TOKYO The Japanese economy slipped into recession last year as consumer spending weakened and exports stalled, government data showed on Wednesday. Gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, a sharp contrast to the 0.5 percent growth predicted by economists....
Coming a day after a report that the euro-zone economy barely grew in the fourth quarter as the German economy unexpectedly contracted, the Japanese figures suggest widening imbalances between the world's biggest economies.
"We did expect global growth to lose momentum; that's not new," said Holger Schmieding, a senior economist at Bank of America in London. "What's new is the imbalance between a strong U.S. and strong China on the one hand and a weak Japan and weak Germany on the other. This is even more pronounced than expected."
The Japanese government also revised downward its 2004 growth figures to show that the economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the third quarter and at a 0.2 percent rate in the quarter before. Preliminary data indicated that the economy grew slightly in the third quarter.
According to these new numbers, Japan entered a recession, defined as two quarters of economic contraction, in the third quarter of last year and stayed there at least through December....
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Declinism never goes out of fashion among liberals, no matter how much it conflicts with reality, for the reason that it is essentially a moral judgment, not one based in empirical analysis.