People Who Are Addicted To Music
To get an idea of how Japan‘s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is faring in his quest to lift his country out of two decades of stagnation, look no further than the skirts of the girl group Machikado Keiki Japan.
The band, whose name translates roughly as “street corner economic conditions”, became a bellwether for the health of the world’s third biggest economy earlier this year when they promised to shorten their skirts every time the country’s stock market made significant gains.
The four-member group’s novel economic indicator has raised a few eyebrows – not least because one of the members is a 16-year-old schoolgirl – but there is no faulting their interest in the fortunes of the Nikkei 225 stock index.
Their debut single, Abeno Mix – complete with unlikely singalong references to quantitative easing and construction bonds – takes its cue from Abenomics, an ambitious programme of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms that its chief architect believes will lift Japan out of 20 years of deflationary purgatory.
Six months into the experiment, Abe’s vision is taking shape. The Tokyo stock exchange has risen around 50%, while the yen has fallen about 25% against the US dollar since late last year, to the relief of hard-pressed exporters.