You would think the Japanese would at least have absorbed the lessons from the catastrophic results of their first stimulus. Such was not the case so they tried another. Didn’t work again.
The economy of Japan, long stagnant, has taken a sharp turn for the worse: It contracted nearly 7 percent (annualized and inflation-adjusted) in the quarter ending in June. By way of comparison, consider that the U.S. contraction in the quarter ending in June 2009, when we were feeling the worst of the financial crisis, was 4 percent; the worst quarter of the 1982 recession saw a contraction of 2.6 percent. You’d have to go back to the 1940s to see a quarter with a 7 percent contraction in the United States.
As a kind of kiss of death, Paul Krugman was full of praise for the policies adopted, called Abenomimcs after the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This is what Professor Krugman said a year ago:
The really remarkable thing about “Abenomics” — the sharp turn toward monetary and fiscal stimulus adopted by the government of Prime Minster Shinzo Abe — is that nobody else in the advanced world is trying anything similar. In fact, the Western world seems overtaken by economic defeatism.
Another great victory for Keynesian stimulus. A few more victories like that and we will be at poverty levels not known since the 1930s. Possibly as remarkable as the outcome in Japan is that even the commentator at National Review Online doesn’t actually understand it himself. He doesn’t really know why these policies didn’t work and can only say something vague about the mathematisation of economic theory and the difficulties in applying policies that might work in one country to another.
Strangely, the policy adopted in Japan included increases in consumption taxes which I am incredulous that anyone would believe would lead to a recovery. Raising taxes in a recession is dead set dumb, as dumb as raising public spending. Next time they should try lower taxes and lower public spending to see how that works out for a change. I know it’s out of fashion, but you never know what might happen then.