Japan's economy goes from doldrums to despair

By Megan McArdle

I don't know quite what to say about Japan's GDP numbers; horrifying is the word that springs immediately to mind.  Free fall is the second:  it declined at an annualized pace of nearly 13% last quarter, as exports plummeted and companies slashed investment.

And the Wall Street Journal says the decline isn't finished yet:

Already, data point to further deterioration in the economy. Industrial output is expected to drop by around 20% during the first quarter, a government survey says. After tumbling by a record 35% in December, exports sank 46% from a year earlier during the first 20 days of January. In this environment, the jobless rate could climb to an all-time high of 6% or so later this year, from 4.4% in December, economists say.

It wasn't long ago that I was pleased to start writing that Japan was creeping out of more than a decade of doldrums; now it seems to me that this was just the very tail end of America's credit bubble, as our uncontrolled spending boosted demand in an economy that was still fundamentally weak.

Update:  A Fistful of Euros has more.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/02/japan-apos-s-economy-goes-from-doldrums-to-despair/4721/