The government of Shinzo Abe has just unveiled its budget for fiscal 2013 starting in April. Abe's stated intention was to "radically reset" spending priorities. He is indeed a man of his word. For this is a budget that is truly awesome for its radical step backward into the past — a past where every public spending project would do wonders to boost economic growth.

It is also a past where a cheaper yen would bring unmitigated benefits to Japan's exporting industries.

None of it is really true anymore. Public works do indeed do wonders in boosting growth when there is nothing there to begin with. But in a mature and well-developed economy like ours, which is already so well equipped with all the necessities of modern life, they can at best have only a one-off effect in creating jobs and demand.