Change in hand
Illustration: Adam Fitzcharles

Massive Fiscal Stimulus Spending Project #1: Currency Manipulation

This article is the first in a series of proposals detailing how the Japanese government could launch projects that would result in massive fiscal stimulus as well as boosted corporate and consumer spending. It is important to keep in mind that the proposals put forth in this series are essentially insane, but would lead to government, corporate and personal spending on a massive scale.

By Ken Worsley

The first idea in this series should wreak havoc and cause panic spending in all sorts of sectors, while simultaneously creating millions of new jobs. To do this, the Japanese government simply needs to create new banknotes and coins that are all radically different in size to what currently exists. Ideally, notes should be larger and differently proportioned, while the size and weight of all coinage should dramatically change.

First, this would require all vending and ticket machines across the entire country to be re-fitted to accept notes and coins in their new sizes. A few years down the road, these machines will need to be re-programmed again to no longer accept the old sizes. With over 5.4 million vending machines in Japan, this promises to be an expensive task and will incur quite a bit of capital spending.

At the same time, consumers will find that the new banknotes will not properly fit in their existing wallets. Every wallet in the country now needs to be replaced, and the National Police Agency could issue a timely (and helpful) warning that using the new notes with old wallets might leave one open to a greater risk of becoming a pickpocket victim. Department stores would enjoy a healthy boost in revenue, along with wallet and handbag makers, as the newly established Fashion Agency would issue a recommendation that all women purchase new handbags in order to better carry their new wallets. Ideally, the new notes should be so wide that new wallets will not fit in the back pocket of existing trousers and jeans. In turn, massive spending on new clothing should provide a further boost to clothing manufacturers and retailers.

Of course, retailers will soon discover that the new notes do not fit in the tills of their existing cash registers. Every retail outlet in Japan will have to replace their cash registers with new models, though old cash registers will also need to operate and be maintained for the time being. The obvious solution to this problem - the “Double Till Register” - will be outlawed on “safety” grounds. Gear makers, LED display manufacturers and NEC will be the big winners here.

Banks will have to purchase new automatic note counters, as the new bills will not fit in the old ones. The new machines, of course, will not accept old notes for “security” reasons, and they will have to be bought and maintained until all old notes are pulled from circulation – planned for 2015.

The makers of cash gift envelopes will be forced to completely redesign their products, as no one would be caught dead handing an old-note-sized envelope to a newlywed couple. Likewise, no one would want to be caught alive at a funeral passing an envelope for old notes that has been labeled “hopelessly passé” by the Fashion Agency.

In 2014, as public backlash against the government's unnecessary changing of the size and weight of notes and coins subsides, the government will announce that it has seen the error in its ways and will be switching back to issuing the “old” size notes and coins, in 2016.

Adding insult to injury: While the public is caught up in its uproar of having to buy new wallets and handbags, no one notices that the consumption tax is quietly raised from 5% to 15% in a bill passed on New Year's Eve.

Other posts by Japan Inc:


. . . more material waste.

Eliminate cash entirely - all transactions now done by cash to be through secure biometric-linked e-money cards - everywhere. Gives a boost to the electronics industry, telecoms carriers, etc. etc. Banks' costs greatly reduced. Reduces Japan's crime rate. Wallet manufacturers have to redesign - boost to leather trade (social minorities). Cash under the table to politicians now traceable. Pachinko "parlors" actually pay real tax.

Much better for the environment than pouring concrete everywhere, and everyone will be happy.

Oh no, this is so crazy that the LDP might even go for it. I shouldn't have written this, should I?

Of course, retailers will soon discover that the new notes do not fit in the tills of their existing cash registers.