Japan has benefited massively from the free trade world that the US conjured into existence 40 years ago.
Japanese industry and particularly its auto industry benefited hugely from access to the US auto market. For this reason, I expected US new car CPI moved higher (car prices rising after years of stagnation) that this would be Yen bullish. Instead the Yen has weakened considerably.
From a macro and micro perspective, the idea of a stronger Yen with surging automobile prices makes sense. However, from a political point of view, I think this is probably wrong. Japan has for many years had a huge imbalance in auto markets with the US. Nissan, Toyota and Honda all have huge operations in the US, but you barely see a US auto brand in Japan.
In a competitive democracy like the US, how could politicians possibly be elected pushing policies that expose domestic labour to foreign competition? I suspect after the inflationary 70s, politically there seems to me to be a coalition of consumers who wished to see inflation tamed, as well as business and capital owners that wanted to see union power crushed. Allowing first Japanese, and then other producers destroy the unionized US auto makers was a political win. That is the Japanese automakers were the spear tip of a policy to destroy US unions.
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