In the land of the setting sun, QE is now such an everyday part of the economic landscape that it would barely have warranted a mention, let alone an entire column, but for the fact that the latest dollop of “unconventional” policy action appears to be part of a co-ordinated, global response to the economic slowdown .
Like big deficits and mountainous public debt, in Japan, QE no longer generates the same agonised debate it does in the West. It just is. For Japan, the “unconventional” is now very much the conventional.
And little good does it seem to have done either. The Japanese economy remains firmly frozen in time, having barely grown for more than 20 years now. Everything is relative, of course, and it can reasonably be argued that without all this monetary and fiscal policy action, things might have been worse. Measured per head of those of working age, moreover, growth looks much more flattering, so it could also be argued that overall economic stagnation is only the inevitable result of an ageing society.
The point is, however, that neither QE, nor indeed massive, Keynesian-style, deficit spending, have managed to achieve the hoped for economic revival.