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Everything posted by i_godzuki

  1. Hang on, given a beer in Japan is 500-600 yen for a small one or about 900 for a pint, I'm not sure 100 yen = pound is fair value. If I were to make my best guess to the real level, I'd say 180-200 yen, which means either the yen is rather strong now or the pound too weak. I'm guessing it's the former.
  2. I don't think that's the way to look at it. A more optimistic note would be to think of it as Japan, despite 80% falls in asset prices (stocks, housing etc) managed to increase its GDP per head and grow steadily for seven years amid mild deflation. This is quite an achievement. Of course, there are many problems too--ageing population, high govt debt and so on. However, they haven't stood still during the last eight years. For example, now, while exporters aregetting hurt by the strong yen, many Japanese companies are snapping up bargains using all the cash they saved during the good times. M&A overseas by Japanese companies has more than doubled this year.
  3. No they're not. Honda's US sales year-to-date are down less than 6%, compared to over 20% at the Big Three. They're also outperforming Toyota and Nissan. However, in November their US sales fell over 32%, which while not as bad the market average of 37% is nasty. The reason they've held up better is because they don't make the huge SUVs and pickups that have been hardest hit. The problem now is that passenger car sales are also slumping. In any case, I wonder if this about more than just money. I think Honda was one the companies that put it's name to a letter asking Mosley to quit. Meanwhile, the powers-that-be switched from the Japan GP from Honda's Suzuka track to Toyota's Fuji Speedway, which presumably didn't go down well at Honda.
  4. Dunno how interesting this but I saw an article in the Nikkei recently pointing out that Nomura is now the only truly global investment bank. The rest have either gone or, like Goldman, applied to become banks.
  5. Undoubtedly Japan and its exporters benefited from other peoples' bubbles. This is a big reason why the Nikkei plunged as big exporters like Toyota's profits have fallen. But I still think the bigger point holds: Japan's real estate prices slumped 80% over a long period, its stock market almost as much. Yet somehow--arguably fiscal stimulus--it managed to maintain its GDP, maintain employment levels (although the quality of many jobs has worsened) and avoid civil unrest. It'll be interesting to see if Britain etc can pull off the same trick.
  6. I agree completely on the savings issue and the trade surplus, but I still think Britain is right to spend now. There's no easy way out--it's just a question of choosing the least worse solution. If companies focus on reducing debt and improving their balance sheets (and people), the economy will plummet, companies will earn less and their debts will shrink less quickly. I can't bear Brown and his posturing amid all this, but Osbourne seems even worse. I'm gonna vote Lib Dem next time even if they can't win.
  7. Not no growth. Slow growth. They experienced one of the biggest bubbles in history and managed to maintain the GDP and fairly low unemployment in the horrific aftermath. Incidentally, before slipping into recession last quarter, Japan grew every quarter since 2001. The growth since then was pretty small but it was continuous and without a property bubble. It was also the longest period of growth since the end of WW2. This is why Japanese companies are currently on a spending spree acquiring businesses overseas--it's the cash saved from rising earnings in the last seven years. The point on UK manufacturing is a fair enough but I still think fiscal stimulus is right or at least unavoidable for the UK. The problem, well-rehearsed on here, is that Brown didn't put anything aside during the good times. But what's the alternative? A huge recession? Millions unemployed?
  8. This afternoon I had an interesting conversation with a Tokyo based economist who experienced the collapse here in Japan. He pointed out that in the problems Britain and others are facing now can only be solved by fiscal stimulus. Monetary policy, he said, won't work when companies and people are too indebted. Even if its cheap people and companies won't want to borrow and banks won't want to lend. The only option to avoid a deep recession, he said, is fiscal stimulus. That's why in Japan, despite land prices falling over 80% from the peak, its GDP remained above pre-Bubble levels. Of course, to achieve that cost a fortune. Then I listen to this interview and Osbourne's line: "We have to use monetary policy".
  9. Few errors on this thread. They will get basic pay while they're off and no lay offs as the new Jazz is coming. They're being encouraged to help out in the community just like the Toyota workers in the U.S. while they retooled three plants. Also, someone said that Toyota had laid off half its workers in Japan. Er, no. They've said they won't renew contracts of 3,000 temporary workers when they run out. No permanent employees are being laid off. I agree about Hondas being a bit dull, though. It's a shame , given their engineering prowess, that they don't make better lookingcars. The new Insight hybrid looks interesting, mind.
  10. Japan may have had very low interest rates, but at least it had a reason for it--it's economy crashed after one of the mother of all bubbles and desperate times called for desperate measures. Even with zero interest rates, it's economy only expanded slowly. What was the west's excuse for low rates, which while not as low as Japan were arguably less necessary?
  11. Ahem. I think this is the first time I've been quoted from afar. Shame about my grammar.
  12. Not sure the money being repatriated is Japanese money, though. Rather, it's foreign hedge funds and banks that had borrowed from Japan at low rates. The Japanese retail investors that invested overseas are unlikely to be bring funds back with the yen at these rates. On the contrary, I believe last month was a big month for retail investors buying overseas due to the strong yen.
  13. I don't think they carried on with bad lending practices, at least not completely. Rather, the problem was that they stopped lending without strings, further dragging the economy down. I'm writing this now from Haneda Airport, which like lots of airports is pristine (except Narita). People go on about the bridges to nowhere but tomorrow I will go cycling in the countryside and all the roads will be pristine. If I tire, I'll catch a train which will be on time and clean etc. You get the picture. People did suffer, though, and especially the generation that were graduating from school or university about ten years ago. They suffered to get permanent employment and once you miss the boat here, it's hard to catch up. That said, when you consider the severity of the problems, it's remarkable how well they maintained things. Also, it's interesting that for all the slowdown Japanese companies aren't hurting too much yet. Profits are down a lot but that's more the strong yen. In autos, for instance, don't be surprised if in five years time if Toyota, Honda etc have increased their global share.
  14. The concern for Japanese banks is the impact of slumping stock prices on their large stock holdings. This is why the biggest one, MUFG, is preparing to raise more capital (although not through a bailout). Unlike many Western banks, they didn't lose too many billions through subprime and other derivatives nonsense, so basically they're in good nick at least if the Nikkei recovers a bit. The strong yen is an interesting one. Very bad news for exporters etc but not all bad news. Japanese listed companies generally have little debt and loads of cash. It could be time for another buying spree...
  15. I'm rich! Or at least I would be if I'd not put a chunk of savings into the Nikkei 225 at 13,000. Doh.
  16. Maybe they could have tried harder, but not sure what they could have done short of blowing zillions on buying dollars, euros etc. The current level is crazy--154 to the pound, compared to 250 at one point last year.
  17. This thread is pretty depressing reading. The key point the Times article makes (and I'm no fan of its author) is that population projections are usually nonsense. Who can argue with that? The hapless government is now getting tougher on immigration just as many people are leaving. If the recession gets worse, more will go. I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of years there will be dozens of "brain drain" stories and more Brits leaving than foreigners coming in.
  18. don't think so. The yen dollar is 107.5, compared to less than 100 a few months back.
  19. The yen is pretty stable now at about 108 to the dollar, which I think was much more of a worry from a carry trade point of view. Here in Japan, there's been some coverage of the euro fall, but nothing much on the pound. Personally, I'm delighted as I'm visiting the UK this month and its gone from 250 yen to the pound to 193 as I write. Happy days.
  20. The article is three years old. Since then there's a couple of years of growth, although the market, especially for apartments is struggling at the moment. The population issue is an interesting one. Big cities aren't shrinking as people continue to move to them, including some retirees after culture and quality health care. Perhaps more interesting, the birthrate has increased for the last two years. While still too low, some optimists suspect this is a result of younger people now being in demand and have greater job security. Sadly, those in their early 30s, the ones who bore the brunt of the lost decade, are not so fortunate. The other possibility is that immigration will rise more quickly. Surprisingly, I read recently that one in thirty babies in Japan now has one non-Japanese parent.
  21. This is until you drive it fast. When you drive it slowly (normally), it feels strong and safe and very comfortable. Your aunt could drive it. But put your foot down. especially with a few settings adjusted, and it's a beast. What's more, the fact is it's incredibly fast partly because it corners like it's on rails. As someone else says, you have to think about as a triumph of engineering that the company that used to make Datsuns can sell a car faster than Porsches and Ferraris for half the cost. I don't think Japanese versus European fast sports cars means one is bad and the other is good. They're just different in the same way high end steel bikes ride differently to ultra lightweight carbon ones. I also don't think the GT-R looks that boy racer-ish. compared to the Evo or Subarus. In many ways, people look more like cocks in Ferraris or cheesier Porsches like the Boxsters.
  22. I think they'll debut it at the Detroit Motor Show in January, although it's been delayed already, so I'm not sure. The plan was to show it at the Tokyo Show last year but it never happened. I heard, though, that they're testing it now at the Nurbergring. It's gonna be fast. And then there will be the Lexus LFA too.
  23. Tax in Japan is quite high but not as high as the UK--probably about 1/4-1/3 of your total wage including land taxes. On the other hand, healthcare is only two-thirds subsidised (capped for expensive stuff, though). They don't have so much hidden unemployed as in hidden employed--Japan is bizarre in the amount of people doing a job one person (or nobody) could do in the service sector.The upside of this is it makes for amazing service. Another issue is the number of younger people in temporary work with not very bright futures. Benefits if you lose your job are good, but only last for six months or so. Corruption is pretty bad at government level--basically central government bribes voters in the countryside with pork barrel projects but it's getting better and it makes for some cool (if expensive) infrastructure. Some of the bridges to nowhere are fantastic. On the currency issues, it's not as clear cut as you make out. The BOJ hasn't intervened directly for years and, given Japan's savings, they have to stick the money somewhere. If Britain and the US are going to have big deficits someone, somewhere has to but the (interest bearing) debt. Also, it's worth noting that Japan's economy is only growing slowly and it's inflation rate is the lowest anywhere. Why should they raise rates? Finally, is the GT-R ugly. Some days I think it is. Some days I think it's pretty damn cool in a Gundam/metal Godzilla kind of way. As an engineering achievement, though, it's amazing. there's a well-worn phrase here called monozukuri which simply means "making things" but it hold huge cultural sway. Quality design and engineering is respected and expected. That's one reason why I'm not going home until I can rent a place with a decent electric washlet toilet and decent power shower.
  24. I've driven it on a test track here in Japan. It's amazingly quick yet can be driven slowly without fuss. You see quite a few on the roads. I prefer the dark grey color.
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