Asia-Pacific News

Japan 4Q economic growth revised lower

Here's why Japan Q4 GDP is 'underwhelming'
Here's why Japan Q4 GDP is 'underwhelming'

Japan's economy grew less than previously thought in the fourth quarter of 2014 but still crawled out of recession, revised figures showed on Monday.

Gross domestic product grew an annualized 1.5 percent in the October-December period, down from an initial reading of 2.2 percent in February and below expectations of 2.2 percent.

Quarter on quarter, growth was revised to 0.4 percent, down from a preliminary reading of 0.6 percent and below expectations for the same.

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"[The revised growth figures are] underwhelming at best. The reality is that the Japanese have not been able to lift inflationary expectations at any degree and they will be held victim to declining commodity prices, which will determine where inflation goes long-term," said Paul Krake, founder of View from the Peak: Macro Strategies.

"For me, both the Bank of Japan and the Abe administration have lost control of policy, while corporate Japan has done a fantastic job of reforming itself, from a policy standpoint, they are not doing well," he said.

Japan's economy slipped into technical recession in the third quarter of 2014 after shrinking 1.9 percent and following a revised 7.1 percent contraction in the second quarter.

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The economy got clobbered when consumers stopped spending following a rise in the nation-wide consumption tax to 8 percent that took effect last April, forcing the government to postpone a second sales tax initially due this October.

"Markets have been preoccupied with a weaker yen, probably due to the old adage that weak yen is good for corporate profit in Japan. That might be true when there is low energy prices because Japan is a net importer of oil. However it fails where Japan most needs support i.e. in domestic demand and consumption, where the depreciation in the exchange rate is most detrimental," Luca Silipo, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis told CNBC.

"So it's no longer true anymore that a weaker yen is unconditionally good for Japan. The data today shows it very clearly," he said.

Why a weak yen isn't 'unconditonally good' for Japan
Why a weak yen isn't 'unconditonally good' for Japan

Current account

Meanwhile, current account data for January was released in tandem with revised growth figures.

Japan's current account surplus shrank to 61.4 billion yen ($508.61 million) from 187.2 billion yen in December, below expectations of 288.2 billion yen.

— Reuters contributed to this report