In The Political Economy of Japanese Monetary Policy, Cargill, Hutchison, and Takatoshi investigate the formulation and execution of monetary and financial policies in Japan within a broad technical, political, and institutional context. Their emphasis is on the period since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates in the early 1970s, and on the effects of policies and institutions in shaping the modern Japanese economy. The authors present basic themes and recent developments, as well as their own research findings. They also review and integrate the large literature in the area. They consider theoretical arguments and empirical evidence for each topic discussed.
Topics covered include Japan's low inflation record (despite the central bank's lack of formal independence from the government); politically motivated business cycles and the timing of elections; exchange rate policy and international policy coordination; the historical development of central banking; Japan's "bubble economy" of the 1980s; and the causes, magnitude, and regulatory responses to Japan's banking and financial crisis of the 1990s.
Japan's financial institutions and policy underwent remarkable change in the past decade. The country began the 1990s with a heavily regulated financial system managed by an unchallenged Ministry of Finance and ended the decade with a Big Bang financial market reform, a complete restructuring of its regulatory financial institutions, and an independent central bank. These reforms have taken place amid recession and rising unemployment, collapsing asset prices, a looming banking crisis, and the lowest interest rates in the industrial world.
This book analyzes how the bank-dominated financial system—a key element of the oft-heralded "Japanese economic model"—broke down in the 1990s and spawned sweeping reforms. It documents the sources of the Japanese economic stagnation of the 1990s, the causes of the financial crisis, the slow and initially limited policy response to banking problems, and the reform program that followed. It also evaluates the new financial structure and reforms at the Bank of Japan in light of the challenges facing the Japanese economy. These challenges range from conducting monetary policy in a zero-interest rate environment characterized by a "liquidity trap" to managing consolidation in the Japanese banking sector against the backdrop of increasing international competition.