Where's the inflation? It is barely rising, as consumers still wait for bargains before they decide to buy. The overall Consumer Price Index in April rose just 1.1 percent, and is up 2.1 percent less food and energy prices, which have been falling this year.
In any country, but most of all China, anxiety is unproductive. Although the jury is still out on the Chinese government's incremental reform agenda, the people support their leader. And regard him as a force of stability.
Four years later, sentiment is mired at recessionary levels, in spite of serious attempts to break free. Are we now psyched out, resigned to a gloomy future, or is there light at the end of this long, dark tunnel?
It is far too early to declare, "that Japan is back." Japan's challenges are legion -- a shrinking population, natural disasters, soaring debt, a high cost structure that inhibits competitiveness, and most of all deflation.
All of this has implications for Americans concerned with an out-of-control national debt. Properly managed and directed, it seems, the debt need be nothing to fear. Like Japan, and unlike Greece and other eurozone countries, the U.S. is the sovereign issuer of its own currency.
In isolation, neither 3.11 nor Mr. Noda have changed Japan. Yet in different ways both have exposed the Japanese state's shortcomings by contrasting the resilience of its citizenry with the impotence of its government.
Investors are scared of the sovereign debt crisis unfolding in Europe. However, they are ignoring a more likely and significantly larger debt catastrophe that is about to hit the second-largest economy in the world -- Japan.