World Economies In Flux
Japan is broken.
My head jerked. At the other table at a restaurant, I was hearing the start of what was, I think, a remarkably egocentric comment.
“Japan is broken,” one guy said. “It’s not rich anymore. It’s not in the top ten as of March 11, and it probably has fallen below Texas.”
"That sounds like a simplistic overeaction," another said. "You're forgetting that Japan pulled itself out of the defeat of World War II and became that huge economic engine. And that was after two atomic bombs."
"No," the other guy said. "Even if the disaster isn't as bad as it appears right now, and it appears very bad, the perception will remain and become a reality."
Then he made the discussion about Texas. He was searching and reading on his iPhone as he talked. "Texas has ranked as high as 10th on the list as recently as 2002. The lower rankings reflect the boom in Brazil, Russia and India."
In addition, this guy said that Texas now was the third largest economy as measured by country subdivisions. It was fourth, behind England (as part of the United Kingdom) California and Tokyo Prefecture.
The other guy asked him to say "Prefecture" again. He did and they digressed on the odd word for awhile.
Then he moved back on Japan. I myself was searching on my iPhone as they talked.
China moved past Japan earlier this year as the world’s second biggest economy, he said. I could see that myself with the wonder of Google. Texas ranked 14th on that list, just behind Russia and ahead of Australia. That study, compiled two years ago by the U.S. Department of Commerce, examined the gross domestic product (GDP) from its own data as compared to World Bank data. Apples and oranges one might say. Or pecans and amanatsu.
I noticed that they didn't notice, as a lot of Texans don’t notice, or refuse to notice, that California is ranked eighth. The war of words between the rival states over whose economy broached another chapter recently when state leaders disparage the taxes and regulations of the West Coast. “Low taxes, low services,” say the California backers. “Low taxes, high business,” say the Texas backers.
These rankings look past the fact that Texas enjoys the support and patronage of the rest of the United States, including its financial system, military and culture.
At this point, I noticed the two guys were talking basketball.
Did Texas move up in the ranks of economies? Does it matter? No, say those focused on the disasters of Japan. Yes, say those who focus on numbers.
Japan may be broken. The Group of Seven move in to try to stabilize the yen and keep demand up for Japan's exports. So indirectly, Texas itself is pumping money through the United States into Japan's economy.
Japan may be broken, but history says Japan will mend. Japan will mend and rise again.