Japan: Giving Yen

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TOKYO: Good news for Japan's muggers: In a desperate effort to pry open the wallets of its shell-shocked citizenry, the Japanese government is considering sending everyone a check to spend at the mall. The proposed "Happy Mondays" scheme would make more Mondays shopping holidays, and would give everyone a gift voucher worth around $250 in the hopes of reviving Japan's swooning economy from within.

Of course, boosting domestic spending is precisely what Robert Rubin and other U.S. economic officials urged Japan to do -- six months ago. These days, with Japan mired in a two-year recession, the deepest since WWII, and its debt-riddled banks fresh out of investment capital, the occasional TGIM shopping day looks a lot like too little, too late. And there's still no guarantee that the Japanese, known as compulsive savers, won't just buy $250 in gold and bury it in the backyard.