SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

The Japanese Economy: An Unstable Equilibrium

John Plender
John Plender (Financial Times)

Date: 15 November 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 15 November 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Seminar


Japan is currently dependent on artificially low nominal and real interest rates together with continuing budget deficits averaging around six per cent of gdp. These deficits are necessary to offset the potential deflationary impact of the corporate sector saving far in excess what it invests. A consequence is that public sector debt is far higher than in the other major advanced economies at 226 per cent of gdp (gross) and 129 per cent (net). Such high levels of debt are not currently a problem because the global economy is experiencing a synchronised upturn and Japan remains an international creditor. But when the cycle turns down this unstable equilibrium could come unstuck - especially if protectionist forces gain strength, thereby hitting export dependent Japan's economic growth.

This event is co-organised by the SOAS Japan Research Centre, Japan Economy Network and the SOAS Department of Economics.

Speaker Biography

John Plender has been a senior editorial writer and columnist at the Financial Times since 1981.

After taking his degree at Oxford University, John Plender joined Deloitte, Plender, Griffiths & Co in the City of London in 1967, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1970. He then moved into journalism and became financial editor of The Economist in 1974, where he remained until joining the UK Foreign Office policy planning staff in 1980. On leaving the Foreign Office, he became a senior editorial writer and columnist at the Financial Times, an assignment he combined until the late 1990s with current affairs broadcasting for the BBC and Channel Four.

A past chairman of Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc), the UK shareholder activist and corporate governance consultancy, John Plender served on the UK government’s Company Law Review steering group which provided the groundwork for the Companies Act 2006. He joined the board of Quintain PLC as a non-executive director in 2002 and chaired the company from 2007 to 2009. He is currently chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, as well as being a trustee of the £4bn Pearson Group Pension Fund.

Among a number of other roles John Plender is a member of the OECD/World Bank Private Sector Advisory Group on Corporate Governance and a member of the advisory council of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. He was the winner of the Wincott Foundation senior prize for excellence in financial journalism in 1994. His books include Going Off The Rails - Global Capital And The Crisis Of Legitimacy (John Wiley, 2003), which anticipated the 2007-8 financial crisis, and Capitalism – Money, Morals and Markets (Biteback, 2015).

John Plender has spoken and lectured at numerous venues around the world including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Yale and Bocconi universities, the London Business School, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the World Bank, the OECD, the International Corporate Governance Network, the Pimco Secular Forum and CLSA Annual Investors Forum.

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre, Japan Economy Network & SOAS Department of Economics