Manufacturing recovery hinges on external demand

While October’s sales tax hike and Typhoon Hagibis were partly to blame for the sharp drop in manufacturing output in Q4, the bigger picture is that any recovery this year rests on a pick-up in external demand. Japanese industrial production fell in-tandem with German industrial output as global growth slowed last year. And given the similarity of their industrial structures – the importance of the automobile industry being an obvious parallel – external factors appear to be behind the recent slowdown in both countries. Unfortunately, the modest recovery hinted at by the more positive business survey data in January is likely to be nipped in the bud by disruption caused by the spread of the coronavirus. In all, continued manufacturing weakness should contribute to a contraction in Japan’s GDP in 2020.
Tom Learmouth Japan Economist
Continue reading

More from Japan

Japan Economics Weekly

Carmakers will struggle even after shortages abate

The disruptions to supply chains from Delta outbreaks across Southeast Asia that resulted in another big drop in car exports in September will ease soon. However, carmakers are responding with lower capital spending and are lagging their US and European counterparts in electric vehicle sales. The upshot is that the sector won’t return to former glory.

22 October 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan Consumer Prices (Sep. 2021)

Headline inflation in September turned positive for the first time this year due to spikes in fresh food and energy inflation. As the drag from mobile phone tariffs fades in the first half of next year, underlying inflation will turn positive. However, we think it will struggle to break past 1%.

22 October 2021

Bank of Japan Watch

Bank to look through weaker yen and supply shortages

Sitting comfortably with continuity candidate PM Kishida in charge, the Bank of Japan won’t alter its major policy settings at its October meeting. And we doubt the Bank will respond with policy tweaks to the recent weakening in the yen, nor to continued supply chain disruptions.

21 October 2021

More from Tom Learmouth

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

Japan Economics Weekly

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
↑ Back to top