Last week it was Germany and France. This week it is Japan
coming out of recession before America and Britain.
It is surely significant that the major economies which
remain most uncertain are those which were panicked into expensive stimulus
However, it is foolish to suggest, as some supposedly expert
commentators do with unconcealed glee, that this indicates a failure of the
“Anglo-Saxon Economic Model”.
Such commentators ignore the fact that Japan – like Germany
and France – has major structural problems and went into the recession in a
much weaker position than America and Britain. That situation is unlikely to
change, even after full recovery.
Japan is still recovering from the bursting of its economic
bubble in the 1990s – when the consequences of decades of overheating the
economy within a high tariff wall led to a long overdue explosion.
To a certain extent, 2008 was the year the rest of the world
caught up with Japan – the global crisis is in many ways a bigger and more
complex version of the crisis that had hit Japan almost a decade before. Japan
has suffered relatively little because it was already taking many of the
The Japanese experience offers us both warning and comfort.
The bad news is that Japan shows how the effects of such a crisis can last a
decade or more.
The good news is that Japan’s enduring economic strength
shows us that life goes on.