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from Breakingviews:

Why Japan’s corporate tax rate should remain high

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Japan’s prime minister should stop fretting about the country’s high corporate tax rate. Easing the burden on companies in an attempt to stimulate investment might seem appealing, but could prove both unnecessary and fiscally reckless. A temporary investment tax credit would be a better alternative.

According to media reports, Shinzo Abe is considering lowering Japan’s 38 percent corporate tax rate in order to encourage investment and offset the impact of the planned doubling in Japan’s consumption taxes by 2015.

However, deep and permanent cuts - the new rate could be between 25 percent and 30 percent, according to the Nikkei - could undermine bondholders’ perceptions of Japan’s fiscal stability. With more than half of government expenditure already financed by bond sales, the finance ministry will be loath to lose revenue from a levy which it expects will account for a fifth of total tax income this year. Any rise in long-term interest rates would also undo any benefit from the tax cut.

from MacroScope:

Japan’s ‘quadrillion’ feat

The age of the quadrillion is finally here.

After years of being stuck in millions, billions, trillions and other terms that usually come up short of twelve zeros, Japan has broken out, with its debt crossing the magical 15 zero barrier.

Japan's public debt exceeded 1 quadrillion yen -- or 1,000 trillion yen ($10.39 trillion) -- for the first time in June, Finance Ministry data showed last week.

from Breakingviews:

Japan Index: A second setback for Abe’s experiment

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The Breakingviews Abenomics Index has fallen for a second successive month, hitting its lowest level this year in June. Japan’s jittery bond markets and sliding inflation expectations were the culprits. But other indicators still suggest the end of deflation is near.

from Breakingviews:

Sony brush-off won’t end Dan Loeb campaign

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

The tussle over Sony may be the most courteous shareholder battle ever. Back in May, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb respectfully suggested the company spin off a stake in its entertainment arm. Now the Japanese group’s board has politely rejected the idea. But the activist appears to be digging in for the long haul.

from Breakingviews:

Gift coupons could sweeten Japan’s sales tax pill

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Shinzo Abe mustn’t be coy about raising Japan’s sales tax. A plan to double the country’s consumption levy is crucial to convincing bondholders that public debt won’t spiral out of control. If the prime minister is worried demand will take a hit, shopping vouchers could limit the damage.

from Ian Bremmer:

The countries not letting a crisis go to waste

In 2008, before the financial crisis had even reached its nadir, Rahm Emanuel famously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Emanuel’s quote became the conventional wisdom for crisis management, even if the idea is age-old: John F. Kennedy Jr. famously pointed out that the Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two characters, one for “danger” and one for “opportunity. 

Nearly five years after the global economic meltdown, we can now look at the world’s major powers and assess how well they’ve responded to their various crises. Three categories emerge. Who took advantage of crisis? Who never really had a true crisis? And who is letting crisis go to waste?

from Breakingviews:

New-age trade clubs: A guide for the perplexed

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Global trade is going private. After a frustrating 12-year-long wait for the World Trade Organization to hammer out an accord acceptable to its 159 members, businesses and governments are now hedging their bets. Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which received a boost this week with Japan joining the negotiations.

from Breakingviews:

Time for victorious Abe to roll up shirtsleeves

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Shinzo Abe’s majority in Japan’s upper house is a political watershed. With it, he can start work on the Japanese economy’s broken plumbing.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led alliance’s victory in the upper house elections on July 21 gives Abe control of both chambers of parliament until the next round of polls in 2016. That gives the prime minister a rare flexibility to pass laws that has eluded many of his predecessors since 1989.

from Breakingviews:

Dash from emerging to developed markets hits new risks

By Ian Campbell

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

Capital glut has become capital flight in emerging markets. Stock markets in developed economies may be the beneficiaries for now. But the switch merely exchanges one set of risks for another.

from Edward Hadas:

Get used to zombie economics

Zombies are neither really alive nor fully dead. Moviegoers know that, but the idea is also useful in demographics and economics. Although economic zombification receives little attention, its effects could be as important as monetary policy, fiscal deficits and structural reforms.

The demographic trends are well known. For the past three or four decades in most developed economies, the number of children born has been too low, often by a wide margin, to keep the population constant. Japan is the leader in this decline. Indeed, the zombification of the Japanese population could well be the most dramatic such shift in history, at least during a period of peace, prosperity and good health.

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