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Ah, Japan

September 21st, 2010


The smell of the grill wafts up and down the street from the fan blowing just behind the lantern, making it sway deliciously. Chicken on a stick. Ahhh.

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  1. Troy
    September 21st, 2010 at 12:43 | #1

    Must be nice living in an actual civilization.

  2. Troy
    September 21st, 2010 at 12:55 | #2

    ach, if only Japan’s national finances were as well-arrayed as Norway’s. Moving there in 1992, I had absolutely no idea what a mess I was jumping into. Shoulda studied Norwegian in college and moved there instead, LOL.

    Ca. 1998 I remember at work asking my Japanese coworkers what the new gov’t pension plan was that I just got enrolled in, and they joked “it’s money you’re not going to see!”.

    The bizarre thing is that nearly all of Japan’s gov’t debt is held by Japanese, so this massive debt represents the gov’t borrowing from people instead of taxing them.

    Like the US’s SSTF, a lot of this borrowing has come from the Japan Postal Savings — almost 30% of the Japan’s total debt of $9.7T — call it $3.3T or ~$30,000 per person.

    I don’t know how Japan is going to dig itself out of this. The yen-yuan-dollar triangle is just too bizarre for me to understand without a ton of rigorous analysis.

    Japan is in the same pickle as the US, too much investment in ephemeral land values.

    I’m hopeful though, as I wrote on another site recently, I’d rather have the US’s macroeconomic situation than Japan’s, but I’d rather have Japan’s politics than the US’s.

    Without the right politics, nothing is solvable. With the right politics, anything is solvable.

  3. Luis
    September 21st, 2010 at 13:03 | #3

    I’ve kind of been wondering… can Japan just print up a whole lot of new money to bring the value of the yen down? Yes, it could spur inflation, but that hasn’t really been a problem in Japan as much as it has seemed, has it?

    Right now I could really use a weak yen, as I am primed to bring a lot of money from the U.S. to pay for a house here. I got screwed in the past as the yen soared when I had no money to send back to the U.S., and then it plummeted when I did. My timing is usually really bad on this stuff.

  4. Troy
    September 21st, 2010 at 13:38 | #4

    can Japan just print up a whole lot of new money to bring the value of the yen down?

    Japan announced they were “defending the yen” recently, but I think any intervention can and will get overwhelmed by global trade flows and the fact that everyone is trying to competitively devaluate. Buy gold, LOL.

    This seems like a good summary:


    apparently the BOJ can fire another $1T or so of money at the market. But currency markets can fight back.

    I don’t know anything but I almost think Japan actually can prosper with a strong currency. At the Y50 level they can just pay us and the Chinese to work for them.

    If the yen rises to 50 and the yuan rises to 5 (from ~7 now), Y2000 will buy 200 yuan, which is about a month’s unskilled Chinese labor. Y3000 would buy 300 yuan, a month of skilled labor.

    You can see how this is a very curious thing. Plus since it needs to import so much stuff, having so much money on hand is a good thing.

    Like I said, I have no idea where all this is going. Bad places I fear, but who knows.

    My timing is usually really bad on this stuff.

    tell me about it. Back in April 1995 for my new apartment I charged Y200,000 of stuff in Japan on my visa card @ ~80Y per dollar. Though when I came back in 2002 for a quick visit I did in fact take advantage of the Y132 yen rate. Instead of blowing my USD I shoulda just been bought a wad of yen to take back with me– woulda made 65% return already AND have a nice packet of yen for my bugout money.

  5. September 25th, 2010 at 01:58 | #5

    Ahhh, I could go for some yakitori

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