Much like BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda, Paul Krugman thinks that the key for Japan when it comes to overcoming decades of deflation is a positive outlook.
“Japan needs to reach a point where everyone believes that it has pulled out of deflation. And then if that can be believed, then it may be able to stay out of trouble thereafter,” he told an audience in Tokyo last September.
That rather ridiculous pronouncement is reminiscent of something Kuroda said last summer: “I trust that many of you are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, in which it says, ‘the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.’ Yes, what we need is a positive attitude and conviction.”
In other words, Krugman and Kuroda believe that Japan can wish its way out of deflation. Krugman’s comments in Tokyo came around 10 months after he visited Japan in 2014. On that trip, he’s said to have helped convince PM Shinzo Abe to delay a planned sales tax hike. “That nailed Abe’s decision — Krugman was Krugman, he was so powerful,” Japanese economist Etsuro Honda said, recounting a meeting between the economist and the premier.
Well, 16 months has passed since that fateful visit and virtually nothing has changed in Japan. In fact, the Japanese have since taken a further plunge down the Keynesian rabbit hole by taking interest rates negative and not only is inflation still languishing at essentially zero, stocks are some 20% off their highs and this month the yen actually hit its highest levels since Kuroda announced the second round of QE two Octobers ago.
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