Thursday, October 3, 2013

Japanese Consumer Confidence WAY Down & New Leak at Fukushima! It's All Good News!

Well, as I have been saying for a long time, in spite of my foreign-born detractors, who live in Japan but seem to be out of touch with what the average Japanese on the street is thinking, average Joe Tanaka is not happy at all about Abenomics. And there's now data to back me up on that point; not just anecdotal evidence. 

Happy as hell! See?

There's no way to paint this is a positive note: Consumer Confidence in Japan is downright miserable. Before I get to the proof, here's some background: 

In The Facts: Data Doesn't Lie and "Positive" Writing, I wrote:

Look, there's responsible fiscal policy and then there's what the Japanese government (and US government, EU, etc.) are doing: irresponsible deficit spending. Japan has been doing what Abe is doing for over 20 years. The only difference is that Abe has put the deficit spending into hyper-drive.

Over twenty year of deficit spending and infrastructure projects? Look where it has gotten Japan today.

Folks, you couldn't deficit spend like this on your own home and personal finances; you'd go bankrupt. This isn't rocket science. No matter what the government says or how they try to spin things, this is simple math. Mathematics are a bitch and they are consistent as hell. Two plus two will always equal four. It doesn't change.

Japan's low interest rates and easy money policies on steroids will not yield any different results than they already have.....

A few days later, I added in Cheerleaders for Abenomics Extremely Quiet: Inflation on Energy, Gas and Food Up - Wages Down 

....The average consumer confidence drops for three months in a row, amongst all the Abenomics recent good news? (polite laughter and applause here, please!) And amongst merchants, it drops for 5 months in a row, and people say I'm negative? Yes, OK. Fair enough. I may be negative on Abenomics, but I work amongst the Japanese and hear what they say and talk about. I'm no more negative than they are. 

I just report the facts. Just the facts, ma'am!

Like I said, I work closely with the average Japanese person; at both my jobs: one is with business people and the other at the radio station brings me closely in contact with the average Japanese who commutes to work (how much more "average" can you get than commuters going to work in trains and cars to white and blue collar jobs who listen to regular old FM radio?)

Well, well, well, lookie what we have today! The Bank of Japan has just released a poll: BOJ Poll: Japan Consumer Confidence Slips on Lower Income.

In that poll the consumer confidence index actually crashed from a year before - when people were fooled into voting for Shinzo Abe - and the index actually stands today at a -8.3 (I'm not too sure about how badly a minus confidence point is calculated, but it was only -4.8 last year).

Here's a few tidbits from that report by BOJ:

The government data showed that Japan's core consumer price index (excluding perishables but including energy) rose 0.8% on year in August, the third straight y/y rise after +0.7% in July and +0.4% in June, which was the first rise in 14 months. It remains the largest gain since +1.0% in November 2008.  

The average household spending fell a real 1.6% on year in August, marking the first y/y drop in two months after a 0.1% gain in July. The average real income of salaried workers' households fell a real 0.9% on year in August, the first fall in six months while their disposable income also posted the first drop in six months, down 1.4%.

Wolf Richter over at the Testoserone Pit slices and dices this data into much easier form than I ever could. He writes in: Japanese Consumers, Hammered By Abenomics, Get Gloomier:

In the prior survey, undertaken in June, the index had jumped 17.8 points to a still low -4.8. Consumers at the time were less disillusioned about the promise of Abenomics that something good would trickle down to them, from the trillions of yen that the Bank of Japan was handing to megabanks on a monthly basis. But now consumers have opened their eyes, looked at price tags and glanced at their paychecks, and the index fell to -8.3. 

One of the stated policies of Abenomics and the Bank of Japan is to stir up inflation. It has worked wonderfully, with year over year inflation rising. Goods inflation has hit 1.8%. Alas, consumers reported that rising costs of essentials, such as utilities and food, were cutting into what they could spend on other things. At the same time, more people reported that their incomes actually dropped from a year ago. 

Great! And, uh, this money printing by the Bank of Japan was supposed to be hand in hand with an increase in wages... Didn't happen; nor will it. 

Wolf Richter continues:

This isn’t just an idle impression of benighted consumers who don’t get Abenomics: Average household spending adjusted for inflation fell 1.6% year over year in August, more than wiping out the minuscule rise of 0.1% in July. Not a surprise: the average inflation-adjusted income of households of salaried workers, after six months of small improvements, dropped 0.9% year over year in August, and their disposable income dropped 1.4%. 

This combination of inflation without wage increases – or worse, with wage declines – amounted to inflation without compensation. And consumers don’t expect it to end anytime soon: 83% of the respondents expected prices to continue to rise over the next twelve months, up from 80.2% in June. 

So only a minuscule 16.2% saw the economy improving over the next twelve months, down in a big way from the already low 24.3% in June. Even more people expected their income to fall over that period. 

Throw in the increase in Sales Tax and what do you have? A disaster in the making.

Folks, I love Abenomics as much as the next Japanese guy (Someone go out and find that next Japanese guy, I can't find him anywhere!) but this is simple mathematics... 

People's spending is already down, along with consumer confidence before the Sales Tax increase is implemented...

It's not rocket science what's going to happen here in Japan...

This isn't being negative; the data backs up what I'm writing here... Like I said, not negative, just realistic.

No amount of happy talk is going to fix this problem.... 

....Or what's going on at Fukushima!

Kyodo News, October 3, 2013

New leak of stored toxic water found at Fukushima plant: TEPCO [...] Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has found that highly toxic water has leaked from another storage tank at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex. [...] TEPCO, which operates the Fukushima plant, said it detected high levels of radioactive materials in water accumulated within barriers around a group of storage tanks including the leaky one.

Abe assured the Olympic committee all leaks we secured... But, as usual, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about... I wonder if my friends will complain that I don't report this in a positive light?

NOTE: This is the BIG NEWS in Japan today. Watch a NHK (English) news report here:

Now, I'm not talking about how dangerous these leaks are or are not. My point is credibility of the government. Now, think about this: If people can't believe what the government leaders say, then how can they have any confidence?


Nhat Vuong said...

Well written Mike. I see when a boat is sinking. I am leaving Japan by the end of the year. Sayonara. Hope to catch before I leave. Nhat

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Nhat Vuong is going?

And why that place is better?

- IndividualAudienceMember

Anonymous said...

Also, @the author. Where's your drool? You have a half assed zombie-like pose in your photo, and yet, No Drool!
What gives?

Are you saying zombies don't drool?

...Now lets see if I can prove I'm not a robot. 11hu-what the heck is that-rseds.

Ha! I feel like I've just given away all the test answers to the zombies.

- IndividualAudienceMember

Anonymous said...

Arg, I've also drank all the tequila and the beer. Now wHAt?

...And, I talked to a cop.

whoa, it can only go way downhill from here,.. or hit straightline.

DO you suppose that's what many market participants are hoping? For straightline.

...Ha. No most likely not.

Dang it, I don't know much, only enough to be dangerous. ...Or ignored. Ha.

- IndividualAudienceMember

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Dear Individual Audience Member,

Thanks for the chuckle and the blast from the past! Bring the gold!

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