Research

Japan’s Bubble, America’s Bubble and China’s Bubble (Published in China & World Economy, Jan.-Feb. 2011, Vol.19, No.1, 47-62.)

Author

Abstract

This paper compares the three recent episodes of boom and bust cycles in asset prices: Japan in the late 1980s to the 1990s; the U.S. since the mid 1990s; and China during the last decade. Although we have not yet seen a collapse of Chinese property prices, the increases so far are comparable to those in the other two episodes and seem to warrant a careful comparative study. I first examine the behavior of asset prices, especially, property prices in the three cases and point out some similarities. I then go on to discuss some backgrounds for the behavior of asset prices. I emphasize the role played by extremely easy monetary policy for generating bubble like asset price behaviors in the three cases. Monetary policy was shown to be easier than standard policy rules like the Taylor rule indicates. The reason for easy monetary policies is investigated. In the U.S. case the monetary authority was concerned over the risk of deflation in the early to mid 2000s. The experiences of Japan and China are quite similar in that the authorities of both countries were seriously concerned with possible deflationary effects of exchange rate appreciation on the economy. Japan let the exchange rate appreciate, while China has resisted a large scale intervention. It is shown, however, that the behavior of real exchange rates has not been that different. Implications of such a finding for the future of the Chinese economy are also discussed.
Download