business

Japan logs first trade deficit in eight months

33 Comments
By Kazuhiro Nogi

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© 2018 AFP

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33 Comments
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Ah, the effects of Abenomics are beginning to kick in! (sarcasm)

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

So, the costs of fossil fuels increased through winter? Who would have guessed? I suppose you can’t realky heat your house with air, can you? This is an excellent reflection of how the Japanese economists miss the ball. You don’t have to be an economist to realize that, using gas and kerosine for during winter will dramatically increase the amount of fossil fuels used. If the Japanese economy is so fickle that they cannot stay in the black during winter the economists all need to be fired!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

what do you mean, the monthly trade balance deficit was smaller than expected, not bigger, it’s in the article no?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Japan's often politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States

explanation: Japan wants to protect its market and tariff imports while dumping in other countries and free exporting

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Japan logged a trade deficit in January, the first negative figure in eight months, as imports of fossil fuel overwhelmed the revenue from exports

I have always thought that it's quite dangerous, on many levels, to have a population that so vastly outweighs the resources that are required in order to maintain that population. But what would I know...

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

A trade deficit often indicates a growing economy.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

despite the so-called "deficit" which they are blaming on imports, they still refuse to import cabbage and I am paying 400 yen to eat a carrot because they want to protect farmers

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

@Dango bong; even Russian peasants can eat as much cabbage as they want!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Means nothing, the economy is growing solidly even though the population is declining. This would naturally mean greater consumption leading to higher imports. This is natural and generally good news as consumers are better off at the moment

3 ( +8 / -5 )

consumers are better off at the moment

How so?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I'm no fan of the government or government figures but it has been very cold where we live this winter. The local Met Agency station has measured it as the coldest in twenty years. We burn firewood and if it keeps up, we may run out.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Reckless too bad we can't get Russian cabbage here! No imports allowed

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

How so?

@AgentX: Overall economic activity is through the roof in recent years in Tokyo at least, but the economy of Japan is experiencing a thorough upswing. Even though the population is decreasing, GDP is increasing, meaning that less people are sharing a bigger wealth pool. This is translating to higher salaries and bonuses for the professions, manufacturers, skilled and highly skilled workers, temps etc.

Service staff, the unskilled, language teachers, etc. will not see higher wages, but also not sure why they would expect to see too much in the first place

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Dango bong, then sounds like we are poorer than Russian peasants who at least have cabbage,,, Japanese wage peasants?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

How so?

-3( +2 / -5

Interesting people down-vote for asking a question. Not that I care.

Service staff, the unskilled, language teachers, etc. will not see higher wages, but also not sure why they would expect to see too much in the first place

In the developed world, wage increases are usually commensurate growth of GDP, inflation and the cost of goods and services among other things. Why wouldn't service staff, the unskilled, language teachers, etc (the overwhelming majority of the labor force) not also expect to see increases in salaries and bonuses?

This is natural and generally good news as consumers are better off at the moment

So, in your own words (above comment), you essentially state that only a select few elites (the professions, manufacturers, skilled and highly skilled workers, temps etc) are better off at the moment, as opposed to 'consumers' in general. Thanks for clearing up my initial confusion around your comment.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

BTW... It's plain to see, now, where the silver spoon is firmly planted...

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Don't want that silver spoon myself, just an increase in wages would be appreciated. But sadly as a consumer I'm told I should spend more of my decreasing salery, while celebrating the elites strangal hold on the tax on my wage, the tax on what I buy, the tax on my savings. And party time, company's who pay no tax wish to employ workers on short term contracts, no benefits, no security, minimum wage, lowest in the GO7. Statists I agree don't tell the story.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Regarding language teachers, if you can pick up private lessons and get paid cash, you might do pretty well,,,

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is actually good news, if you know how to intreprete such figures. Exports were up 12%, and that was after a similar rise the period before, pointing to a recovery trend.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@AgentX: I don't know why the unskilled don't get raises. The market decides whether certain professions or employee types deserve raises or not. I assume this is related to how much value they bring to the economy, and the unskilled/language teachers/service staff, etc. quite obviously bring little value to the economy, so I guess they are compensated accordingly. The professions that bring the highest value to an economy will obviously be compensated the most. This happens in every economy on Earth and is the standard.

When economic activity is high and wages increase for the highly skilled, the lower skilled will also benefit from increased business activity as well as hopefully give them motivation to increase their skill sets.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

'Unskilled' workers are the reason you will have food on your plate tonight. So, while you may thinly veil your contempt for these people as you dance around the subject, enjoy your evening meal.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Nope, food producers are definitely highly skilled. As are food processors and logistics providers to bring the food in consumable form to the city. Supermarket operators are also highly skilled and play a vital part in the economy. The certification process to determine food is safe and of high quality also requires highly skilled employees, as are the marketers and traders who determine the price of the food. The person cleaning the floor at the supermarket however, is unskilled.

If you are saying all these professions who ensure safe and good food is available 24/7 all year long no matter the season are "elites", then I'm actually sort of glad the unskilled are mostly disenfranchised and cannot influence real life with their delusions.

I have no contempt for the unskilled, like you say, they play a part in the economy as well. However the market has decided they don't deserve a raise.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan logs first trade deficit

Not a good start, welcome to 2018 the Year of the Dog !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These Jan. numbers can be muddled about a bit by China New Year (China trade distorted by this in Jan/Feb). Attempting to discern larger trends using January or February data is a fraught exercise, because of the lunar new year effect. Moreover, we see little likelihood of the global economy missing expectations in the immediate future.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In the developed world, wage increases are usually commensurate growth of GDP, inflation and the cost of goods and services among other things. Why wouldn't service staff, the unskilled, language teachers, etc (the overwhelming majority of the labor force) not also expect to see increases in salaries and bonuses?

But in the developed world, workers will change jobs if they are fed up with the conditions in their present one. That they would change jobs incentivizes their employers to hike their wages in order to retain them (or otherwise risk losing them). 

This is the normal mechanism by which wages rise in the developed world.

However this does not apply in Japan, where people favour stability in their job rather than good conditions, and labour market regulations for full-time workers also favour their not shifting jobs.

So there is no similar incentive to hike wages.

Therefore, expecting wages to rise in Japan, where normal market forces do not apply, is wishful thinking.

Wages don't rise thanks to Santa Claus, they only rise when they must. Otherwise they won't. It's a harsh reality of a competitive world but reality is what it is.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Carrots and cabbage ar cheap now here in Kanagawa.....

Teaching English lessons for cash off the books is against the law and morally wrong.....

Personally, I would like to see world tariffs abandoned and let the world economy balance itself out.....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Haruka: Teaching English lessons for cash off the books is against the law and morally wrong.....

Indeed a moral quandary, to keep the money that one earns honestly, or to give a large portion of it to Mr. Abe... Hmmm...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's basically a storm in a teacup situation.

With the modern age of globalization simplified comparison of monetary amount in goods imported versus exported is only a portion of the story since items exported may end up imported back in finished goods.

Another is tourism (both inbound and out) and service which is not accounted within these figures at all.

At the end you need to account all these into a comprehensive study to calculate the overall health of a nation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is the second largest export country for US cabbage behind Canada.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can’t get it out if my mind that Japan has a trade deficit in logging.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@dcog9065

The market decides whether certain professions or employee types deserve raises or not. 

So what? The market isn't working, not just in Japan but other developed countries. Economists are trying to figure out why wages are moving so slowly amid rapidly rising profits and low jobless rates. Most of the explanations involve employers skirting around the usual supply and demand forces -- like offshoring and gov't incentives -- in their attempts to maximize their profits while minimizing labor costs.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The market isn't working, not just in Japan but other developed countries.

The market is the best of the available options. I’d rather not try the Venezuela route.

Economists are trying to figure out why wages are moving so slowly amid rapidly rising profits and low jobless rates.

You mix two variables, I don’t know why. Profits is not part of supply and demand, except to the extent that higher profits incentivize more competition and thus lead to more demand for labour over time.

Low jobless rates do appear to be coinciding with higher wages, as seen with the recent US employment report that triggered a market hiccup.

Where there is a clean liquid market for labour and demand for labour, wages go up.

Most of the explanations involve employers skirting around the usual supply and demand forces -- like offshoring and gov't incentives -- in their attempts to maximize their profits while minimizing labor costs.

E.g. there is no labour shortage in such circumstances.

Humans have to compete with the world for work these days. Why would wages go up for jobs that can be done by millions on the other side of the world.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Humans have to compete with the world for work these days. Why would wages go up for jobs that can be done by millions on the other side of the world.

So as to not cause social and economic problems in the future.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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