The Minister of Finance has an announcement to make:
Minister of Finance Sadakazu Tanigaki stated emphatically, in a lecture delivered in Tokyo on the afternoon of 16 January, that the current Japanese economy “has, I think, finally repeated the [recovery] process fifteen years after the Bubble burst and rebounded powerfully.” As factors, he cited “the complete victory over the non-performing bond problem. Also, there’s the fact that from the enterprise side, businesses have brought excesses in personnel, debt, and facilities under control. The resulting process has also been finished by which the robustness of performance in enterprise has come around to [improve] household finance and individual consumption.”
Whether all those “completely”s deserve to be there could be questioned, and obviously this segment tactfully omits any mention of government spending. And, of course, the new thing to spaz about is that the Japanese population has started, in recorded terms, decreasing faster than was expected. But Tanigaki is right that street-level confidence does seem to be up. One anecdotal and qualitative but interesting measure that I trust I’m not the only one to notice over the last few weeks: end-of-year partying by companies was noticeably more lavish than it had been since 1997 or so. For the first time in years, there was trouble getting a cab in Shinjuku at 2:30 a.m. during the last week and a half of December, and the crowds pouring out of restaurants and bars were much later and livelier.