Princes of the Yen – The Rise and Fall of Japan, Inc.

Japan is a country with a deep history of self reliance, demonstrating time and again that for a small island nation lacking in natural resources, they can not only hold their own, but come to dominate militarily, economically, and culturally. By the 1980s, Japan’s prowess in the economy had become apparent, with the manufacturing sector commanding global automotive and electronics markets, and the acquisition of large quantities of foreign assets in real estate, production facilities and government debt. Something changed catastrophically, however, in the 1990s, and Japan’s decades long boom came to an undeniable halt. At the center of it all, contends economist Richard Werner, was the Bank of Japan, and its restructuring of the economy towards a more speculative and consumer driven one via the intentional imposition of a financial crisis.

Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 195 – Princes of the Yen – The Rise and Fall of Japan, Inc.

— References —

– MITI and the Japanese Miracle, Johnson (1982)
– Trading Places – How We Allowed Japan to Take the Lead, Prescowitz (1988)
– Princes of the Yen, Werner (2001)
– Princes of the Yen, Oswald (2014)
– The Impact of Trade with Japan on U.S. Employment, Viable Opposition (2015) –
– Princes of the Yen and Central Bank Alchemy (w/ Richard Werner and Hugh Hendry), Real Vision (2020) –
– Thoughts On The Revolution, ZMAN (2020) –
– Maddison Project Database, Maddison (2020) –

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Gray says:

    Just finished reading a summarization of the history of Japan up until the 90’s from it’s formation, wish this show had come out 2-3 weeks ago you did I much better job than the author. The Vietnam war caused huge economic growth in Japan from 1965-1970 before the second growth spurt in the 80’s. I’d wager Japan might have just reached peak capacity considering it has double the population of the UK despite being around the same size. (I couldn’t imagine the United kingdom sustaining double the population in it’s current state).

    Another interesting fact on why Japan is so intertwined with robotics and automation is because before their industrial revolution in the 1800’s they used to make automated clockwork puppets, apparently this transferred over to robots pretty well. Japanese people also all seem to be autistically devoted to one hobby or field, I’d guess having a nation of 120million people like this helps.

    They also seem to have exceedingly low levels of petty street crime, maybe because they let higher tier organised crime i.e Yakuza run business dealings and rackets instead, from my own research they still have religion present in society that keeps people within good moral foundations, apparently Japanese are very superstitious/religious and believe stealing someone else’s property amounts to taking part of another persons soul.

    My theory after studying some of the Japanese language, I’d say Kanji as a photographic language is gong to self select for a higher IQ population because the massive array of different character requires good pattern recognition, not that it doesn’t have trade-offs compared to the Latin alphabet, especially on digital devices and input to computers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Adam Smith says:

      A Japanese friend once remarked to me that Japan’s system is good for ‘catch up’, but not taking the lead. Extremely disciplined, efficient people, but too risk averse to make huge leaps of innovation. I’d argue they are quite innovative, but their tendency for order and ordering things that are unordered drives them to repeat cycles whether they are for good or bad. Their major breakout periods only seem to have occurred following a crisis, whether it be Admiral Perry’s gunboats, World War II, or in the minds of Japan’s central bankers and Mr. Werner’s suspicions, the creation and bursting of the financial bubble in the late 1980s.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. dinduwrangler says:

    For a copy of Princes of the Yen look on they’re currently out of stock, but I looked it up when you guys mentioned it on the auto union episode recently. It was priced in the mid-$20 range. I would have ordered it immediately had I known it was this difficult to get a hold of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. gray1144 says:

      Sounds accurate, reminds me of an interesting short documentary on workplaces in Japan I watched on YT that indicated every decision, even just buying replacement computer components requires entire teams of managers to make a decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Johnny Redux says:

    A new show, thank God. I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms. One of the best shows on the ‘interwebs’. Thank you, gentlemen.


  4. Forever Templar says:

    Ah, Tokyo Tower. Outright rip-off of the Eiffel Tower and has the same color scheme and shape as literally every other power line tower anywhere in Japan, yet still the Japanese made it their own. The Tokyo Sky Tree is by far more impressive, yet not as iconic.


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