Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Short-term hopes, long-term gloom

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By Tomasz Janowski

Optimism that Japan’s economy will bounce back from a post-quake slump and pessimism about its long-term prospects is the prevailing message of economists addressing the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit.

The reasons for the near-term optimism are well known: strides made by Japanese manufacturers in restoring production and supply networks ripped apart by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and expectations that sooner or later hundreds of billions of dollars spent on rebuilding the ravaged northeast coast will grease the wheels of the stuttering economy.

There is also little doubt about what has been holding back Japan, which has been in and out of deflation and recessions over the past decade.

Its society is aging faster than any other nation, the productive (and consuming) population is shrinking, its manufacturers keep shifting operations abroad where wages are lower and markets grow and its debt burden makes it impossible for Tokyo to engage in any grand-scale pump-priming.

Suntech eyes Japan growth

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By Leonora Walet

Suntech Power may be the world’s biggest solar panel maker but it trails Sharp, Kyocera, Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric in the fast-growing Japanese solar market.

Now, the company is set to take on these Japanese rivals on their home turf and aims to double its market share in the country to 10 percent next year.

Perils of disaster fixation

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By Tim Kelly

Fixated on reviving the shattered northeastern seaboard, Japan risks neglecting growth in the rest of the economy, warns Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Lawson, Japan’s second-biggest convenience store operator.

“The question is what do you do about the other 95 percent of the economy,” Niinami told the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit in Tokyo.

Hard road on Japan’s nuclear policy

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By Kevin Krolicki

Suddenly Taro Kono doesn’t look like quite the lonely maverick in Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Kono, a member of the lower house of parliament, has been an unrelenting critic of Japan’s pursuit of nuclear power since he was first elected in 1996. That made him an odd fit with the LDP, which ruled Japan almost continuously from the mid-1950s to 2009 and put nuclear power at the center of Japan’s energy policy.

Ag committee chair says new faces mean new dynamic on Capitol Hill

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They are new, enthusiastic and changing the environment on Capitol Hill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says “do not underestimate the effect” of the large number of freshmen lawmakers on his committee, which will sit down to overhaul U.S. farm subsidies next year. USA/

“This session of Congress is a little different from the ones I’ve participated in previously. A huge number of new members,” Lucas said at a Reuters Global Food and Agriculture Summit. “I’ve got a very enthusiastic bunch of new faces.”

CFTC’s Gary Gensler just one of the “Little Monsters”

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Christopher Doering found there is more to the CFTC chairman than markets.

MUSIC-GRAMMYS/When he’s not scaring Wall Street and big banks to make sure they follow the rules, there’s a chance the head of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is moonlighting as a “Little Monster.”

The haunting moniker, used by American pop singer-songwriter Lady Gaga to describe her fans, aptly applies to the hard-working Gary Gensler who was among the thousands of fans who attended the popular performer’s show in Washington last week.

Bank regulator Walsh has pragmatic philosophy on financial crisis repeat

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John Walsh has spent many years in Washington — having worked at the Senate Banking Committee, the Treasury Department, and now as  acting Comptroller of the Currency — and has a bit of perspective on government reaction to crises over the years.

FINANCE-SUMMIT/WALSHSo he has a fairly pragmatic philosophical approach on whether U.S. efforts will succeed in making sure the financial crisis does not recur.

Senator Reed sees need for speed to chase bad guys

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Ann Saphir takes a look at Senator Jack Reed’s comments on cars and trading.

With traders buying and selling at dizzying speeds these days, underfunded U.S. regulators can’t hope to keep up unless they get more funding, better resources, and faster technology — think cars,  Democratic Senator Jack Reed says.

So how plugged in is the SEC chair? (technologically speaking)

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Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro says her agency has its work cut out to compete with the massive amounts of money that private firms, policed by the SEC, pour into the latest technology.

“Can we keep up with Wall Street? I think we have a fighting chance. We’ll never have, under any circumstances, the kind of budgets that would allow us to spend a billion dollars a year on technology as some firms do, I mean that’s just not going to happen, and I totally understand that,” she said at the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit. FINANCE-SUMMIT/SCHAPIRO

U.S. Treasury’s Wolin on tying debt limit to fiscal discipline debate: Don’t

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Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin is urging lawmakers not to tie the U.S. debt limit to the debate on fiscal discipline.

Arguing about the future fiscal path of the United States is fine, but playing games with the debt limit can hurt U.S. creditworthiness, he warned. FINANCE-SUMMIT/WOLIN

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