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?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Japan Economy Watchers Index March 2008

Sentiment among Japanese merchants bounced back slightly to its highest level in four-months in March. The Economy Watchers index, a survey of barbers, taxi drivers and others who deal directly with consumers, rose to 36.9 from 33.6 in February, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. Meanwhile the outlook index of conditions in two to three months fell to 38.2.

Basically I think this is consistent with a lot of other data we have been seeing of late which suggests that the resilience in the export sector - driven largely by stronger than anticipated growth in some other Asian economies - is holding Japan back from falling into recession at the moment. As Claus noted yesterday, Japan's leading index, which is a composite derived from 12 indicators including housing starts and stock prices, also rose in February (to the 50% mark), just reaching the threshold that indicates growth rather than contraction over the next two quarters, according to the Cabinet Office yesterday. The index has been below 50 in eight of the past 12 months.

As such conditions continue fluctuate, and the Japanese economy continues to eke out growth, but it is very hard to see how long this new found lease of life will last, and it is also important to note that while these indicators are bouncing back, they are normally bouncing back from what have been very low levels.

In this context it is perhaps worth noting the striking parallel which exists between what is currently happening in Japan and what is happening in that other important export driven economy - Germany. German growth is more or less holding up at the present time, thanks again to stronger than expected export growth to emerging markets, this time in Central and Eastern Europe. And all of this is taking place as credit conditions tighten across the OECD economies and funds flood out in search of higher yields in some of the planets most rapidly growing economies, and of course as these economies then need to import from countries like Japan and Germany to feed their investment projects.