News - newspaper articles: March 2005 Archives

The latest Economist reports that Japan's economy may again be in recession. Japan was in recession since the early 1990s for about a decade, but had picked up again in the new millennium. Now, it seems that those gains might have just been temporary.

On the positive side, housing prices have perhaps hit rock bottom. Interest rates have been close to 0% which means that although a small house in Osaka might still cost you US$500,000, the extremely low interest means your monthly mortgage payment on a 35 year loan may be only US$1300 or so.

The 0% interest has had a disproportionately negative impact on elderly citizens who live on a fixed income. Unlike the United States, most people do not have any retirement funds in 401K type programs or other investments. Most retirees survive on their government or corporate pensions and savings. With interest rates so low, most pensioners are trying to live as leanly as possibly -- which in turn drags down the economy because their are more elderly than youth in aging Japan.

Of course the central government is worried that raising interest rates would kibosh any hopes of recovering from the recession. It's a deadly negative feedback loop.

The British Journal of Photography reports that Kyocera is ceasing production of Contax branded 35mm film cameras. Digital cameras under the Contax brand are also slated to end by the end of the year. Thus ends one of the most famous camera brands of the 20th century -- albeit, in its resucitated Japanese form.

(Of course the optmist in me hopes that this means that Zeiss will be able to relicense the Contax brand to Cosina, so the the new Zeiss Ikon rangefinder can properly be called the Contax V).

Leica AG in Germany is also in very poor financial straits. They've made plans for an emergency stockholder meeting and have worked out some contingency plans with their banks, but things do not look good.

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This page is a archive of entries in the News - newspaper articles category from March 2005.

News - newspaper articles: February 2005 is the previous archive.

News - newspaper articles: April 2005 is the next archive.

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