Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

From JGB booms to tombs

July 6, 2009

The global financial crisis has been a catalyst for many to look back at history and see what, if anything, was learned from Japan’s so-called “Lost decade” in the 1990s, as well as the Great Depression, to which the turmoil is most often compared.

But few have gone as far back as Tadashi Kikugawa, a former hot-shot trader of Japanese government bonds, who was a key market source of mine over the years.temple
After working at brokerages including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, he left the high-octane financial world in May last year to run a small, private museum for ancient Egyptian art in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

He began his own collection 10 years ago, when the JGB business was still very good, as prices were on the rise thanks to the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy after the burst of the bubble.

“The job stress was so overwhelming, so I found an escape in Egypt,” he told me.
The collection, which cost him part of his fortune, now amounts to about 1,000 pieces, with statues and other items.

Is there any lesson to be learned from ancient Egypt?

“All that prospers must decline,” he said.  “The history of ancient Egypt is one of war over furtile land along the Nile River.

It’s a bit similar to the financial world I used to be in.”

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