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Japan’s Economic and Financial Stagnation and the Possibility of a Second Lost Decade

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  • Cargill, Thomas

    () (University of Nevada)

Abstract

This paper reviews the reasons why Japan has failed to resolve the economic and financial distress that started in 1990 with the collapse of asset prices despite many efforts to stimulate the economy and redesign the financial system. Why has recovery not yet occurred, and is Japan in a second lost decade in terms of economic and financial development? I discuss how restraints embedded in the Japanese financial system account for the slow and incomplete reform process. These include: financial liberalization in Japan was more a response to specific interest groups than an effort at fundamental redesign; perceived absence of moral hazard and regulatory-market dialectic in Japan; economic history’s influence on Japan’s perceived need for institutional redesign; clash between liberalization and Japanese culture; BIS capital-asset requirements; role of government financial intermediation; and, lack of a perceived crisis in Japan. The paper then turns to general or global restraints to reform and focuses on Bank of Japan policy and the adverse effects of deflation. To date, Japan has not shown a willingness to accept the cost of reform and continues to engage in forgiveness and forbearance. Japan need not adopt the western-type of financial system to the same degree as in the United States or England, but it needs to find a way to depart from the system of mutual support and accept a system that allows for bankruptcy to play a more meaningful role in the allocation of resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Cargill, Thomas, 2004. "Japan’s Economic and Financial Stagnation and the Possibility of a Second Lost Decade," EIJS Working Paper Series 199, Stockholm School of Economics, The European Institute of Japanese Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:eijswp:0199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas F. Cargill & Michael M. Hutchison & Takatoshi Ito, 1997. "The Political Economy of Japanese Monetary Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262032473, January.
    2. O'Hara, Maureen & Easley, David, 1979. "The Postal Savings System in the Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 741-753, September.
    3. Cargill, Thomas F. & Parker, Elliott, 2002. "Asian finance and the role of bankruptcy: a model of the transition costs of financial liberalization," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 297-318.
    4. Cargill, Thomas F. & Parker, Elliott, 2004. "Price deflation and consumption: central bank policy and Japan's economic and financial stagnation," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 493-506, June.
    5. Takatoshi Ito, 1991. "The Japanese Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262090295, January.
    6. Thomas F. Cargill, 2002. "Japan passes again on fundamental financial reform," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue sep27.
    7. Thomas F. Cargill & Michael M. Hutchison & Takatoshi Ito, 2001. "Financial Policy and Central Banking in Japan," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262032856, January.
    8. Hiroshi Ono & Marcus E. Rebick, 2003. "Constraints on the Level and Efficient Use of Labor in Japan," NBER Working Papers 9484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Paul R. Krugman, 1998. "It's Baaack: Japan's Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 137-206.
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    11. Thomas F. Cargill & Naoyuki Yoshino, 2001. "Japan's new prime minister and the Postal Savings System," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue may18.
    12. Cargill, Thomas-F, 2001. "Monetary Policy, Deflation, and Economic History: Lessons for the Bank of Japan," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 19(S1), pages 113-134, February.
    13. Adam S. Posen, 1998. "Restoring Japan's Economic Growth," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 35.
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    15. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Japan; asset prices; non-performing loans; banks; financial liberalization; moral hazard; regulation; financial intermediation; institutional change.;

    JEL classification:

    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N25 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Asia including Middle East

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