If you think we’ve got it bad, check out what’s going on in Japan. Rather, what’s not going on:
Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 12.1 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, less than the 12.7 percent reported last month, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of economists was for a 13.4 percent decline.
Factory output and overseas shipments plunged by records in January and Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest automaker, will cut production by more than half this quarter. Real-estate company Pacific Holdings Co. filed for bankruptcy this week, becoming the 12th publicly traded firm to fail this year.
“Japan’s economy is falling off a cliff,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo, who correctly forecast the size of the contraction. “The revision to GDP doesn’t change our basic assessment.”
Auto sales — or lack of them — is really killing the Japanese economy. A big chunk of their manufacturing base is dedicated to American tastes and needs — so when we get a sniffle, Japan catches the flu. Or in this case, when we get the flu, Japan catches, uh, cancer or something.