NEW YORK – It’s been a quarter-century since Japan’s asset bubble burst – and a quarter-century of malaise as one “lost decade” has followed another. Some of the criticism of its economic policies is unwarranted. Growth is not an objective in itself; we should be concerned with standards of living. Japan is ahead of the curve in curbing population growth, and productivity has been increasing. Growth in output per working-age person, especially since 2008, has been higher than in the United States, and much higher than in Europe.
Still, the Japanese believe they can do better. I agree. Japan has problems on both the supply and the demand side, and in both the real economy and finance. To address them, it needs an economic program that is more likely to work than the measures policymakers have recently adopted, which have failed to achieve their inflation target, restore confidence, or boost growth to the level desired.