japanese government refused to acknowledge the cost of the banking crisis, preferring to sweep it under the carpet . Can you think of a Chancellor, perhaps with bushy eyebrows, who has invented a new way of measuring Treasury debt, which excludes the banking losses?

Because the Japanese refused to own up to their mistakes, and the costly remedies, investor confidence disappeared. No one would invest in their dodgy banks, so the banks had to keep coming back to the taxpayer, for bailout after bailout after taxpayer-funded bailout. Can you .. fuck it, you get the picture.

They also tried to force their recession to end by massively increasing state spending. Can you name a country, quite near here, where - in spite of rising unemployment - the public sector is still growing?

And how did they try to cover for the broken banks? By quantitative easing; by printing money. Can you think of another once great nation where the deafening roar of printing presses fills the night air, as increasingly worthless bank notes are conjured from thin air? Can you?

In short, the Japanese tried to cover up the enormous problems with their banks, printed a ton of extra cash and carried on waiting, waiting, waiting for a magical recovery to somehow drop from the skies. The result? Twenty fucking years of economic woe.

Can you think of another country that's taking that approach?

Turning Japanese. You really think so?



Jill said...

I thought the consensus on Japanese QE was that they started it too late?

Anonymous said...

Planning on Hat-tipping the current edition of the Spectator? ;-)


Constantly Furious said...

Fair cop, Al'!

Read it in my paper copy last night - didn't realise all the content was available online too.

Could have saved a bit of typing too, dammit.

Constantly Furious said...

That better? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Much better ;-)

Subscribers get the new edition online in full on Thursdays.. which is as well because the lazy cunts at the Royal Mail never deliver my paper copy on time.

Martin S said...

We are uniquely placed. Like a car stalled on a railway crossing would be 'uniquely placed' to avoid an oncoming train...