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The key to Japan’s recovery? Elvisnomics

Marketplace Staff Jun 30, 2006

TESS VIGELAND: Outgoing Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s farewell tour of North America made a southward swing today. He and President Bush flew Air Force One to Memphis. There, they became the first heads of state to are the first heads of state ever to visit Graceland. But for Koizumi this is a pilgrimage. Reporter Kim Green is here to explain.

Kim, why is the head of the world’s second-largest economy paying homage to Elvis?

KIM GREEN: Well, Tess, when Koizumi came into office, he kinda had the rock star thing going on. You know, the hairdo and all that. He even put out a CD of his favorite Elvis songs. It sold 200,000 copies. Then he started working on the economy, and people wanted to know who was his economic guru. Turns out it was Elvis.

VIGELAND: You’re saying Koizumi was economically inspired by Elvis?

GREEN: Oh, Absolutely. In Japan, they call it Elvisnomics. It’s all about the lyrics, Tess. Listen to this, especially the part about ‘romancing’ Parliament.

Just pity all those millionaires they never can relax
Because they’re always worryin’ about their income tax
Why waste time on high financin’, I’d rather spend it on good romancin’

GREEN: Tess, what Elvis is suggesting here is to deregulate the system, make it more market-friendly. Did you catch that line about high financin’? It practically screams, “Hell-oo! Privatize the postal system. Now, check out this part.

Stocks and bonds, they only bore me
Interest holds no interest for me
Who wants to sit in the lap of luxury
Who needs money, not me.

GREEN: Well, this is obviously telling Koizumi how to deal with Japan’s massive debt. I’m actually surprised you didn’t get that right away, Tess.

VIGELAND: Yeah, yeah, me too. I feel really bad about that.

GREEN: Now, listen to this and you’ll see why the PM doesn’t need to raise interest rates.

A gal who’s tender, that’s what I love
It’s legal tender, I want a pile of
Just let my liquid assets overflow
You can’t take it with you when you go
So, who needs money
That lovely, lovely money
Who needs money, not me

VIGELAND: What does he mean there, who needs money?

GREEN: Clearly what he means there is “Pull liquidity out of global capital markets and let it ‘overflow’ into banks back home. Banks need money. Duh! Come on, Tess. You knew that.

VIGELAND: Riiiight. . . . Thanks so much, Kim

GREEN: Thanks, Tess.

VIGELAND: That’s reporter Kim Green in Nashville.

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