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Richard Koo describes how a “balance sheet recession” has plagued Japan for two decades. After building up excessive debt, Japanese businesses became so obsessed with reducing debt that they failed to invest at normal levels. That necessitated Japanese government deficits to maintain employment. Now, with their balance sheets in better shape than anywhere else in the world, Japanese corporations remain obsessed with avoiding debt and are investing too little.
Richard Koo, Chief Economist at the Nomura Research Institute, speaking in the panel “Getting Back on Track: Macroeconomic Management After a Financial Crisis” at the Bretton Woods Conference on April 9, 2011.