Japan factory output plunges, jobless rate jumpsA half a point jump in the unemployment rate in a month...you can mess up anything else, anything...but not the unemployment rate. Having a job is the touchstone of personal worth and identity for many citizens--and comparatively low rates of unemployment have long been cited as an unshakeable foundation of the Japanese way of capitalism.
TOMOKO A. HOSAKA – TOKYO — The pain of Japan's recession is spreading from the factory floor to the living room, as December figures showed companies slashing output at a record pace, the jobless rate surging and household spending falling sharply.
Industrial production at the nation's manufacturers plunged 9.6 percent in November, the largest drop since Tokyo began measuring such data in 1953, the government said Friday. A survey predicted further declines of 9.1 percent in January and 4.7 percent in February.
Meanwhile, Japan's unemployment rate jumped to 4.4 percent from 3.9 percent in November — the biggest increase in almost 42 years, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Household spending dropped a worse-than-expected 4.6 percent in December, falling for the 10th straight month.
Unfortunately for the Liberal Democratic Party, the outlook for the next few months is dire. The numbers are going to get worse, the cries of the newspapers and the people louder. Delaying the House of Representatives election, which seemed a few months ago to be almost noble, is now looking like a guarantee of not just a defeat, but a total wipeout of the ruling coalition.
Have a nice time in Davos, Francisco.