Counting the Cost

A shot in the arm for Japan's economy?

We ask if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's 'Abenomics' approach is the best way to ease the country's financial troubles.

Last Modified: 01 Jun 2013 11:01
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Can one man, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, revitalise the Japanese economy?

It is rare for the leader of a nation to have a set of economic policies named after him. But Shinzo Abe is one rare example.

This week, Counting the Cost looks at what is being called 'Abenomics', as hope gives way to volatility.

Japan desperately needed to end almost two decades of deflation, weak domestic demand and another recession late last year. So Shinzo Abe produced what he calls "three arrows" to take on the challenge: fiscal, structural and monetary.

So far, there has been a commitment of around $117bn to infrastructure, health and education; an inflation target set at two percent by the Bank of Japan; and, in the footsteps of the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, money printing, or "quantitative easing" as it is officially called - a massive $1.4tn programme to flood the markets with money.

Now, all said and done, that will actually increase Japan's debt, remembering that it is already the most indebted nation in the world with levels of 230 percent of GDP.

So is this the right track? Counting the Cost examines the issue, and speaks to Dr Seijiro Takeshita, the managing director of Mizuho International.

Next, we look back to Japan's so-called 'lost decades' - a time when its economy gradually fell apart. Much has been offered in the way of reasons and solutions for it all, but there is a real possibility that the West is heading down the same path.

This week, one guest, who subscribes to that theory, has even written a book about it. When the Money Runs Out by Stephen King was described by the UK's Telegraph newspaper as the "economic equivalent of post-apocalyptic fiction, charting the end of Western affluence, and gives the author of The Shining a run for his money when it comes to filling readers with dread."

This week, we talk to Stephen King, not the fiction writer, but the author and HSBC chief economist, about his book.

Then, we look at India, where more than three million people have fallen victim to an investment scam, one that has fleeced some of the poorest people of $5.5bn in savings. And lives have been lost too. Eighteen people, including depositors and agents, have now committed suicide.

Finally this week, to the Occupied West Bank, where Palestinians say it is Israel's constraints on the economy which are the major issue - they need to be lifted for life to become 'business as usual'.

But the current thinking, at least from the United States, is the need for a cash injection.

There is a $4bn plan to revitalise the Palestinian economy, create jobs and new homes. But will it work where many others have failed? Counting the Cost takes a look.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali@abidoliverali


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