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'Too optimistic': Japan tax hike not enough to boost nation's finances

The Japan Times

Japan's tax revenue is expected to end up lower than the record high figure estimated in the fiscal 2020 draft budget, with critics saying the initial tally was based on an economic growth forecast that was "too optimistic." Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012, the actual pace of growth in the world's third-largest economy has exceeded his government's forecast only twice. In the extra budget for fiscal 2019, the Finance Ministry revised down its tax revenue estimate for the year through March to ¥60.18 trillion ($550 billion) from ¥62.50 trillion due to a drop in corporate earnings amid a slowdown of the global economy. Given the move, economists suspect that despite October's increase in the consumption tax by 2 points to 10 percent, the government would have to lower the tax revenue estimate again for the following fiscal year, from a record ¥63.51 trillion. The estimate was part of a record ¥102.66 trillion in the nation's initial general account budget for the year starting next April, which Abe's Cabinet approved Friday for submission to the Diet next year.

Government projects Japan far from achieving fiscal health goal by 2025

The Japan Times

The government is far from achieving its target of running a primary balance surplus in fiscal 2025 despite increased tax revenue, the government's latest longer-term projections showed Monday. According to the projections, the government will run a primary balance deficit of at least ¥2.4 trillion in the fiscal year ending March 2026 unless it takes more steps to improve its finances. That means the government will have to boost revenue by more than projected, cut spending, or both, to achieve its goal of logging a primary balance surplus by that year. A primary balance surplus means that tax revenue is more than sufficient to cover all discretionary government spending, or spending on everything but interest payments on public debt. Without further government action, the goal will not be achieved until fiscal 2027, two years behind target, according to the latest projections and the assumptions on which they are based.

Portland Democrat's Primary Loss Set to Shift Senate Balance

U.S. News

Former state Rep. Shemia Fagan beat incumbent Sen. Rod Monroe for the Democratic nomination in the 24th District. And no Republican candidate registered in the East Portland district, where GOP voters are outnumbered by Democrats nearly two-to-one, making it all but certain that Fagan will take the seat in the November general election.

China's March global trade balance moves into deficit while surplus with U.S. little changed at $15.4 billion

The Japan Times

BEIJING – China's global trade balance swung to a rare deficit in March as exports shrank but its surplus with the United States, the center of a worsening dispute with Washington, stood at $15.4 billion. Exports contracted 2.7 percent from a year earlier to $174.1 billion in a possible sign of weak global demand, down from the 24.4 percent growth seen for the first two months of 2018, customs data showed Friday. Imports rose 14.4 percent to $179.1 billion, though that was down from 21.7 percent growth in January and February in a possible indication of slower Chinese demand. The trade surplus with the United States contracted 13 percent from a year earlier, while China's global trade balance swung to a $5 billion deficit. China routinely runs multibillion-dollar monthly surpluses with Europe and the U.S., which helps to offset deficits with Japan, South Korea and developing countries that supply industrial components and raw materials.

Ex-UAW Official to Serve Balance of Sentence at Home

U.S. News

Since 2017, nine union officials and a late official's spouse have pleaded guilty in the government's investigation, which has stretched from the UAW's coffers to a job training center funded by Fiat Chrysler. Some officials took kickbacks from union contractors.