Japan’s latest stimulus is to heal a “self-inflicted wound”, says Megumi Fujikawa for The Wall Street Journal. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a ¥13.2trn (£97.9bn) fiscal package to finance the repair of damage caused by October’s Typhoon Hagibis, put new digital technology into schools and reward shoppers for spending money.
The hope is that the package will deliver a 1.4% boost to GDP and offset the negative effect of October’s consumption tax hike. The rise from 8% to 10% saw retail sales plummet 7.1% on a year before. Large fiscal stimulus was a hallmark of Abe’s early period in power when he pulled all available levers in an effort to end Japan’s long period of stagnation.
Yet with Japan running the highest government debt levels in the developed world, he had pledged to start running a tighter ship, says Motoko Rich for The New York Times. The new stimulus threatens to continue “Japan’s cycle of borrowing and spending to stoke growth” that never quite seems to end.
Still, Japan remains a buy. The government’s debt woes are not shared by the private sector, which has net cash of ¥50trn on its balance sheets. Big business is also becoming more focused on paying out dividends. And the market’s forward price/earnings ratio of 11 is at a 48-year low, making Japan the world’s cheapest developed market.