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from Breakingviews:

The ‘Abe put’ will keep Japanese equities buoyed

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By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own.

Say sayonara to the “Bernanke put” and hello to Shinzo Abe’s alternative. While the Federal Reserve chairman developed a reputation for supporting the price of bonds, the Japanese prime minister’s reforms are designed to push up stock prices.

Early enthusiasm for “Abenomics” prompted a hefty rally. Despite treading water in recent months, Japan’s main equity indices are up 55 percent since the prime minister’s electoral victory in December. So far, most of the buying has come from abroad: foreign investors controlled close to 30 percent of the Japanese stock market by value at the end of last year. But there are good reasons to believe that will change.

Start with retail investors. At the end of September, Japanese savers were given the opportunity to register for new tax-free investment accounts, which start in January. More than 3 million have already signed up for the scheme, which allows them to invest up to 1 million yen (about $10,000) a year tax-free.

from Breakingviews:

Nirvana eludes Japan after one year of Abenomics

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The economic nirvana promised by Shinzo Abe when launching his bid to become prime minister a year ago continues to elude Japan.

from Breakingviews:

Japan index: Risks to GDP growth recede

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Breakingviews’ Abenomics Index rose the most in six months in September. The gain would have been higher but for Japan’s unusual current account deficit. Higher revised values for July and August suggest the risk of a significant slowdown in third-quarter GDP growth has ebbed.

from Breakingviews:

Sony stumble gives Loeb headache and opportunity

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By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own.

Sony may have given Dan Loeb a headache - and an opportunity. The Japanese group’s quarterly loss knocked almost 12 percent off its market value by midday on Nov. 1 and raised questions about the company’s revival. Poor results from Sony’s entertainment and electronics arms suggest there’s limited upside from the spinoff that activist investor Loeb proposed earlier this year. However, it may give him a chance to push for more radical restructuring.

from Breakingviews:

Debt deal may encourage Asia’s dollar craving

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Washington’s last-minute deal on raising the U.S. government’s debt ceiling made grim viewing for Asian central banks. It’s the second time in two years they have faced anguish over the safety of their enormous U.S. government bond holdings. But even with an agreement to raise the ceiling until Feb. 7, and default averted, the harrowing experience is unlikely to turn America’s largest creditor group into a bunch of angry sellers. They may in fact do the opposite, and buy more.

from Environment Forum:

Disasterology 6: Signs of commerce return to “The Town That Disappeared”

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For survivors of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, the Sendai tsunami in Japan and the massive earthquake in Chengdu, China, the scars of disaster are still palpable. I’m part of a group of journalists brought together by the East-West Center in Hawaii to see how the people and environments hit by these catastrophes are faring, one year,  two years and five years later. We began our tour on Sept. 29. Here are the other posts in the series:

As shopping centers go, the Minamisanriku Sun Sun Shopping Village is minor: a fish monger, a beauty parlor, a vegetable stand and a florist, along with a few other stores. The people who run the shops live elsewhere since their homes were destroyed by the 2011 tsunami, and the areas that flooded are still not considered safe for residents to return.

from Environment Forum:

Disasterology 5: When the high ground isn’t high enough

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For survivors of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, the Sendai tsunami in Japan and the massive earthquake in Chengdu, China, the scars of disaster are still palpable. I’m part of a group of journalists brought together by the East-West Center in Hawaii to see how the people and environments hit by these catastrophes are faring, one year,  two years and five years later. We began our tour on Sept. 29. Here are the other posts in the series:

The school children in Minamisanriku knew what to do in case of a tsunami: run as fast as they could up the hill to the Togura middle school, perched more than 40 meters, or 131 feet, above Shizagawa Bay. This wasn’t high enough when the waves rolled in on March 3, 2011.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Learning budget lessons from Japan and Britain

While the world is transfixed by the U.S. budget paralysis, fiscal policies have been moving in several other countries, most notably in Japan and Britain, with lessons for Washington and for other governments all over the world.

Let's start with the bad news: Shinzo Abe’s decision to increase consumption taxes from 5 to 8 percent next April. This massive tax hike, to be followed by another increase in 2015, threatens to strangle Japan’s consumer-led growth from next year onwards, since Abe looks unlikely to offset this massive fiscal tightening with stimulative measures that would maintain consumers’ spending power. Even if Abe delivers on his vague promise to compensate with business tax reductions, these will only aggravate the over-investment and corporate cash hoarding that have long distorted the Japanese economy. Meanwhile, the government’s willingness to risk economic recovery in the cause of fiscal discipline implies that those of us who believed Abe was making an unconditional commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve economic recovery were simply wrong. Now that the forces of budgetary austerity have reasserted themselves, Japan’s probability of ending its decades of stagnation is much reduced.

from Breakingviews:

Three taboo-breaking deals offer hope for Japan

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By Peter Thal Larsen
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Japan Inc is breaking some deep-rooted taboos. The country’s corporate establishment has long frowned on companies that succumb to foreign takeovers, offload non-core businesses, or leverage up for acquisitions. Three recent M&A deals suggest these strictures are no longer so tight. A freer form of capitalism may be taking hold in the land of the rising sun.

from Environment Forum:

Disasterology 4: Disaster Candy in Japan

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For survivors of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, the Sendai tsunami in Japan and the massive earthquake in Chengdu, China, the scars of disaster are still palpable. I’m part of a group of journalists brought together by the East-West Center in Hawaii to see how the people and environments hit by these catastrophes are faring, one year,  two years and five years later. We began our tour on Sept. 29. Here are the other posts in the series:

A fair featuring cartoon frogs and rhinos, baskets of toys to trade and hands-on crafts might sound like the answer to a parent’s prayer on a rainy weekend. But this was a fair with a difference: the annual Bo-Sai Expo in Tokyo, an event meant to prepare young families for disaster.

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