Thursday, May 20, 2010

Musta missed this somehow

Japan's economy surged in the first three months of the year, data showed Thursday, marking the fourth straight quarter of expansion as the country's export-driven recovery gathers pace.

Gross domestic product accelerated by an annualised 4.9 percent in the January-March period, the fastest pace of growth since the second quarter of 2009. AFP

Just goes to show that I associate with weird people, many of whom have been fired, have had hours reduced, bonuses eliminated, pay cut, folks whose export-oriented companies are in deep trouble---and that does not include those who were in finance and are still looking for related work a year after being fired (women, of course). After four straight quarters of growth, it looks like someone would notice* this sizzling-hot good news other than economists. There were over 30,000 suicides in Japan last year, many related to the recession. Just think how many lives would have been saved had they been aware of these statistics.

Why am I beginning to think that the field of economics is a game of smoke and mirrors?

Edited 6:30 pm: The NYT magazine has an article (The Rise and the Fall of the GDP) about the weaknesses of using the GDP to measure the prosperity---among other things---of a country. It's a long, but interesting article, that unfortunately leads me to believe that we are still a long way adopting anything else. The alternatives suggested in the article are not likely to ever get accepted in the US without another Fort Sumter event.

Edited Again: 6:59: Now I am gettin' jus' plain stoopider, 'cause I can't figure any of this out. The New York Times optimistically reports:

Private spending has been supported by a flurry of stimulus measures introduced by the government, including tax breaks on fuel-efficient cars, subsidies for eco-friendly electronics and cash payments for families with young children. The stimulus has helped retail sales advance for three straight months through March.

while Business Week takes a less rosy view:

Japan’s economy grew less than forecast in the first quarter as an export-led recovery failed to stoke consumer spending,...**

What does "supported by" mean? Since consumer spending wasn't "stoked," but at the same time was supported, I guess that it was flat or fell less than it normally would have. I think I got ¥12,000 in a tax rebate earlier, but I would not say that my spending was supported by that. I should have bought a car or something to help. I feel guilty now.

*One person whom I know who works directly in exports has seen an increase in over-time in the last month. However, she is very concerned since she is not a specialist and "anyone" can do her job. She will feel better too, after looking at these numbers.

**Household outlays rose 0.3 percent in the first quarter, slowing from the previous period’s 0.7 percent gain, today’s report showed. Business Week


  1. Damn lies and all that. If you made 100 bucks one year, then the next 50 bucks, you are down 50 percent. Next year, you make 55 bucks, you have a MASSIVE growth rate of 10 percent. But you still are 45 bucks down on what you need to live.

    Obviously, these are 1890 figures.

  2. "Fears of another recession have eased in Japan, however, as exports, production and wages stage a recovery." NYT:

    Darn, Our Man, you are right about the 55 bucks. Or is it ¥55? 2010 figures.