JC History Tuition Online - What caused Japan's lost decade - Global Economy Notes

What caused Japan’s Lost Decade?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Examine the impacts of the ‘Lost Decade’ that led to the commercialisation of ‘closeness’ [Video by Polygon]

The geese ahead of the flock
Before the ‘Lost Decade‘, Japan’s economic progress have continued until it was the second largest in the world, after the United States. In fact, the ‘flying geese paradigm’ was used to refer to Japan as the frontrunner of economic development in Southeast Asia (contrast with the ‘Four Asian Tigers’).

The pattern was one in which first Japan, followed by its former colonies, achieved miracles of growth. They left such bastions of U.S. influence as the Philippines in the dust. South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, followed by Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia were all members of Japan’s flock. Even China took its turn.

An excerpt from “How Asia Got Rich: Japan, China and the Asian Miracle” by Edith Terry.

Speculative activities: A growing asset bubble
After the Plaza Agreement was signed, Japanese Yen was twice the value of US dollar between 1985 and 1987, spurring speculators to plough their funds in assets and stocks. Additionally, borrowers could obtain funds from banks in Japan easily, fueling more speculative activities. Over time, stock and land prices surged.

Between January 1985 and December 1989 the real value of the Nikkei 225 stock price index tripled. By the middle of 1992, the index in real terms was less than 20% above its January 1985 level. Land prices have behaved similarly. An index of land prices in Japan’s six largest cities almost tripled in real terms between 1985 and 1990.

An excerpt from “Japan’s Bubble, Deflation, and Long-term Stagnation” by Kōichi Hamada, A. K. Kashyap, David E. Weinstein.

The Bank of Japan viewed the growing bubble as a threat. As such, it raised interest rates from 2.5% to 6% to discourage speculation. Consequently, borrowers were alarmed by higher interest rates as they anticipated their inability to finance their loans. Panic selling took place, causing the value of shares to plunge drastically.

By August 1990, the discount rate reached 6%. meanwhile, starting in 1990, the Bank of Japan sharply reduced the growth in the supply of money. Although Japanese officials were trying to engineer a soft landing by gradually deflating the speculative bubble, it burst with surprising speed. By October 1990, the Nikkei had fallen to nearly 20,000 yen. The price of real estate began its descent in 1991… Non-performing loans piled up at banks. Economic growth virtually ground to a halt, as it averaged only 1% per year from 1990-2003.

An excerpt from “Japan’s ‘Lost Decade’: Causes, Legacies and Issues of Transformative Change” by Miles Fletcher III, Peter W. von Staden.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Japanese government was responsible for the ‘Lost Decade’?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the development of the global economy. We conduct H1 and H2 History Tuition Online classes, featuring thematic discussion and writing workshops.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was the Plaza Accord - Global Economy Notes

What was the Plaza Accord?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Learn more about the economic challenges faced by the United States that prompted the Reagan administration to introduce the Plaza Accord of 1985 [Video by Danieljbmitchell]

New competitors; Trade deficits
Following the abandonment of the ‘gold standard’ in 1971, the United States (US) continued to experience severe trade deficits vis-à-vis Japan and West Germany. The Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark were relatively weaker than the US Dollar. This meant that these two advanced economies’ exports were cheaper than the American exports, fueling demand for the former group’s.

In the US, heavy manufacturers and automobile firms called for their politicians to embark trade protectionism. With American jobs at stake, the Reagan administration had to step in to manage this worrying trend.

At the beginning of the 1980s the American auto industry was reeling under pressure from foreign competition – deservedly so, as the quality of American-made autos from the Big Three was noticeably inferior to that of imports from Europe and Japan.

…Unable to meet this quality competition head-on, and having lost $4.2 billion in 1980, the Big Three American automakers pressed for the predictable solution: trade protectionism.

…After a heated debate at the White House, Reagan passively agreed to seek a “voluntary export restraint agreement” with Japan.

An excerpt from “The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989” by Steven F. Hayward.

In addition to the voluntary export restraint (VER) with Japan that limited the number of imported automobiles, the US government oversaw the meeting with the G5 nations. The G5 comprised of industrialised nations, namely United Kingdom, Japan, West Germany, France and the US.

The Plaza Accord
On 22 September 1985, the G5 nations met at the Plaza Hotel in New York. At main outcome was the formulation of an agreement to depreciate the US dollar relative to the Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark.

The main purpose of the accord, however, was to address the United States-Japan trade imbalance by making American goods less expensive and Japanese goods more expensive, so that Japanese customers would buy inexpensive American goods and Japanese companies would have to raise their prices in dollar terms and therefore lose customers.

… The time from 1986 until the middle of 1990 in Japan is often referred to as the ‘bubble economy‘. This period saw massive expansion, primarily due to a rapid surge in domestic demand – a growth in capital investments and in personal spending. Stocks and real estate prices skyrocketed.

An excerpt from “Government, International Trade, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s Relations with Japan” by Carin L. Holroyd.

Although the Accord did manage to reduce trade deficits, the repercussion on the Japanese economy was severe. As the Japanese Yen appreciated relative to the US dollar, individuals and firms purchased real estate and stocks, pushing up the prices artificially. Speculators used their newly-purchased real estate as collateral to buy more. Eventually, the expanding asset bubble burst, ushering the ‘Lost Decade’ in Japan.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Plaza Accord of 1985 was key in explaining the decline of the Japanese economy in the 1990s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn how to write essays effectively. Our online learning classes are suitable for JC students taking either H1 or H2 History. We conduct thematic discussions and written practices to improve your reading, thinking and writing techniques.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard - Global Economy Notes

Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard in 1971?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Let’s take a look at the implications of the collapse of the ‘gold standard’ on the US economy and the rest of the world [Video by Ampleforth]

An unsustainable model
Ever since the Bretton Woods system was established in 1958, the convertibility of United States (US) dollars to gold was fixed at $35 an ounce. Initially, the US government held nearly 75 percent of the world’s official gold reserves, instilling confidence in the global monetary system.

However, demand for gold increased in the 1960s when exports from Western Europe and Japan became more competitive with the US. Additionally, the large Cold War expenditures contributed to excess supply of US dollars in circulation.

The economy falters
In the late 1960s, the US economy was hit by the increase in inflation (5.4%) and unemployment (6%) rates. An unexpected phenomenon has occurred – stagflation, which meant a combination of slow growth and high inflation.

In order to fight stagflation, US President Richard Nixon addressed the nation on 15 August 1971, declaring the end of the fixed exchange rate system that underpinned the Bretton Woods ‘gold standard’.

The Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates based on the free convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, which had been showing signs of strain for many years, came apart entirely on August 15, 1971. President Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. would no longer sell gold at $35 per ounce effectively set the dollar afloat. By December 1971, the dollar had fallen about 6% relative to a multilateral trade weighted average of currencies, as the world groped for a new international monetary system.

An excerpt from “Economic Policy and the Great Stagflation” by Alan S. Blinder.

Bold actions
During Nixon’s historic speech on 15 August, he raised three points to protect the US economy – lower unemployment rates, curb inflation and minimise international speculation.

For the third point, Nixon claimed that the ‘gold standard’ was not sustainable as currency speculators have been ‘waging an all-out war’ on the US dollar even though it functioned as a ‘pillar of monetary stability’ on the global scale.

I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the American dollar except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States.

… If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.

The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.

An excerpt from a speech by Richard Nixon, 15 August 1971.

Nixon defended his position by asserting that the devaluation of the dollar was to ensure fair competition between the American workers and the rest of the world. Furthermore, he imposed a 10 percent tax on imported goods into the US as a temporary measure to protect domestic jobs.

Fragmentation of markets
In response, the European governments were taken aback by the policy shifts of the US government. On 10 September 1971, The New York Times reported that the imposition of tariff barriers may affect nearly 90 percent of the European exports to the US, amounting to $7 billion.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system was a turning point?

Join our JC History Tuition to comprehend the complexities of the global economy. Our online learning classes are suitable for students taking either H1 or H2 History. In preparation for the GCE A Level History examination, we provide thematic revision and writing practices.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - The Japanese Economic Miracle Revisited - Global Economy Notes

The Japanese Economic Miracle: Revisited

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

Examine the post-war economic development of Japan. [Video by Documentary Tube]

A global economic powerhouse: Japan
From 1968 to 2010, Japan gained international recognition as the world’s second largest economy. Before the devastating ‘Lost Decades’ of the 1990s, academics have sought to figure out the key factors that explained the remarkable growth of Japan. Notably, the keiretsu is well-known contributor of Japan’s economic growth.

Keiretsu: The Japanese business network
After World War Two, the United States dissolved the family-owned conglomerates known as the zaibatsu. Then, six major keiretsu (commonly known as the ‘Big Six’) were formed, such as Sumitomo, Fuyo, Sanwa and Mitsui. The keiretsu comprised of a group of large companies that connected different entities in the production line, like the manufacturers and distributors.

Thus, the Keiretsu can also be seen in practice as the major force behind the transformation of Japanese society from a postindustrial into a postmodern society, in close cooperation with powerful political and social influences.

An excerpt from “Keiretsu Economy – New Economy?: Japan’s Multinational Enterprises from a Postmodern Perspective” by R. Kensy.

These large business groups form interconnected networks to involve banks and industrialists to compete with local and foreign rival firms. Over time, the keiretsu accumulated market share, contributing to their economic dominance in Japan.

By the early 1970s, Japan became increasingly known in the global trade scene, such as the automobile industry. With support from the Japanese government, the keiretsu manufactured goods that rivalled competitors like the United States.

The government essentially closed the domestic market to foreign competition, to allow home-grown enterprises time to develop and prosper. Japanese businesses took the form of a series of keiretsu, vertically integrated companies that straddled virtually every facet of the Japanese economy. And the keiretsu, such as Mitsubishi, Matsui and others, enjoyed unbridled growth during the post-war period.

By the early 1970s, Japanese car makers were dominating even the once immune US market. The Japanese economic miracle was in full swing.

An excerpt from “The Routledge Companion to Global Economics” by Robert Beynon.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of the state actors in causing the economic miracle of Japan in the post-war years.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Global Economy (1945-2000). We have online learning programmes to streamline your study of the topics tested during the GCE A Level History examination. Also, you will learn to develop and refine essential reading and writing skills, such as question analysis and perspective setting for essay and source based case study.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.