Japan Q4 GDP: -12.7%

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Landis82, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. Japan’s GDP Shrinks 12.7%, Most Since 1974 Oil Shock (Update2)

    By Jason Clenfield

    Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s economy shrank at an annual 12.7 percent pace last quarter, the most since the 1974 oil shock, amid an unprecedented collapse in exports and production.

    Gross domestic product fell for a third straight quarter in the three months ended Dec. 31, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of 26 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for an 11.6 percent contraction.

    Exports plunged a record 13.9 percent from the third quarter as global demand for Corolla cars and Bravia televisions evaporated. Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. -- all of which are forecasting losses -- are firing thousands of workers, heightening the risk a slump in household spending will prolong the recession.

    “The economy is in terrible shape and the scary part is that we’re likely to see a similar drop this quarter,” said Seiji Adachi, a senior economist at Deutsche Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “All we can do is wait for overseas demand to pick up.”

    The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.7 percent as of 9:35 a.m. in Tokyo. The yield on 10-year government bonds rose 2 basis points to 1.28 percent.

    The world’s second-largest economy shrank 3.3 percent from the third quarter, today’s report showed. That compared with the U.S.’s 1 percent contraction and the euro-zone’s 1.5 percent decline. Economists predicted a 3.1 percent drop.

    Without adjusting for inflation, Japan shrank 1.7 percent from the previous quarter, less than the 2.1 percent analysts estimated. The GDP deflator, a broad measure of price changes, rose 0.9 percent, the first increase in a decade.

    Triggered by Lehman

    Japan has been in a recession since November 2007, according to a government panel that dates the economic cycle. Last quarter was defined by the fallout from the Sept. 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which set off a credit crisis that erased more than $14 trillion from global equity markets and paralyzed world trade. The meltdown also spurred a 14 percent surge in the yen against the dollar that’s eroded earnings for exporters already struggling with record declines in overseas sales.

    The yen traded at 91.61 per dollar compared with 91.76 before the report was published.

    Net exports -- the difference between exports and imports -- accounted for 3 percentage points of the quarterly drop in GDP.

    Japan has become more dependent on exports for its growth over the past decade. Overseas shipments make up 16 percent of the economy today compared with about 10 percent in 1999.

    ‘Very Sensitive’

    “Basically Japan produces high-end durable goods, which are very, very sensitive to credit conditions,” said Hiroshi Shiraishi, an economist at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. “People normally borrow to buy these things. In that sense, too, Japan was vulnerable.”

    Domestic demand, which includes household spending and capital investment, made up 0.3 percentage point of the contraction.

    Capital spending fell 5.3 percent, today’s report showed. Manufacturers cut production by a record 11.9 percent in the quarter, indicating they have little need to buy equipment as factories lay idle.

    Consumer purchases, which account for more than half of the economy, dropped 0.4 percent, amid the worst round of job cuts in decades.

    Little Help

    In contrast with the U.S. and China, where governments are moving forward with a combined $1.4 trillion in stimulus spending, policy makers in Japan are providing little help. Parliamentary gridlock has blocked the passage of Prime Minister Taro Aso’s 10 trillion yen ($111 billion) stimulus package, helping his approval rating slide to 14 percent ahead of elections required by September.

    The Bank of Japan, which in December cut its key interest rate to 0.1 percent, is trying to get credit flowing by purchasing shares and corporate debt from lenders. It has little means to address what analysts say is the economy’s central problem: a lack of overseas demand.

    The repercussions from that demand shock have started to ripple through Japan’s economy as exporters from Toyota to Sony shed workers. The jobless rate surged to 4.4 percent in December from 3.9 percent, the biggest jump in four decades.

    The firings intensified in the past month, with Panasonic Corp., Pioneer Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and NEC Corp. announcing a combined 65,000 job cuts. The eliminations may have pushed the recession into a “new phase” in which consumers become more defensive and spend less, according to Martin Schulz, a senior economist at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo.

    Sentiment among households, whose spending accounts for more than half of the economy, is close to the lowest level in at least 26 years.

    “The best we can expect for this year is to see the collapse stop,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo. For Japan to recover, “we’ll need the U.S. and Chinese economies to take off first.”

  2. achilles28



    China is next.
  3. lol.

    I linked to a story about Japan about a week ago, I think their extremely weak consumer economy is at fault for this. Poor people don't spend, poor people with no job security spend even less. If you're going to have 30% of your population on extremely insecure and low paying jobs with no unemployment benefits, be ready to see their wallets close.
  4. achilles28


    China > Asian "Tigers" > America....
  5. I was just thinking about it, it's hard to say how much China will fall.

    One thing that Japan had going against them was the strength of the yen. That killed their exports. So their exports and domestic economy were both crushed.

    China? Probably has a weaker domestic economy, but how is their export sector holding? Their currency is leveled if not even going down a bit I think.
  6. Guys, check it out - I linked the article here about 4 days ago - Chinese exports dropped 17% in the last Q and their imports dropped 41%.

    Now Japan has serious contraction.

    We're seeing major red flags here between contraction and consumption and production.

    The worldwide unemployment rate is skyrocketing, too.

    We're in for some extremely rough sledding here, and I honestly don't think anyone knows what the hell is going to happen or how bad things are going to get, but they are going to get much, much worse.
  7. Wow, their imports really dropped. So much for "no protectionism". I bet there was plenty of that in China. 17% drop in exports, that is scary. By comparison, Japan had a 10% drop in overall production before reporting these GDP numbers. Yeah, it certainly looks bad for China.
  8. Unfortunately most people are in a mainstream-media-coma, oblivious to what is really going on (those who aren't already unemployed). Check out the featured story on yahoo:

    Stars tackle weighty issues

    Jessica Simpson jokes about her curves, while Tori Spelling feels pressure to be thin....

  9. achilles28


    When America sneezes, the world catches a cold....

    The Asian Tigers - including Japan - are mecantalistic economies that require a surplus trade balance (exports>imports) to maintain GDP.

    America is the worlds economic engine. When it fails, all the "feeder" countries crash.

    Take Canada. We're export dependent on US trade and commodities to asia.

    US is cooked. Our commodity exports to China are largely used for production in goods re-exported to the US and Europe.....

    Without America, and to a lesser extent Europe, the global economy is pretty much screwed...
  10. clacy


    I agree. It's great to be an export country......until the importers stop buying your stuff. That seems to be happening right now.

    I feel there is a real paradigm shift happening with the American consumer. I am hearing friends for the first time in their lives are very scared about their jobs and finances (I'm in my mid 30's). I see people cutting back spending on almost everything.

    When you think about how much of our spending is on frivolous and unnecessory things like buying a new car every year or a new TV/computer every 12-18 months, you realize how much many consumers can and will cut back.

    There are so many items that we can easily extend the life of by 2-3x if we need to, and that seems to be happening. How many people buy new clothes every season due to changes in fashion, rather than actually NEEDING new clothes? I would say the wealthiest 70% of Americans buy new clothes for this reason, rather than due to wear and tear.

    How many people eat out every single day and spend $50/month or more on coffee?

    The crazy thing is that a large percentage of our spending can vanish over night and we all can still function. On the other hand, that reduciton in spending hurts those that make a living buy making or selling goods/services that are unnecessary.
    #10     Feb 16, 2009