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Mr. Guy M Meredith and Mr. Ulrich Baumgartner

Abstract

This volume brings together various analytical studies the IMF staff has undertaken on the Japanese economy, focusing on two areas of particular interest for both longer-term economic performance and recent cyclical developments. The first is Japan's saving behavior, the second is the remarkable swing in asset prices that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Mr. Jonathan David Ostry and Ms. Carmen Reinhart

RAISING real interest rates has often been cited as a way to increase private saving, and thus provide the resources for growth. But this may not be a viable approach in the poorest developing countries, in which most people live at the subsistence level.

Mr. Kenneth M. Miranda

Japan’s high saving rate relative to those of other industrial countries gives rise to the question of whether Japan is saving “too much.” This section utilizes the conditions on optimal steady-state saving behavior derived from neoclassical growth theory to examine whether Japan saves too much (or too little)—thus assessing the optimality of its national saving behavior. The section is organized as follows: the first part provides a brief review of recent trends in Japanese saving behavior and a comparison with other major industrial countries; following an

International Monetary Fund
Efficiency, equity (fairness), and simplicity are three key words in characterizing the principles of proposed tax reforms in many countries. The internationalization of the financial market through capital mobility among the industrial countries is a recent phenomenon and it is possible that the effect of domestic tax reform is dictated by international capital flows. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the tax reform proposed recently in Japan satisfies the above principles, in particular, efficiency and equity, and to investigate the effects not only on the real economy in Japan, but also on capital outflows from Japan to abroad. Also, the aging problem is examined briefly.
International Monetary Fund

account for each individual up to a certain limit. As of April 1988, the amount of tax-free savings was greatly reduced. Ordinary people, except for the elderly (65 years and older), the handicapped, or single mothers, have to pay a separate 20 percent interest income tax. This reform may have a potentially significant effect on the Japanese saving behavior and capital outflows. This will be discussed later. II. Proposed Reform and Evaluation 1. Efficiency Taxes create “wedges” between the before- and after-tax prices of goods, services, and factors of

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
WHAT early warning signals should policymakers heed to avoid a repeat of a Mexico-type reversal of private capital flows? Experience suggests that a combination of indicators can provide powerful hints of approaching problems.