Executive Briefings

Does Experience with Japan Inc. Teach U.S. Anything About Dealing with Today's Emerging Markets?

Three decades ago, an economic behemoth from the Far East was poised to crush U.S. manufacturing with cheap goods, undervalued currency and policies that significantly tilted trade in its favor. Back then, that fast-expanding economy became known as Japan Inc. At the time, many trade groups, academics and politicians warned that without government intervention Japanese businesses would soon control much of the U.S. economy.

Fast forward to today, and a similar story of unfair competition is playing out, but this time with China. Japan, though still the world's third-largest economy, has been largely cast to the shadows. While there are significant differences between the economic systems of China and Japan, the United States' experience with Japan in the 1980s and early 1990s may offer manufacturing and policy lessons for dealing with today's emerging markets.

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Three decades ago, an economic behemoth from the Far East was poised to crush U.S. manufacturing with cheap goods, undervalued currency and policies that significantly tilted trade in its favor. Back then, that fast-expanding economy became known as Japan Inc. At the time, many trade groups, academics and politicians warned that without government intervention Japanese businesses would soon control much of the U.S. economy.

Fast forward to today, and a similar story of unfair competition is playing out, but this time with China. Japan, though still the world's third-largest economy, has been largely cast to the shadows. While there are significant differences between the economic systems of China and Japan, the United States' experience with Japan in the 1980s and early 1990s may offer manufacturing and policy lessons for dealing with today's emerging markets.

Read Full Article