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THAT SHRINKING FEELING

Japan really can’t catch a break

A man rests on a bench next to his dog with the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
An economic case of the Mondays.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Japan’s latest GDP figures (pdf) came in, and they’re pretty bad. The economy shrank at a 1.6% pace in the second quarter after growing 4.5% in the first.

That means Japan’s economy had only two consecutive quarters of growth after its short recession last year. That’s an embarrassing setback for Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister and the father of so-called “Abenomics,” an economic reform package meant to bring growth back to Japanese life.

One of the biggest drains on growth—exports—might be beyond Japan’s control, since quickly-slowing China is Japan’s biggest trading partner. But domestic consumption, the second biggest trouble spot, has been especially frustrating, falling at an annualized rate of 3.1% in the quarter. The Bank of Japan has been cranking out monetary stimulus in an attempt to change that pattern, but it’s obviously not doing the trick so far.

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