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Japan's 12.7% Quarterly Economic Plunge Stuns World

Japan's economy contracted at an annual rate of 12.7 percent in its October-December quarter, compared with the previous year, much worse than economists had expected. It was the biggest drop since one quarter in 1974. The number was down 3.3 percent from the previous quarter -- quite a drop. Exports were down a record 13.9 percent in the quarter for the world's second-largest economy. Asian and European stocks dropped on the news, but for the most part less than one percent. The U.S. market is closed today (President's Day, Feb. 16).

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Japan's economy contracted at an annual rate of 12.7 percent in its October-December quarter, compared with the previous year, much worse than economists had expected. It was the biggest drop since one quarter in 1974. The number was down 3.3 percent from the previous quarter -- quite a drop. Exports were down a record 13.9 percent in the quarter for the world's second-largest economy. Asian and European stocks dropped on the news, but for the most part less than one percent. The U.S. market is closed today (President's Day, Feb. 16).

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4

Can you spell Depression? This is shocking! The most amazing thing about this life ruining Crash is the speed of it all. Trillions and Trillions lost in one year. Now with the population aging and no jobs, what in the World are people going to do? I see massive suicides coming. So sad.

Feb. 20, 2009

Response to post #1: The collapse of the banking system -- most of the top 50 U.S. banks are insolvent -- resembles the 1930s. Yes, the pains thus far (unemployment, e.g.) are nowhere near as bad as in the Depression, and there is no dust bowl, but the world is far more interconnected now. The U.S. is bailing out American banks not because they are too big to fail, but because they are too interconnected to fail. Blame derivatives, particularly credit default swaps. If one big U.S. bank goes down, other global banks go down, too, because they are on the other end of credit default swaps guaranteeing the big U.S. banks' debts. And foreign nations hold half our debt. We can't afford to ruffle China (what do you think the AIG bailout was all about?) I have been covering business and economics for 45 years with Business Week, the Union-Tribune, and the Reader. I have never seen anything like this. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 21, 2009

Reply to #2 - Nationalization is not the answer. Why own a stock or bond if the Govt is going to come in and seize your company and wipe you out? This would destroy liquidity. Also, a report says Nationalization may leave Warren Buffet;s Berskshire insolvent. He is now down $10 Billion on his SHORT PUT trade and has lost a fortune of late in Wells Fargo and USBancorp, not to mention the recent buy of GE.

Feb. 21, 2009

Response to post #3: Nobody wants to nationalize the banks. I don't. Neither do Greenspan, Dodd, etc. who have mentioned it as A LAST RESORT. It may come to that, however, if we feel we must keep zombie banks going because of the credit default swaps. Keeping zombie banks open was one of Japan's stupid steps in the 1990s. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 21, 2009

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