GDPマイナス 景気の失速回避に全力あげよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 15, 2012)
All-out efforts needed to reverse business slowdown
GDPマイナス 景気の失速回避に全力あげよ(11月14日付・読売社説)

The fall in the nation's gross domestic product for the July-September quarter should be considered a sign of business slowdown. The nation faces a crucial moment of determining whether the economy will be able to avoid weakening even further.

The real-term GDP for the July-September period dropped 0.9 percent from the previous quarter, marking the first negative growth in three quarters. The slide translated into an annualized 3.5 percent decline. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed a sense of crisis, saying, "It's a dismal figure."

This contraction is attributable to two chief factors: the drop in foreign demand caused by the slowdown of foreign economies; and a fall in personal consumption and investment in plants and equipment that together account for core domestic demand. A boost in public investment for rebuilding from last year's earthquake and tsunami disaster stopped short of making up for the overall decline.

Domestic automobile sales have slackened due to the end of government subsidies for eco-friendly car purchases, and sales of household electrical appliances such as flat-screen TVs have remained sluggish. Increased uncertainty over corporate performance also has restrained corporate investment in plants and equipment.


Inaccurate recovery scenario

The government and the Bank of Japan sketched out a scenario in which they would wait for foreign economies to recover while sustaining demand at home through reconstruction projects in the hope that this would eventually lead to full-scale growth.

However, as the slowdown in domestic demand has come earlier than they expected, their scenario is not playing out as they imagined. They must increase their vigilance and make all-out efforts to sustain the economy.

Of major concern is that there seems to be slim hope of an early recovery in foreign economies.

Europe has fallen into a negative growth phase. The United States, meanwhile, is heading for a "fiscal cliff" from year-end to early next year that involves an end to various tax breaks including last year's temporary payroll tax cuts, thereby threatening to deal another blow to the global economy.

Also of major concern is a sharp drop in Japan's exports to China due to a slowdown in the Chinese economy and strained bilateral relations over the Senkaku Islands.

A government-planned small-scale emergency economic package using reserve funds is not strong enough to cope with such adverse conditions. The government must compile a supplementary budget as soon as possible and put together a full-fledged stimulus package.

However, as fiscal conditions remain strict, it is necessary to allocate budgets on a priority basis to public works projects that will have the greatest economic impact.


Use private sector as spur

The development and successful commercialization of private-sector innovation is the biggest driving force for economic growth. Future business opportunities can be expected in such growth industries as environment-related businesses and medical services.

We hope such moves will receive sufficient support for research and development projects through an investment tax credit and easing regulations that are hampering new business ventures. Adequate measures must be carefully devised after listening to the private sector's needs.

To make the most of the private sector's vigor, the domestic business environment must be improved first and foremost.

Concrete measures to achieve this include correcting the strength of the record-high yen; lowering the corporate tax rate, which is high compared to international standards; and restarting idled nuclear reactors to avert a possible power shortage.

Not least of all, the political situation must be stabilized to help shore up economic growth.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 14, 2012)
(2012年11月14日01時20分  読売新聞)

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