Abe’s mission impossible: To spend $100 bn in 15 months
“We cannot simply continue to build roads and infrastructure the way we used to at a time when the population is ageing and shrinking,” says Takayoshi Igarashi, a public policy professor at Japan’s Hosei University who has advised the previous Democrat administration on rebuilding from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.
Infrastructure spending tops Abe’s economic agenda alongside nudging the central bank into more aggressive steps to end deflation. Since he took power in December, Abe has earmarked 10 trillion yen for new infrastructure and upgrades over the next 15 months — half of it funded by government debt. That is equivalent to a quarter of the amount that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates the entire world needs to spend on transport infrastructure each year.
Government spending is a classic remedy for weak growth. But it is one Japan has tried over and over — pouring roughly $2 trillion into concrete and steel since 1990 in a vain effort to resuscitate the economy, now in its fourth recession since 2000.
Economists warn that, without reforms to lift Japan’s long-term growth potential, more
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