One of my recollections from the bubble economy of the 1980s was a passage in a 1987 book titled "Hokokuron" ("The Theory of National Wealth"). Its author, the late economist Taiichi Sakaiya, stood out as one of the bubble era's most fervent cheerleaders.

An American business executive, Sakaiya wrote, once played host to a group of visiting Japanese high school students.

"I live in a 14-room house on the outskirts of Boston," he informed them. "We have a pool and greenhouse."