Why Did Japan, Inc. Fail?

In 1991 Japan could look back on three decades of growth at an average rate of 6.5 percent. In the 1980's Japan dominated consumer electronics, semiconductors, automobiles and Japanese companies were buying up American properties at an alarming rate. But the past five years have been ones of economic gloom and the solution is elusive. Nissan's auto sales have fallen 22 percent and it has closed factories. Property values have fallen 50 percent and resulted in bad loan losses for Japanese banks of as much as $1 trillion. Homebuyers on around 1990 are burdened with properties that are worth half of what they paid for them.

The Road to War: The War For Manufacturing and Cold War 2.0

With TPP in the process of being ratified and the American presidential race well under way, focus has again returned to the war for manufacturing (and manufacturing jobs) and its future in America.  Boston Consulting Group released a remarkable survey a few weeks ago, which can be viewed here (pdf), here (slideshare) or here (scribd).  It's worth posting the executive summary here to see its significance:

Executive Summary

Key takeaways from BCG's fourth annual survey of U.S.-based manufacturing executives

1)  Interest in reshoring production to the U.S. remains strong, and the percentage of companies actively moving operations back to the U.S. continues to increase

The Road to War: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

In a continuation of my Road to War series, I turn to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal recently struck (but not yet ratified and executed) by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.  Much has been written about how this deal will (or will not) benefit the participants, but that is not the focus of this post.  Instead, we turn to the strategic aspect of the TTP, and try to answer the question: is the TPP intended to contain China, or is it simply the extension of the Washington Consensus that drives the world towards greater openness and trade.

Netanyahu and Israel’s Reality

Last night, Frontline aired an interesting (and controversial) special report about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, called Netanyahu at War.  Here's the trailer:

 

 

As it is shown by PBS, it is naturally presented through the prism of a series of left-wing ideologues, resulting in the simplistic conclusion: Netanyahu bad, Clinton/Obama good.  The conceit of the left is in believing that Netanyahu shaped the cynicism of the Isreali public (shaped by a decade of "Palestinian" suicide bombing in response to Israel's peace overtures), rather than simply acknowledging and embracing it.  Liel Leibovitz at Tablet Magazine eviscerates the surreal way in which Frontline carries this out:

Turning Point for China’s Economy?

Uh oh.  Have we finally reached the turning point for China's economy?  Per Caixin:

 

(Beijing) – China's services sector continued to expand in December, albeit with less strength than in previous months, according to the latest Caixin China Services Purchasing Manager's Index.

December's index of 50.2 pointed to nationwide expansion for service business in general, even though the figure was down from 51.2 in November. It was also the second-lowest figure for the sector since record-keeping began in November 2005. The weakest services PMI ever recorded was 50 in July 2014.