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Inefficiency of Corporate Investment and Distortion of Savings Behavior in Japan

In: Structural Impediments to Growth in Japan

  • Albert Ando
  • Dimitrios Christelis
  • Tsutomu Miyagawa

The value of corporate equity in Japan is dramatically smaller than that implied by the sum of the reproduction cost of accumulated investment and the market value of land owned by corporations (that is, the Tobin's average 'q' is much smaller than unity). This discrepancy appears to result from the very low rate of return earned on corporate investment and also from the extraordinarily small and stagnant dividend payments. It has persisted at least since l965, and its size has become progressively larger over time. If the value of corporate equity were sufficiently high to close the discrepancy, the net worth of the household sector would have been larger than its actual value by some 395 trillion yen in l998. Such an addition to household net worth would have generated additional consumption demand of at least 15 trillion yen. This paper traces the development of this valuation discrepancy over time, and explores its possible causes. In the process, we prepare an alternative estimate of the capital stock and its depreciation to those offered in the National Accounts. The basic difference is that the depreciation rates underlying our calculations are substantially lower than those used in the Japanese National Accounts, and closer to values prevailing in the United States. The qualitative characteristics of our results, however, remain unaffected by the choice between these alternative estimates.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Magnus Blomström & Jennifer Corbett & Fumio Hayashi & Anil Kashyap, 2003. "Structural Impediments to Growth in Japan," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blom03-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 9575.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:9575
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
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    1. Ogawa, K. & Kitasaka, S.I. & Yamaoka, H. & Iwata, Y., 1995. "An Empirical Re-Evaluation of Wealth Effect in Japanese Household Behavior," ISER Discussion Paper 0382, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    2. Fumio Hayashi, 1989. "Is Japan's saving rate high?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-9.
    3. Hayashi, Fumio & Inoue, Tohru, 1991. "The Relation between Firm Growth and Q with Multiple Capital Goods: Theory and Evidence from Panel Data on Japanese Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 731-53, May.
    4. Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 1990. "Evidence on q and investment for Japanese firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 136, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Ando, Albert, 2002. "Missing Household Saving and Valuation of Corporations: Inquiry into Japanese National Accounts I," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 147-176, June.
    6. Dekle, Robert, 1994. "Market value estimates of Japanese saving and comparisons with the U.S.: can the capital gains to land be included in 'saving?'," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 27-44.
    7. Albert Ando & John Hancock & Gary Sawchuk, 1997. "Cost of Capital for the United States, Japan, and Canada: An Attempt at Measurement Based on Individual Company Records and Aggregate National Acccoun," NBER Working Papers 5884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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