JAPAN: The Happy Deficit

Japan is one of the few countries where red ink on international ledgers brings smiles; for years the nation has run positively embarrassing surpluses that have drawn angry criticism from its trading partners. Now, both embarrassment and anger are fading. For the first time in years, Japan is running a significant deficit in its balance of payments, and its lopsided trade surplus with the U.S. — which has sorely strained relations between the two countries — is diminishing. Says William D. Eberle, the demanding chief U.S. trade negotiator with Japan: "The trade imbalance ap pears to have peaked and...

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