There is a very depressing article in today’s US print edition of the Financial Times. It is the FT Big Read: Japan. The article interviews some Japanese adults that have just reached 20, the age at a which you can vote and drink in Japan, and who have only known the deflationary period we are now so enamored with. What is depressing is to read and comprehend the expectations of the next wave of workers about to join our decreasing population.
Here is one quite: “My parents believed that the government would make their lives good and they did get richer. The lesson we have learnt is that we need to save as much as we can and take as little risk as possible.” A Japanese economist, Hiroshi Ishida, comments in the article that “economic factors have stripped away the incentives for young Japanese people to leave home, marry, have children, take risks and generally grow up.”
Additional sources are looked at in Japan that look at the growth in a focus by consumers on microsavings – the fixation on ever smaller savings attributed to bargain pricing. The consumer mentality it seems has been trained, now over many years of deflation, to expect ever smaller benefit and savings, leading to narrower risk taking. And now those folks that grew up with this experience are setting prices as retailers, so reinforcing the cycle – a race to the bottom.
This is a very frightening time. In one generation (I am just 50), we have seen the collapse of the industrial model, the growth of the digital economy, but also a political period that has led to economic anemia and apathy. Worse, so called “modern” thinking that undermines the values (all be they imperfect) that gave us the very growth that yielded the leisure time to come up with such stuff, is strangling its own roots.
And it is not just economic factors that are doing this – at least in other part of the western world. Modern social policy is also depressing the motivating factors for leaving home, getting married and having kids. The nuclear family is not just dead but “wrong”, we are told, and we should now all reduce any “favoritism” (monetary, social, political, cultural) that led to the “traditional” family. The problem is, those traditional values were what gave the western world the Protestant work ethic and a basis to seek to improve one’s place in the world. Since the 1960’s we have been watering this down, letting politicians control more and more of our lives, even taking active steps to remove the desire to improve, and the chickens are coming home to roost in droves.
Now we have the fallacy of our controlled economy – central banks with their monetary policy and politicians with their fiscal policy – both trying to insert themselves Into the natural order of things, picking winners, and losers. The ultimate loser will be ourselves – but our politicians will not be happy until they have destroyed every chance of change and recovery, all in the name of post modernism and expedient political correctness. At that point they will retire very comfortably, and we the masses will just rot in our own juices.
It’s only 7.23am and I feel like putting the coffee down and getting a rather stronger drink! I told you it was a depressing article. I would avoid it, if I were you!