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The Beginning of the End of Abenomics?

This week’s session was the first of several high-level economic policy debates.

By , a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews.
Japanese Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto holds a press conference.
Japanese Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto holds a press conference.
Japanese Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto holds a press conference in Tokyo on Oct. 25, 2022. STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the future of Abenomics in Japan, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s upcoming meeting with her Chinese counterpart, and Brazil’s investigation of its former president.

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Japan Debates Economic Policy

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the future of Abenomics in Japan, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellens upcoming meeting with her Chinese counterpart, and Brazils investigation of its former president.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Japan Debates Economic Policy

Japan’s top economic policy panel met Monday for what will be the first of several sessions to debate the future of Japan’s fiscal and economic policies—including what came to be known as “Abenomics.”

Under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan, to use Reuters’s phrase, “pursued a reflationary policy led by monetary stimulus.” But Abe, who set out these policies over a decade ago, was assassinated in July of last year. And given inflation increases, markets are now watching whether the country’s central bank will rein the monetary stimulus in. Last month, inflation in Japan hit a 41-year high. Some economists have predicted Japan will enter a recession in 2023.

Japan’s economy minister, Shigeyuki Goto, said he would be in Davos at the World Economic Forum this week to stress that Japan’s priority is short-term recovery. Goto, the country’s former health minister, was appointed to the post in October of last year.

The policy debates were announced last month by Japan’s current prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who hopes they will lead to a “virtuous cycle of growth and distribution of wealth” and a “new capitalism.” Eight economists were invited to the session, and several more sessions are expected between now and June, when the government’s yearly economic plan is due to be published.


What We’re Following Today 

Yellen to meet Chinese counterpart. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet her Chinese counterpart, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, for the first time face to face this week. According to a statement from the Treasury Department, the two “will exchange views on macroeconomic developments and other economic issues.” The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said the meeting is meant to strengthen coordination. The meeting will take place in Switzerland. Yellen has said that, unlike U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, she has no immediate plans for a trip to China but is open to one in the future.

Bolsonaro to be investigated. The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court intends to investigate former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s alleged involvement in the events of Jan. 8, when his supporters stormed various government buildings one week after the inauguration of his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The court’s decision comes after a request from the public prosecutor’s office. Bolsonaro, who was in Florida at the time of the violent protests, has denied involvement in the events. Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Frederick Wassef, said Bolsonaro “has never had any relationship with or participation in these spontaneous social movements carried out by the population.”

Supreme Federal Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said Bolsonaro’s past questioning of the electoral system and verbal attacks on Brazilian institutions (including the court) “may have contributed, in a very relevant way, to the occurrence of criminal and terrorist acts,” including the storming of the buildings. The decision also demonstrates how quickly Brazilian authorities are acting and how willing they are to escalate investigations.


Keep an Eye On

German defense minister out. Christine Lambrecht has resigned from her position as Germany’s minister of defense. Lambrecht, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party came under pressure after releasing a video on New Year’s Eve discussing the war in Ukraine while fireworks went off behind her on the streets of Berlin. It was the latest in a series of gaffes and scandals—including her announcement that Germany would support Ukraine by sending helmets—and the video was criticized as tone deaf by the German opposition. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised Lambrecht until the end and said he would replace her quickly.

Wagner Group defection. A former commander in Russias notorious Wagner Group defected to Norway by crossing the border illegally after reportedly hiding out in Russia for two months. Andrey Medvedev claimed to have witnessed war crimes in Ukraine—including the mistreatment and killing of Russian prisoners brought to fight on the front lines by the Wagner Group. He has offered to cooperate with war crimes investigators. Norwegian authorities arrested Medvedev after he entered the country; he has applied for asylum.

Mafia kingpin under arrest. Matteo Messina Denaro, Italy’s most wanted mob boss, was arrested after spending 30 years at large. According to reports, he was detained in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, at a clinic where he was undergoing cancer treatment. In 2002, Denaro, the alleged boss of the Cosa Nostra mafia, was sentenced to life in prison over numerous murders. He is also believed to have overseen racketeering, money laundering, and drug trafficking and to have been the protégé of Salvatore “Totò” Riina, the mob boss known for a merciless string of murders, who spent 23 years at large before finally being arrested in 1993.


Lessons for the Next War by FP Contributors


Odds and Ends

They can dance if they want to. Sweden’s new coalition government has proposed getting rid of a requirement that says venues like bars and restaurants must get a permit before letting patrons dance. If the new proposal is adopted, venues will simply need to register with police (verbally and for free) instead of getting a license to organize dances.

“It is not reasonable for the state to regulate people’s dance,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer said in a government statement, sounding not unlike actor Kevin Bacon’s character in the 1984 film Footloose. “By removing the requirement for a dance permit, we also reduce bureaucracy and costs for entrepreneurs and others who organize dances,” Strommer added. The proposal will need to be approved by parliament.

Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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