Japan and America may seem like yin and yang, or "in" and "yo" in Japanese, but there are striking similarities.
In the 1990s, soaring debt and a sinking housing market led to deflation and halt of growth in Japan. The nation responded with austerity. Middle class families washed clothes in bath water, and skipped vacations all together. That period is known as "The Lost Decade."
Now, history could repeat itself in the West. Americans are saving more and spending less, and new leaders in Washington hope to slash the mounting deficit.
It's good to be frugal, but a consumer culture is built on...well...consuming.
Like yin and yang, economists say we need a healthy blend of debt AND spending .
American policy makers should look to lessons from the East...to keep the sun from setting in the West.
That's a page from my notebook.