J@pan Inc: What is your take on the Lehman collapse and everything that followed? Do you still hold to your previous stated principles that essentially "greed is good"?
Takafumi Horie: I don’t think I intentionally said “greed is good.” But I do think that endeavoring with all your might to raise profit is part of a manager’s job. Not for one’s own reward—it’s just the natural obligation of a manager.
The reason why Lehman’s didn’t do well is because they leveraged too much. As a manager, I have never borrowed excessively for a returned income. By leveraging, you may get large profits but the losses are also big. But to say that we should return to the world of zero leverage is not realistic either. From now on, I think we should have a system to control excessive leveraging .
JI: Do you think there should be more regulations for banking?
TH: As I said before, the regulations we need to strengthen are the ones for the investment banks’ and investment funds’ borrowing etc.
Also, regulation is necessary for times when certain sections of the commodity futures markets and other small-scale markets are flooded with funds, causing the market prices to warp. But this is a non-drastic, symptomatic counter-measure and means continually doing the same thing repeatedly.
Apart from that, there needs to be more relaxation. It’s not good to push anything in just one direction.
JI: What do you believe is wrong with the Japan and the Japanese business world/economy at present?
TH: There is a lack of financial knowledge among politicians. Also, everyone only thinks about what they believe they are entitled to. But our population is declining, and I can understand why (people) would want to protect themselves.
JI: What do you believe needs to change and how?
TH: There should be more support for new and vibrant companies.
JI: What have you been doing since the last court appearance?
TH: Writing, consulting... and developing rocket engines.
JI: It seems that the "establishment" has it in for you, especially because you're not saying sorry. What do you think about this? Any regrets?
TH: Not especially.
JI: At the International Astronautical Congress in Fukuoka you unveiled your plan to invest in space travel. You said you may develop a manned rocket within five years. Can you tell us a bit more about this? Why choose space travel as your next business venture?
TH: Because of the incident, I had some hard times. But even now, bit by bit, I am working again. The reason I chose space is because I believe that venturing into the future is always important for mankind. The space travel business is a means of achieving that.
JI: What advice do you have for other aspiring businesspeople who might be worried about growing too fast for the establishment to accept?
TH: There is no point worrying about it—just keep trying.
You can read Horie’s blog at http://ameblo.jp/takapon-jp/
English translations of the blog will appear regularly on www.japaninc.com
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