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New page -- dashboard for Japan watch [ClearOnMoney]
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Commentary

New page -- dashboard for Japan watch

19 May 2011 by Jim Fickett.

A government funding crisis in Japan is quite likely within a year or two and, if it happens, it will provide quite a shock to global markets. I doubt very much that the precipitating events will be clear in advance, just as few people were watching the Bear Stearns hedge funds in 2007. However the brittleness of the situation can be watched and, in my opinion, that ranks as one of the top few trends that investors need to track in the coming months.

So there is a new page, Japan dashboard, with a small set of indicators that I believe are adequate to keep an eye on the overall situation:

  • Age demographics, updated annually
  • Unemployment, updated quarterly
  • GDP, updated quarterly (and during critical times, like the present, with industrial production updated monthly)
  • Government debt, updated quarterly (though if there are any significant moves in interest rates, these will be tracked more often)
  • Inflation, tracked monthly

I will no longer track the trade statistics; it is enough to watch industrial production, which is closely related.

In the short run, the most important things to watch are:

  • Interest rates and inflation (both currently stable)
  • Bank holdings of government bonds (if I had to guess, I'd say a bank with losses having to sell off its holdings would be a key precipitating event)