Virus caution by the elderly not a big downside risk

Continued caution by the elderly is a downside risk to our upbeat forecasts for private consumption, but we’re already assuming that households won’t return to their old ways anytime soon.
Marcel Thieliant Senior Japan, Australia & New Zealand Economist
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Japan Chart Book

Hit to output from staff absences could be hard

Skyrocketing infections and a 10-day isolation requirement for close contacts of positive cases have resulted in a wave of staff absences in Japan. Domestic carmakers already struggling with chip shortages appear to have been among the first victims of strict isolation rules. Both Toyota and Honda were forced to close some production lines at the end of last week due to staff absences. Based on the National Institute of Infectious Disease’s analysis suggesting that each positive case has up to five close contacts, Nikkei estimates that 1.8 million people could be self-isolating by the end of the month. Assuming those in and out of the workforce are equally affected, that would translate into 1.3% of workers in Japan self-isolating. Despite a much lower caseload, that would be similar to staff absences in other advanced economies where we estimate that between 0.5% and 2% of workers are isolating. And with timely data provided by the Cabinet Office pointing to a surge in job vacancies at the end of the year, the wave of staff absences appears to be hitting just as firms are struggling to find new staff. Temporary hits to production from staff shortages will cause GDP to only tread water this quarter.

24 January 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Flash PMIs (Jan. 2022)

The January flash PMI suggests that the manufacturing sector continues to expand at a rapid pace, but there are mounting signs that firms are passing on higher input costs to consumers. By contrast, activity in the services sector has slumped.

24 January 2022

Japan Economics Weekly

Restrictions may not last long, key Shunto approaching

With restrictions this week expanded to cover most of Japan’s economy, and surging infections already starting to cause staff shortages in some industries, GDP is only likely to tread water this quarter. But based on experience elsewhere, the Omicron surge may only last another couple of weeks before staff shortages ease and countermeasures start to be lifted again. Meanwhile, reports suggesting that Toyota’s labour union – sometimes seen as a bellwether in wage talks – will seek a sharp rise in bonus payments at this year’s Shunto could be an early sign that wage growth will pick up this year in line with PM Kishida’s wishes.

21 January 2022

More from Marcel Thieliant

Australia & New Zealand Economics Update

Australia- The impact of rate hikes on household finances

If the RBA hiked rates by nearly 200bp as the financial markets were anticipating until recently, households’ debt servicing burden would hit an all-time high and housing would become the least affordable since the global financial crisis. That would slow the recovery in consumption and could prove a formidable headwind to the housing market. The upshot is that the Bank will tread more cautiously.

3 November 2021

Australia & New Zealand Economics Update

Patient RBA set to hike rates only gradually

The RBA abandoned its yield target and its pledge that rates will remain low until 2024 today, but still sounded dovish. While the financial markets expect the first rate hike in May next year, we expect the Bank to wait until early-2023.

2 November 2021

Australia & New Zealand Data Response

Australia CoreLogic House Prices (Oct.)

Strong demand means that house prices will keep rising at a strong pace over the next few months, but we think that lending restrictions will result in a slowdown next year.

1 November 2021
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