Japan's quake

Japan’s economy, one year later

Julia Coronado Mar 12, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now let’s get the view of the economy there. Julia Coronado is chief economist with the investment bank BNP Paribas. She’s with us live from New York. Good morning, Julia.

Julia Coronado: Good morning.

Hobson: So how is the Japanese economy doing one year after the disaster?

Coronado: Well as your story noted, a lot of it is up and running again. So most production is back to normal. There is still a tremendous amount of rebuilding, however, that has to be done. And that’s only getting off the ground very gradually.

Hobson: Now we mentioned, Julia, that it’s the third largest economy in the world. So as it does rebound gradually, as you say, what does that mean for us?

Coronado: It is important — we found that out last year when the earthquake hit and the supply chain disruptions happened. It really had a material impact on the U.S. economy as well. So it should be helpful to us that that won’t be a drag this year, that it will be, in fact, enjoying some stimulus from the rebuilding efforts. So that’s constructive for the global economy.

Hobson: What about the supply chain issues that came up last year about all the things that are made in Japan? Has that sort of filtered through at this point?

Coronado: Well, it’s largely filtered through. One of the unfortunately side effects for Japan is that they’ve lost some competitiveness from this, some of the supply chain resolution was that some of these contracts got shifted overseas. That’s been a helpful thing to the U.S. and Germany, but it also means that Japan’s lost on long-term competitiveness.

Hobson: Well finally, Julia, what’s the biggest challenge for the country going forward?

Coronado: Japan still faces a huge problem from the aging of their population. They’ve just got a tremendous over-weight of elderly people on benefits relative to productive population, and in fact, their population is shrinking. So they’re not going to be a powerhouse growth economy anytime soon.

Hobson: Julia Coronado, chief economist with the investment bank BNP Paribas, thanks as always.

Coronado: It’s a pleasure.

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