Mike Shedlock

Japan's 4th Quarter GDP Unexpectedly Contracts at 2.3% Annualized Rate

The Financial Times reports Japan’s GDP shrinks in fourth quarter

February 13, 2012

Japan’s economy shrank for the third time in four quarters between October and December, after floods in Thailand damaged production, and a strong yen and subdued overseas demand hurt exports.

Preliminary government figures showed that real gross domestic product fell 0.6 per cent between the third and the fourth quarters, dragged down by a 3.1 per cent fall in exports and a 0.3 per cent decline in private inventories.

That is equivalent to a 2.3 per cent fall in GDP on an annualised basis, significantly worse than consensus forecast of a 1.3 per cent decline. The data also showed sluggish public investment, which fell 9.5 per cent on an annualised basis.

Hollowing Out of Japanese Economy

This is somewhat dated news from late January, but news that Japan ‘More Than Hollowing Out’ With First Trade Gap Since 1980 fits in nicely to help explain the article that follows.

Jan 25, 2012

Japan’s first annual trade gap since 1980, driven by an energy-import surge as nuclear plants shut down and by a shift of manufacturing overseas, threatens to undermine the nation’s status as the world’s largest creditor.

A third straight monthly merchandise trade deficit in December capped an annual shortfall of 2.49 trillion yen ($32 billion), the finance ministry said in Tokyo today. The data reflect the impact of the record earthquake in March, which sparked a nuclear crisis that shut most reactors, as well as longer-term shifts such as Nissan Motor Co.’s decision to move some production to lower-cost Thailand.

“This is more than hollowing out -- the government hasn’t found any solutions to electricity and at this point I don’t see that we’re going to have nuclear power back again,” said Masaaki Kanno, chief economist in Tokyo at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. The deficit will “expand in coming years,” he said.

Japan Announces $130 Billion QE Program, One Percent Inflation Target

The previous two articles will help explain this: Japan Announces $130 Billion QE Program, One Percent Inflation Target

Mike Shedlock

Mike Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management.