Japan’s Government Calls for Decisive Fiscal Action

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Japan’s  Government Calls for Decisive Fiscal Action(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Japan’s government called Tuesday for decisive fiscal action combined with powerful central bank easing to ensure the economy can overcome risks threatening growth and to recover from natural disasters.A draft of a government stimulus package obtained by Bloomberg sets out the need for spending on upgrading disaster-prevention infrastructure, an extension of a cashless rebate program and information technology help for small and mid-sized companies that are raising wages.Japan Eyes Big Fiscal Stimulus With Little Concern Over DebtThe draft didn’t set out how much money would be spent on the measures, but a senior Abe administration official said the stimulus would easily top 10 trillion yen ($92 billion).“The feeling I got was that the economic measures would go far beyond 10 trillion yen in scale and that overall working size would be about 25 trillion yen,” said Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Fumio Kishida, after a party meeting to discuss the draft.The effective punching power of the stimulus package won’t be clear until specific figures are given for actual spending and the size of an extra budget to fund it. Overall figures for spending packages typically include loans and assistance from the private sector.A package in August 2016 had a headline size of 28.1 trillion yen, but the extra budgets financing it that year amounted to only 3.5 trillion yen, an amount that the latest package is expected to exceed.With his first major stimulus package since 2016, Abe seems intent on maintaining his economic legacy as Japan’s longest serving prime minister. While Japan’s labor market is close to its strongest in almost three decades and domestic demand has kept the economy expanding despite the global slowdown, the economy still faces risks from U.S.-China trade tensions and October’s sales tax hike.A typhoon and bad weather in October have also made it hard to discern the economy’s underlying strength. Economists have long forecast a contraction in the last three months of this year as the sales tax increase hits domestic consumption.Retails sales dropped the most on record in October and production fell twice the amount analysts expected, leading to renewed concern that the impact from the tax might be larger than hoped. Some economists see a chance of gross domestic product shrinking more than a market consensus of -2.7% this quarter, the biggest contraction since 2014.Still, positive capital spending figures released at the start of the week suggest companies are continuing to invest despite the economic headwinds, offering policy makers some justification for a diluted spending package.Barclays Changes BOJ Call, Expects No Easing Through FY2021The stimulus package calls for spending to take place alongside continued Bank of Japan easing, essentially enabling the central bank to sit tight without adding to its own measures.Already some economists are switching their forecasts on the BOJ’s policy stance toward a holding pattern rather than additional action, taking into account the imminent announcement of the government’s stimulus package.To contact the reporters on this story: Emi Nobuhiro in Tokyo at enobuhiro@bloomberg.net;Yoshiaki Nohara in Tokyo at ynohara1@bloomberg.net;Toru Fujioka in Tokyo at tfujioka1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Malcolm Scott at mscott23@bloomberg.net, Paul JacksonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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