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Retrospective on the Bubble Period and its Relationship to Developments in the 1990s

Takatoshi Ito ()

The World Economy, 2003, vol. 26, issue 3, 283-300

Abstract: In reviewing what happened in the 1980s in Japan and how the bursting of the bubble created problems in the early 1990s, the following conclusions are obtained. (1) In order to limit damage to the economy from a bubble and its bursting, it is important to build a resilient financial system through strict supervision policy, so that asset-price fluctuations would not weaken financial institutions. Supervision policy would include regulatory measures limiting lending concentration and exposure to real-estate-related sectors. (2) Monetary policy should pay attention to asset-price movements. But it may be difficult and inappropriate to raise the interest rate sharply when inflation is low (below one per cent like in Japan), even though asset prices are increasing at 30-40 per cent. (3) The official discount rate could have been raised in the summer of 1988 in Japan, when the Federal Reserve and Bundesbank raised interest rates. This would have slowed down the rise of stock and land prices, but the bubble was already large by then. (4) The bubble in the second half of the 1980s was only partially responsible for the lost decade of the 1990s in Japan. A series of policy errors made a small problem of the burst bubble much bigger than necessary. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

Date: 2003
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