Princes of the Yen: Japan's Central Bankers and the Transformation of the Economy

M.E. Sharpe
Free sample

This eye-opening book offers a disturbing new look at Japan's post-war economy and the key factors that shaped it. It gives special emphasis to the 1980s and 1990s when Japan's economy experienced vast swings in activity.

According to the author, the most recent upheaval in the Japanese economy is the result of the policies of a central bank less concerned with stimulating the economy than with its own turf battles and its ideological agenda to change Japan's economic structure. The book combines new historical research with an in-depth behind-the-scenes account of the bureaucratic competition between Japan's most important institutions: the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan. Drawing on new economic data and first-hand eyewitness accounts, it reveals little known monetary policy tools at the core of Japan's business cycle, identifies the key figures behind Japan's economy, and discusses their agenda. The book also highlights the implications for the rest of the world, and raises important questions about the concentration of power within central banks.

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Additional Information

Publisher
M.E. Sharpe
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Published on
Apr 25, 2003
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Pages
388
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ISBN
9780765632906
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Banks & Banking
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Money & Monetary Policy
History / Asia / Japan
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A roadmap to what lies ahead and the decisions we must make now to stave off the next global economic and financial crisis, from one of the world’s most influential economic thinkers and the author of When Markets Collide • With a new introduction by the author

Our current economic path is coming to an end. The signposts are all around us: sluggish growth, rising inequality, stubbornly high pockets of unemployment, and jittery financial markets, to name a few. Soon we will reach a fork in the road: One path leads to renewed growth, prosperity, and financial stability, the other to recession and market disorder.

In The Only Game in Town, El-Erian casts his gaze toward the future of the global economy and markets, outlining the choices we face both individually and collectively in an era of economic uncertainty and financial insecurity. Beginning with their response to the 2008 global crisis, El-Erian explains how and why our central banks became the critical policy actors—and, most important, why they cannot continue is this role alone. They saved the financial system from collapse in 2008 and a multiyear economic depression, but lack the tools to enable a return to high inclusive growth and durable financial stability. The time has come for a policy handoff, from a prolonged period of monetary policy experimentation to a strategy that better targets what ails economies and distorts the financial sector—before we stumble into another crisis.

The future, critically, is not predestined. It is up to us to decide where we will go from here as households, investors, companies, and governments. Using a mix of insights from economics, finance, and behavioral science, this book gives us the tools we need to properly understand this turning point, prepare for it, and come out of it stronger. A comprehensive, controversial look at the realities of our global economy and markets, The Only Game in Town is required reading for investors, policymakers, and anyone interested in the future.

Praise for The Only Game in Town

“The one economic book you must read now . . . If you want to understand [our] bifurcated world and where it’s headed, there is no better interpreter than Mohamed El-Erian.”–Time

“A grand tour of the challenges we face, along with ideal solutions and more likely outcomes . . . We desperately need a system in which the central banks are no longer the only game in town.”—Steven Rattner, The New York Times Book Review

“A must-read from one of the most astute financial analysts of our time.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“El-Erian’s gift for clarity and his use of compelling examples make important economic issues accessible.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO, New America

“[A] highly intelligent analysis.”—Fareed Zakaria, CNN (book of the week)
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With Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's return to power, Japan finally shifted course at the start of 2013 with the launch of Abenomics—an economic agenda to reflate the economy—and Abe's appointment of new leadership at the BOJ. As Taming Japan's Deflation shows, the BOJ's resistance to experimenting with bolder policy stemmed from entrenched policy ideas that were hostile to activist monetary policy. The authors explain how these policy ideas evolved over the course of the BOJ's long history and gained dominance because of the closed nature of the broader policy network.

The explanatory power of policy ideas and networks suggests a basic inadequacy in the dominant framework for analysis of
the politics of monetary policy derived from the literature on central bank independence. This approach privileges the interaction between political principals and their supposed agents, central bankers; but Taming Japan's Deflation shows clearly that central bankers' views, shaped by ideas and institutions, can be decisive in determining monetary policy. Through a combination of institutional analysis, quantitative empirical tests, in-depth case studies, and structured comparison of Japan with other countries, the authors show that, ultimately, the decision to adopt aggressive monetary policy depends largely on the bankers' established policy ideas and policy network.

In 1971, President Nixon imposed national price controls and took the United States off the gold standard, an extreme measure intended to end an ongoing currency war that had destroyed faith in the U.S. dollar. Today we are engaged in a new currency war, and this time the consequences will be far worse than those that confronted Nixon.

 

Currency wars are one of the most destructive and feared outcomes in international economics. At best, they offer the sorry spectacle of countries' stealing growth from their trading partners. At worst, they degenerate into sequential bouts of inflation, recession, retaliation, and sometimes actual violence. Left unchecked, the next currency war could lead to a crisis worse than the panic of 2008.

Currency wars have happened before-twice in the last century alone-and they always end badly. Time and again, paper currencies have collapsed, assets have been frozen, gold has been confiscated, and capital controls have been imposed. And the next crash is overdue. Recent headlines about the debasement of the dollar, bailouts in Greece and Ireland, and Chinese currency manipulation are all indicators of the growing conflict.

As James Rickards argues in Currency Wars, this is more than just a concern for economists and investors. The United States is facing serious threats to its national security, from clandestine gold purchases by China to the hidden agendas of sovereign wealth funds. Greater than any single threat is the very real danger of the collapse of the dollar itself.

Baffling to many observers is the rank failure of economists to foresee or prevent the economic catastrophes of recent years. Not only have their theories failed to prevent calamity, they are making the currency wars worse. The U. S. Federal Reserve has engaged in the greatest gamble in the history of finance, a sustained effort to stimulate the economy by printing money on a trillion-dollar scale. Its solutions present hidden new dangers while resolving none of the current dilemmas.

While the outcome of the new currency war is not yet certain, some version of the worst-case scenario is almost inevitable if U.S. and world economic leaders fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Rickards untangles the web of failed paradigms, wishful thinking, and arrogance driving current public policy and points the way toward a more informed and effective course of action.

Charles Wheelan’s wonderfully whimsical, best-selling Naked series tackles the weird, surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.

Consider the $20 bill.

It has no more value, as a simple slip of paper, than Monopoly money. Yet even children recognize that tearing one into small pieces is an act of inconceivable stupidity. What makes a $20 bill actually worth twenty dollars? In the third volume of his best-selling Naked series, Charles Wheelan uses this seemingly simple question to open the door to the surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.

The search for an answer triggers countless other questions along the way: Why does paper money (“fiat currency” if you want to be fancy) even exist? And why do some nations, like Zimbabwe in the 1990s, print so much of it that it becomes more valuable as toilet paper than as currency? How do central banks use the power of money creation to stop financial crises? Why does most of Europe share a common currency, and why has that arrangement caused so much trouble? And will payment apps, bitcoin, or other new technologies render all of this moot?

In Naked Money, Wheelan tackles all of the above and more, showing us how our banking and monetary systems should work in ideal situations and revealing the havoc and suffering caused in real situations by inflation, deflation, illiquidity, and other monetary effects. Throughout, Wheelan’s uniquely bright-eyed, whimsical style brings levity and clarity to a subject often devoid of both. With illuminating stories from Argentina, Zimbabwe, North Korea, America, China, and elsewhere around the globe, Wheelan demystifies the curious world behind the paper in our wallets and the digits in our bank accounts.

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