Output Gap

According to the BoJ Estimate, the output gap in the fourth quarter of 2017 rose to 1.5% of potential GDP, the highest since 2007 Q4.

Published quarterly by the Bank of Japan and Cabinet Office. Cabinet Office estimates updated till the quarter of Apr-Jun 2018. Bank of Japan estimates updated till the quarter of Apr-Jun 2018 (Bank of Japan estimates published on October 3rd, 2018)

Recent data trend

Output Gap of the Japanese economy rose to 1.5% in October-December 2017 quarter according to the data released by the BoJ. It means that Japan's economic output in the quarter was 1.5% higher than its potential GDP, or its sustainable capacity. Historically, the output gap and inflation have been highly correlated, and that is providing confidence to the BOJ on its ability to raise inflation to 2% in the next two years. According to the Cabinet Office (first preliminary estimate), the output...

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Brief overview of "Output Gap"

Output Gap measures the difference between actual GDP of the economy and the highest sustainable GDP. The latter is called potential GDP, and the growth in the potential GDP is called potential GDP growth. The output gap is usually measured as a percentage of the potential GDP. 

The output gap is an important indicator for policymakers as it helps them to determine an appropriate policy for the economy. A positive output gap indicates a possible inflationary pressure within the economy and vice versa. It is also important for policymakers to understand the source of growth, either labour, capital or productivity. The Bank of Japan publishes a breakdown of growth by estimating contributions from Total Factor Productivity (TFP), labour and capital. 

In the recent history, Japan has experienced the severest negative output gap, exceeding more than 7% to GDP in early 2009 after the Lehman shock. Since then, the output gap has gradually closed, reaching zero in early 2014. However, since then, the output gap has remained steady. For the Japanese economy to experience a reflation, the output gap probably needs to further rise towards positive territory. Japan's potential growth rate has been on a gradual decline since the recent peak of 4 to 5% growth in the mid-1980s. Most recently, the potential growth rate is estimated to be close to zero. 

For more information, please visit the Cabinet Office website and the BoJ website.

For the estimation methodology employed by the BoJ, please see here.

Output Gap and Potential GDP based on SNA93

Next Release Date: Likely to be released on November 22, 2018 (Cabinet office estimate for July- Sep 2018)

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