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Managing Asia’s debt problem

First published: Nikkei Asian Review, 27/04/2016

The Bank of Japan’s interest rate setting meeting on April 28 is the focus of attention this week for many central bank watchers. For the rest of us, it is of fleeting significance: There is as much likelihood of monetary policy sparking a revival of Japanese demand and inflation as there is of it influencing the weather.

Structural reforms, including those aimed at corporate governance and the extraordinary cash pile sitting on company balance sheets, were, and remain, the only credible way in which these matters can be addressed. Such reforms would, moreover, afford Japan the opportunity to start bringing down the outsized ratio of government debt to gross domestic product.

 Unfortunately, as time moves on, debt is becoming increasingly an Asian phenomenon, notably in China, but elsewhere too. For non-Japan Asia, though, the problem is not so much sovereign or government debt as private debt, especially on the balance sheets of nonfinancial companies…Read more: