Japan Real Time Charts and Data

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Japan related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Japan data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Japan Once More Back in Deflation?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Japan's Export Decline Slows (Slightly) In March

The rate of decline in Japan’s export slowed in March, after four-months of record breaking contractions. Evidentally this constitutes some sort of sign that the intensity of the recession may have started to ease.

Overseas shipments were down 45.6 percent from a year earlier, as compared with February’s unprecedented 49.4 percent plunge. Most notable was the fact that (on an annual basis) shipments to China were only down 31.5 percent following a 39.7 percent drop in February. Exports to the U.S. also fell less rapidly, but the contraction rate was still very high (51.4 percent following a massive 58.4percent fall in February. Exports to the EU were also down heavily (56.1 percent) while those to Russia were down a shocking 83.3%. One should not read too much into the US figure, since demand in the US started weakening much earlier in the US than it did in China, hence these large numbers are even larger when you think of the original starting point. Insofar as there is any rebound in the Japan numbers it is largely "China related" in some way, shape, or form.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports rose 2.2 percent month on month from February, the first such increase since May 2008.

As many are saying, it would be premature to celebrate at this point, since evidently the Japanese economy is in its most severe recession since WWII, but we could say that while the economy is spiraling down, at least it’s no longer spiraling down at an accelerating rate.

Trade Deficit In Fiscal 2008/09

Japan suffered its first trade deficit in nearly 30 years in the year to March, highlighting one more time the continuing vulnerability of the Japanese economy to external demand movements. Japan posted a trade deficit of Y725.3bn in fiscal 2008, its first full-year negative trade balance since 1980.

The trade deficit last year reflects the sharp rise in commodity prices earlier in the year and the severe contraction in exports, which has now lasted six months. Imports fell less than exports last month, and were down only 36.7%, and as a result Japan once more had a trade surplus (of Y11bn, 99 per cent down from a year earlier).