Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Last year a book titled A Study on the Generation of Anti-Consumptionism (this title is translated by Taro and this book is published from Toyokeizai and only in Japanese), and subtitled "Stupid to buy a car, isn't it?" was released and went through several printings.
Anti-consumptionists are the young people of late 20s, and they were born after the bubble economy in late 1980s burst. They have generally a trend toward or taste for less consumption even though they have regular earnings. Interestingly, some of them are low paid part-timers and others have a regular job or full-time job and thus stable earnings.
They consume much less than older generations expect: they don't go to karaoke(to enjoy singing in a room with friends) and a restaurant without coupon, prefer eating at home to eating out and don't like a drink that is harmful to their health.
I found the article on almost the same topic and it said that some of the young people have become"grass-eating men" who prefer clothes and cosmetics to cars, and avoid life in the fast lane. (The Economist, November 20th-26th 2010, special report) So they can also tend to be "grass-eaters", but the men named grass-eaters are generally the ones who don't like making or having girlfriends.
The reason they consume less is, the article says, as follows: when they were teens, they went through the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the subway attack in 1995, the bully in the schools and suicide, the Big Bang in Japan(the reform of financial and banking system) . Especially, they were damaged by the bully in the schools and were forced to be inconspicuous, to read the atmosphere in the schools and to make a shallow friendship with each other.
They tend to fear being made fun of and really want to look smart, which promotes buoyancy and rivalry among them, and thus makes them want to look carefully at others' face and to look nice: Such a common generational experience brings about a common generational mentality, which makes them worry about their future and thus consume less.
The above sounds reasonable, but it seems to me that it doesn't tell what makes them consume less, or what makes them worry about their future. I think there's more an economic cause behind this than a sociologistical or philosophical one.
Many business people are worried about such anti-consumptionists because they consume less and give a negative impact on the economy as a whole; They are more likely to shrink the dampening Japanese economy. However, they are reported to be attracted by the people from abroad and may turn out to be a new Japanese generation who pursues a new and different lifestyle from that of the older generations, as some optimists say.
In my view, a new generation gives a new lifestyle, and changes the structure of preference and thus of demand in the economy, say, in which they change a demand for a peaceful music to a fancy car and TV set.
But in the short term, anti-consumptionism should decrease the aggregate demand of the Japanese economy. Today's newspaper said that almost half of the child benefit offered first by the government this year goes to saving for their children. The child benefit doesn't make them save, but spend more on their children. They save more and consume less, which leads to more depressed economy which forces people to save even more and consume even less. It is called "the paradox of thrift".
Anti-consumptionism may be another or a new version of thrifty lifestyle.
We should need the policy to boost up the economic activity and to stimulate the people's spending in a weakened economy. Anyway, no wonder the Japanese economy will not soon recover from this slump. (Source: Diamond online, 08/12/2010)
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
"Age thirty is a prime period for me. My work and experience are in good shape, but I haven't found a partner, so what can I do?" Chen said. "It's not that I'm anti-marriage. I just hope that I can express a different idea within the bounds of a tradition."
Taiwanese women are marrying later and less often as their economic status advances, fuelling government concerns about a drop in the birth rate and its impact on productivity.
Only 40 percent of women surveyed earlier this year by the education ministry said they imagined married people could live better than singles, local media said.
But as Chen cannot officially register a marriage to herself, if she finds a man later she will wed again."If I had a steady boyfriend, I wouldn't do this," Chen said. "it would be offensive to him, anyway."When I read the above post, it was so interesting and I was a little surprised that we could marry ourselves: I didn't have such an idea!
Some people who firmly trust tradition may say that this is not called a wedding and marriage and that she just wanted to attract public attention; Some of them may feel bad about or resist it. Marriage should come true when men and women love and agree with each other on it; Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship.
However, recently it has not been unusual for some men/women to get married with some other men/women and it is called the same-sex marriage. I do not say that it is good or not and I have no idea about it, but I know that some people may feel bad about it and that it is open to dispute. Self marriage might also catch public attention and new discussion.
By the way, when I studied economics, my professor said that getting married is just like finding a job. Now I see. Before getting married, we have to find a good partner; We can't marry a bad partner. It's almost the same in finding a good job: we can't work for a bad company all day long.
In my opinion, if the self marriage is a good/the best choice of life for you and it doesn't violate others' interest, health and property, I believe you can do it without any other restriction /obstruction. I don't understand those who want to marry themselves though(we can't have a good night without a good partner!), but if they are satisfied and they don't disturb others' lives, I have no reason or I can't find any reason for disagreement on it. Do whatever they want and be happy!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Facebook is, as you know, a worldwide social online networking where friends meet to share photos, news and gossip .
The word 'unfriend' came from Facebook and it is defined as “to remove someone as a 'friend' from a social networking site such as Facebook.”
The reasons for Facebook unfriending are as follows:
No.1: frequent, unimportant posts.
No2: posting about polarizing topics like religion and politics.
Moreover, the research found that those making friend requests stood a much higher chance of being abruptly unfriended and that at the same time, those doing the unfriending seemed to hold the upper hand in the relationship.
I think this may be something helpful for some other research on how to keep better relationship between, say, employees and employers in the labor market, men and women in the marriage market, and so on.
At any rate, Facebook itself is UNIMPORTANT. People just enjoy unimportant posts, don't they? They just break boring time. I believe in our life we sometimes need unimportant things as well as important things.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
NY times(05/10/2010);TOKYO — In a surprise move Tuesday, the Japanese central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate to a range of 0 percent to 0.1 percent, a tiny change from its previous target of 0.1 percent but a symbolic shift back into an age of zero interest rates.The Bank of Japan (BOJ) also said it would set up a fund of ¥5 trillion, or $60 billion, to buy Japanese government bonds, commercial paper and other asset-backed securities amid concerns about weakening growth in the economy, the world’s third largest, after those of the United States and China. The bank also kept its credit facility for banks at ¥30 trillion.
According to the one book written by Roger E. A. Farmer of UCLA, How the economy works,Oxford University Press, Roger says in this book,
"Control of an index fund(=mutual fund*) is the ideal way to implement this idea(=stabilizing stock market movements and preventing them from devastating the real economy),..."pp.159
*mutual fund : a basket with some stocks, bonds and other assets
"To maintain the interest rate, Fed(=US central bank) intervenes in the market by buying and selling Treasury bills(liabilities issued by government) in exchange for money,... (and at the same time) announces a price path for index funds and stands ready to buy and sell these funds each day at the announced price." pp.160
However, BOJ didn't announce the purchase of index funds/mutual funds and didn't say it follows Prof Farmer, but when I heard this news tonight I recalled Farmer; it seems to me that BOJ's announcement of purchase of Japanese government bonds, commercial paper and other asset-backed securities will have similar effects on the economy to what Prof Farmer's suggested.
I am not sure what Farmer says is going to happen in the Japanese economy when BOJ seeks the above new policy measures, but I would like to watch what's going on.
By the way, the press seemed surprised at the BOJ announcement, as Hirokata Kusaba of Mizuho Research Institute says, “The latest move gives off a much more powerful impression than past, incremental measures, which had sparked market disillusionment”
“Though there will be debate over the effects of the monetary loosening, I believe the Bank of Japan has done all it can at this time”
“despite the (BOJ's) exaggerated language claiming that this is radical,...BOJ is apparently acting reluctantly and de-emphasizing the temporary nature of the measures, which is likely to limit the impact" and “There is a stark contrast with the Fed’s ‘whatever is necessary’ approach.” **The parentheses are added by Taro.
At any rate I am sure that this BOJ's action will soon lead to a widespread debate among economists and policymakers all over the world.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
I don't know whether I should say 'brain training' and 'logical thinking' in the same context (these words may be quite different to some people), but anyway I can see many books titled 'brain training' and 'logical thinking' in the amazon.com.
It shows that many people want to become more brainy/smarter than ever, doesn't it? I try questioning myself about it and it seems to me that many people, especially business people as well, think that they should be smarter on their own in their everyday life.
I don't know if it is good for them to become brainy. Let me assume some situation of chat: while we are chatting, I always try asking, "what is it?", "what do you mean by this?", "it doesn't make sense", "that part of your tale sounds illogical", and so on. It is as if we were always in a discussion/meeting in class at school. I would get tired if I were always asking and questioning while chatting.
The issue I would raise is," do we really have to be smarter/thinking logically everywhere and every time in our life?" To be honest, I am not sure if we should do.
I don't always respect people trying to be rational or logical: I would like to ask such a king of people, "what part inside you do you defend?" It seems to me that they are likely to care themselves only, or that they just try to look nice and smart. It is just as if I dressed up.
This effort for trying to be smart is a kind of the waste of the time and money. Anyway it doesn't always help.
Friday, October 01, 2010
By the way, what do you mean by 'efficient blah blah blah'? I don't understand it at all! What is efficient? Are you efficient? Hmm...I have no idea.
My English dictionary tells me that it means 'working well'. It's a good answer and most people who say 'efficient blah blah blah' probably may mean so by it.
However, economics tells me somewhat different definition of it: efficient means 'happier'. It's a little ambiguous and it sounds subjective although economics deals with objective social problems, but for me it is rather a correct way of using this word.
When I think of what to change in my life, say, what to cut down on in my spending, what to throw away in my bookshelf and how much to drink in this bar and so on, I usually think of 'the Pareto-efficient' and it means 'happier', say, "if I drink a little more, to what extent will I be happier?".
Usually this word is used on the public policy conducted by policymakers and the effects on the economy and the people's lives: Assume there are two people, A and B and they try to trade each other. If A can't be better off/happier than ever unless A tries to make B worse off/less happier, A is in the 'Pareto-optimal/efficient' condition and vice versa.
Pareto is an Italian sociologist in the 19th century and the Pareto efficiency is used when economists think about the deals between some people, that is, an 'inter-personal' trades, but it's not the wrong usage when I talk of an 'intra-personal' trades between today's Taro and tomorrow's Taro on what or how much to choose to eat/drink*.
Anyway in terms of economic thinking, an 'efficient resource management' should be the one that makes the people related to it happier/more satisfied, rather than that reduces the cost and raises the profit.
*Some alert readers may say, "if you want to talk about Pareto-optimum/efficiency, you should touch on the Edgeworth box, contract curves, core and the first/second theorem of welfare economics". I know I should use these ideas if I talk about it formally.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Everyone hopes that he or she will have a good job. What I mean by 'a good job' is, of course, high-paid job.
However, some people may say that money is not so important as we expect in our life. There are many different views on that, but to live a healthy life in our modern society, making money should be considered first like this, "how much can I earn by working for your company?"
Here in Japan, maybe, in some other countries, there's a saying: "well fed, well bred". When surfing the web, I found another saying, "manners and money makes a gentleman", "poverty is an enemy to good manners."
Our job or career should be always our major concern in our life and when thinking about living a good life not to feel poverty, we must rethink of our current job and career, "will we be able to keep it for long?".
Good job depends on what we think as a good job, but how much we earn is always first concern and we can't tell a lie on it like,"money is not important, but happiness is always important." Happiness and money must be closely connected each other(and some research prove it) and needless to say, there's no happiness in a one-dollar-in-a-day life.
However, at the same time, there's happiness in a one-million-dollar-in-a-day life, isn't there? That should be another question to think of. Personally I can't imagine what it is like to be such a life, but there may be another problem, say, on how to manage to choose what kind of assets or how to inherit their property to whom.
In my opinion, I am happy that I can eat, read and sleep in a house with a well-built roof. I don't hope too much that I will live in luxury (I would like to live in luxury, having nice dinner and drink and bedroom), but I actually hope I will live a simple and stable life. If I can't live such a life now, then I should take some action to better it and that time should make me think money important in my present life. (No inflation is considered now. If there's the fear of inflation, my above view will be quite different. Behind my view the value of money, the purchasing power of money is important, not money itself when considering what kind of life we would like to lead.)
I believe that saving money doesn't mean just cutting down on our expenditure(cutting down on our standard of living makes no sense!), but thinking carefully of what to buy.
Some commentators on TV or in today's newspapers suggest that we should save money for our uncertain future life, but our future is always uncertain and the most certain thing on the future is that the future is always uncertain. And that's why we should think carefully of what we need most in today's life.
Don't be afraid of our future life too much, yes of course, we need to think of it, but thinking too much is not so helpful when we face some difficulties in our career. We should think of what we can do now because it is clear that we can't do what we can't do now.
If we think that we need something for our current or future job, we should now be studying or preparing for it(there's no money but there's much time! Time is also as important as money in our life), and if we need higher paid job to keep our current life stable, we should be looking for it in the job advertisement on the Internet or in the newspapers.
Please don't be influenced by someone near us(otherwise, you will be hurt!), just listen to or sometimes pretend to listen to what other people mean. However, some advise should be listened to. We remember they don't always think of us or they don't always try to be helpful to us. They just talk about what they want to talk(they just break time!). We should keep in mind that finally"do it yourself". Don't take too much time to talk about ourselves to someone, take time for us to prepare for another chance in the future.
Money is important but it doesn't choose our life. Moreover other people don't choose our life at least here in Japan and in some developed and democratic countries where the law protects our freedom to choose our career. Our life chooses our money.
Monday, September 06, 2010
'Frosh' should spell "Fresh".
But I looked up the online dictionary, it has that word: 'frosh' means 'a freshman in a college.' My dictionary doesn't have it. Why not a freshman is 'frosh'? These sound very different. I am not so serious though, just I am wondering why.
It's an American English word. I realize that there's really a lot in the world that I don't know.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The world economy has been in crisis and here in Japan some policymakers and economic policy nerds have some ideas of how to boost up the weak demand of the economy.
In my opinion (and I think many people interested in economic issues will agree with it), there're generally two kinds of the problems the economy has: the structural one and short-run business-cyclical one.
As a structural problem, the older people get, the more money they need to make a living. Thus the government should pay them as a medical insurance and national pension plan, which consequently puts the budget into deficit and thus a long-term debt. So we need much more tax revenue as resources to pay them.
On the other hand, and as a short-run problem, many young people now have difficulties in finding a good job in such a weakened economy and many (how many? ...good question, but it doesn't matter at present) of them should put up with low-paid and insecure jobs.
The Prime Minister, Kan, and his economic team seem to want to solve the above two kinds of them at the same time: raise the tax to create jobs and income. It sounds weird in a traditional economic thinking, but they are so serious that they think they can. The government raises the tax and gets the revenue, which it can use to employ the unemployed and to boost up the income and consumption in a whole economy. Now the Kan administration can solve the two problems: it can get more tax revenue to employ the unemployed (it can solve the short-run problem), and thus it can get more and more tax revenue to finance the budget deficit and to shrink the long-term debt because more people can earn income and pay the tax on it in a whole economy(it can solve the structural problem).
Yes of course, there's always a lot of jobs that need young people in the economy from the viewpoint of a whole society, but I mean these jobs may not necessarily keep them on and what's more, we are more likely to have ability-oriented or region-oriented gap: some people can complete the work they are offered, but others can't. Or, in some cities there're many jobs to take but in other cities not many. Always there're jobs that need us as long as we live on, but some of them may not make them eat enough food to live on. (Why are there some job ads that we can always see in the newspaper?)
Although the economic policy the Kan Administration sounds logically coherent, unfortunately I am not sure how successful the solution Mr. Kan proposed is in solving the two problems, and I am wondering what happens to the economy if the government tries to do it.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Recently I have read some books some of my favorite economists recommend, and wanted to concentrate on them carefully. Of course, while reading them, I've been busy working and teaching.
Soon I will write and discuss on the books I read.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
When I think of the fiscal problems that the Hatoyama administration should solve, this report may greatly help though it is on the fiscal policy of the US.
Fiscal policy has three functions: (1) allocation of resources, (2) income redistribution, and (3) economic stabilization.
This report is almost entirely on the function of fiscal stimulus, or comment on textbook Keynesian view on fiscal policy and here's the summary of this report:
(1) On the effects of government spending
There are two effects of government spending on aggregate demand(=consumption + investment). These are positive and negative effects:
The positive effect is multiplier effect, where government purchase leads to higher income and thus today's demand.
On the other hand, the negative effects are growth-retarding effect, where government spending leads to higher taxes in the future and thus less demand today to prepare for the higher tax, and crowding-out effect, where government spending results in higher interest rate and thus less today's demand.
(2) On the effects of tax cut and spending on demand
Generally, I say that government spending is more effective on demand than is tax cut. However, some researches say that it isn't, rather it is the opposite: tax cut is more effective on demand than government spending.
Moreover, (interestingly) successful, growth-promoting fiscal stimulus is tax cut whereas unsuccessful stimulus is spending more and transfer payments, which are now (unfortunately) the Hatoyama administration's main dishes!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Since around 1970s, the age of oil and dollar crisis, an income inequality has been wider in some developed countries and especially since late 1990s, when IT(information technology) revolution, the Internet, came across and changed our everyday business and life, we've got concerned about what is called "digital divide", which means that those who use IT are more likely to get higher income than those who don't.
"Kakusa society", in Japanese, means "income-gap society" and is now a well known word to a lot of modern Japanese people. Income gap leads to a wider opportunity gap; Those who get higher income are more likely to have good friends and spouses and live a better and happier life, and thus so are their children.
When Gary Becker & Kevin Murphy talk about the income inequality, they point out the role of "human capital" played in an income gap:
The initial impact of higher returns to human capital(Taro added: a higher education of college and university) is wider inequality in earnings.
...Higher returns to education will accelerate growth in living standards as existing investments have a higher return, and additional investments in education will be made in response to the higher returns.
Why is the earnings gap widening? Because (of) the demand for educated and other skilled persons (and) ...a general shift in economic activity to more education-intensive sectors, such as finance and professional services... At the same time, world demand has risen for the kinds of products and services that are provided by high-skilled employees.
They tell us that initial impact of higher education on income widens income gap, but as time goes by, it decreases and leads to higher income and benefit spilled over more people. Moreover, they criticize the usual policy response to an income inequality:
...the solution to an increase in inequality is ...to raise taxes on high-income households and reduce taxes on low-income households. .. (That is just like advocating) a tax on going to college and a subsidy for dropping out of high school in response to the increased importance of education.
They suggest that we should encourage higher education for more people. I completely agree with them.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Here in Japan before we work for governments we should take the exam on law, history, and economics and have some interviews. These subjects are, however, at an elementary level,but to teach elementary economics is not easy for me because almost all the students don't know a lot about economics.(that's why they come up to me!!)
They need good lectures and thus they paid a lot for schools. I should talk frankly about economics and watch them study hard.
During this lecture I had some lessons on giving a lecture: I found I didn't understand what I had thought I knew a lot about. Moreover, I found good lecture depends on how much I prepare for it: If I didn't read the textbook very much beforehand, I couldn't teach well and would give the students an impression in which I don't know a lot about what I am talking about. That's true but I hadn't found it until I gave some lectures.
I believe it is a good experience and I should study more on how to teach elementary economics. But at the same time I should begin to write some papers for the doctor degree.
Monday, February 22, 2010
It looks interesting and I've tried to reply to them. After a while, they emailed me and they said they found me an ideal guy... and I continue to email her(?) and she(?) says that she wants me, needs me and loves me....(like Elvis's song?)
What is that? I have no idea. Why do they email someone that they never meet?
Anyway, if you have some idea of such an anonymous email, I would be happy to hear it.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
It also reminds us of the Kobe-Awaji earthquake that happened 15 years ago.
WASHINGTON—One-third of American adults are obese, according to new U.S. government figures released Wednesday, but the rate of increase seen in recent decades has slowed.
Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics showed 34% of American adults age 20 and older were obese in 2007-08 while 68% were considered overweight or obese. In children ages 2 through 19, 17% were considered obese while 32% were considered overweight. Broadly, the figures are similar to rates seen in 1999-2000.
"Obesity remains high and is a significant public-health problem in the U.S.," said Cynthia Ogden, one of the main researchers involved in tabulating the data and an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's health-statistics unit.
..."I see this as relatively good news," said William Dietz, the director of CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity. "It suggests we've halted the progression of the epidemic."...."The administration recognizes that control of obesity is related to health reform," Dr. Dietz said.
The obesity figures were taken from 5,555 adults and nearly 4,000 children who are considered representative of the U.S. population. For adults, researchers looked at body mass index, a measure that estimates body fat by using a person's height and weight in the calculation. Those with BMIs of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight and those who are considered obese have a BMI of 30 or greater. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a normal weight for adults.
Interestingly, we can see this article in the site of Yahoo JAPAN! although it is a piece of the American news that doesn't seem to have anything to do with our own life. I'm not sure how many Japanese are obese and what growth rate of obese Japanese we have seen for the past decades, but I'm sure it is not other people's affairs.
We have already lived a civilized life here for long: the foods we eat are more similar or closer to those the American eat, and we do less exercise for long and so do they. Our life style becomes quite closer to American one. I think we need to take a good look at the data of obesity in America for good reference.