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<b>Japan, the public versus the private</b>

    Headline: Japan, the public versus the private
Source: Euromoney
Date: March 2000
Author: David Roche

Is Japan heading back into recession? The news out of the country's Ministry of Finance is that Japan's national output probably fell in the last quarter of 1999, after shrinking by 1% in the third quarter. Technically that's a recession. Will this new downturn continue and what does it mean for the Nikkei and the yen? You can answer these questions if you understand the plate-shift movements taking place under the surface of Japan's seemingly stagnant economy.

Throughout the 1990s, the Japanese economy was like a jellyfish. It rose and fell with the deep-sea swell of the world economy, but ultimately went nowhere. But now things are beginning to change. For Japan's government and private sector are like two of the country's famous bullet trains on the same track, but heading full tilt in opposite directions.

The government keeps pumping in huge fiscal injections to revive the economy. But if fiscal packages could save Japan, the job would have been done long ago.

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