Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Dark Clouds Growing Darker, Thickening Atmosphere..."

I've begun to notice a change in atmosphere on the trains and at work. You can't read of companies laying people off every day and not worry about whether you will continue to be able to pay the rent and buy food. Some example sentences in a few different articles I read just today:

- Japan's exports plunged more than 45% in January compared to a year ago to hit the lowest figure ever recorded, official figures showed.
- Japanese exports to the US, which is at the centre of the slide, fell nearly 53% in January while shipments to the European Union retracted by 47%, Japan's finance ministry said.
- The government said last week that Japan's economy was in its most serious crisis since World War II, after it contracted an annualised rate of 12.7% in the last quarter of 2008.
- Gloom over Japan economy deepens
- Other analysts are worried that the Japanese economic recovery could be completely derailed and that a mild recession could be on its way.
- Japan posted a record trade deficit in January, with exports tumbling 46 percent from a year earlier, as the global economic downturn tightened its stranglehold on overseas demand.
- The Finance Ministry said Japan's trade deficit for the month widened to 952.6 billion yen ($9.92 billion) — the fourth straight month that imports exceeded exports. It was the biggest trade deficit since the government began compiling comparable data in 1979.
- Japan, long criticized by trading partners for its big trade surpluses, has become a net importer in recent months because of the global slump. Exports were cut nearly in half, as shipments of cars, machinery, electronics and semiconductors to all major markets plunged.
- The latest data mirrors the sharp declines throughout the export-reliant continent and signals that the pain in Asia may only deepen in the months ahead. South Korean exports fell a record 33 percent in January from the previous year, Taiwan's retreated 43 percent, and Singapore's fell 35 percent.
- Exports to the U.S. fell 53 percent, with car shipments down 81 percent on a value basis. Japan's trade surplus with the U.S. fell 75 percent to 132.8 billion yen.

This is not looking good. As other people are reading similar dark and gloomy news reports (and people are beginning to lose their jobs), the collective dark radio waves are something palpable in the air. I want to be positive and forward-looking, but the increasingly stormy seas seem to be leading into a full-scale raging typhoon. Hopefully not, but the downward spiral is still headed down. How to turn it around.....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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