The Japanese economy has been in a prolonged recession since the bursting of the financial bubble in 1990, and at the time of writing unemployment rates have reached historical highs even for men in their prime. The causes of the recession are long-term imbalances and fundamental changes in the environment and the structure of the Japanese economy. In the late 1980s, when this financial bubble was forming, firms, households and all levels of government made massive amounts of inefficient investments, both real and financial. (Real investments such as firms’ investments in plant and equipment are often distinguished from financial investments such as investments in stocks, bonds and other financial securities.) In the aftermath of the bursting bubble, Japan has been suffering from non-performing loans of all kinds and has been unable to direct new capital into productive areas of the economy. Globalization has also contributed to the country’s unemployment woes.
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