Ryutaro Kono, head of economic research and chief economist for BNP Paribas Securities, was the featured speaker at two free global economic outlook seminars presented by Bank of the West. The seminars were held on Sept. 19 in San Francisco and on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles.

Ryutaro Kono

The seminar, “World Economic Outlook,” featured information on the global economic forecast and offered insights on Japan’s aging population and financial stabilization. Kono also discussed aging problems in the U.S. and Europe and the future of the growth rate.

“Mr. Kono is one of the most popular economists in Japan and we are very delighted to be able to provide our customers and the local Japanese community in the area with this useful knowledge through this seminar,” said Yukinori Nishio, executive vice president and head of the Asia Banking Division at Bank of the West.

At the seminar, Kono shared that:

• The growth rates in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India have largely been overestimated;

• The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will continue to support Southern Europe for the time being;

• The influence of the U.S. real estate bubble has recovered 70%, and it will be another two years before it fully recovers;

• The U.S. labor force participation rate will continue to decline due to the country’s aging population and the lower rate of immigration;

• QE3 will not be effective since the economic bubble of emerging countries has burst. The potential growth rate in the U.S. is around 1.7% to 2.0%;

• The “aging” of the Japanese economy will lead to a decrease in potential growth rate of 0 – 0.5%;

• The Japanese government is making a policy recommendation to raise consumption tax to 20% and to end the increase of social security;

• Care and medical treatment for the aging population should be transferred to the private sector to decrease the financial burden on the government;

• Working opportunities for the elderly and female workers should be increased to make up for the decrease of the working age population;

• All Asian currencies except the Japanese yen are based on the dollar peg system, which is one of the contributing factors to the strong yen;

• The growth of Chinese economy has shifted to a moderate growth at approximately 6%;

• When making observations of the global economy, be aware of the low growth rates caused by the dynamics of population.

“Bank of the West has about 50 employees who share the language and the concept of value with our customers, and we sincerely hope that we would be able to offer in-culture services to the Japanese entities and customers in the local Japanese community,” said Nishio.

Kono has been head of the Economic Research Department and chief economist at BNP Paribas Securities since 2000. He placed first in the 17th Nikkei Veritus’ “Popularity Survey of Bond Analysts and Economists” in 2012.

Kono also serves on the committees of the East Japan Earthquake Recovery Meeting; the Ministry of Economy, Trade, Industry, and Energy Total Resource Energy Examination/Basic Problem; and the Industrial Structure Discussion Meeting. He is a Cabinet secretariat of the Government Strategy Room’s Mid-range Economic Management Examination Meeting.

The World Economic Outlook seminar was hosted by Bank of the West’s Pacific Rim Banking Division, sponsored by Nikkei America and supported by the Japan Society of Northern California in San Francisco and the Japan America Society in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1874, $62.7 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com),  member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 700 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.

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