SELLING OUT by Douglas Frantz


How We Are Letting Japan Buy Our Land
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Yet another overstated case for controlling, even restricting, Japanese investment in the US. In defense of their dour conclusion that America is selling its birthright for a mess of pottage, Los Angeles Times reporter Frantz (Levine & Co.) and Collins (a sometime Chicago Tribune correspondent) offer a surfeit of anecdotal as well as statistical evidence. At last count, for example, offshore interests owned over $1.5 trillion worth of American assets (securities, real estate, farmland, industrial plants, et al.), or about 10% of the recorded total. The Japanese (whose piece of the action ranks them second behind Great Britain), the authors assert, are now the most astute and aggressive buyers of US equity, debt, and properties. If the nation is not to lose its economic sovereignty, they warn, something must be done--and quickly. While there's little question that Japan's presence in the US is significant and growing, the authors' grim appraisal is longer on alarmism than analysis. In some instances, moreover, their contentions are near ludicrous--e.g., their observation that, at current acquisition rates, "foreigners will own the entire country within 50 years." In others, Frantz and Collins subvert their own worst-case scenarios with cop-out caveats. In the windup chapter detailing recommended reactions to the perceived threat of affluent Asians, for instance, they concede theft any response must be measured, since Japanese investment in the LIS has had many positive effects. In brief, then, a protectionist appeal to populist xenophobia and apprehensions that verges on the irresponsible. Appreciably better balanced assessments of the Pacific Basin's economic challenge and allied issues include The New Competitors (p. 268), by Norman J. Glickman and Douglas P. Woodward, and a pair of 1988 entries: The Third Century, by Joel Kotkin and Yorike Kishimoto, and Buying into America, by Martin and Susan Tolchin.

ISBN: 8092-4518-3
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