Saturday, May 22, 2010

More like us

Wasn't that the title of a book by James Fallows written about twenty years ago concerning how the US should focus on its own strengths to compete with Japan rather then trying to emulate Japan?

Well, James wrote in vain, if Paul Krugman is correct with the latest piece in the US-is-gonna-get-the-Japan-disease genre: Lost Decade Looming:

Despite a chorus of voices claiming otherwise, we aren’t Greece. We are, however, looking more and more like Japan...

...I strongly suspect that some officials at the Fed see the Japan parallels all too clearly and wish they could do more to support the economy... NYT

I suppose if you generalize enough, and are vague enough, you can make any country's economic problems look like those of Japan. Why not when you have to write a column regularly and wanna say the same thing over-and-over, but in a different way? The "Japan disease" stuff is getting a bit out-of-date now. You'd figure a Nobel Prize winner could do better.

I like Paul, but I also can't stand him. That's what happens when you work as a supposedly unbiased economist, and then consistently take polemic partisan views. Which do we believe is the real Paul?


  1. The Japan Disease is simple really. A culturally driven overemphasis on the value of money as a form of security. The society punishes failures, rewards people who do nothing, and ignores or punishes successes. A failed businessman in other countries will end up chastened and wiser with potentially valuable experience, in japan, they end up in front of my train.

    Attempts to cure this with monetary policy are laughable and will keep me entertained for years to come.

  2. Oh, so true. Since society does not provide much of a safety net here anyway, folks have no choice but to rely on cash money. And yea, bankruptcy here generally means your future is over. Maybe your family's too since creditors often go after them for the debts of their adult children.

    All this is strange for a country which in myth and legend is not interested in money, but in honor and so on.

    Well, gotta go. Gotta wedding to attend later this month and need to get my mandatory cash gift ready.