Economy

A Lost Decade? We Should Be So Lucky

For many countries today, a Japan-style slump could be the best-case scenario.

Japan was already rich before its bubble burst.

Source: JTB/UIG via Getty Images

A growing number of economists seem convinced that the U.S., European Union and China are all headed for a prolonged period of sluggish growth -- secular stagnation, in the words of former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. A close parallel would seem to be 1990s Japan. There, too, the bursting of debt-funded asset price bubbles gave way to multiple rounds of fiscal stimulus, massive monetary easing and rock-bottom interest rates. Rescue efforts stabilized conditions but couldn't spark a sustainable recovery, leaving the economy mired in low growth, low inflation and high debt.

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