• Kyodo News


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected Wednesday that Japan will suffer a worse economic contraction in 2009 than earlier forecast, but the global economy is recovering and Japan will grow a real 0.7 percent next year.

The Paris-based club of 30 wealthy nations said efforts by the governments of the major economies appear to have averted the worst when it comes to the world economy.

Japan’s real gross domestic product is likely to shrink 6.8 percent this year, the OECD said. Three months ago it projected a contraction of 6.6 percent. For 2010, however, it expects the economy to get back on a growth path and expand 0.7 percent, against the earlier forecast of a 0.5 percent contraction.

Among other advanced economies, the United States is projected to contract 2.8 percent in 2009. The figure was upgraded from a 4.0 percent shrinkage in the March projection.

The world’s biggest economy is expected to grow 0.9 percent in 2010, also revised up from a zero growth forecast, the OECD said in its Economic Outlook report.

The 16-nation euro zone is likely to slide 4.8 percent this year, downgraded from the earlier forecast of a 4.1 percent contraction, before achieving a zero percent GDP growth next year, up from minus 0.3 percent.

“The ensuing recovery is likely to be both weak and fragile for some time,” the OECD warned in the biannual report, adding the negative impact from the global economic crisis will be “long-lasting.”

But it also said the current result “could have been worse.”

“Thanks to a strong economic policy effort an even darker scenario seems to have been avoided,” it said.

For the OECD economies as a whole, the report predicts they will shrink 4.1 percent this year but grow 0.7 percent next year.

As for Japan, the report says the sharp recession triggered by the global crisis may be “the most severe in Japan’s postwar history.”

Uncertain prospects overseas have caused a number of risks, including falling output, downward pressure on economic activities and a rising unemployment rate, the OECD said.

The government’s fiscal stimulus measures, the equivalent of 4 percent of GDP, are likely to lift output growth into positive territory from the second half of this year, it said, while also warning that the growth rate will remain below 1 percent through next year.

Although the stimulus is important, the government also needs to focus on fiscal consolidation, given the large budget deficit and high public debt ratio, the organization said, adding that reforms in taxation and social security systems are a key to that end.

Recovery in exports against the backdrop of a faster than expected rebound in world trade as well as some weakening of the yen against other major currencies “would result in stronger than projected export and output growth in Japan,” it said.

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