We would also like to thank Naotada Kurakake and Shosuke Tanaka for their encouragement of this project.
Thanks are due also to Ann Barrow and Sandra Weren for their typing and editorial assistance. Finally, we would like to thank the review committee of Cambridge University Press for helpful comments and suggestions. Ryuzo Sato John A. Rizzo Contributors P. R i z z o Center for Japan-U. The bilateral trade imbalance between the two countries is at a record level and is receiving increasing attention from government officials, business leaders, and the general public.
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In spite of the perceived importance of the problem, its causes and consequences are still not fully understood. Although there is agreement on some of the more general causes, there is substantial disagreement as to the seriousness of this problem and the likely nature of its resolution. Furthermore, as Japan and the United States become increasingly interdependent, the severity of the problem is likely to escalate.
What happens to Japan - U.
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At stake is nothing less than the future prosperity of the world economy, for adverse economic effects on Japan and the United States can generally be expected to harm each and every country with which these two economic superpowers do business. This collection of essays evaluates the important issues just mentioned from the perspectives of leading economists in the areas of macroeconomics, international trade, and Japan - U.
The book is divided into three sections: Part I focuses on the importance of U. What follows is a brief synopsis of each of the author's papers. Section I Barry Bosworth discusses the role of U. In Bosworth's view, the U. In particular, 1 2 Ryuzo Sato and John A. Rizzo U. In fact, the cut in taxes reduced rather than raised private savings. The combination of monetary restraint and fiscal expansion served to raise interest rates in the United States and thereby increased foreign investment and appreciated the dollar.
The stronger dollar, in turn, exacerbated the deficit on current account. Bos worth believes that the U. Since it is largely a policy-induced phenomenon, however, it is reversible. Predicting declining budget deficits, Bos worth argues that the resulting increase in savings will serve to reduce the current account deficit. Two lessons in particular can be drawn from Bosworth's analysis. The first and more specific lesson is that supply-side economics appears to be seriously flawed in its ability to stimulate the economy while maintaining budget and trade balances.
The second, and more general lesson, is that U. In its early stages, the major concern about supply-side economics was its ability to maintain a balanced budget in the face of across-the-board tax cuts. Much less concern was voiced about the implications of supply-side economics for the U. This proved to be a big mistake, particularly with respect to the enormous trade deficit resulting with Japan.
Clearly, future macroeconomic policies must take a more international approach and should possibly include policy coordination efforts between the United States and its major trading partners. Herbert Stein discusses the historical antecedents of the supply-side economics experiment, which emerged against the backdrop of public dismay over inflation, welfare "cheats," and high taxes. He points out that the plan went far beyond the prescription of liberals and conservatives alike by cutting taxes in areas affecting not only business investments, but also individual income taxes.
Stein notes that "all of the negative possibilities that had existed when the Reagan plan was first announced had become reality. Interest rates were high and the prospects for long-run growth unpromising. Even this was only part of the bad news. The rest of the bad news was that the Reagan plan brought havoc on the U. Indeed, the budget deficit induced an unexpectedly large capital inflow. Although this had the desirable effect of mitigating the crowding out of private investment, it had disastrous consequences for the U. Introduction 3 Stein echoes Bosworth's sentiment that the possible adverse international consequences of the Reagan plan were never seriously entertained.
When they occurred, they came as quite a surprise. Again, the closed-economy approach proved inappropriate in an increasingly open environment. In terms of economic prospects for the United States, Stein is not an alarmist.
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Although the outcome of several key factors, including U. Like Bosworth and Stein, Brinner is concerned about the impact of U. Whereas Bosworth and Stein take a retrospective look at U. He provides three types of forecast: first, a baseline forecast, which ignores budget balancing and tax reform efforts; second, the impact of budget balancing on the forecasts; and third, the effect of tax reform measures.
In Brinner's view, private sector strength is questionable. Consumers are already holding record levels of debt, which clearly limits their ability to finance further spending. On the investment side, spending on increased capacity should be particularly weak. Given America's lagging international competitiveness vis-a-vis Japan, it comes as good news, however, that investment in process innovation is expected to be strong.
With respect to the trade deficit, Brinner predicts that a more competitively priced dollar will cause U. In contrast, import growth will be negligible and may even decline. The predicted sluggishness in the overall U.
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Efforts to balance the budget should also serve to ameliorate the trade deficit. A concern here, however, is that given the overall sluggishness of the U. This could slide the United States into recession. Brinner argues that, from a macroeconomic standpoint, the impact of tax reform will not be large. Gross output, prices, and interest rates should be little affected. However, he foresees a very unhealthy change in the mix of spending. In particular, tax reform efforts will create disincentives for capital formation by raising the corporate tax burden.
This will hurt long-run productivity growth in the United States, since investment in research and development will be diminished. Furthermore, in both the the short run and the long run, growth in GNP will suffer. In this sense, his perspective differs from that of Bos worth, Stein, and Brinner.
It also differs in another, more important sense. Thurow considers the U. Rather, he sees the trade deficit as a major crisis, which, even if it is reduced, will have pervasive and painful effects on the United States and its trading partners. What is worse, according to Thurow, there is no guarantee that the problem can be corrected and disaster avoided. This view is in sharp contrast to those of Stein and Bosworth.
Why is Thurow so pessimistic? His concern stems from several factors. First and most obviously, the absolute magnitude of the U. In Thurow's view, the high level of exports to the United States was made possible only by the creation of industrial capacity abroad, for which the only viable outlet is the U. When the trade imbalance is reduced, this will cause painful industrial restructuring and the loss of millions of jobs. Another reason for Thurow's pessimism about the prospects for reaching a relatively painless resolution of the U. In particular, he thinks that the loss in U.
Many industrialized nations are now surpassing the United States in productivity. It is this loss in productivity that will cause persistent U.
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One might think that, as the economies of other industrialized nations continue to grow rapidly, they might be able to absorb enough U. According to Thurow, however, the world's economies cannot grow fast enough to bring about this scenario, not even if foreign fiscal and monetary policies were to be much more expansionary than they are at present. Thurow sees U. He does not, however, believe that a reversal of these policies will cure the problem.
Thurow thinks that a reversal in macro policies would by itself have little effect. Basically, his reason for this view is that the U. To make a world economy work, Thurow argues, it is necessary for trading Introduction 5 partners to limit structural differences among themselves, such as differences in the rates of savings. When large enough, such differences can have an important impact on trade imbalances. As Thurow points out, however, there is no mechanism for coordinating and implementing his proposal.
Samuelson discusses some of the positive aspects of the bilateral trade imbalance between Japan and the United States. Although he recognizes that it is "oversimple dogma" to claim that improved international competitiveness abroad always benefits the United States, he does argue that the import of goods produced more cheaply elsewhere on the average improves the wellbeing of U. This is one compelling argument for free trade between Japan and the United States.
Another is Samuelson's observation that Japan should fully open its markets out of self-interest, for to do so would eliminate allegations that Japan's closed markets are significantly responsible for the bilateral trade imbalance. Samuelson indicates that the dollar's depreciation reflects determined cooperation by Japan. However, he is fearful that once-and-for-all efforts at dollar depreciation may not result in mid- to long-term reductions in the U. The available econometric evidence leads Samuelson to predict that improvements in the trade imbalance will be slow, even assuming an appropriate mix of macro policies in the United States and abroad.
Nevertheless when foreign imports threaten U. This hardly bodes well for future U. Japan trade relations.
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Since Samuelson believes that little improvement will occur in the bilateral trade imbalance over the next several years, he predicts that a "protectionist blowoff" in America is a strong possibility. In Samuelson's view, this would be the real economic tragedy, not competition from foreign imports.