Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Bubble Fiction" travels back in time to Japan's economic heyday

A new Japanese film, Bubble Fiction, takes a satiric look at the country's "inflated assets" bubble period of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Back then, the country was flush with cash thanks to massive trade surpluses. Too much of that money, however, was invested in real estate, driving prices far beyond what was sustainable.

At first, no one minded: property owners saw their net worth double, triple, quadruple—and still keep on rising. Individual and corporate land owners borrowed heavily against this upwardly reassessed real estate, and the banks were only too happy to loan them the money.

At the height of this bubble, it was said that in places like Tokyo's Shinjuku district, a ten-thousand-yen note (worth more than $100 back then) could not be folded small enough to buy the tiny square of land it could cover.

By the late 1980s, the party was in full swing but came to a crashing end around 1990; Japan is still recovering today. Bubble Fiction is about a woman who, deep in debt in 2007, agrees to travel back in time to try and stop the "bad political decisions" that caused the bubble to burst with such ferocity. For many Japanese, the film will undoubtedly be a nostalgic look back at a not-too-distant past when everyone thought the good times would never end.

But all things, grasshopper, must come to an end eventually—both the good and the bad.

Back then, businesses had plenty of cash for after-work socializing.

—Mellow Monk

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