Saturday, April 2, 2011

Government owned bank saves Japan

But there are those who want to imperil them by privatizing ...

Amplify’d from

Why the Japanese Government Can Afford to Rebuild: It Owns the Largest Depository Bank in the World

Ellen Brown

Civil litigation attorney; author of "Web of Debt"

The Japanese government can afford its enormous debt because it owns the bank that is its principal creditor. But competitors are attempting to force the bank's privatization. If they succeed, they could propel the country into debt servitude along with other credit-strapped nations.

When an IMF spokeswoman said at a news conference on March 17 that Japan has the financial means to recover from its devastating tsunami, skeptical bloggers wondered what she meant. Was it a polite way of saying, "You're on your own?"

Spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson said, "The most important policy priority is to address the humanitarian needs, the infrastructure needs and reconstruction and addressing the nuclear situation. We believe that the Japanese economy is a strong and wealthy society and the government has the full financial resources to address those needs." Asked whether Japan had asked for IMF assistance, she said, "Japan has not requested any financial assistance from the IMF."

Skeptics asked how a country with a national debt that was over 200% of GDP could be "strong and wealthy." In a CIA Factbook list of debt to GDP ratios of 132 countries in 2010, Japan was at the top of the list at 226%, passing up even Zimbabwe, ringing in at 149%. Greece and Iceland were fifth and sixth, at 144% and 124%. Yet Japan's credit rating was still AA, while Greece and Iceland were in the BBB category. How has Japan managed to retain not only its credit rating but its status as the second or third largest economy in the world, while carrying that whopping debt load?

The answer may be that the Japanese government has a captive funding source: it owns the world's largest depository bank. As U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Deficits don't matter." They don't matter, at least, when you own the bank that is your principal creditor. Japan has remained impervious to the speculative attacks that have crippled countries such as Greece and Iceland because it has not fallen into the trap of dependency on foreign financing.

Because Japan's enormous public debt is largely held by its own citizens, the country doesn't have to worry about foreign investors losing confidence.

If there's going to be a run on government debt, it will have to be the result of its own citizens not wanting to fund it anymore. And since many Japanese fund the government via accounts held at the Japan Post Bank -- which in turn buys government debt -- that institution would be the conduit for a shift to occur.

By privatizing Japan Post, [Koizumi] aims to break the stranglehold that politicians and bureaucrats have long exercised over the allocation of financial resources in Japan and to inject fresh competition into the country's financial services industry. His plan also will create a potentially mouthwatering target for domestic and international investors: Japan Post's savings bank and insurance arms boast combined assets of more than ¥380 trillion ($3.2 trillion) . . .