Value investors tend not to care much about monthly wages and labor reports published by the government. That’s not to say compensation practices and levels don’t matter at a particular company one is researching. In Japan it’s just they matter for different reasons. Here’s why wages seem like they are always reported to be falling in Japan:
Global central bank rates (Brazil 8.75%, South Africa 7.0%, Mexico 4.5%, Australia 3.25%, New Zealand 2.5%, ECB 1.0%, UK 0.5%, USA 0.25%, Canada 0.25%, Switzerland 0.25%, Japan 0.11%) as of October 16, 2009. See chart image below. [Source: Bloomberg; Central Bank web sites]
Below is an extract of the latest data from the U.S. Treasury concerning foreign holders of U.S. Treasuries (year-to-date through the end of August). At least for now, the fear of foreigners dumping Treasuries can be allayed, although it is clear there is some month-month volatility from a key buyer (see the figures for Mainland China). Also, notice how the UK and Hong Kong have significantly stepped up purchases YTD. When I last published an extract of the data in January 2008, Japan was the largest holder at $586.9B, followed by Mainland China at $492.6B, and the UK at $160B.