The Sun is Finally Rising
It looks like things are finally looking up for people in Japan. After a decade-long recession, the world's second-biggest economy is now seeing signs of a recovery.
Many of the key economic indicators are looking more positive today than they have in years. Last week, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry released the following encouraging news:
---Production is up by a seasonally adjusted 1.5%
---Unemployment has dropped to a seven-year low of 4.2% (that's lower than the unemployment rate of most European countries)
---Manufacturers of electronics and auto parts are announcing that they are expanding to meet the demand of higher sales in the U.S. and throughout Asia
---GDP is growing at a 4.9% rate (as seen in the first quarter of 2005)
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---Exports rose 3.6% year over year in June
---Job creation is up throughout the country
---Discretionary bonuses to employees have also risen
---Wages have seen increases in five of the last seven months
---Consumer spending is up slightly
Would I bet that the Japanese economy is now in full turnaround mode? Nope, not yet. One positive quarter doesn't mean a trend in my books. That said, a little hope never hurt, and I'm sure that a lot of people in Japan are breathing a sigh of relief and loosening their belts just a little bit.
I'll be watching this economy closely over the short term; you can be sure of that. In the meantime, if your investment portfolio could use a little boost in its international holdings, now might be the time to get in early on electronics and auto parts makers in this land of a newly rising sun.