The consumer was still alive and kicking back in those days. Oil was cheap, real wages were higher, and the household balance sheet was much stronger. As Julian Robertson points out, most US consumers are broke. All those idiots on TV who think the US will be first in first out haven't looked at the fundamentals. European and Asian consumers are in much better shape than the US consumer. Europe and Asia will outperform the US over the next several years, although they will be in recession as well, just not as deep. Lastly, the yen is not strong only because of the unwind of the yen carry trade. Look at the money supply growth for the yen, euro, dollar, and the emerging market currencies over the last 10 years. The money supply growth has by far been the lowest for the yen. Also, the Japanese have much stronger banks than the Europeans or Americans.