Willem Thorbecke, 26 February 2013

Policymakers everywhere are concerned about currency wars. Are quantitative easing and managed exchange rates bad for the global economy? This column looks at the hard empirical evidence, arguing that, in fact, Japan is behaving rather responsibly and that other strong economies have themselves benefited from undervalued currencies. That said, it is true that politicians’ short time horizons often lead to stealthy policy and large swings in exchange rates. Economists should therefore aim to promote longer-run cosmopolitan interests rather than shorter-run nationalistic agendas where possible.

Keiichiro Kobayashi, 10 February 2013

Japan is under new leadership, bringing fresh attempts to tackle deflation. This column argues that the lessons we can learn are Going forward, a change of party politics with every change of government will likely become a recurring event in Japan. In order to restore people’s confidence in the fiscal management and social security system in the light of that prospect, institutional systems should be designed in a way to allow flexibility, premised on the fact that the government cannot make commitments into the remote future. Political leaders – whether they belong to the ruling or opposition parties – need to come up with new ideas toward achieving that end.

Daiji Kawaguchi, 02 February 2013

Japan switched to five-day weeks for its primary and junior high schools and saw an increase in educational inequality. This column discusses new evidence suggesting a loose tie between number of days at school and inequality. Importantly, this tie reflects the fact that homes with university-educated parents tend to offset the official reduction in hours with additional tuition.

Petra Gerlach-Kristen, Robert McCauley, Kazuo Ueda, 07 November 2012

Do incidental large-scale bond purchases have a global portfolio balance effect? This column argues that one country’s bond purchases can ease monetary conditions abroad. Whether this effect is welcome depends on the phase of the business cycle, but the authors emphasise that it is of paramount importance for resolving the current crisis that Eurozone policymakers closely consider the effects of large-scale bond buying.

Simon Johnson, Peter Boone, 21 September 2012

Industrialised countries today face serious risks – for their financial sectors, for their public finances, and for their growth prospects. This column explains how, through our financial systems, we have created enormous, complex financial structures that can inflict tragic consequences with failure and yet are inherently difficult to regulate and control. It explains how this has happened and why there are more and worse crises to come.

Yoko Konishi, Yukiko Saito, 10 September 2012

Since 2001 Japan has had in place an ‘Industrial Cluster Policy’ aimed at making the most out of situating companies close together. This column looks at the benefits for firms in the same industry as well as for firms in different industries.

Yasuyuki Todo, 15 July 2012

Offshoring continues to be a controversial issue in many developed countries. This column provides evidence from Japan and argues that policymakers should not worry too much about the loss of jobs; while unskilled jobs are offshored, they are replaced with skilled jobs, leading to a more productive use of the domestic labour force.

Luc Laeven, Fabian Valencia, 09 July 2012

Do advanced economies have an edge in resolving financial crises? This column shows that the record thus far supports the opposite view, with the average crisis lasting about twice as long as in developing and emerging market economies. It argues that macroeconomic stabilisation policies in advanced countries often delay the necessary financial restructuring.

Pradumna Rana, 25 June 2012

China, Japan, and South Korea are currently negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) lending support to the possibility of an agreement for the South-East Asian region as a whole. This column calls for more of the same – and quickly.

Yasuyuki Todo, 07 June 2012

How do firms go international? This column reviews evidence from industrialised and emerging economies, including Japan and China, with some surprising findings.

Richard Baldwin, Toshihiro Okubo, 24 May 2012

New-paradigm globalisation – driven by lower coordination costs rather than trade costs – is changing the nature of international commerce, the political economy of trade liberalisation, the nature of trade agreements and much more. This column, using data on Japanese multinationls, presents evidence that the nature of FDI is also changing away from the traditional classification of ‘horizontal’ or ‘vertical’.

Florian Mölders, Ulrich Volz, 23 March 2012

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on course having received interest from the Canada, Japan, and Mexico in recent months. This column argues that as changes to the TPP start to seem more likely, there may be trade effects in anticipation. In the face of potential trade diversion, the column urges European trade policymakers to strengthen the EU’s trading ties with the Asia-Pacific region, preferably by reviving global trade talks.

Noboru Kawahama, 22 March 2012

Competition may drive down prices but it also drives down profits – and some would argue innovation as well. How should policymakers balance the short-term need for competition with the the long-term need for innovation? This column explores the idea of ‘innovation and competition policy’ rather than just ‘competition poliicy’.

Takatoshi Ito, Junko Shimizu, 20 March 2012

Last year, the yen reached a post-war high against the dollar and a record high against the euro. This column looks at the recent trend in the Japanese currency and outlines what Japan’s policymakers should do about it.

Richard Baldwin, 20 March 2012

VoxEU welcomes the latest member of the Vox consortium – RIETI – that provides policy-relevant research and commentary on Japanese and global issues. Launched in April 2011, RIETI’s ‘columns&essays’ series hopes to become a major resource for economists, policymakers, and journalists with an interest in Japan, Asia, and the Japanese perspective on global issues.

Charles Wyplosz, 16 September 2011

Europe’s debt crisis is unfolding while Japanese and US debt problems are on hold. The problem of public debt in advanced economies will be with us for decades. This column introduces a new Geneva Report on the World Economy that addresses the nuts, bolts, and worries surrounding the issue.

Barry Eichengreen, Jürgen von Hagen, Charles Wyplosz, Jeffrey Liebman, Robert Feldman, 16 September 2011

The 13th CEPR/ICMB Geneva Report on the World Economy takes a long-term perspective on debt sustainability, arguing that fiscal stabilisation is easier the faster the economy is growing.

John Muellbauer, Keiko Murata, 21 August 2011

The global crisis of 2008-2009 has refocused attention on the lessons of Japan’s lost decade, with many suggesting that Europe and the US are heading the same direction. This makes a thorough understanding of the Japanese case an urgent matter. But this column argues that pushing the analogies too far is a mistake that could prolong the economic pain.

Uri Dadush, Bennett Stancil, 09 May 2011

Between 2000 and 2009, developing countries added almost $5 trillion to their foreign-exchange reserves – a number deemed too high by many, prompting accusations of protectionism. But this column argues that developed countries are equally to blame – as well as failures in international coordination. It concludes that remedies therefore require action by both groups.

Hubert Escaith, Robert Teh, Alexander Keck, Coleman Nee, 28 April 2011

The consequences of the tragic disaster in Japan are many. This column examines the trade effects. It suggests that Japanese exports will fall by 0.5–1.6% and its imports will rise by 0.4–1.3%. Despite the devastation in Japan, the effects on global trade will be relatively small.

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