Whither the Global Economy?: In this report we examine the following: (1) Direction of the Global Economy Based on the Business Cycle, (2) US-China Trade Friction, and (3) Effects of Fiscal Reform(No. 197 Update)[Summary]

Japan to see real GDP growth of +1.0% in FY18, and +0.8% in FY19, with nominal GDP growth of +1.3% in FY18, and +1.8% in FY19.

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  • Japan's Economic Outlook (Quarterly)
  • Mitsumaru Kumagai
  • Tomoya Kondo
  • Mikio Mizobata
  • Satoshi Osanai
  • Shunsuke Kobayashi
  • Kazuma Maeda
  • Akane Yamaguchi
  • Yota Hirono
  • Ayaka Nakamura


Economy to enter a temporary lull, and gradually slow down throughout FY2019: In light of the 2nd preliminary Jan-Mar 2018 GDP release we have revised our economic growth outlook. We now forecast real GDP growth of +1.0% in comparison with the previous year for FY18 (+1.0% in the previous forecast), and +0.8% in comparison with the previous year for FY19 (+0.8% in the previous forecast). Japan’s economy is expected to enter a temporary lull, with the positive factors which came together in FY17 now appearing to be in the process of falling away. Considered in the midterm as well, the capital stock cycle is maturing centering on the US, while in addition, there are the expected affects from the increase in consumption tax planned for October 2019. Hence we expect Japan’s economy to continue to slow down through FY2019.

Direction of the Global Economy Based on the Short & Midterm Business Cycles: After the beginning of 2018, fears of inflation and rising interest rates in the US triggered major turmoil in the global financial markets. Meanwhile, concerns regarding the sustainability of the Goldilocks economy are increasing. In this report we examine the question of where the global economy, which has begun to drift toward increasing uncertainty, is headed by making a careful inspection of short and mid to long-term business cycles in major countries and regions. When we look at global inventory cycles (Japan, US, Europe, and China), we are led to the conclusion that the global economy will maintain a steady undertone for the time being. Then, we take a look at global capital stock cycles (Japan, US, Europe, and China), where we find that the capital stock cycle entered the maturation phase in 2017 and then was rejuvenated (the cycle went into reverse rotation), and global economic growth accelerated. In the future, the growth rate of global capital investment is expected to gradually slow down, while the residual effects of the 2017 rejuvenation remains to a degree. We expect global capex to maintain a firm undertone for the time being.

US-China Trade Friction and its Affects: The Trump administration is again strengthening its hardline stance on trade policy. The US is moving toward placing additional tariffs totaling $150 billion on imports of Chinese products, and in response, China has indicated its stance that it too will place additional tariffs totaling $50 billion on imports from the US. While both countries are also expressing willingness to compromise, this is seen as merely a strategy to arrive at the best terms, leaving an element of uncertainty as to what may happen in the future. If the US and China actually do as they have warned, the estimated effects on the US, Japanese and Chinese economies according to our calculations is expected to be as follows. Downward pressure on GDP in the three countries is expected to be -0.30% for China, -0.19% for the US, and -0.02% for Japan. Based on these estimates, tariff measures whose actual implementation is coming into view as of this point are expected to have a limited effect on Japan’s economy.

Effects of Fiscal Reform: In order to dispel the uncertainty of the future for both households and corporations, fiscal reform is a necessity. Using OECD 30-countries long-term panel data, we estimated the effects of government debt-to-GDP ratio on the per capita real GDP growth rate. The results showed that when government debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 104% it has a negative effect on growth rate. In the case of Japan, this gives us a clear sense of the degree to which reducing the balance of government debt would have a positive effect in the mid to long-term. In addition to revenue reforms such as the increase in consumption tax, fiscal reconstruction also requires cutting back on social security expenditure and the establishment of an independent body to monitor the fiscal situation. The success or failure of fiscal reform will likely be measured against the question of whether or not integrated economic and social programs can also be built to work along with it, such as programs to promote employment of the elderly, or that motivate people to maintain their health.

Concerns that Japan’s Economy may be Facing Tail Risk: There is concern that beginning in 2019 and beyond, Japan’s maturing economy will face a plethora of external and internal downside risks. Potential risks include the following: (1) the Trump administration loses direction, (2) influence of China’s economy, (3) the deterioration of Europe’s economy, (4) the rising price of crude oil, (5) the strengthening of overtime regulations, and (6) the effects of an increase in consumption tax. If these risks become a reality, Japan’s real GDP would likely be pushed down by around -4%. This could have negative effects along the same lines as the 2008 global financial crisis.

BOJ’s monetary policy: We expect the BOJ to maintain current monetary policy for the time being. Considering the policy introduced in September 2016 to permanently battle deflation, the issue is expected to be creating a more flexible inflation target.

Our assumptions

◆Public works spending is expected to decrease in FY18 to -1.7%, then return to growth in FY19 at +2.2%.
◆Average exchange rate of Y109.0/$ in FY18, and Y109.0/$ in FY19.
◆US real GDP growth of +2.7% in CY18, and +2.4% in CY19.

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