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Everything posted by i_godzuki

  1. The 20 year olds are doing fine now--it's those graduating 10 years ago that are stuck in the dead end jobs and considered too old to hire now that are suffering. On the cost of living thing, it is much cheaper. When I moved here, I initiallly earned less but my lifestyle was arguably better. It's still also the case here that most women stop working when they have a child at least for a few years, if not for always--something not possible in London for me in my old job. It's probably because everyone at home needs two incomes to pay for the mortgage...
  2. I live in Tokyo and own a house here, which I bought in June 2006. Echoing a lot of the points above, no one expects their house to appreciate in value. Many are only built to last for about 30 years. Almost none of my Japanese friends here own a house. Most rent or live with their parents (even into their late 20s and early 30s) if they're unmarried. I don't how it compares with the UK but when I bought my place, two-thirds of the cost was the land, one-third the house (before taxes). As for the pricing, it's not cheap in Tokyo but it's not unaffordable either. For starters, you can fix your loans for 25 or 30 years at about 3%. On my place, I'm paying 3.1% fixed for 20 years. If it was in the UK, I'd be paying double that by now or not far off. Since I bought it, land prices have risen markedly in Tokyo, especially in certain areas although no one expects a boom. Moreover, the gains in the land price will be offset the falling value of the building. It's also worth noting that that Tokyo's population isn't shrinking. In the countryside, it's a different story but you can get real bargains. Also, I noticed on the other thread that each of the areas quoted for prices were in upmarket Tokyo locations, which are hardly symbolic of the country as a whole. In places like Fukuoka, outside of the centre, I'd imagine you can get some pretty spacious places for a very reasonable price.
  3. i don't find the heat horrific in tokyo--it's hot for sure but the pleasant winter, spring and autumns make up for it. for me, ideal would be europe may-october and japan the rest of the time. take the point about the job thing, though.
  4. Kyushu is lovely too. I was there over Xmas and will be back in April and May. Which bit are you thinking about?
  5. It closed down -3.89 points or 0.03% so basically unchanged. This is interesting inasmuch as it followed significant falls in the U.S. overnight and a slight strengthening of the yen, hence it opening down this morning, but then recovered, I think, after the BOJ held rates at 0.5%.
  6. Nikkei up 400 points this morning after this: Even though I've bullish on Japan (relatively) this sounds almost too good to be true. I think economists were expecting about 1.7%.
  7. Interesting stuff, although it's notable that for it's lack of Japanese comment even from the banks it accuses of hiding subprime losses. If it turns out they're not hiding bucketloads of subprime I guess a Nikkei bounce is possible. If they are, then it's gonna be messy.
  8. The market closes between 11 and 12:30. I wouldn't want to be smoking outside today, though. When I cycled to the station it was snowing.
  9. Despite--or perhaps because of the Nikkei's weak performance of late--there are some reasons to be bullish on Japan. Firstly, the Nikkei has been particularly hard hit by foreign money withdrawing over the last year as investors reassessed risk. Hedge funds aline took out 900 billion yen last year. Some (not Goldfinger) would say its been overdone when you look at the fundamentals. Second, Japan's companies and banks have limited direct exposure to sub-prime. Its three "mega" banks, for example, look like being in for about $4 billion or so, which is pretty small compared to foreign rivals given their size. This is because, after their experiences of the last decade, they appear to still be relatively risk averse. Toyota, meanwhile, says its financing division has a bad loan ratio of only 0.7% in the US. Third, Japanese companies, so far, have been pretty resilient. Earnings were up about 10% in the last quarter. Exporters, meanwhile, have been quite good at growing earnings in emerging markets. Yesterday, Toyota issued its best ever third quarter results, while Honda and Nissan also had very good results last week. Shares in these exporters have been hammered over fears over the US but that ignores the strides they've been making elsewhere. I suppose the trick is to guess the bottom or near it, but unless the yen surges I reckon the Nikkei is pretty cheap right now.
  10. -446 now, so quite a bit of Friday's gains look like being wiped off. Interestingly, though, the Nikkei today has a couple of positive stories. One on foreign investment in real estate remains strong. Another on Japanese stocks looking undervalued compared to US and European stocks. I have some sympathy with the latter, although I guess a bit will depend on Japanese quarterly results which start filtering through this week.
  11. That's only 1% and expected given the Dow fell on Friday and the yen appreciated slightly.
  12. Nikkei just closed up 536 points. That's the biggest gain in ages.
  13. The market reopens at 12:30pm and closes at 3pm. Things should get interesting in the next week or so when Japanese companies start posting their quarterly results. So far, there's been little evidence of any downward revisions to their profit forecasts, but it's not clear if decent numbers will be enough to offset the selling. Obviously, if the figures are bad, then the gloom will worsen. One problem right now, though, is that foreign investors account for a about 60% of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and to tend to sell en masse. That's why companies like Toyota are being sold off even though their business is going from strength to strength. Still, if the Nikkei goes to 13,000, I'm buying some.
  14. Japan's government didn't give anything. Mizuho bank did, which isn't anything to do with the government.
  15. With half an hour of trading to go it's up 66.05 points. Not sure what caused the turnaround. Meanwhile, I noticed somewhere Mizuho bank, which just bought a $1.2 bn stake in Merrill Lynch and has written off just $650m on subprime woes, is down by more than Merrill Lynch since August, which has written off $8 bn. The falls in the Nikkei seem excessive to me.
  16. The problem seems to be twofold. First, the yen is strengthening (now up to about 106 or 107) which hurts profit from US exports at a time when demand is slowing. However, a lot of that is being offset by big increases in exports to China, Russia and the Middle East. Second, foreign investors make up about 60% of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Despite Japan's fundamentals being relatively unchanged and little direct exposure to US subrpime problems, many of these foreigners are increasingly risk averse and closing Japan positions. I was chatting to an anlayst yesterday and he said it was all about sentiment. Toyota, for instance, is down about 20% since November, even though it's in great shape. Happy days.
  17. If you'd bought a house in Japan in 1990, by 2005, you would have lost a lot of money relative to renting.
  18. I find these replies astonishing. It's just codswallop. I agree there is sometihng that a renter might not save or invest the saving, but that hardly makes a home a better investment in a plunging market (obviously). What's more, it makes the writer look silly. Sometimes (most times) surely it's just better to say "thanks, I made a mistake", tis it not?
  19. Why did you all choose to ignore Eek's comment? This is hardly a shock. The market has been closed for a week during which time the Dow has dropped significantly and the yen has strengthened from about 113 to 109. Add to that light volumes--today was only a halfday as most people are still away--and it was bound to be a big drop. Obviously, it's still a pain if you hold Japanese stocks.
  20. Just past the four year mark in Tokyo. Still really like it, especially the food (more than double the Michelin starred restaurants than Paris and nice cheap stuff too), efficiency and general "differentness". Managed to buy a house 18 months ago too, which thanks to the low interest rates works out much cheaper than what I would have got in an equivalent part of London. I still like the UK, though, and can't say it was high prices that drove me out. Rather, after ten years in London, the UK's only big city, I fancied a change.
  21. I think you've hit the nail on the head. Just because Brits are unable to learn foreign languages it doesn't mean people from other countries are the same. I'm sure if Poles can pick up English they can pick up German or French. It's as much about effort as anything else.
  22. This seems unlikely. Unless they're hiding the numbers, Japanese banks appear remarkably little exposed to subprime. There have been some subprime problems in Japan, but if I have it right, most of it has come from subprime lenders in Japan being stopped from charging sky high interest rates, thus lowering profits at the banks which have stakes in them. Overseas subprime exposure is quite low largely because Japanese banks are rather cautions having been so badly burned in the past. (This is also a factor why Japan failed to recover even when interest rates were almost zero; the banks wouldn't lend to risky people). I seem to remember an article somewhere saying $5bn (this may have been in the Times--I'll check when I get a min) for all of Japan's banks subprime exposure combined, which compared to say the cost of propping up Northern Rock is small.
  23. These could be famous last words, but I'm wondering if the unwinding of the carry trade has been overplayed. This year, the yen has gone as low as 124 to the dollar, back up to 106 or so and is now down again to 114. During that time there's been chaos abounding yet the carry trade scare stories seem to have left the radar. Could this mean either (a.) it wasn't such a big deal in the first place? or (b.) That a lot of big positions have long since been closed? I guess (c.) could be that it's yet to happen but if not, why not?
  24. Turmoil is on it's way, reckons Larry. His arguments have been well rehearsed on here, but interesting to see it in the Guardian, nonetheless.
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