Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Conscience of a Conservative

What is a conservative? I don't think I am a conservative but I sometimes wonder what the idea of a conservative is like. Let me tell you about it:

Longman dictionary says that a conservative means a person who dislikes changes. My definition of a conservative is a little different: Generally, a conservative has three principles of behavior, or beliefs.

(1) To love his or her own culture, custom and tradition

That's natural to what is called a conservative. There's always such a person no matter which part of the world he or she lives in. Such a person always says that he or she loves and tries to protect his or her own tradition.

(2) To be tolerant

When you meet someone who doesn't agree with you, if you blame him or her, you are not a conservative in my definition.

What a conservative is like is tolerance for disagreement or misunderstanding. I know if you are hard for someone to understand you feel bad with him or her. But try to keep calm and to listen to him or her because someone who doesn't agree with you probably has a different point of view from you that might sometimes help you broaden your outlook. (It is difficult to keep calm when you are harshly blamed. That's our nature!)

A conservative is basically not a violent one, rather a gentle and kind one in this way.

(3) To know that changes are sometimes needed

"Change to remain the same!" Ichiro Ozawa, a politician of the Democratic Party, now a ruling party in Japan, likes this phrase. Ozawa has been considered to be and called a neoconservative, who believes the power and dynamism of freedom. I like this phrase too.

When we see the world in which we live changing fast, we should not stick to our own opinion or idea. We should first rather learn how the world is changing and what is changing in the world. And then if we feel the need to change the way in which we behave due to changing social and economic surroundings, we should try to change our idea, or if needed, ourselves to remain the same as what we are and how we live on.

Change is not always a good choice, though. We should think of the effect of the change we make on our life and society. I know it's a difficult task. It's not a simple matter of cost-benefit analysis. It can be said that it's a great decision to make a change in our present life and society.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Peter Principle

It's very interesting! The Peter Principle says that the less productive a worker, the more likely will she succeed.

...There are, though, perhaps more basic messages here. Competition needn’t necessarily yield optimum outcomes; “survival of the fittest” mightn’t be the most efficient principle. And the organization of corporate hierarchies might be inefficient, not (just) from heterodox perspectives, but from the perspective of conventional neoclassical economic theory itself.

Now might be the time for us to study such a kind of economics; Just before, Koizumi and Takenaka tried to conduct an economic policy of a traditional neoclassical version of competition and privatization(Reaganomics), in order to boost up the stagnant Japanese economy.

Recently a lot of people have doubt on an attempt to make such a policy because the Japanese economy is still stagnant. The Peter Principle would not be a key solution to the difficult problem of the Japanese economy, but greatly influence the ideas of political and business leaders.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Economics

Paul A. Samuelson died. (The picture is from NY times.)
When I was a freshman at college, I took a course of international economics. The lecturer introduced one econ textbook to the students. That was the Samuelson's economics. Of course, it was the one written with Nordhaus and soon I dropped from this course because I felt it was enough to read it.

I can't talk about Samuelson and his work because I don't know what he really did in economics. However, he is so famous in the area of economics that most of people should find his name in any introductory econ textbook.
Of course, Japanese economists of older generation studied economics with his textbook and if they were asked who wrote a great econ text, they would definitely answer "it's Samuelson". He is certainly a brand name in Japan too and influenced them so greatly. Unfortunately, I have never read his economics (I've read Mankiw's one instead.) but I heard most of econ textbooks have followed his style of economics by introducing micro, and then macroeconomics.

Recently, I have been wondering what's the true meaning of the distinction between micro and macroecon. Well, I think it's easier for econ teachers to teach beginners economics. But as an econ beginner I struggled to understand what econ is like; Micro seems very different from macro in intro econ textbooks. To be precise, Keynes theory(AD-AS analysis) seems different from New Classical one(Demand-supply diagram).
I know Barro of Harvard tried to integrate them into one. I am not somewhat happy with the Barro's style of economics and I cannot give alternative version of econ(it's really a big task!), but I would say there's no more need than to make the distinction.

I would say macroeconomics should be described as an applied microeconomics and this trend has been already accepted. Why have many of intro econ textbooks still followed an old-fashioned Samuelson's style of econ text? It might be a stable equilibrium of econ style.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tax Cut Or Spending?

This is one of the conventional themes in macroeconomics and most of students in introductory economics class may study which policy is more effective on the stagnant economy, tax cut or government spending.

As introductory macroeconomics(say, the Keynesian Cross) says, government spending is more influential, more likely to increase the national income(GDP).

The reason is quite simple: government does a debt-finance.

Imagine two people earn income of $100 a day, buy food from each other at a cost of $10 and the income tax imposed is $10. Thus each of them has $90 in hand and spends $10 on food a day.

In this economy, the total income (the sum of two people's incomes) is $180.

Due to economic stagnation, one of them becomes unemployed and earns $0 a day. If the government cuts income tax (-$10) to stimulate the economy, the employed will have more(she has now $100 in hand a day) but the unemployed will not. So the unemployed has no food to eat this day. (In this case the unemployed can earn money to sell food to the employed, because both eat nothing.)

In this tax-cut economy, the total income is $100.

Alternatively, if the government provides the unemployed with a job that makes him earn $10 a day, that is, increases the government spending, then the unemployed will get the benefit(he has now $10 a day in hand) but the employed will not (her income remains $90 in hand) .

In such a spending economy, the total income is $100. The same! This is not more effective than tax cut.

The reason is in government-spending economy, she is still imposed income tax of $10. The point is, in a tax-cut economy, income distribution is done through the exchange from each other, whereas in a spending economy through the government that just takes $10 from the employed and gives $10 to the unemployed.

If there were no income tax on her(government made a policy of debt-finance) in a spending economy, the total income would be $110 and thus more effective than tax cut policy (of course, later a tax increase will come). Keynesian policy is always a debt-finance policy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Money and Life

I read a comment from one of the readers of Yomiuri Shimbun, a major newspaper in Japan, and it caught my eye:

Yomiuri shimbun, 09/12/2009

A letter from a mother in her 40s says,

"I have two children, one is an elementary school student, the other a junior high school student. The older one is not good at plugging at study, but quick in understanding, and began to go to cram school and the grades are going up.

We need more money in education for my children. My husband's income was always low and due to recent recession, it is even lower. Less overwork and work on holiday made him stay longer at home. My husband is a good man and kind to our children, but his income is low!

I am working part-time and have a lot to do for children, but I am so nervous that our low income may be going to give them few accesses to good opportunities. Looking at his face, I feel hatred for him. I am worried that our conjugal life may be broken and may do our children harm. First of all, I feel so sad that I cannot give my husband a smile."
(Translated by Taro)

During the economic stagnation, people feel so nervous and disappointed at their future life. "Money can't buy happiness", some people say, but nobody disagrees that money is very important for life. What is really needed for good life? Money! Probably, but probably not at the same time.

Money can buy good education and good access to good career and good life. That's why many students go to the US to get MA or PhD at higher-ranked university. However, they know that school may not guarantee happy life with good partner and children. They feel after graduation they may be unemployed or poor or alone all their life.

Some economists may say that economics gives a good hint on what and how to do for living a good life, but I don't know it clearly. I know while many people are seeking for better and happier life, very few people really know what and how to do for it.

Which is better for you in your life, a poor life with warm-hearted partner or a rich life with a cold-blooded partner? As Milton Friedman says, "free to choose!". The point is what you need most all your life. If you need a stable life, you should choose to work for government, and if you need an unstable but, if you are lucky and good at business, a rich life, you should choose to become a business entrepreneur.

If you think happiness is to put up with any hardship both for your good life and for your children's life, you should choose a partner who agrees with you. If you think happiness is not to be miserable or not to be poor, you should check your partner's bank account and payroll before choosing him or her as a lifelong partner. Anyway, free to choose, right!?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When Was Japan Born?

I think if you drop in at this blog, you will probably be one who may be interested in Japan or other Asian countries. I happened to see the Japan page, NY times, I knew that I hadn't known
the birth(or independence) year of Japan. Here's the page;

Japan at a Glance

Official Name: Japan

Capital: Tokyo (Current local time)

Government Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government

Chief of State: Emperor Akihito represented by Yukio Hatoyama, prime minister

Population: 127.43 million

Area: 145,902 square miles; slightly smaller than California

GDP Per Capita: $33,100

Year of Independence: 660 B.C.

Since I saw "Year of Independence" here, I haven't known what year Japan became dependent. In fact I can't remember if I learned at school when Japan appeared in the world history. At the beginning of the histry class that most Japanese people have, the origin of the Old World is first introduced and after that the dawn of Japan is introduced, but never is that Japan was born in 660 B.C. taught! We just learned that early Japanese used stone tool at that age.

What's "the Year of Independence, 660 B.C."? To be sure, it comes from part of the Nihon Shoki, and Wiki says,

"Most scholars agree that the purported founding date of Japan (660 BC) and the earliest emperors of Japan are legendary or mythical."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Makes Us Rich?

Daron Acemoglu, professor of MIT, answers a big question, "what makes us rich?".

He says incentive is the key role in what makes us rich or poor:

People need incentives to invest and prosper; they need to know that if they work hard, they can make money and actually keep that money. And the key to ensuring those incentives is sound institutions — the rule of law and security and a governing system that offers opportunities to achieve and innovate. That's what determines the haves from the have-nots — not geography or weather or technology or disease or ethnicity.

Put simply: Fix incentives and you will fix poverty. And if you wish to fix institutions, you have to fix governments.

Very simple answer!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome, Anonymous!!

Recently, (it's about you, right?) an anonymous has come to my blog and post the same comment. Of course, I like to be given some comments on my blog. I always welcome you, but if you like, please read it out and then give your comment on it.

Of courese, you disagree with me and if so, I hope you'll give me the disagreement. At any rate, just I wish you enjoyed this small blog a lot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Soshokukei Danshi

One article in NY times tells about the Japanese men and caught my eye:

Two phrases have been coined to describe them: soshokukei danshi or “herbivorous males,” and Ojo-man – or “girly men.”

Definitions vary, but the new herbivores could be described as metrosexuals without the testosterone. Although most of them are not homosexual they have in common a disdain for the traditional accoutrements of Japanese manhood, and a taste for things formerly regarded as exclusively female. Girly men have no interest in fast cars, career success, designer labels and trophy women. Instead, they hold down humble jobs, cultivate women as friends rather than conquests and spend their free time shopping at small boutiques and pursuing in Japan what is regarded as a profoundly feminine pastime: eating cakes.

Seeking to tap into this market, Japanese manufacturers have launched underwear, cosmetics and clothing designed to appeal to herbivorous males – including bras for men and lacy male tops.

...Masahiro Yamada, a professor of sociology at Chuo University, Tokyo, believes that the new demographic is the result of economic decline: most young men in Japan simply cannot afford fast cars and designer labels, he says. Yamada also worries about the effects of soshokukei danshi on Japan’s shrinking population, noting that almost half of Japanese men aged 20–34 are unmarried and that nearly 30 percent of these have never had a girlfriend:

“I worry that herbivorous boys are the future of Japan. … As young Japanese men become more timid and more averse to taking risks, it will affect the energy and vitality of the society.”

According to a July 2009 article in The Japan Times, go-getting “nikushokukei joshi” – or “carnivorous women” – have emerged as a counterweight to soshokukei danshi.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Next Recession

Roubini predicts that another recession is coming.

...rising fiscal deficits in most economies are now pushing up the yields of long-term government bonds. Some of the rise in long rates is a necessary correction, as investors are now pricing a global recovery.

But some of this increase is driven by more worrisome factors: the effects of large budget deficits and debt on sovereign risk, and thus on real interest rates; and concerns that the incentive to monetize these large deficits will lead to high inflation after the global economy recovers in 2010-11 and deflationary forces abate.

The crowding out of private demand, owing to higher government-bond yields – and the ensuing increase in mortgage rates and other private yields – could, in turn, endanger the recovery.

As a result, one cannot rule out that by late 2010 or 2011, a perfect storm of oil above $100 a barrel, rising government-bond yields, and tax increases (as governments seek to avoid debt-refinancing risks) may lead to a renewed growth slowdown, if not an outright double-dip recession.

...But much of the rise in asset prices is not justified, as it is driven by excessively optimistic expectations of a rapid recovery of growth towards its potential level, and by a liquidity bubble that is raising oil prices and equities too fast too soon. A negative oil shock, together with rising government-bond yields – could clip the recovery’s wings and lead to a significant further downturn in asset prices and in the real economy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

EMH Is Wrong?

Modern economists are always criticized for mainly 2 hypotheses: (1) REH and (2) EMH. The reason is easy. These hypotheses seem to be fictional, not real.

(1) REH
Rational Expectation Hypothesis - It is a very important idea in modern macroeconomics and originated from John Muth. Shortly, it says that the economic equilibrium we reach is determined by what we "expect" for the future economic behavior. That means our economy is the mirror of our expectation.

(2)EMH
Efficient Market Hypothesis - It is a very essential idea for modern financial theory and originated from Eugene Fama. Briefly, it states that the prices of securities reflect all known information that impacts their value. The hypothesis does not claim that the market price is always right. On the contrary, it implies that the prices in the market are mostly wrong, but at any given moment it is not at all easy to say whether they are too high or too low.

Many people claim that EMH is the main culprit of the Crisis, but Prof. Jeremy Siegel says in reply that the fact that automobiles today are safer than they were years ago does not mean that you can drive at 120 mph.

A small bump on the road, perhaps insignificant at lower speeds, will easily flip the best-engineered car. Our financial firms drove too fast, our central bank failed to stop them, and the housing deflation crashed the banks and the economy.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Horioka On the Economy

Why does China not like weaker dollar? Who is the next leader of the world economy? Is the world economy better? Is the rising sun already setting sun?

Charles Yuji Horioka, professor of Osaka University and known as "Feldstein-Horioka puzzle", gives a very clear explanation of these above questions.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taronomics (1)

Why Japan Is Aging?

This story was given in this blog before: The Japanese are among the world's longest-lived people, with the number of those aged 100 or older at a record 36,276, a government report shows.

Japanese women have topped the world's longevity ranks for 23 years, while men rank third after Iceland and Hong Kong. (Reporting by Chisa Fujioka; editing by Sophie Hardach)

The questions: why do many Japanese people live longer? What makes people live longer?

One day I watched TV and I heard of an interesting story: the Japanese people will live to be 150 years old! Really? Fantastic!

I am serious. I think so too. The reason is not due to nutrition:

When we retire, we live off a pension and it's a very important source for living.(Of course we have to pay some money every month to the pension fund beforehand.)

The trick is here: If a pensioner dies, normally his or her children should tell the death to the government, but some people do not tell. Why? Clearly, it's to receive their parents' pension! The government has no clue to know the death of the pensioner unless his or her children/ relatives tell it to them. As the government don't know the death of the pensioner, they continue to pay the pension to the dead.

According to the TV program I watched, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confessed that most of those aged 100 or older may be already dead! They never know the correct number of those who are aged 100 or older and still alive.

Now you know the reason many Japanese people can live to be over 150. The Japanese economy is so stagnant that there are naturally a lot of people relying on their parents' pension to live a stable life. Is it a happy story? What do you think?

PS
Oh, that's an important question. Where's the dead pensioner? Dig up the backyard and you may find out the answer.

The 100 Most Influential Books

I think this list is very useful when you find nice books. I didn't know that there's such a book list. It's a little pity that there's no book written by Japanese author.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recession, Beliefs and Multiple Equilibria

...individuals growing up during recessions tend to believe that success in life depends more on luck than on effort, support more government redistribution, but are less confident in public institutions. Moreover, we find that recessions have a long-lasting effect on individuals’beliefs.

This is one of the researches which clearly show the relationship between social psychology and economic equilibria: Individuals experiencing recessions during the formative years(at the age of 18-25) believe that luck rather than effort is the most important driver of individual success, support more government redistribution, and have less confidence in institutions.

The following caught my eye: The role of economic beliefs determines the economic system and institutional outcomes; two countries with a similar starting position can converge to two very different equilibria, one based on luck and high taxes (the so-called French equilibrium) and one based on effort and low taxes (the so-called American equilibrium).

In Japan, we have long been discussing which way for the Japanese capitalist economy to take, the economy based on the Americanized market system or the one based on the Europeanized welfare-state economy. I had no idea which to take, of course, but I get to think that this is not a problem of which way we should take, but of what values we believe in and how we get to such beliefs.

...an "American" equilibrium with laissez-faire policies and just-world beliefs or a "European" one with social welfare and a more pessimistic view about how just the world is... anyway we always have the possibility of multiple equilibria in our economy and it might be difficult to expect what equilibrium to be realized at last, but we always need to take it into account when we think about the effects of public policy on our economy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Age of Keynes

The picture: guardian.co.uk

Keynes is the economist who has been recently talked about most frequently among modern economists. He was a British economist and is thought to be the father of modern macroeconomics.
This blog is on economics, though its topics haven't been specific to it, and sometimes looks at macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the application to general equilibrium theory, according to Roger Farmer, a famous macroeconomist of UCLA, but to Keynes himself, it seemed that it was one of disequilibrium theory. (It is normal for modern macroeconomics to be expressed as modern terms like general equilibrium theory, so at present I don't care the difference between modern macroeconomics and Keynes's macroeconomics. )
He always said that the economy as a whole in a country was always unstable and fluctuate, so the demand and supply of goods and service are far less likely to be equal. From the above perspective, he insisted on government spending policies consisting of tax cuts and government purchases, in order to strengthen the demand side of the economy.
He thought that the main problem of the capitalist economy was weakened demand side, not supply side of the economy; People sometimes feel nervous about their future because of something uncertain in their life(I think it is rather psychological factors than malfunctioning of economic mechanism.), and so they get to consume less and the firms invest less, produce less and pay less to the workers. Thus, the less they earn, the less they consume and the more the economy shrinks.
Instead of the people, the government should buy goods and services supplied in the economy and stabilize the economy and the employment. That's what Keynes suggested around 60 years ago. Better or worse, this principle has now been the main theme of the public policy in most developed countries. Looking back on Keynes' words, I think, is necessary to us when we have some economic difficulties, but we also need to criticize them at the same time.
I do not intend to call myself Keynesian(who is Keynesian, by the way?). However, definitely to say, when we think of macroeconomic problems, we never avoid his words.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should I Expect a New Era?

Actually I have no idea I should support a new cabinet and I guess nor do many people in Japan.

I should first know what a new Hatoyama cabinet wants to do for slumping Japan.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A New Path for Japan

This is what a would-be prime minister says. Some people say this looks so anti-capitalistic, but I don't think it is so bad.

I don't know how many Japanese people have tried to talk about what they really feel since Morita-Ishihara. Japanese have been said to be "a great 'yes' man" in the world , I mean, they've seemed not to try to disagree with other people, especially, Americans.

They always smile and say nothing, but in fact they don't know how to say what to say. Japanese seem to dislike to talk about themselves and to have any discussions, but I hope this article will be a good place for many people all over the world to know what Japanese think about the modern globalized world and their country.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Still Alive!

I am still alive, just no time to update this blog!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taller People Earn More

Well, this kind of research is not old itself, "height premium": taller people earn more.

This is a new research conducted by two Australian economists.

Using data from a nationally representative sample of Australian adults, we found that taller people earn more, with the effect being strongest for men”. “For example, the average man in our sample is 5 feet 10 inches tall,...,if he was 6 feet tall, he would earn another 1.5 per cent, or around $950 per year."

“The wage gain from another 2 inches (5 centimetres) of height is approximately equal to wage gain from one more year of labour market experience,..., This result holds constant across a number of other factors that also affect wages, such as age, race, family background, experience, and education. However, we found that the effect of height on women’s wages was smaller than for men, and not statistically significant.”

Interestingly, they also look at the relationship between wages and Body Mass Index (BMI).

In their data, 36 per cent of Australian workers were overweight, and 22 per cent were obese.

“...there seemed to be no wage penalty to being overweight or obese in the Australian labour market,...,This is in contrast with previous studies that used older data from the United States and Germany and found that people with higher BMI scores earned lower wages.

“It is difficult to know whether this is due to cross-country differences, or changes over time. Perhaps Australians are less likely to discriminate against overweight and obese workers than the other nations. Or maybe we cannot find an effect because we are using more recent data than the other studies, and the majority of workers are now overweight or obese.”

This problem, as I've ever heard, is the one related to "discrimination" in the labor market, or we could also say, employers' "preference "to employees.

This research is interesting because wage might be closely related to appearence.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lucas on the Crisis

In macroeconomics, there are two theories(or believes?) : no policy should be done, and as many policies as should be done for the ailing economy. The difference is due to how to see the functioning of a market: a market is self-regulating or not.

Which is true? Nobody can still answer it definitely. Robert Lucas, one of the theorists who are in the former position(at least I believe so), talked about the recent crisis:

The responsibility of the Federal Reserve in this situation is to provide more cash reserves, and in that sense they are doing their job.

...But right now the recession is the more immediate problem. If inflation resumes, reserves can be taken out as quickly as they were added. This is a classic lender-of-last-resort situation and it is important to maintain focus.

In my view, these are the most important considerations for US policy today. I think if the current Federal Reserve lending policies are continued aggressively our chances of avoiding a recession larger than that of 1982 are very good. At this point, I think this is the best that can be hoped for and it is a lot better than a replay of the 1930s.

He worries about the deflation and he thinks the Fed should add more money to people.

In my impression, textbook-version Lucas discussion is like that: nothing should be done, let it alone.

However, he doesn't think so. The lesson: we should ask the question for the right person!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fat Debtors

Ikeda,Myong-Ⅱ,Otake, of Osaka Univ., "Fat Debtors:Time Discounting, Its Anomalies, and Body Mass Index".

The above topic is on why and how debtors are more likely to be obese than non-debtors. I haven't read it yet but it looks very interesting.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Japan's Maestro

07/04/2009, Jiji-tsushin, Shirakawa, governer of BOJ.

Inside the Temple





Short Visit to Kyoto

Hey, guys! That's the Kiyomizu temple, a very famous and old one in Kyoto, Japan.

Today, I'll take you to a traditional, historic and amazing part of Japan. Shall we go?

The gate,
The big bell,

The cherry blossom,

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Japan:Still in Cold Winter

We have a useful data set to look at our economy, TANKAN, a diffusion index of "Favorable" minus "Unfavorable", %points.

This index is very clear and easy to understand and may have a great impact on the coming economic event and policy in Japan. Here's the part of it:

[Business Conditions] Dec. 2008, March 2009

[Large Enterprises]
Manufacturing -24, -58
Nonmanufacturing - 9, -31

[Medium-sized Enterprises]
Manufacturing -24 , -57
Nonmanufacturing -21, -37

[Small Enterprises]
Manufacturing -29, -57
Nonmanufacturing -29, -42

[All Enterprises]
All industries -24, -46


We can see large enterprises of manufacturing worst in the above index and they have the most sever sufferings of all.

This is because they much depend on foreign demands and so are very weak at the time of world slump as we have today.

Large enterprises have low sales and thus low profit, which brings much lower sales and profit of smaller enterprises(because they are usually given jobs from large ones) and thus lower income and consumption as a whole.

Companies cut the prices and wages more, and workers(as a result, consumers) spend less further. We are now at the edge of serious deflationary recession.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Happy Marriage

Today I got married with a woman whom I've ever loved. I am so happy!! Here's the picture of the wedding.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Suicide Forest

AOKIGAHARA FOREST, Japan (CNN), By Kyung Lah -- Aokigahara Forest is known for two things in Japan: breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and suicides. Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" because people often go there to take their own lives. Japan's Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" because people often go there to take their own lives.
Taro, a 46-year-old man fired from his job at an iron manufacturing company, hoped to fade into the blackness.

"My will to live disappeared," said Taro. "I'd lost my identity, so I didn't want to live on this earth. That's why I went there." (Bold letters: Taro added)

Taro, who did not want to be identified fully, was swimming in debt and had been evicted from his company apartment. He lost financial control, which he believes to be the foundation of any stable life, he said. "You need money to survive. If you have a girlfriend, you need money. If you want to get married, you need it for your life. Money is always necessary for your life."

...He started to wander, he said. He collapsed after days and lay in the bushes, nearly dead from dehydration, starvation and frostbite. He would lose his toes on his right foot from the frostbite. But he didn't lose his life, because a hiker stumbled upon his nearly dead body and raised the alarm.

....Japan's suicide rate, already one of the world's highest, has increased with the recent economic downturn. There were 2,645 suicides recorded in January 2009, a 15 percent increase from the 2,305 for January 2008, according to the Japanese government.

The Japanese government said suicide rates are a priority and pledged to cut the number of suicides by more than 20 percent by 2016. It plans to improve suicide awareness in schools and workplaces. But officials fear the toll will rise with unemployment and bankruptcies, matching suicide spikes in earlier tough economic times.

"Unemployment is leading to this," said Toyoki Yoshida, a suicide and credit counselor."Society and the government need to establish immediate countermeasures to prevent suicides. There should be more places where they can come and seek help."

Yoshida and his fellow volunteer, Norio Sawaguchi, posted signs in Aokigahara Forest urging suicidal visitors to call their organization, a credit counseling service. Both men say Japanese society too often turns a cold shoulder to the unemployed and bankrupt, and breeds a culture where suicide is still seen as an honorable option.

Well, many Japanese choose to kill themselves if they have some difficulties. I think it comes from "Samurai culture" and it is out of date. It should be revised and reconsidered.

However, I am always wondering why many Japanese people are unable to enjoy their modern affluent life with joy. The life in Japan is very enviable and pleasant to many international people, because in many countries the freedom of speech and idea and belief is restricted and some democratic people are in jail. It's unbelievable here in Japan.

Anyway, we should feel much happier than we now do. For me, my life is always good enough to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Japan's Beauty

Keynesian beauty contest: I am not sure if she is hot to international people. I like her best as an actress.

She is a very famous movie actress, Fujiko Yamamoto, in Japan and the above photo("From the world of Yuji Hayata, STAR", Bungei-Shunju, 1989) is my favorite one.

Ha~, I want to have a drink with her at a little quiet bar...

Appendix:
It's a well-known episode: After Ms. Yamamoto graduated from high school, she applied for the Bank of Japan, BOJ. She did well in the paper exam, but she failed in the interview. A few decades later, the interviewer confessed the reason to one magazine: "She was so beautiful that he couldn't employ her for fear that many male workers couldn't concentrate on their own duties."

Ms. Yamamoto then thought that the coming age was for women to get their own jobs, so she decided to take the way to movie actress. She was one of the first independent professional women in Japan.

By the way, if this BOJ interviewer had decided to hire her, we now could never see and feel in love with her. So I' m not sure if I should appreciate this interviewer, but as a result we could be proud that we have a greatly respectful Japanese woman who has great beauty and intelligence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spam Report

Today I had a spam report: This blog was reported as a spam.

This blog is neither for the purpose of hurting and insulting some particular people nor of blaming you for some particular, especially, political or religious, ideas.

This blog is for the purpose of giving you and me a nice and fresh opportunity of exchange of different opinions. Recently I've tried to give you some beautiful photos.

I hope anybody will talk to me about what he or she is thinking and interested in.

I might have had something to say or to show that someone doesn't like or feels bad about.

I would like to say to someone who reported this blog as a spam, "sorry, sorry, please forgive me. I know I am so ignorant!!"

I wanted to say that it was a great challenge to sound democracy and freedom of speech or idea, but now I feel so sorry about this happening. :(

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maki

I was surprised at this very long maki (seaweed-rolled sushi).

When I went shopping at, say, Whole Foods and other grocery stores in the US, I found them selling a variety of makis. In the US, maki looks more familiar sushi than I thought before. Maybe it is much easier for them to eat and I think it is the Japanese version of fast food like hot dog and hamburger in the US.

I like both hamburger and maki very much.

We never make maki as in the above photo but sometimes for local community advertisement some people do like that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Romer on the Great Depression

I have found the recent must reading. Christina Romer gave us 6 lessons from the Great Depression. Here's just the summary:

(1) A small fiscal expansion has only small effects.

(2) Monetary expansion can help to heal an economy even when interest rates are near zero.

(3) Beware of cutting back on stimulus too soon.

(4) Financial recovery and real recovery go together.

(5) Worldwide expansionary policy shares the burdens and the benefits of recovery.

(6) The Great Depression did eventually end.

Sakura


We will be soon able to see sakura like the above.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Krugman on Japan

Krugman of Princeton, an economist whom I've loved and respected ever, talked about the recent Japan.

For a decade or so Japan’s lost decade has been the great bugaboo of modern macroeconomics. Economists constantly warned that you mustn’t do X or you must do Y, because otherwise we’ll turn into Japan. And policymakers congratulated themselves in advance for not being like their Japanese counterparts, who dithered and drifted, refusing to make hard decisions.

Well, I’m sure I’m not the only person to notice this: Japan doesn’t look so bad these days.

For one thing, the famed sluggishness of Japanese policy — the refusal to face up to banking system losses and pour in the funds needed to recapitalize the system, the refusal to let zombie banks die, the stop-go nature of fiscal policy, with concerns about rising debt warring with concerns about the economy — all of that seems entirely comprehensible now, doesn’t it? Even with the knowledge of what happened to Japan to motivate us, so far we’re following exactly the same path.

And given what the next couple of years are likely to look like, Japan’s lost decade — yes, growth was slow, but there wasn’t mass unemployment or mass suffering — is actually starting to look pretty good. We may or may not be about to face our own lost decade, but the sheer misery millions of Americans will face in the near future probably exceeds anything that happened in Japan during the 90s.

I still hope we can do better than the Japanese did, but it’s not at all obvious that we will.

I hope so too:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seeing is Believing


I had a big smile...:)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Is Macroeconomics Really True?

When the economy is down, people always say that it’s the time when it needs the governmental expenditure like tax cut or large public programs. This discussion is based on "the theory of multiplier effect".

However, is there really a multiplier effect?


Ono Yoshiyasu of Osaka University says an interesting thing, "there's no multiplier effect in the world": An increase in government purchases leads to an even greater increase in income,…the ratio is called the government-purchases multiplier. Mankiw (2003), pp262.


It doesn't look at what the government purchases are, but how much dollars are paid for the government purchases.It says that building a large pyramid and beginning a war is more effective on demand than letting the unemployed do nothing with unemployment insurance.


Is that true? No!!!


(1)Illegal parking

If the government hires the unemployed as a parking guardian, it pays wages to them and in result there's no increase in demand because the wages would be the same as the unemployment insurance paid to them if they weren't hired as a parking guardian. The difference is a decrease in illegal parking in the street.


From the viewpoint of government budget, the government just transfers money from one to the other group of people in the nation. Neither increase in demand nor stimulus to demand.

A balanced budget has no effect on people's consumption and income. A balanced budget multiplier is said to be 1, and there's no increase in income and demand.


(2)Numerical example

Assume GDP is $500 and the government collects $50 from people as a tax and builds a large pyramid for the $50. In this case, the government hires them and the national income is now counted as $550.

However, the people paid the tax of $50 to the government and were just paid back $50 for the construction of large pyramid; they never became wealthy.


A debt-financed government purchases has no effect on income and demand either because people know that today's government purchases should be tomorrow's tax increase.


(3)Summing up

In every case there's no multiplier effect on the economy; the effect of the government purchases on income and demand, which is based on Keynes's theory, is a seeming increase in income in the national income account, but not a real increase in income in the real economy.


However, at the time of recession, some people are unemployed and it would be worth while the government hiring them to do some large public projects because the government projects are valuable in the economy.


The resources (goods and labor services) aren't used well at the time of recession and the government could lose nothing when it used such resources even though the cost was very high.The above opinion seems reasonable to me, but somewhat different from what many textbooks of macroeconomics tell us. What do you think of this discussion?


References

(1) Mankiw, N. Gregory (2003), macroeconomics, 5th edition, worth publishers,


(2) Ono, Yoshiyasu (2006), logically paradoxical "multiplier effect", Nihon-Keizai-Shimbun (only Japanese)

Taro in Madison

I went to Madison,WI: It's a very beautiful city. I want to go there again. These pictures are my short memory. I do want to go back again to USA, the country I love best. (The above picture is one of the youth hostel in Madison.)



This is a hamburger that was sold in a shop near the UW-Madison. To my surprise, it was not greasy, rather very tasty.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Bad Idea?


The centerpiece of Prime Minister Taro Aso's big stimulus package has been a one-time cash handout of 12,000 yen, or about $120, to each resident. The idea has been widely panned by political foes, economists and the public alike as a wasteful, ineffective idea. (Mainichi Japan) March 5, 2009

We will soon be able to have a cash handout of around $120 and I am wondering what I should spend it on.

Some economists suggest that such money should go to the most needy or to the more public programs like reforming school and hospital buildings and roads and bridges.

I think there're pros and cons in the viewpoint of, say, morality (is it good for us to be given money without any effort?), but I don't think that a one-shot helicopter cash is so a bad idea as to stimulate and to revive the economy, but it's on the condition that we'll definitely spend it on something sold in the economy. It doesn't make sense if we don't spend but save it instead, I mean, if so, the cash will just be moved from government's to people's safe; It won't result in anyone's further income and then further expenditure.

So we have to use this cash to eat, to drink, to buy the clothing that we've wanted, and so on. The economy now needs stimulating the consumption first and investment second, as many econ textbooks tell. However,the impact of this stimulus policy is thought to be temporary, not permanent so we won't be able to expect that the economy will strongly recover forever.

(In the above picture, a man is handing in the envelopes of the cash. The time to spend is coming soon.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Black; Group Psychology?



When I read a newspaper, one reader's column caught my eye:

I've seen many students looking for job recently and wondered why they all are wearing black suits. Asking my neighbor about it, I was explained that it was a common trend and if anyone wore a different suit, he or she would be conspicuous. .... I think the way of dealing with everything in the same way should be thrown away... (Yomiuri, 02/03/2009)

Well,..I agree and that's just what I wonder when I see students hunting for job in a city this season. I know the reason also(and the neighbor is almost right.) and maybe that's kind of one of the Japanese behavioral characteristics.

The Japanese people have been taught to listen to others first and not to say words that may hurt someone, or to say what they want to after thinking over what impact they will have on others by saying it. Therefore, it is, I am not sure, the reason why many Japanese people are likely to look around before expressing themselves.

Hmm,...I don't know if the above behavior is very similar to that seen in other countries, say, USA or Germany, but, of course, I agree on the idea that people should say what they want to after thinking about whether or not it is appropriate; It's one of basically social manners regardless of which country we live in.

However, it seems to me that it's the very Japanese-like social and conventional behavior. I don't know if this trend should be modified, but, as this reader puts, it may make us somewhat suffocated. Well,... I like much brighter scenery, though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad

By Paul Kennedy, Tribune Media Services, Posted 01/23/2009 at 4:00 pm EST

"Four legs good, two legs bad!" That quotation, as many readers will know, comes from George Orwell's great political satire "Animal Farm." It is the slogan invented by the pigs as they mobilize the other farm animals to revolt against their human owners.

Having four supports ensures that things are much more stable, balanced, assured; it is hard to knock a four-legged item down, whether it be a table or a carthorse. Two-legged critters are far less sturdy and reliable. (Of course, once the pigs gain absolute control and learn to walk on their hind legs, they reverse the slogan, as any good Leninist would. But that is a different story.)

Still, there may be a lesson to glean from this tale as we look at today's battered world economy, with no countries really escaping from the international financial credit crunch and the dramatic slackening of demand for goods and services, but some looking better than others.

If, as is the case, certain economic sectors have been hurt more than others, surely it is better to have one's national welfare based upon various sources of income, rather than just two, or even one.

I was provoked to this question when recently clearing away some older statistical data, and recalling how my interest in what makes for a healthy economy had been piqued some 20 or so years ago when I came across a World Bank table of national GDP per capita that showed that Switzerland and Kuwait, both at the top of the list, enjoyed almost exactly the same income per inhabitant.

Kuwait's high per capita income derived, of course, entirely from one source: oil. By contrast, the sources of Switzerland's ample wealth derived from at least four flows of earnings: its strength in banking, insurance and investment services; its array of high-quality (i.e. high-added-value) manufactures, especially engineering and pharmaceutical products; its income from tourism; and its highly protected and high-income agricultural sector. Four sturdy legs indeed.

Now, there are another 175 or more countries in the world that would have loved to have had Kuwait's oil revenues over the past few decades; yet it is fair to say that such an overwhelming reliance upon a single valuable product brings with it two great risks:

The first, to which we pay less attention, is the way in which a gushing new source of wealth has an insidious way of driving out, or weakening, other sources of national income.

Men no longer wish to work for traditional industries (fishing, farming, forestry) but for the oil industry. The vast inflow of oil income dries up prices, but, hey, that can be afforded. Foreign-made items -- automobiles, electronic goods, hotels, airports -- sprout up, but oil pays for it.

There are no gasoline taxes, and prices at the pump are artificially low. Unless national governance is strong and responsible, corruption reigns and the economy is twisted; just look at Nigeria and Venezuela today. Even Norway, with its traditions of public service and fiscal prudence, struggles to handle the "Midas curse" of a single flow of wealth.

The second risk is one we are more familiar with today: It is the peril of a sudden collapse of the world-traded price of your precious commodity. This was not just the case of the plunge in oil prices this past year but also of the value of almost all raw products -- bauxite, copper, timber, rubber and so on.

Many developing nations, their hopes raised by higher commodity prices, are now reeling backward. One might be pleased that such uncomfortable nations like Russia, Venezuela and Iran are hurting from the collapse of oil prices, but one can hardly be delighted at the profound cash-flow crises affecting numerous Third World countries; be careful what you wish for when you pray for a fall in raw-material goods!

Those nations whose economies rest upon four or more legs, and are inherently more stable, should also pay attention to the "Animal Farm" chant, though for a slightly different reason.

Switzerland, the model balanced economy cited above, is itself hurting right now because it allowed its banking/investment "leg" -- specifically the careless, massive investment actions of a few leading banks -- to have disproportionate significance, with nasty effects upon the country's reputation as a bastion of solid, respectable finance.

Even more sobering is the dramatic reversal of fortunes of the Republic of Ireland over the past two years. The "Celtic Tiger" has enjoyed many advantages over the past decades: membership in the EU and the Euro, a growing assembly/manufacturing base, a flourishing services industry, solid agriculture and high tourism.

But it has squandered much of its gain by a disproportionate tilt into reckless investment banking and a grotesque expansion into untenable property mortgages. In other words, one leg of Ireland's economic "table" grew so fat and so tall that it actually bent the table itself; right now, the crockery is sliding off the far edges, with painfully loud crashes.

Neither George Orwell, nor the rapacious pigs of "Animal Farm," were trained economists, but in their observation about "Four legs good!" I think they were on to something. What has been happening in today's epic financial turbulences should bring us all back to a few basic verities about life and money: Don't put all your eggs in one basket; cover your bets; seek, if you are a political leader, to get a grasp of your country's array of strengths and weaknesses; and avoid the fast-cash Midas curse, if you can.

What does this say to the world's most powerful economy, America's? The United States has entered the 21st century at a time when the longer-term global balances are shifting from a so-called uni-polar system to more of a multi-polar order; in that sense, there is no real contest over America's relative decline -- the power balances are always on the move.

Yet it is also true that the pace of that shift has been increased, unnecessarily, by years of excessive military actions abroad, a blatant disregard for sensible fiscal policies, and unbelievable stupidities in the real-estate/mortgage markets, all of which leave President Obama with an awful lot of smashed china that has fallen off America's twisted table.

But Obama also inherits a nation with a lot of residual strengths, if he can activate and orchestrate them. America is not a country with a singular dependency like Kuwait, nor is it as distorted by financial excesses as (help us) Ireland. It has enormous natural resources, from agriculture to energy supplies of various forms; incredibly favorable demographics, compared with those of any of the other big Powers; vast R-and-D and research-university strengths; and remarkable labor flexibility.

Of course, it has many domestic sores: the twin curse of poverty and under-education; blighted cities and weakened infrastructure; sclerotic, interest-influenced politics; and a landscape presently choked up by half-built McMansions and foreclosed condos -- not a pretty sight. The prospect is not grand. It is, also, not hopeless.

How any country, its leaders and its people respond to today's challenges will depend upon themselves, their insight, resolve and determination to make hard choices. Whatever they do, they might recall Orwell's pigs: having four (or more) supporting pillars is a better framework for a national economy than resting upon two legs, worse still, upon only one.

I like this article.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Success Model

When I watched TV, I felt like I touched on "the recent gloomy Japan":

One TV program covered an able salesman and his success story:

Ryu Murakami, a famous writer in Japan, asked him,

"Excuse me, what's your educational background?"

"I'm a high school graduate.", he replied.

It sounds like a success in his or her life has nothing to do with his or her educational attainment.

Prof. Otake, a labor economist of Osaka Univ., says the same as what I want to:

I was asked before, "what do you think is our next success model although now is almost at the end of the time of the success one, "the first-class school, the first-class company?" Then there seemed to me to be just only one success model behind this question.

Although actually there are different people, different values and different success stories even here in Japan, just only one success model has ever been believed in, I guess. This may show the cause of the gloomy days of Japan. (Translator: Taro)

That's what I've felt recently; When we feel depressed, our foresight could be narrower and we could get more pessimistic and thus more conservative.

If we had wider a variety of choices to take in such a gloomy situation, we would feel more relieved from a narrow mind and would think of our near future as much brighter than we ever expected. This post is the English version of it.

成功モデル

テレビを見ていて思うのは、「この国の閉塞感」である。

とある番組で、やり手営業マンとその成功を取材していた。

作家の村上龍氏が、「失礼ですが、学歴は?」と訊き、

「高卒です。」とその営業マン。

私の見方では、「学歴は成功に関係ない」とでもいいたいようである。私の言を阪大の大竹氏が見事に代弁する。

私は以前、アンケートで、「一流大学卒業、一流企業入社という成功モデルが崩れた今、これからの成功モデルはなんですか」という質問を受けたことがある。 その時、私はそのアンケート作成者が、単一の成功モデルしか頭になかった人なんだろう、と感じた。現実には、日本にも結構いろんな価値観があって、様々な 成功モデルがあるのに、単一の成功モデルだけを信じてきたのだと思う。実際、それが日本の閉塞感の原因かもしれない。

まったく同感だ。

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

St.Valentine's Day

Here's a St. Valentine's day's chocolate!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

政府紙幣について

景気対策の一環として自民党内で構想が浮上。導入には慎重論が強い一方、発行を検討する議連も発足。

日銀券とは別に政府自身が発行する「政府紙幣」の可能性を検討する自民党の議員連盟(会長・田村耕太郎参院議員)が10日、同党本部内で初会合を開き、政 府紙幣発行を提唱している元財務官僚の高橋洋一東洋大教授から意見を聞いた。高橋教授は25兆円規模の政府紙幣を発行し、景気対策の財源に充てるよう訴え た。2月10日 - 16時19分
 (時事通信)

2月7日8時5分配信 産経新聞

追加経済対策の原資として、政府紙幣や相続税減免付き無利子国債の発行を求める声が自民党内で強まっている。政府は慎重姿勢を崩さないが、麻生太郎首相 の盟友である安倍晋三元首相や菅義偉選対副委員長が後押しし始めただけに、議論はますますヒートアップする公算が大きい。2つの政策にはどのような長所短 所があるのか。そして推進派議員の思惑は-。(石橋文登)

 「100年に1度の危機には100年に1度の対応が必要だ。プラス、マイナス両面をよく検討し、政治家として強い意志と覚悟をもって進めていきたい」

 6日午後、党本部で開かれた「政府紙幣・無利子国債(相続税減免措置付き)発行を検討する議員連盟」の設立準備会合で、菅氏はこう語気を強めた。反麻生 色の強い「若手改革派」だけでなく、首相の腹心である菅氏が動き出したことに大きな意味がある。10日に正式発足させ、週1回の勉強会を続け、3月末まで に提言をまとめる方針だ。

 ≪実現性薄く≫

 この2つの政策は、元財務官僚で竹中平蔵元総務相のブレーンである元財務官僚の高橋洋一東洋大教授らが提唱した。政府紙幣は、現行の日本銀行券とは別に 政府が発行する紙幣で、財政赤字を出さずにデフレ防止・インフレ誘導でき、経済活性化に効果があるといわれる。相続税減免国債は高齢富裕層の「眠っている 資産」を市中に引き出す効果が期待されている。

 だが、政府紙幣は、市中の混乱を招きかねない上、日銀が引き受ければ、無利子・無期限国債を日銀に引き受けさせることと同じ意味となることもあり、自民党でも評判は悪い。

 伊吹文明元幹事長は「政府紙幣はマリフアナと同じだ」、津島雄二党税調会長は、「(詐欺事件となった)『円天』みたいなものだ」と酷評した。

 6日の衆院予算委員会でも議題となったが、与謝野馨経済財政担当相は「取るに足らない話だ」、中川昭一財務相も「私の頭にそういう考えはない」と一蹴 (いっしゅう)した。首相も「(明治政府の)太政官札か? そういう話は昔からある」(2日)と冷淡に語っており、実現の可能性は薄い。

 ≪日銀に圧力≫

 だが、菅氏には、論議を盛り上げることにより、世間を驚かせるような政策を導き出し、政権の求心力を高めたいとの思いがある。同時に、「いつも対応が後手に回る」との批判が強い日本銀行を揺さぶり、紙幣増刷などを促す狙いもあるようだ。

 一方、相続税減免国債については政府側も「かなり金融や財政に詳しい方もそういうことを言われているので、ちょっと勉強しようと思う」(与謝野氏)、 「世界の国々がどういう景気対策をとっているか。勉強の中でいろんなアイデアが出てくるのは結構なことだ」(河村建夫官房長官)と含みを残す。

 ただ、相続税減免国債はニーズがどれほどあるか不透明な上、野党から「金持ち優遇政策」と批判が起きる可能性もあり、公平性をどう担保するかが大きな課題となる。

 とはいえ、今後の経済対策に原資は不可欠だ。政府・与党で今後も議論が盛り上がれば、新たなプレミアム付きの国債や記念通貨や記念紙幣などが浮上する可能性もある。


2月6日8時11分配信 読売新聞

自民党の一部で景気対策として取りざたされている政府紙幣の発行に対し、5日の各派閥の総会で批判が続出した。

 伊吹派の伊吹文明・前財務相は、「マリフアナと同じだ」と断じた。「日銀以外に政府が紙幣を供給すれば円の価値が下がり、大変なインフレを招来する。議 論するだけでも国益を損なう」と指摘し、「政治家が有権者にマリフアナを吸わせ、いい気分にして票をとろうという意図でやってはいけない」と切り捨てた。

 津島派の津島雄二税制調査会長は、疑似通貨「円天」を使ったL&G詐欺事件になぞらえ、「下手をすると『円天』みたいなものを政府がやるという話にな る」と語った。高村派の高村正彦・前外相も「中央銀行の一元管理が大切なことは、歴史上人類が学んできた知恵だ」と強調した。

 突然、浮上した政府紙幣構想は、派閥領袖が次々に反対の声を上げたことで、このまま沈静化するのだろうか。

2月6日0時47分配信 毎日新聞

 景気対策の財源として自民党内で浮上している「政府紙幣」導入論に対し、5日の党派閥会合では反対意見が相次いだ。伊吹派の伊吹文明前財務相は「政府が 供給すれば円安になり、大変なインフレを招来する」と指摘。「人間は疲れると、酒に紛らわせることがある。政治家が有権者にマリフアナを吸わせて票を取る ことは絶対にしないでほしい」と同派議員に呼びかけ、菅義偉選対副委員長ら推進派を皮肉った。

 津島派の津島雄二党税制調査会長は「まさか、『円天』みたいなものを政府がやるというバカな話ではないと思う」と述べ、電子マネーによる巨額詐欺事件に 引っ掛け批判した。山崎派の山崎拓前副総裁は「私は無利子・相続税非課税の国債を発行し、眠れる民間資金の活用を提案している」と語った。政府紙幣は借金 を増やさずに財源を調達できるのが利点とされるが、麻生太郎首相はじめ政府・自民党内では否定論が大勢を占めている。【中田卓二】

2月7日8時33分配信 フジサンケイ ビジネスアイ

景気対策として浮上している政府紙幣や、相続税免除条件付きの無利子国債に対する議論が活発化する中、自民党の菅義偉(すが・よしひで)選対副委員長ら は6日、「政府紙幣・無利子国債発行を検討する議員連盟(仮称)」の設立準備会を開き、政策提案に向けた議論をスタートさせた。ただ、政府紙幣への反対論 は強く、実現するかは未知数だ。

 準備会で菅氏は「従来の発想を超えた対策が必要だ」と強調した。政府紙幣と無利子国債の効果や問題点を精査し、実効性が確認できれば、政府に提案する方針だ。3月末までに結論をまとめる。

 関係者によると、議論を進める中で、日銀に対し積極的な景気対策を促す狙いもあるという。

 政府紙幣には政府・与党内からも反対論が多い。一方、相続税免除条件付き無利子国債については、与謝野馨経済財政担当相が6日の閣議後会見で、「勉強しようと思っている」と検討する考えを示した。

 ただ、財務省幹部は無利子国債が導入されれば、「資金が株から国債に流れて株式市場に影響が出る」ことなどの弊害も指摘している。

2月6日21時49分配信 産経新聞

追加経済対策の原資として、政府紙幣や相続税減免付き無利子国債の発行を求める声が自民党内で強まっている。政府は慎重姿勢を崩さないが、麻生太郎首相 の盟友である安倍晋三元首相や菅義偉選対副委員長が後押しし始めただけに、議論はますますヒートアップする公算が大きい。2つの政策にはどのような長所短 所があるのか。そして推進派議員の思惑は-。(石橋文登)

 「100年に1度の危機には100年に1度の対応が必要だ。プラス、マイナス両面をよく検討し、政治家として強い意志と覚悟をもって進めていきたい」

 6日午後、党本部で開かれた「政府紙幣・無利子国債(相続税減免措置付き)発行を検討する議員連盟」の設立準備会合で、菅氏はこう語気を強めた。反麻生 色の強い「若手改革派」だけでなく、首相の腹心である菅氏が動き出したことに大きな意味がある。10日に正式発足させ、週1回の勉強会を続け、3月末まで に提言をまとめる方針だ。

 この2つの政策は、元財務官僚で竹中平蔵元総務相のブレーンである元財務官僚の高橋洋一東洋大教授らが提唱した。政府紙幣は、現行の日本銀行券とは別に 政府が発行する紙幣で、財政赤字を出さずにデフレ防止・インフレ誘導でき、経済活性化に効果があるといわれる。相続税減免国債は高齢富裕層の「眠っている 資産」を市中に引き出す効果が期待されている。

 だが、政府紙幣は、市中の混乱を招きかねない上、日銀が引き受ければ、無利子・無期限国債を日銀に引き受けさせることと同じ意味となることもあり、自民党でも評判は悪い。

 伊吹文明元幹事長は「政府紙幣はマリフアナと同じだ」、津島雄二党税調会長は、「(詐欺事件となった)『円天』みたいなものだ」と酷評した。

 6日の衆院予算委員会でも議題となったが、与謝野馨経済財政担当相は「取るに足らない話だ」、中川昭一財務相も「私の頭にそういう考えはない」と一蹴 (いっしゆう)した。首相も「(明治政府の)太政官札か? そういう話は昔からある」(2日)と冷淡に語っており、実現の可能性は薄い。

 だが、菅氏には、論議を盛り上げることにより、世間を驚かせるような政策を導き出し、政権の求心力を高めたいとの思いがある。同時に、「いつも対応が後手に回る」との批判が強い日本銀行を揺さぶり、紙幣増刷などを促す狙いもあるようだ。

 一方、相続税減免国債については政府側も「かなり金融や財政に詳しい方もそういうことを言われているので、ちょっと勉強しようと思う」(与謝野氏)、 「世界の国々がどういう景気対策をとっているか。勉強の中でいろんなアイデアが出てくるのは結構なことだ」(河村建夫官房長官)と含みを残す。

 ただ、相続税減免国債はニーズがどれほどあるか不透明な上、野党から「金持ち優遇政策」と批判が起きる可能性もあり、公平性をどう担保するかが大きな課題となる。

 とはいえ、今後の経済対策に原資は不可欠だ。政府・与党で今後も議論が盛り上がれば、新たなプレミアム付きの国債や記念通貨や記念紙幣などが浮上する可能性もある。

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

地域通貨

2月10日15時49分配信 読売新聞

山形県高畠町で流通する地域通貨「ワン券」「ニャン券」や、地元商店街で商品を購入すると付与される「ハッピーシール」で、県・町民税など地方税や公共料金の支払いに使用できるようになった。

発行する高畠商業協同組合の要望などを受けて町で昨年2月から検討し、実施に踏み切った。地域通貨の試みとしては同県内初で、地域活性化につながることが期待されている。

ワン券・ニャン券は1986年に発行され、流通残高は昨年9月で約700万円。1円が1ワン・ニャンに相当し、商品券のように購入する。ハッピーシール は85年に発行され、同組合の加盟店で100円の買い物をするごとに1枚もらえる。350枚集めると500円分の商品券になる。いずれも同組合加盟店のみ で使用可能。

これまでの用途に加え、通貨価値はそのままで、県・町民税や固定資産税、後期高齢者医療保険料、水道料金や町営住宅の家賃の支払いなどに利用可能となった。同町役場内のJA窓口でのみ手続き可能。お釣りはでないため、差額は現金で支払う必要がある。

同県大江町でも昨年1月から、商店街で付与されるポイントを税金などの支払いに使える仕組みが行われているが、高畠町などによると、購入もできる地域通貨が広範な公共料金に使える例は県内初。全国でも福島県などに数件しか事例がない珍しい試みだという。

使い道が大幅に増えるため、交換手段としての価値が一気に上昇することによって流通量も増え、地元商店街での商品購入者増加につながると期待されている。

同組合では「地元商店街の活性化に有効な方法と考える。これをきっかけにさらに券やシールの利用が増えてくれれば」としている。

地域通貨◆ ある特定の地域や対象に限って物やサービスの売買に使用される疑似通貨。地域社会の活性化や住民同士の助け合いを狙いとする。ボランティ アや地域の助け合いなど貨幣に換算できないサービスの交換方法として用いられる事が多い。対象や価値は様々で明確な定義はないが、全国で数百の事例がある とされる。

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

4 Lessons from Recession

What we always care is what lesson we can get from the present recession. A good article from the NY times caught my eye.

Tyler Cowen of George Mason talks to us about the social and cultural effects of recession. I just list the effects I think interesting:


(1) Stay-at-home effect
People spend more time on self-improvement and relatively inexpensive amusements (listening to the radio and playing parlor and board games).

(2) Health-care effect
Physical health seems to improve on average. People may take fewer car trips, thus lowering the risk of accidents, and spend less on alcohol and tobacco. They also have more time for exercise and sleep, and tend to choose home cooking over fast food.

(3) Lower-death-rate effect
The death rate falls as unemployment rises. In the United States, a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, on average, decreases the death rate by 0.5 percent. Another research finds that Australia’s suicide rate spiked in 1930, but overall health improved and death rates declined; after 1930, suicide rates declined as well.

(4) Prudent-generation effect
A generation that grows up in a period of low stock returns is likely to take an unusually cautious approach to investing, even decades later, the paper found. Similarly, a generation that grows up with high inflation will be more cautious about buying bonds decades later.

In other words, today’s teenagers stand less chance of making foolish decisions in the stock market down the road. They are likely to forgo some good business opportunities, but also to make fewer mistakes.

I also care Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert's point: people often have rosy memories of very trying periods, which may include extreme poverty or fighting in a war. I agree on this point. Many grandfathers talk proudly about their hardship like the world war 2.

However, a recession or depression is always severe to us.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My recent face


It's my true face...

Monday, February 02, 2009

That's What We Need


Ben Bernanke is spreading dollar bills. We call it "helicopter money".

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Farmer's Stimulus Package

Roger Farmer of UCLA is famous for a researcher on multiple equilibria and indeterminacy. This area of study is on how an economy reaches an equilibrium and it should be possibly multiple, just not only one. Which equilibrium path the economy takes depends on people's psychology.

Farmer says, go back to Keynes and boost up people's mind when they face recession:

Keynes... was right on one point: In the real world; psychology matters for the behavior of markets!

Farmer suggests a new type of monetary policy:

Central banks control interest rates by buying and selling securities on the open market....(Central banks) pick an indexed basket of securities: one candidate in the US might be the S&P 500, and to control its price by buying and selling blocks of shares on the open market.

Moreover, Farmer puts emphasis on a role of expectation:

Even the credible announcement that a policy of this kind was being considered should be enough to boost the markets and restore consumer and investor confidence in the real economy.

I am... arguing that the government should stabilize a broad basket of stocks.

Farmer finally keeps a distance from what is called free market fundamentalism:

This policy would still allow poorly run firms to fail but it would not allow all firms to fail at the same time. Although the free market is very good at deciding how many left and right shoes to produce, it cannot prevent systemic risk that arises from the psychology of herd behavior. This is a job for Uncle Sam.

I agree with him! However, looking back on the stimulus package that the Japanese government is seeking, I feel somewhat nervous about the effectiveness of it.

Farmer on Monetary Policy

Roger Farmer of UCLA proposes a new style of monetary policy:

The Fed should target a stock market index in addition to its traditional role of setting the interest rate. My proposal allows the Fed to use variations in the fed funds rate to fight inflation and variations in the growth rate of a stock price index to manage confidence and select a high employment equilibrium.

A fiscal expansion is necessary in the current situation (large slump), but fiscal policy alone is not enough: A stimulus package large enough to restore full employment will increase the debt burden on future generations to an unacceptable level. The time has come to implement a new monetary policy for the 21st century.

He thinks a gloomy economy needs a confidence: people should feel they are getting better and wealthier in order for the economy to recover.

Many people feel bad in the time of recession, in which they always hear sad news(job losses, major company's bankruptcies and so on) and many may suffer from such hardships, so they need something bright for the future.

What is that? I don't know and I don't think you surely know. It is a socially psychological problem. He suggests we need a policy to boost up our mind and confidence and policy makers try to do it.