The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

Strong yen is not Japan’s main problem

You wouldn't know it to hear officials talk, but the strong yen is not Japan's main problem. The Bank of Japan's latest moves on Monday didn't weaken the currency -- though that is one broad objective of fiscal and monetary stimulus. In any case, the trade-weighted yen is weaker than its real 1990-2010 average and Japanese exports are still rising. Export lobbies may have the government's ear, but intervention could make Japan's domestic predicament worse.

When the Democratic Party of Japan took office last year, its leaders talked about putting more emphasis on Japan's domestic economy rather than the needs of major exporters, which had been favored by Liberal Democratic Party administrations since 1955. The DPJ's first finance minister, Hirohisa Fujii, said at his introductory press conference last September that he was opposed in principle to currency intervention because it could distort the economy.

Fujii was, however, forced out after less than four months, and some officials have reverted to blaming the rising yen for Japan's problems. Direct currency intervention, though not yet tried by the DPJ, looks more likely than ever, too. Yet the yen's trade-weighted exchange rate, corrected for differences in inflation, remains about 6 percent below the average of the last 20 years. True, the yen did last week hit a 15-year peak of less than 84 against the dollar and remains far stronger than its 20-year average of around 100. But the comparison with the trade-weighted figure underlines the extent to which that reflects the dollar's overall weakness.

Meanwhile, exports are hardly suffering badly from the strengthening yen. In July, they were up 2 percent on the month and 23.5 percent from the previous year. Japan also continues to run a large current account surplus.

from The Great Debate:

Goodbye America, Hello China? Think again

For the growing number of Americans who see China heading for inevitable global dominance, nudging aside the United States, a brief walk down memory lane helps put long-term predictions into perspective.

Not so long ago, Japan was seen as the next (economic) number 1. American executives studied the 14 management principles of The Toyota Way, developed by the automobile manufacturer that grew into the world's biggest car maker and is now recalling millions of defective vehicles.

Japan lags behind in gender equality

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-Atsuko Kitayama is a a Reuters translator and correspondent based in TorontoReuters is hosting a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

Japan has quite a way to go to narrow its gender gap and come closer to matching the disparities found between the sexes in other G7 countries, statistics show.

from The Great Debate:

At least U.S. has Japan to fall back on

(James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

The bad news for holders of U.S. debt, in case you missed it, is that China has sold so many Treasuries that it is no longer America's leading lender.

The worse news is that there is a new creditor-in-chief, and it is Japan, an aging country with its own government debt bubble to contend with.

from MacroScope:

What can Kan do?

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Mixed reaction from major European banks to appointment of Naoto Kan as new Japanese finance minister. ING is pretty scathing, saying the appointment sidesteps a process of change Japan must undertake to avoid further stagnation or a fate far worse.

"PM Hatoyama has appointed someone with no experience in economic management... Mr. Kan takes on the finance minister role without a well documented, deeply considered policy agenda. Here we rely on reports of positions he has taken in the Cabinet, and from public statements on economic management. These suggest his instincts are to pursue a stimulus strategy involving higher government spending; a weaker yen and ultra-loose monetary policy. Mr. Kan appears tone deaf to microeconomic reform or to the threats to financial stability posed by high public debt."

Development of the risk trade

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JaneFoley.JPG

- Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

A willingness to differentiate between risk on a country or at a regional level is an important part of the repair process in financial markets.

Japan: The election that might change everything

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debito- Arudou Debito, is a columnist for the Japan Times, activist, blogger at debito.org, and Chair of the NPO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association. The opinions expressed are his own -

Japan’s famous mantra is that things don’t change much or very quickly.  But I have a feeling that this approaching Lower House parliamentary election on August 30 just might prove that wrong.

from The Great Debate:

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

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-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public's imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That's despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo's depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings -- factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

Making the most of the Commonwealth’s potential

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d2- Danny Sriskandarajah is Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society. The opinions expressed are his own -

In recent years the Commonwealth has become an easily derided organisation. From its inception as a clever way of easing de-colonisation to the heady 1970s and 1980s when the association showed a radical dynamism on issues like Apartheid, the international association has shown itself to be unique and useful.

from The Great Debate:

The ugly attraction of fast shrinking Japan

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James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Sure, seeing your economy shrink at a 15 percent annual clip is depressing, quite literally, but if you believe in even a tepid global economic recovery in the second half, then Japan is actually attractive.

There is no way to sugar coat the first quarter Japanese gross domestic product figures released on Wednesday: they are breathtakingly bad viewed from virtually any angle.

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