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Voice - February 2010
The great global recession of 2007-2009 has been a shocking and disturbing experience for people all over the world, especially the many who had become accustomed to rising prosperity during the previous few years. For me, as a writer and commentator, it has been a fascinating but also frustrating experience.
In my old job, as editor-in-chief of The Economist, the weekly magazine that I directed for 13 years until 2006, I would have been writing about the financial crisis and then the global recession every single week. When Lehman Brothers collapsed, or the G20 was formed, or China introduced its huge fiscal stimulus programme, or Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, I would have been writing and commenting about it immediately for the 1.4 million weekly buyers of my magazine.
But since I chose to leave that job and to specialize in writing books instead, I have not had that weekly opportunity. Hence my frustration, at times during this fascinating if painful period in the history of the world economy. But that is also why I was delighted when the editor of Voice magazine invited me to contribute a series of long essays on the global economic crisis, starting in July 2009.
The chance to write those four essays, at monthly or two-monthly intervals during the second half of 2009, was very welcome. It gave me the opportunity to try to explore what the causes of the crisis had been, and how the consequences of the crisis might interact with the sort of long-term trends with which we were already familiar—the rise of China and India, the decline of American power, the increasing importance of the environment as a political, economic and corporate issue. Most important of all, the Voice essays gave me the chance to explore what might be the impact of this global recession on Japan, and what would be the appropriate policy stance for the new DPJ-led government.
Those essays appeared in Voice between July and December 2009. Now, I have had the chance to edit and update them for this book, taking account of new developments in the economic recovery and of the