While few people have had serious hopes for a prolonged Japanese economic boom for a long time, the range of forecasts provided for Japan’s recent economic performance gives you an idea of just how wildly unexpected the news was today that it is back in recession.
Financial markets may view the latest sanctions against Russia as feeble, but the reaction from Moscow – Vladimir Putin threatened to reconsider Western participation in energy deals and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said they were the work of weak politicians – suggests otherwise.
To most people, the idea of falling prices sounds like a good thing. But it poses serious economic and financial risks – just ask the Japanese, who only now finally have the upper hand in a 20-year battle to drag their economy out of deflation.
Day one in Davos showed the masters of the universe fretting about Sino-Japanese military tensions, the treacherous investment territory in some emerging markets and the risk of a lurch to the right in Europe at May’s parliamentary elections which could make reform of the bloc even harder.
Based on the latest U.S. Treasury flows data, it may be time to ditch the textbook theory that says less monetary stimulus means a stronger currency – at least for now.