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Economy in Brief

Japan Starts 2009 with a Current Account Deficit
by Louise Curley March 9 2009

Japan recorded a current account deficit in January of $172.8 billion yen, due largely to the collapse in exports. Exports of goods declined by 1309.6 billion yen in January and were 2830.6 billion yen below a year ago. Imports declined 663.2 billion yen in January and were 1914.9 billion yen below January, 2008. The resulting deficit on goods was 844.4 billion yen in January, compared with 197.9 billion yen in December and a surplus of 71.3 in January, 2008. The balance between income from foreign sources and payments to these sources increased from 924.2 billion yen in December to 992.4 billion yen in January but was substantially below the 1,448.4 billion yen of January, 2009. The deficit on services in January was 255.8 billion yen, little changed from the 251.6 billion yen of a year ago. The deficit on current transfers was 65.0 billion yen, down from the 104.4 deficit of January 2008. The first chart shows the importance of the recent decline in the balance on goods in the decline of the current account.

January is typically a low month for the current account balance, as can be seen in the second chart, which shows both the seasonally unadjusted and adjusted data. After seasonal adjustment, the data for the current account show a surplus of 259.0 billion yen for January. This surplus is, however, the lowest recorded since the early nineties, as can be seen in the second chart, just as the deficit in the unadjusted data was the highest.

JAPAN CURRENT ACCOUNT (100 Mil Yen) Jan 09 Dec 08  Jan  08  M/M CHG  Y/Y CHG 2008 2007
Total NSA  -1728 1254 11637 -2982 -13365 162802 247938
Goods -8444 -1929 +713 -6465 -9157 40337 123225
  Exports 32822 45920 61128 -13096 -28306 773522 797254
  Imports 41266 47266 60415 -6632 -19149 733183 674030
Services  -2558 -3217 -2516 659 -42 -22366 -24971
Income 9924 7242 14484 2682 -4560 158324 163267
Current Transfers -650 -793 -1044 143 394 -13497 -13580
Total SA 2580 5570 18059 -2990 -15478 162599 250661
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