Released on: April 21, 2011, 3:03 pm
Author: Business Monitor International
Industry: International Trade
Business Monitor International has released a new special report which covers the probable economic and market implications of the Japan earthquake to the world economy.
Since the devastating Tohoku earthquake in Japan on March 11 and its terrible aftermath, there has been much speculation on the scale and scope of a potential nuclear disaster and the implications the disaster will have on the world financial markets. The special report seeks to provide some insight into some of the main economic repercussions ranging from the disruption to Japanese economic growth and markets through to the impact on commodity prices and the infrastructure sector.
Currently at least 6,000 people are known to have died and many thousands are still missing, with local authorities reporting that the final toll could exceed 10,000, which would be greater than the 6,400 killed in the Kobe (Hanshin) quake of 1995. However, while the human toll is disastrous, the infrastructure analysis provides the relatively positive news, if there is any, that Japan is better placed than many other disaster prone countries to respond to the crisis and Japan’s social cohesion should help it withstand a disaster of this magnitude better than many other countries. The participation of China and South Korea in the rescue efforts could also boost the previously strained relations between Japan and its neighbours.
Figures in the report show that there will be severe disruption to economic activity and that recession risks have returned to the fore, although at this stage the full impact is difficult to estimate. This comes at a time when it looked like export growth would boost overall GDP in 2011 following a 1.2% annualised contraction in Q410. While Tohoku is not a major economic centre, it still accounts for 8% of GDP and has numerous factories. Meanwhile, power outages across large parts of Japan, including Greater Tokyo, and supply chain concerns mean that major exporting companies such as Sony and Toyota have halted some operations indefinitely. Assuming that net exports place a sizeable drag on headline growth as exports cool and capital imports surge (as following the Hanshin earthquake in 1995), Japan may continue to suffer negative sequential growth in H111.
Other insights from the Japan analysis indicate that the Japanese government will need to spend heavily to rebuild the damage in the Tohoku region, around the city of Sendai, which will generate economic activity, but the costs will worsen Japan’s already dire fiscal deficit and debt burdens, and could put gross government debt through the JPY1,000trn level this year (an estimated 204% of GDP). Additionally, while markets will remain volatile in the short term, indications are that the authorities’ response to the crisis means that the medium-term view of a weaker yen (to JPY85.00/US$ in the first instance) remains on track, and the longer-term view of an eventual fiscal crisis is reinforced.
Other major areas looked at by the report include the risks for oil & gas prices, shipping, agriculture, automotive manufacture and the base metals industry, as well as important regional economic outlooks.
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