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Economy in Brief

Japan's Current Account Balance In Sharp Deterioration 
by Louise Curley December 8, 2008

Japan's current account balance has deteriorated severely this year. The balance for the first 10 months of 2008 was a surplus 14,943 billion yen, compared with 21,206 billion yen surplus in the comparable period of 2007, a decline of 30%. The first chart puts the magnitude of the decline in perspective.(We express the values in terms of billion yen, rather than the 100 million yen shown in the balance of payments data in Haver's JAPAN Data Base and in the attached charts)

Traditionally, Japan has had negative balances on Services and Transfers and positive balances on Income and Goods. The second chart shows these balances over the past twenty-three years. The deficit in the balance on services has tended to be less negative, and the balance on income has become more positive but it is clear from this chart that the major cause of the recent steep decline in the current account balance is the decline in the balance on goods. So steep has been the decline that in August and September, the customary surpluses on trade in goods turned into deficits.

JAPAN CURRENT ACCOUNT BALANCE  Oct 08 Sep 08  Oct 07  M/M chg  Y/Y chg  2007 2006 2005
Current Account Balance  (Bil.Yen)  1113.2 920.5 2471.5 142.7 -1258.3 24971 20030 18353
  Balance on Goods  (Bil.Yen)  118.3 -76.6 1233.2 194.9 1114.9 12467 9430 10217
  Balance on Income  (Bil.Yen)  1266.1 1307.0 1471.7 -40.9 -205.6 16341 13960 11592
  Balance on Services  (Bil.Yen)   -136.8 -169.0 -135.4 32.2 -1.4 -2476 -2126 -2643
  Balance on Transfers  (Bil.Yen)  -134.3 -91.0 -97.9 -43.3 -36.4 -1362 -1234 -813
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