From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan’s Keynes

From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan’s Keynes (Harvard East Asian Monographs)[Paperback]

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Publication Date: November 30, 2009 | ISBN-10: 0674036204 | ISBN-13: 978-0674036208

From his birth in the lowest stratum of the samurai class to his assassination at the hands of right-wing militarists, Takahashi Korekiyo (1854-1936) lived through tumultuous times that shaped the course of modern Japanese history. Takahashi is considered “Japan’s Keynes” in many circles because of the forward-thinking (and controversial) fiscal and monetary policies–including deficit financing, currency devaluation, and lower interest rates–that he implemented to help Japan rebound from the Great Depression and move toward a modern economy.

Richard J. Smethurst’s engaging biography underscores the profound influence of the seven-time finance minister on the political and economic development of Japan by casting new light on Takahashi’s unusual background, unique talents, and singular experiences as a charismatic and cosmopolitan financial statesman.

Along with the many fascinating personal episodes–such as working as a houseboy in California and running a silver mine in the Andes–that molded Takahashi and his thinking, the book also highlights four major aspects of Takahashi’s life: his unorthodox self-education, his two decades of service at the highest levels of government, his pathbreaking economic and political policies before and during the Depression, and his efforts to stem the rising tide of militarism in the 1930s. Deftly weaving together archival sources, personal correspondence, and historical analysis, Smethurst’s study paints an intimate portrait of a key figure in the history of modern Japan.Editorial Reviews

Review

Japan emerged from worldwide economic depression in the 1930s more successfully and quickly than the other modern world economies. Without denying the role of rapid militarization in prompting economic growth, this new biography of Japan’s seven-time finance minister shows how Takahashi’s countercyclical fiscal and monetary policies overcame a steep deflationary spiral and in the process engineered a remarkable record of growth built on a novel deficit spending approach…In telling Takahashi’s story, Smethurst uncovers some of the pushes and pulls shaping Japan’s modem economic growth, and it is a story he tells well.
–W. D. Kinzley (Choice 20080501)

Smethurst’s biography is a major achievement reflecting some 20 years of work. Not to exclude the general reader–the book is a very good read–Takahashi’s biography should interest not only Japanologists, but also students of economic history everywhere. Smethurst admits that it was difficult to balance the anecdotes of Takahashi’s adventures with the necessary analysis of his historic accomplishments. He has succeeded, giving us a wise and immensely competent biography of a great Japanese and a vibrant human being.
–Rod Armstrong (Asahi Shimbun 20080216)

About the Author

Richard J. Smethurst is Professor of History and UCIS Research Professor, University of Pittsburgh.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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