BERKELEY – The recent G-20 meeting of finance ministers in Saint Petersburg confirmed that the debate between growth and austerity is over – at least for now. With protracted recession in Europe and slowdowns in emerging markets, concern about budget deficits has given way to apprehension about growth. In July, the International Monetary Fund revised its global growth forecast downward for the second time this year.
Both Japan and the United States stand out as bright spots in the subdued global outlook, but for different reasons. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unleashed a combination of aggressive monetary and fiscal expansion along with promised reforms of the labor market, corporate governance, regulation, and trade.