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Japan Is Struggling

More data on my favorite black swan candidate for 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012, 9:53 PM
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In a prior piece this year, I proclaimed Japan to be my favored candidate to be the black swan of 2012. By this I mean that a financial accident in Japan that would create massive havoc in the world markets seems even more likely to me than something originating in Europe.

The reason is precisely because all eyes (and efforts) are focused on Europe, leaving Japan out of focus and unattended, so to speak. This is practically a requirement for a crisis spot; crises never seem to arise in the place everybody is already watching. Japan is nicely out of focus and therefore a good place for us to keep our eyes trained upon.

In the most recent podcast with Mish, we discussed the fact that Japan had recently posted its largest first half trade deficit in history. Then Mish asked if Japan's current account had slipped into negative territory yet, as that event will accelerate the pace at which Japan's looming structural insolvency will arrive.

While discussing the current account, a normally obscure economic term, seems a bit wonkish, it is really quite important. So let's start there, with a definition as a refresher for myself and perhaps an introduction for others.

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