Abenomics for Asia

For two decades, as one Asian economy after another boomed, Japan’s economy remained virtually stagnant. Now, with Asia’s two giants, China and India, slowing down – and perhaps impeding economic performance in much of the rest of Asia – Japan is recording its strongest growth since the 1980’s.

TOKYO – Once again, Japan is Asia’s odd country out. For two decades, as one Asian economy after another boomed, Japan’s economy remained virtually stagnant. Now, with GDP growth in Asia’s two giants, China and India, slowing precipitously – a decline that appears to be contributing to diminishing economic performance in much of the rest of Asia – Japan is recording its strongest growth since its 1980’s boom.

But, just as Japan’s post-war economic model became the template for the Asian economic miracles of recent decades, the reforms currently being implemented by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (“Abenomics”) may offer Asian economies a path back to strong growth. If the fallout from China’s slowdown is not to hit the entire region and jeopardize the economic integration that has already taken place, Asia’s governments – beginning with China – will need to embrace similar reforms.

How did Asia’s boom fade so quickly? Economics is supposedly a cold-blooded subject. Yet successful economies are prone to one of the most dangerous emotions of all: self-satisfaction, that excessive pride that Confucius condemned, which makes governments wary of reforming what has been a winning model, even when stresses begin to appear.

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