There doesn’t seem to be much interest in Japanese investment ideas by foreigners, which makes me wonder whether we are collectively missing a trick. Whether you consider culture, technology, economics or social developments, Japan remains quite different from the western perception of what is mainstream. This makes it an interesting part of the investment universe as it could provide idiosyncratic, diversifying investment opportunities.
This is the fourth and last in a series of blogs that looks at the risk of a hard landing in the Chinese economy. One problem when assessing this risk is the lack of historical precedents. Very few countries underwent debt build-ups of Chinese proportions, and those that did were usually very small, open economies. The one exception is 1990 Japan which displays some striking similarities with today’s China.
The rise of Chelsea and Man City shows that it takes a lot of money to break into the Champions League elite, but once you're there, it creates a virtuous circle. The same is true for inflation. There is a self-reinforcing loop of high inflation expectations, wages and prices. But the 2014 oil shock looks to have knocked the US and Japan out. Consumers' inflation expectations remain stubbornly low.
Monetary policymakers are often described as heading into “uncharted territory”. The latest example is the Bank of Japan’s decision to introduce a target for ten-year yields. You won’t find a precedent of this policy in recent history. But the territory is not totally uncharted: we saw something very similar in the USA roughly seventy years ago.