Saturday, January 31, 2009

There was a news report earlier about how people in China are being laid off just at (Chinese) New Year because of the recession in the US. The program, being a US news and exaggerate-if-it-has-entertainment/shock-value program, made it appear that huge numbers were being fired. This is not really shocking news, so we'll assume that it is an accurate report.

If so, one has to wonder how some countries, especially Japan and China, have allowed themselves to get in such position. China could be given a bit of a pass perhaps, since it is still a developing country and its many of its citizens are not wealthy enough to become "consumers" yet.

But Japan, despite all the old goofballs whining about foreign money and clammering for a return to the Jomon Period, has spent the last 60 years ensuring that it remains dependent on the US for both a market and a military. Developing its own market (and foreign policy) has been an afterthought thought of only after the US leaned on the retrogummers.

While the moans and whimpers are that this was all for the benefit of evil US capitalists and their dirty foreign money (the money is OK, it's the possible foreign control of money---investment---that is evil) it seems to have helped consumers too. An obvious example: Had there been no US pressure, there would have been no Uniqlo had the Japanese tradition crowd continued in their way. Or at least it would have been much more difficult to start. Remember the "Large Store Retail Law"*?

Regardless, one has to wonder what is wrong here? Countries that seem to very unhealthily dependent on the whims of the US consumer are now complaining about consumption and debt in the US. If the improbable should happen and there is a long-term change in the borrowing and spending habits of the US and consumption does fall (along with the dependence on foreign borrowing), do these folks have any alternative plans that does not consist selling of industrial goods to China so that it may produce and export products to the US? Or do they plan to mostly go back to what they've been doing for decades. Change in China seems possible, even likely. Change in Japan....

The other side of the coin is, will the US really change? Wonder where the money for the possible 1-2 trillion dollar deficit the country will face will come from? Two guesses.

* I can't find a link to anything other than extracts, but as I remember it, the Large Store Retail Law restricted stores with a floor space over a certain size from opening in an area unless several hurdles were cleared and the owners of small shops in the area agreed. Owners of small shops tend not to agree to business suicide. (A link to a very good explanation found here.)

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