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Tag Archives: Japan

Don’t Whitewash the Hiroshima Bombing, by Peter Van Buren

Is wiping out some 140,000 civilians in a nation suing for peace moral? From Peter Van Buren at theamericanconservative.com:

It reveals a dangerous strain of vengeance in U.S. foreign policy.

Ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall on August 6, 1945.  Everett Historical / Shutterstock

August 6 usually doesn’t make headlines in America. But mark the day by what absence demonstrates: On the 72nd anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and some 140,000 non-combatants, there is no call for reflection in the United States.

In an era when pundits routinely worry about America’s loss of moral standing because of an offish, ill-mannered president, the only nation in history to employ a weapon of mass destruction on an epic scale, against an undefended civilian population, otherwise shrugs off the significance of an act of immorality.

But it is August 6, and so let us talk about Hiroshima.

Beyond the destruction lies the myth of the atomic bombings, the post-war creation of a mass memory of things that did not happen. This myth has become the underpinning of American war policy ever since, and carries forward the horrors of Hiroshima as generations of the August 6 anniversary pass.

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Yikes! Japan has more people over the age of 80 than under the age of 10, by Simon Black

There is no way Japan will be able to continue to fund the present level of old-age benefits. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Earlier this week the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs released its 2019 world population report… and there were a number of very interesting findings:

1) World population continues to grow slightly, but the rate of global population growth is at the lowest level since at least 1950.

 2) Global population growth rates are unevenly distributed. Developed nations (including the US, Japan, Western Europe) suffer from alarming declines in fertility rates, while developing countries are experiencing rapid population growth.

The 47 least developed countries in the world (mostly in Africa) are the fastest growing, and just NINE countries are expected to make up HALF of global population growth over the next three decades.

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Meanwhile, over on Planet Japan, by Simon Black

The Japanese government is in massive denial about its pension crisis. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

It was only a few days ago that the Japanese government’s Financial Services Agency published its oddly-titled “Annual Report on Ageing Society”.

(Like everything in Japan, English translations often hilariously miss the mark…)

This is a report that the Ministry of Finance puts out every year. And as the name implies, the report discusses the state of Japan’s pension fund, and its future prospects for taking care of its senior citizens.

Bear in mind that Japan has the oldest population in the world; Japan ranks #2 in the world for average age (46.9, just behind Monaco), #1 in the world for the greatest percentage of citizens over the age of 70, and #1 in the world for life expectancy.

In a nutshell, this means that Planet Japan has more people collecting pension benefits, for more years, than anywhere else.

Yet at the same time, Japan’s pension fund is completely insolvent. There simply aren’t enough people paying into the system to make good on the promises that have been made.

At present there are only 2 workers paying into the pension program for every 1 retiree receiving benefits in Japan.

The math simply doesn’t add up, and it’s only getting worse. Planet Japan’s birth rate is infamously low, and the population here is actually DECLINING.

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Japan on a Larger Scale, by James Rickard

Go deep enough into debt and you can’t climb out, as Japan has found out and as the US and Europe are finding out. From James Rickard at dailyreckoning.com:

In my 2014 book, The Death of Money, I wrote, “The United States is Japan on a larger scale.” That was five years ago.

Last week, prominent economist Mohamed A. El-Erian, formerly CEO of PIMCO and now with Allianz, wrote, “With the return of Europe’s economic doldrums and signs of a coming growth slowdown in the United States, advanced economies could be at risk of falling into the same kind of long-term rut that has captured Japan.”

Better late than never! Welcome to the club, Mohamed.

Japan started its “lost decade” in the 1990s. Now their lost decade has dragged into three lost decades. The U.S. began its first lost decade in 2009 and is now entering its second lost decade with no end in sight.

What I referred to in 2014 and what El-Erian refers to today is that central bank policy in both countries has been completely ineffective at restoring long-term trend growth or solving the steady accumulation of unsustainable debt.

In Japan this problem began in the 1990s, and in the U.S. the problem began in 2009, but it’s the same problem with no clear solution.

The irony is that in the early 2000s, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke routinely criticized the Japanese for their inability to escape from recession, deflation and slow growth.

When the U.S. recession began during the global financial crisis of 2008, Bernanke promised that he would not make the same mistakes the Japanese made in the 1990s. Instead, he made every mistake the Japanese made, and the U.S. is stuck in the same place and will remain there until the Fed wakes up to its problems.

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The Japanification of the World, by Charles Hugh Smith

As it grows faster than the underlying economy, debt becomes quicksand from which the economy cannot extricate itself. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Zombification / Japanification is not success; it is only the last desperate defense of a failing, brittle status quo by doing more of what’s failed.

A recent theme in the financial media is the Japanification of Europe.Japanification refers to a set of economic and financial conditions that have come to characterize Japan’s economy over the past 28 years: persistent stagnation and deflation, a low-growth and low-inflation economy, very loose monetary policy, a central bank that is actively monetizing debt, i.e. creating currency out of thin air to buy government debt and a government which funds “bridges to nowhere” and other stimulus spending to keep the economy from crashing into outright contraction.

The parallels with Europe are obvious, but they don’t stop there: the entire world is veering into a zombified financial, economic, social and political status quo that is the core of Japanification.

While most commentators focus on the economic characteristics of Japanification, social and political stagnation are equally consequential. If we only measure economic/financial stagnation, it appears as if Japan and Europe are holding their own, i.e.maintaining the status quo via near-zero growth and near-zero interest rates.

But if we measure social and political decay, the erosion is undeniable. Here’s one example. Few Americans have access to or watch Japanese TV, so they are unaware of the emergence of the homeless as a permanent feature of urban Japan. The central state propaganda media is focused on encouraging tourism, a rare bright spot in Japan’s moribund economy, and so you won’t find much media coverage of homelessness or other systemic signs of social breakdown.

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Lenin would be so proud, by Simon Black

By socializing risk, in other words by making others pay for someone else’s mistakes, we make sure those risks will be taken again and again. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Several years ago back in 2004-2006, if you had a pulse, you could borrow money from a bank to buy a house.

In fact, bank lending standards were so loose back then that there were some infamous cases of people who DIDN’T have a pulse who were still able to borrow money.

That’s right. Some banks were so irresponsible that they actually loaned money to dead people.

Of course, it turned out that lending money to dead people… or people with terrible credit who had a history of default, was a bad idea.

And the entire financial system almost blew up as a result of this reckless stupidity.

But then something even crazier happened: the Federal Reserve came in and bailed out all the banks with trillions of dollars of free money.

That was utterly nuts. Instead of being wiped out by their idiotic mistakes, the banks learned that they would always be bailed out no matter how stupid or greedy they acted.

The key lesson was that there would be zero consequences for bad behavior.

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The Asian Arms Race and the ‘Weaponization of Finance’, by Ritesh Jain

The days of Asian countries living under the US defense umbrella but enjoying the fruits of trade with China may be coming to a close. This has substantial investment implications. From Ritesh Jain at worldoutofwhack.com:

There are those in financial markets who believe that Mike Pence’ s bellicose speech at The Hudson Institute a few weeks ago was merely sabre rattling ahead of the US mid-term elections. Sadly your analyst could not disagree more. That speech, reported in the last Solid Ground newsletter, has now been followed by the United States’ threat to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia. For those who still believe this has nothing to do with China, the US President made it clear on October 22nd that the withdrawal from the INF is as much about countering a threat from China as it is about countering a threat from Russia:

“Until people come to their senses, we will build it up…” “It’s a threat to whoever you want and it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me.”

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