The long and winding road back to normality

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo linked to nightlife establishments in Shinjuku underlines just how slow the road back to normality could be. Renewed outbreaks are likely to prevent a straightforward and swift economic recovery. Indeed, many intercity rail travellers were still able to have a whole carriage to themselves in the first 17 days of June. But looking further ahead, Japan should bounce back more strongly from the current crisis than other developed economies. Japanese corporate balance sheets are healthier than those in the West and the labour market is also holding up better than elsewhere. And the significant support to workers and businesses provided by the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan has reduced the chances of the virus inflicting lasting pain on the economy. Finally, daily new infections in Japan are generally much lower than across most economies reopening in Europe and North America, which makes a full blown “second wave” much less likely.
Tom Learmouth Japan Economist
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Japan Data Response

Labour Market & Industrial Production (Oct. 2021)

Employment fell sharply again in October despite the lifting of states of emergency declarations at the start of the month. However, it should rebound sharply across November and December in line with the revival in face-to-face service sector activity. And while industrial production only edged up in October, we think it too will rebound more strongly this month and next, potentially approaching its recent April peak in December.

30 November 2021

Japan Data Response

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Retail sales kept rising in October despite another drop in motor vehicles sales. With supply disruptions now starting to ease and mobility picking up, they should continue to increase.

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Japan Economics Weekly

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Japan Data Response

Japan Retail Sales & Industrial Production (Apr. 2021)

The sharp fall in retail sales and weaker than expected rise in industrial production in April suggests the economy was subdued even before states of emergency were declared, supporting our view that the economy won’t have rebounded from its weak Q1 this quarter.

31 May 2021

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State of emergency extension, Olympic fifth wave?

While the fourth wave of coronavirus has broken, with hospital capacity still stretched the government will today extend the emergency declarations covering half of the economy until 20th June. That supports our view that output won’t recover this quarter after a weak Q1. Further ahead, with the vaccine rollout accelerating we still expect a strong rebound from mid-Q3. But while the risks of importing dangerous virus variants during the Olympics are overblown, there certainly are downside risks from the more transmissible Indian variant which has already begun to spread in Japan. If it causes a fifth wave, then that would delay the economy’s recovery still further.

28 May 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan Labour Market (Apr. 2021)

The unemployment rate spiked back up in April after a surprise sharp fall in March. However, we think the jobless rate will fall back to around 2.6% over the coming months as employment resumes its recovery.

28 May 2021
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