A man looks at goods underneath banners about the rise in the sales tax at a store in Tokyo in this Sept 25 file photo. Photo: REUTERS file
business

Japanese firms see 'Abenomics' sputtering, tax hike hurting economy: poll

33 Comments
By Tetsushi Kajimoto

Japanese companies overwhelmingly think the nation's longest postwar expansion is peaking, with two-thirds expecting a tax hike imposed this month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hurt the economy, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

Almost all the firms in the monthly Reuters Corporate Survey said the world's third-biggest economy will level off or fall into recession in coming months, which would mark an end to the"Abenomics" expansion that the premier launched in late 2012.

And while most of the firms still don't want the Bank of Japan to increase its stimulus, that opposition has weakened sharply over the past quarter as the U.S-China trade war has clouded prospects for global growth and export-reliant Japan.

Abe says the increase in the national sales tax, which he had twice delayed, is crucial to reining in the industrial world's heaviest debt burden - more than twice Japan's annual $5 trillion output. But the higher levy could cool consumer spending, triggering a recession, analysts fear.

The Reuters survey found 69% of firms expect the tax hike to weigh on growth, 26% see no impact and 5% think it could boost the economy.

"The tax hike will hurt consumer sentiment considerably, which will exert an unpredictable impact on the Japanese economy," a manager at a food-processing company wrote in the survey.

Some 58% expect the economy to level off heading into next year, while 41% predict a recession, the survey found. Just 1% see the economy growing after the tax increase.

Economists in a Reuters poll last month forecast the economy will grow 0.8% in the fiscal year to March, up from the 0.5% predicted a month earlier.

"A combination of a post-tax hike decline in demand and a sputtering global economy will clearly exert downward pressure on Japan's economy," said Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

He forecasts a recession for Japan, with the economy contracting for the two quarters through March.

Companies in the Reuters survey that expected a recession largely think it will last at least a year, with a quarter expecting it to hit bottom late next year and 56% seeing the slump dragging into 2021 or beyond.

Japan's coincident economic indicator fell in August, the Cabinet Office said this week, downgrading its assessment of the key gauge to "worsening," which can presage a recession. Last month the office maintained its overall assessment that the economy continues to recover moderately.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 7 for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 504 big and midsize nonfinancial companies, of which 230-240 firms responded to the various questions, on condition of anonymity.

BOJ STIMULUS

As the economic outlook clouds, opposition to further easing from the central bank is waning, the survey found.

Haruhiko Kuroda, installed by Abe as BOJ governor six and a half years ago to spur growth and end decades of deflation, has driven the most aggressive asset purchases among major central banks, pushing some interest rates below zero.

But while Kuroda vowed to stoke inflation to 2% in two years, the BOJ has generated price rises of less than half of that, while ultra-low interest rates are hurting banks by crimping lending margins.

Fifty-seven percent of the companies in the survey said the BOJ should not expand its massive easing, with many concerned it could weaken financial institutions. But this response was down from 88% to a similar question in July.

Some 42% of respondents said additional easing would have no effect on the economy, while the rest were split on whether more stimulus would on balance help or hurt growth.

"The harmful effects of the prolonged easing are becoming clear. Going too far would cause the banking system to collapse and the negatives would become larger," wrote a manager at a machinery maker.

Of those who said additional easing would be a net positive, the biggest reason, at 43%, was that lower inflation-adjusted interest rates would encourage more capital spending.

In a potentially positive development for the BOJ's aim of boosting prices, more than two-thirds of firms said they have been able to pass on the sales-tax hike to consumers in the prices of their goods and services.

But unless wages rise enough to offset the higher prices, the tax hike could erode consumer purchasing power, hurting private consumption, which makes up about 60% of the economy, analysts say.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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And if you REALLY are "top" firms why havent you done anything to push for change?

Oh right, because of all the free money Abe has been giving you you can't bite the hand that feeds you!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Do you really need a poll to tell that Abenomics is Abnormal ?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

"Big firms" have been earning the highest profits in Japanese history since Abenomics emerged. Talk about biting the hand.

The biggest resisters to the 3rd arrow reforms come from the private sector, not the government. The exploitative labor market is a perfect example. The companies are the ones with the vested interests they are so adamant to protect.

 Going too far would cause the banking system to collapse and the negatives would become larger,

More like "positives." Let the banks collapse, and be taken over by the state. China's banks are state owned, and China doesnt have to suffer from financial crises like we do.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

In the words of one of the greatest (my opinion) cult followed movies of all time; (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) said by Marty Feldman:

It's Abi-Normal!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But while Kuroda vowed to stoke inflation to 2% in two years, the BOJ has generated price rises of less than half of that, while ultra-low interest rates are hurting banks by crimping lending margins.

Hurting banks, bullcrap.

Interest on my credit card is about 19percent while interest on my savings are zero point zero.

Meanwhile, I have not seen a salary hike for years, all this while prices have gone up by about 40 percent.

Who is hurting here ?

Economist are like meteorologist they are unaccountable.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Abenomics? How is Abe qualified to set economic policy for the nation? Exactly! No surprise then that the LDP's Ponzi scheme is limping along on the crutches of consumption taxes.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

But unless wages rise enough to offset the higher prices, the tax hike could erode consumer purchasing power, hurting private consumption, which makes up about 60% of the economy, analysts say.

There was never any consumer purchasing power in the first place.

How is it possible, With an average hourly rate less than one nine hundred yen coupled with the fact that 40 percent of the work force is part time or on short term contract work. Meanwhile prices of goods have increased since Abe and Kuroda declared their obsession with 2 percent inflation.

Spending by tourist is what prevented the economy from entering a recession.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

there are certain constants in Japan that will prevent a bubble economy of the 90s from every occurring again, mostly outside demands but allot domestically also. It will just sputter along, keeping any change from ever happening. Just like the minpaku law has been changed now how many times now? Experiment with something, then its back to the good ole Japanese risk averse behavior, its very Japanese. I do think Trumps trade deal with Japan will give them a lift, however. only change due to gaiatsu will occur, nothing from within. This death blow to farmers created by Trumps trade deal, a perfect example. Im sure Abe wanted to do it, but could not.

For this reason, when there is a panic, everybody runs to the yen to park their currency.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Abe lives in a cocoon. He knows nothing about real world economics and wouldn't survive one week in the real world.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Wow! Abenomics sputtering? Tax hike hurting economy? What a surprising revelation, NOT! Abenomics has done nothing to increase economic benefits or enhance the lifestyles of the masses. It has, however, filled the coffers of large corporations with tax cuts. There has been no increase in chains care facilities, no introduction of free child care, no increases in aged care, no dent made in paying off the public debt, no increases in inflation, no increases in exports, no increases in salaries, no increases spending, NOTHING! Abenomics is nothing more than a crock of contrived poop to sell to the public. There has been more small to medium sized businesses declare bankruptcy during the Abenomics reign of terror than under any other previous government’s economic policies in the last 50 years.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Abe says the increase in the national sales tax, which he had twice delayed, is crucial to reining in the industrial world's heaviest debt burden

When did Abe actually say that?

The man believes that his government spending our money will grow the economy.

The people calling for budget reforms are no doubt gutted to see the way his government hiked the tax rate, only to introduce a complicated two-rate system, and indebt the public even further through crazy spending programs to try to cushion the public from the reality that public spending in Japan is out of control and unsustainable at present.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

He knows nothing about real world economics and wouldn't survive one week in the real world.

Even in international relation are he tried to facilitate deal between countries, even among statesman not all statesman have that ability.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Just 1% see the economy growing after the tax increase.

Really? In what way?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stop thinking about the wealthy capitalist for a minute if you want to fix the economy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Let the banks collapse, and be taken over by the state. China's banks are state owned, and China doesnt have to suffer from financial crises like we do.

@ Jeff Lee. You want to Nationalize private banks? There is one word for that. Communism. No thanks, it will never work.

Japan is not alone in facing economic challenges, the world economy is spluttering, there are big trade wars. But making government bigger and taking over huge corporations, like Communist China, is not the answer. Watch China start to crash soon, the economy is declining.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

He knows nothing about real world economics and wouldn't survive one week in the real world.

Sadly he would, because he would be retired and living off the government pension!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Next generations modern history will explain what was this "Abenomics", majority of Japanese citizens supported him without knowing of that stagnated economy forwarded poverty. His name will show shame on him, to have his name displayed in this Japan's economy plan. It would be another name, such as LDP economics, kind of.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“export reliant Japan”

”At only around 16%, Japan’s exports to GDP ratio ranks 4th lowest behind the US, India, and Belgium as the LEAST export reliant economies among the top 25 globally.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"You want to Nationalize private banks? There is one word for that. Communism."

No it isn't. Germany's KfW and Switzerland's Zurich Cantonal Bank are state-owned and are among the safest, highest rated institutions in the world.

If you think bank's prime role is to enrich themselves at the expense of real economy, then go for privatization. If you think their role should be to assist the real economy by providing it with safe and appropriate levels of credit, then nationalize them. The choice is pretty easy, if you ask me.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The tax hike isn't what's hurting the economy the most. The huge push by firms to lower wages and find roundabout ways in order to avoid providing benefits is what's hurting the economy most. Even with my job. New professors are being hired at lower wages. I have only been in Japan for 3 years and I've seen salaries for all types of teaching positions drop at least ¥30,000 over that time. Also, during that time the prices for good and services including taxes has only gone up. So how can they blame a tax hike when they are earning record profits. If real wages don't go up, the economy will always go down.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If these free trade agreements truly lower the cost of imported goods then the 10% sales tax won't be a big deal. I am still waiting to see prices fall.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The tax hike isn't what's hurting the economy the most. The huge push by firms to lower wages and find roundabout ways in order to avoid providing benefits is what's hurting the economy most.

Exactly,

The claim of labor shortage could have been an opportunity to raise salaries but instead they opted to help companies by importing cheap labor from abroad. In the short run it helps companies keep salaries low and increase profits but in the long run consumption suffers because the imported workers are here max 5 years so they spend little and save as much as they can.

Well the blame will always be deflected to some foreign trade war or slow down of the world economy.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This has been the economic situation since the early '90's - why do people still expect the government to take charge, when they are corrupt, unresponsive and incapable? There will be no change, until the government fears the governed.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

expat.

Top comments.

As much as I love most Japanese people they only have themselves to blame for voting in the 'incapables' time and again and for allowing themselves to be so easily brainwashed.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Point your finger if you're surprised by this. What a collosal joke!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Prices have dropped or leveled in my opinion. Over the years only alcohol and cigs have gone up. Train fares too but not super.

Food here is cheap. Start eating like a Japanese. You will lose weight. Stop driving and bike or walk instead.

Price shop online before buying and do not buy things you do not need.

Rents in Kanagawa for example are much lower now than they were 35 years ago.

But Abe in my opinion and his cronies are idiots.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Tom,

TBH,I think that even beer has come down in price since I washed upon these shore nearly 30 years ago.

When I first got here a 660ml bottle of Asahi Super Dry at the supermarket cost ¥320.I can get it a bit less than that now if I shop around.

However,I do agree with you about Abe and his brethren being idiots and kicking the can down the street so they don't have do anything major to help reel in public spending in Japan,God forbid.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Firstly, Corporate firms should not have been entrusted with the responisibility of increasing wages to spur the economy, That is J Gov responsibility. Second, the archaic honor system J Gov has in place leaks too much money, to be a tech oriented society. To increase taxes without using the very same tech advances that would shore up leaks in the tax system is lax, lazy and foolish.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Prices have dropped or leveled in my opinion. Over the years only alcohol and cigs have gone up. Train fares too but not super.

Unfortunately alcohol your yardstick for guaging price trend over the years is not indispensable to families. Salaries thirty years ago and now are not the same. Any comparison of cost thirty years ago with today should be vis a vis with salaries and the labor demography that has changed dramatically from thirty years ago.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

And little by little Japanese taxes will become higher as the economy becomes less productive.

Salaries down and taxes up....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These companies are the ones cutting salaries: it is their own fault that people cannot afford to buy their goods.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You wouldn’t need a stimulus package if Abe didn’t bother raising consumption tax in the first place. If he prints more yen, he goes into more debt and increases the cost of living even more. Wages are not going up for those not in executive class mr Abe.

if he was so desperate for tax, why didn’t he double cigarette tax or introduce a luxury house/car tax? He could have got the revenue in other ways than just a general tax increase. Biggest mistake of his premiership IMO..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

tax is incoherent, as Japan is printing money as it likes.

if government need money , just continue to print toilet paper money.

anyways , we all no where this money is going . into american weapon company pockets.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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