Princes Of The Yen: Central Banks And The Transformation Of An Economy

While I cringed at some of the early parts of the film and the mid-century American attitudes towards the Japanese, I think this documentary provides some valuable insights into the evolution of the modern economy that is Japan.  I try not to judge other periods with temporal prejudice, and I think such liberality might serve us well, given that we are likely to look like blundering, hapless baboons to our great grandchildren some day.  What were they thinking!?

Video Length: 01:32:39

As a general observation based on experience, people everywhere are just people.  But some cultures tend to encourage and reward certain traits of personality and behavior more than others.  This has deep roots in their cultural, social, and religious heritage.  So the same economic conditions in two different cultures might provide two very different outcomes.

I recall explaining some of this to a professor from England whom we had in business school.  He could not quite understand how some of the things that were happening in Japan (Japan Inc. as it was known then) that ought not to be occurring in a two party system. The answer of course was that Japan at that time, in the early 1990's, was essentially a single party system with heavy ties to an embedded bureaucracy in partnership with corporate cartels.

I think this structure helps to explain the long economic stagnation in Japan that puzzles so many, and has the Keynesians so befuddled.   They have never met any stimulus that they didn't like, even when it was being poured into and abused by a corrupt and inefficient system.  Rather than being naturally more successful at its financial engineering, as fellows like Bernanke have snarkily suggested in their American exceptionalism,  I think it is becoming painfully obvious that the US is 'turning Japanese' in its serial policy errors propagated by an insular, ruling elite and the moneyed interests with their political power.

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