Japan's lopsided economic revival enters sixth year
Nikkei -- Feb 08
The latest official business readings show that Japan's economy is on track for its sixth year of sustained growth in 2018, though the boom cycle has yet to be fully reflected in household incomes.

An index meant to provide a snapshot of business conditions rose to 120.7 in December, up 2.8 points from November to the highest reading since comparable data started being kept in 1985. The gauge, released by Japan's Cabinet Office on Wednesday, climbed for a third straight month, with the agency maintaining its assessment of "improving" business conditions.

The data all but confirms that the Japanese economy has continued an expansion that began in December 2012. The last time the so-called coincident index reached such lofty territory was October 1990 -- during the asset bubble -- when it crested at 120.6.

At least seven of the nine indicators factored into the index contributed to the barometer's rise in December. The jump in producer shipments was particularly steep thanks to a swelling of capital expenditures on solid demand for semiconductor production equipment and construction and mining machinery.

"The coincident index is highly reflective of strong corporate activity, especially in the manufacturing sector," said Satoshi Osanai, senior economist at the Daiwa Institute of Research.

In other words, Japan's economic recovery is as robust as it was during the bubble era, at least through the eyes of corporations. Several companies are forecasting record earnings for the current fiscal year. Japan's growth is in line with the upswing seen in other major economies around the world.

But when it comes to Japanese households, the economic expansion is not quite as palpable. The Cabinet Office also publishes the lagging index, which includes for wages, consumption and other household-related indicators. This index is said to lag behind the coincident index by about six months.

News source: Nikkei
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