Japan

Chart of the Year – CAPE Index signals negative S&P 500 returns to 2030

Each year, it seems there is only one candidate for Chart of the Year. And 2020 is no exception. It has to be the CAPE Index developed by Nobel Prize winner, Prof Robert Shiller.  As the chart shows, it is nearly at an all-time high with Tesla’s addition to the S&P 500. Only the peak

$1.8tn of stimulus later, Japan’s household spending unchanged

3 years of massive stimulus spending in Japan has had no impact on the problem it was supposed to solve.  This is highlighted by new government data on household spending for 2015, as the charts above confirm – they compare 2015 data with that for 2012, before Abenomics began: Spending was almost exactly the same […]

Auto sales slump in Japan, Brazil and Russia as China slows

China’s slowdown is continuing to reverberate around the world.  One way of measuring this is to look at auto sales in countries closely linked to China’s market such as Japan, Russia and Brazil.  As the chart shows, they did well during China’s stimulus period, but they are struggling now.  By comparison, more self-sufficient India has […]

Japan goes back into recession as stimulus policies fail, again

This week’s economic data from Japan confirmed, once again, that demographic changes are far more important for the economy than monetary stimulus. Japan’s premier Abe took power in 2012, promising to end the decline in Japan’s economic growth.  He appointed a new Governor for the Bank of Japan, and claimed that his “3 arrows policy” […]

Commodity price fall pushes Japan back towards deflation

The combination of ageing populations and declining fertility rates means the world is following the Japanese model into deflation – despite all the efforts of policymakers to artificially induce price rises via their money-printing.  As discussed last November, under the title. ”Oil price fall set to push Japan back into deflation“, it was already clear then that […]

H1 auto sales fall 2% in Top 7 markets, as BRIJ sales drop 15%

Hi data for auto sales in world’s top 7 markets is confirming my suggestion last October that global auto sales had reached their “top of the mountain moment“.  Total volume was down 2.1% versus 2014, with sales in Russia and Brazil showing major downturns.  As the chart shows, the sales decline is focused on the […]

Brazilian, Russian, Japanese auto markets continue to struggle

Bill White’s important critique of the policies being followed by his former central bank colleagues echoes his warnings before the 2008 Crisis.  One of his key points is that they have focused on manipulating the value of financial assets, ratehr than on developments in the real economy: “The price of financial assets, just think of Bunds […]

Q1 auto sales rise just 1.9% in world’s ‘Top 7′ markets

Its hard to be optimistic about the outlook for the global auto market.  The chart above of the Top 7 markets, which account for around 2/3rds of global sales, highlights the growing uncertainty.  It shows Q1 sales in 2015 (blue column) versus 2014 (blue).  Overall, these were up just 1.9% at 15.8m.  And although the […]

BRIJ auto markets continue to struggle

Q1 showed little sign of improvement in the world’s second-tier auto markets – Brazil, Russia, India, Japan. In total, their sales used to equal those of the EU, the world’s 3rd largest market.  But Q1 volumes saw a 16% decline versus 2014 levels, as the chart shows: Japan’s sales were boosted in 2014 (blue column) by buying ahead […]

Japan’s government debt now $100k per person

Debt, debt, glorious debt,      Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.      So follow me, follow, down to the hollow                                                             And there let us wallow in glorious debt  (apologies to Flanders & Swann) It seems impossible today, but until the year 2000 most Western countries were reducing their debt burdens.  Thus President Bill Clinton boasted […]

BRIJ auto sales head in different directions

There has been a lot of wishful thinking over the past 15 years about the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  The experts told us they were all going to become middle class overnight, and ensure that global growth continued to motor, even as the West slowed. Reality has proved rather different, of course.  This makes […]

Deflation gains: China’s plastics market sees over-capacity

More and more commentators are beginning to recognise that deflation is becoming inevitable in many major economies: China’s producer prices fell -4.3% last month, and its consumer prices rose just 0.8% Eurozone consumer prices fell in December to -0.2%, and are likely to have fallen further in January US prices rose just 0.8% in December and are […]

Oil price fall set to push Japan back into deflation

Could Japan actually go bankrupt at some point in the future?  This was the question left hanging in the air after Friday’s panic at the Bank of Japan, when its Governor forced through his new stimulus policy on a 5 – 4 vote. Financial markets’ first reaction was to assume this was a coup de théâtre on […]

Oil price fall set to push Japan back into deflation

Could Japan actually go bankrupt at some point in the future?  This was the question left hanging in the air after Friday’s panic at the Bank of Japan, when its Governor forced through his new stimulus policy on a 5 – 4 vote. Financial markets’ first reaction was to assume this was a coup de théâtre on […]

Global auto sales reach ‘top of the mountain’ moment

The best view is always from the top of the mountain.  And that seems where we are today in global auto markets.  They are on track for another record year.  And even better news is that sales have risen in each of the 5 major markets for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that […]

Global stock markets still depend on low-cost money for support

The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments.  It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]

Auto sales on roller-coaster ride in Japan, Russia, Brazil, India

Car sales in Japan, Russia, Brazil and India currently account for just under 1 in 5 of global sales.  Their market share peaked at 21% in 2008, but is today back at 2005′s level of 17%.  As the chart shows, it has been a roller-coaster ride for all of them: Japan’s 4.7m sales were 10% of the global total […]

India’s WTO veto marks end of global trade deals

The Cycle of Deflation has taken another lurch forward.  The reason was India’s decision to veto last year’s Bali deal to streamline customs procedures.  Almost certainly, this will prove the dying effort of the World Trade Organisation, which sponsored the proposal. The blog is particularly sad at this outcome.  It has always believed that free […]

Central banks have created a debt-fuelled ‘ring of fire’

A new article by an IMF economist makes the point that in April 2008, not a single one of the mainstream economic forecasts covered by ‘Consensus Economics’ was forecasting a recession in 2009. The IMF itself expected growth to continue, as did the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.  Even by […]

Japan’s debt now $80k for every man, woman and child

Question:  Why will Starbucks reduce the menu price for its venti green-tea frappucino in Japan next Tuesday, when the price is actually going up? Answer:  Because the government hopes the lower menu price will fool people into thinking the price has gone down It is, of course, a nonsense.  And no doubt most Japanese will be quite annoyed that […]

“Bad news barrage sinks New Year consensus”

Markets stopped operating in their true role of providing price discovery sometime ago.  Instead, they became dominated by the central banks, determined to prove their theory that increased asset values can stimulate sustained economic recovery. They, of course, have the firepower to bend markets to their will.  Nobody else could have spent $16tn in this manner […]

Global auto industry sales growth depends on China

Autos remain the world’s largest manufacturing industry, and the single biggest source of demand for chemicals and plastics.  According to detailed analysis by the American Chemistry Council, each new US auto is worth $3,539 in terms of sales – and involves a wide range of products including antifreeze, plastic dashboards, bumpers and windows, as well as upholstery […]

Japan’s ageing population challenges hopes of economic growth

The blog’s new series on the likely demographic impact on the world’s Top 5 economies today moves across NEA to focus on Japan – the world’s 3rd largest economy ($6tn).   As the chart shows: It has seen life expectancy (red column) increase by a third since 1950, to reach 82 years today At the same time, its […]

Benzene markets suggest BabyBoomer growth will not reappear

Benzene has always been one of the blog’s favourite leading indicators for the global economy.  The reason is simple, in that it has been around a long time, and is now used in a very wide range of industries.  So it provides us with a broad-based picture of the global economy. The chart above highlights another important […]

India’s onion harvest boosts auto sales: Japan’s sales gently decline

The blog’s pre-Budget Outlook review of the major auto markets concludes today with Japan and India.  Together they are 10% of the global market.  But their development is an excellent example of how reality can overtake the wishful thinking of policymakers: Japan (red line) is the larger market.  It has lived through countless government stimulus […]

One in four Japanese now over 65 years

Japan’s new government has embarked on a desperate gamble to restore economic growth after 2 decades of decline. Unfortunately, it is doomed to fail.  The chart from the Financial Times, explains why.  And the reason is very simple: One in four Japanese are now over the age of 65 And this proportion is continuing to rise, […]

Japan’s 7% Nikkei index fall highlights risks ahead

We are now nearly at the end of May, and still there is no sign of a sustained recovery in demand. This mirrors the weakness seen in January and March – normally also very strong months. Now, unless seasonal patterns are overturned, demand will remai…

Japan waves another ‘magic wand’ to restart economic growth

Stock market investors in Japan are feeling very pleased. The Nikkei share index has risen 40% since new premier Abe was elected last year. And now the new governor of the Bank of Japan has confirmed he plans to wave a magic wand to restore economic …

Western stock markets in bubble-mode, again

The blog’s 6 monthly review of global stock markets highlights a very unusual pattern since global demand and chemical markets peaked on 29 April 2011, as the chart shows:

• Markets in developed economies have powered ahead with Japan up 24%, the US…

US, UK goverment bond yields follow Japan’s example

The arrival of the internet should make it easier to source key data from around the world. But instead, it seems to encourage Twitter-like behaviour, where everyone simply repeats what has already been said.

How else to explain the almost universal …

China’s premier warns on Cultural Revolution risk

On 29 June 1987, the blog was in S Korea on a business trip. With its ICI Korea colleagues, it arrived at the company we were due to visit, to find the gate open. The offices were also deserted.

Surprised, we walked into the factory to find 500 peop…

5 Risks to China’s growth story

China’s economic growth has become more and more unbalanced over the past 10 years, as we discussed in chapter 6 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal. Its domestic consumption is now only around a third of GDP, compared to 50% a decade ago. Instead, the…

Looking backwards, not forwards

Since the start of the Crisis, many policymakers have chosen to look backwards rather than forwards.

Instead of facing reality, the US has wasted $5trn on stimulus programmes and quantitative easing. Whilst China created a massive credit bubble by …