Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lost Decade?

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Time and again, Americans are told to look to Japan as a warning of what the country might become if the right path is not followed [..] But that presentation of Japan is a myth. By many measures, the Japanese economy has done very well during the so-called lost decades [..]

• Japan’s average life expectancy at birth grew by 4.2 years [..]
• Japan has made remarkable strides in Internet infrastructure. Although as late as the mid-1990s it was ridiculed as lagging, it has now turned the tables. [..]
• Measured from the end of 1989, the yen has risen 87 percent against the U.S. dollar [..]
• The unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, about half of that in the United States [..].

William J. Holstein, a prominent Japan watcher since the early 1980s, recently visited the country for the first time in some years. “There’s a dramatic gap between what one reads in the United States and what one sees on the ground in Japan,” he said. “The Japanese are dressed better than Americans. They have the latest cars, including Porsches, Audis, Mercedes-Benzes and all the finest models. I have never seen so many spoiled pets. And the physical infrastructure of the country keeps improving and evolving.”

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