井の中の蛙

6/3/2009

The (Ongoing) Economic Crisis

Filed under: — Morgan Pitelka @ 4:49 pm

One of my students is doing a summer research project on the Japanese financial crisis of the 1990s and we just looked at Jon Woronoff’s book The Japanese Economic Crisis (1992) which was originally published as Japan, the Coming Economic Crisis (1979). Woronoff, who was at one point a correspondent for the journal “Asian Business” and still writes about East Asian economies, was apparently widely panned at the time for being a Japanophobe or maybe just a hater in general, but I was very struck by how many of the issues he raises–banking problems, too much reliance on exports and protectionism, widening social inequalities, insecurity for the elderly, the massive generation gap of the late 20th century, collapse of the company loyalty ethic–became widely acknowledged and commented-upon social and economic problems after the collapse of the bubble. Didn’t he turn out to be right about a lot of things? Has he gotten any credit? This is not my field. My understanding of postwar economic issues is thin (Is MITI a college at M.I.T?). But the many ways in which Japan’s response to its crisis of two decades ago resonate with both the global and Japanese situation today make this feel worth revisiting.

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