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Masaaki Shirakawa, Governor of the BOJ, spoke at the Second International Journal of Central Banking last week.  Mr. Shirakawa made a presentation that succinctly compares and contrasts the many problems confronted by the Japanese over the last few decades with the current global credit crisis.   It is my opinion that Japan remains the model we should most closely study in order to understand the current environment (this is an opinion I have held for several years and well before it was a popular opinion).  This is not to imply that we are exactly like Japan – there are very real differences between the two crises, however, as a historical reference point Japan remains a very good case study in private sector debt bubbles.

I’ve included a few charts from the presentation, however, I would recommend reading it in its entirety (see here).  Such papers should be required reading for all member of Congress.

CPI trending perfectly in-line with Japan’s

Japan’s downturn was actually less severe

The Central Bank’s balance sheet ballooned – to no avail

The problem was not the banks, but DEMAND for loans

Massive expansion in the monetary base was NOT inflationary

Wages remained very weak as the private sector de-levered

Source: BIS

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