When I was in college (1989-1993) and starting to pay attention to the world, experts, and commentators, all of them believed two things were sure.

First, Japan was going to utterly own and control the world’s technology industry and therefore the world economy. Everyone knew they had a fundamentally better system: single party government, industrial policy, government-directed economy. Coupled with Japan’s overwhelmingly superior education system, Americans had zero chance of competing with Japan in any technology area.

Second, America’s best days were behind it and my generation (Gen X) would be the first to be worse off than our parents. America was experiencing fundamental and irrevocable cultural, societal, and economic collapse. The die was cast, the results were in.

[tweet https://twitter.com/_Brett__/status/463078443505049600 align=”center”]

In retrospect, both of these beliefs were artifacts of the (relatively mild) US recession of the late 80s/early 90s in addition to the Japan bubble. The paranoia peaked in ’92 w/Michael Crichton’s brilliant novel “Rising Sun“. By 1996, both of these theories were thoroughly refuted by reality and dropped down the memory hole by most people who held them. Today, we look back on books like Lester Thurow’s “Head to Head” and Clyde Prestowitz’s “Trading Places” with embarrassment and laughter.

[tweet https://twitter.com/dhammer/status/463078765145645056 align=”center”]

This is not to say that the US doesn’t have plenty of challenges; but bottom-of-cycle paranoia is a real phenomenon. Japan 20 years later remains an amazing nation with enormous opportunity. I think a glorious economic renaissance is quite possible.

[tweet https://twitter.com/letsgoduke/status/463081110210371584 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/dasan/status/463081166614978561 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/akirareiko/status/463081202581118976 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/akirareiko/status/463081342964473856 align=”center”]

Source Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I recall reading that at that time the value of all the real-estate in Japan was worth more than the value of all the real-estate in the US. That kind of over-valuation takes a long time to work out.


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