A suite of articles published recently by Forbes allege that Japan’s actually been doing quite well, and that the supposed Lost Decades of economic stagnation since the 1990s have been false, a myth, all along. Of course, as one commenter adroitly stated, if that’s the case, why did no one notice or realize it until now?
But, while I by no means consider myself an expert in contemporary macroeconomics or business or financial policy in any way, and while I by no means mean to give myself a pat on the back, I have kind of been saying this all along. I’ve been to Japan, I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve seen the lifestyle people lead there, and I’ve read of Japan still being the 2nd largest economy in the world for all those years (now 3rd), while constantly putting out new technologies, lightyears ahead of us in robotics, in cellphone features (up until the advent of the iPhone), in bullet trains, and most certainly in customer service and overall quality of life. All of this sparkly shiny, and yet people are saying that Japan’s economy is in the dumps? Not that I knew any better, in terms of hard-and-fast macroeconomic statistics or anything, but, still, it was a bit hard to swallow.
One way or the other, I am no expert, and I have no idea what the truth is. But these articles present some interesting perspectives.
As an aside, I wonder why it is that these Forbes articles include one by NYTimes constant commentator Paul Krugman. I have no doubt that Krugman’s a really bright guy, well-read, and all of that. But he’s no Japan expert. I wonder what Hiroko Tabuchi, the NY Times’ own Japan specialist, has to say about all this. And, considering the Times’ track record, continuing to talk about wacky Japan and inscrutable Japan, refusing to put aside Orientalist attitudes even in the 21st century (couldn’t find any particularly excellent examples, but, believe me, they’re out there), I wonder what real Japan experts, like Gerald Curtis, have to say about it? Why is it Krugman, and not Curtis or Tabuchi, who’s reporting on this?