It’s time to stop debating whether the U.S. is becoming Japan.

The U.S. already is Japan with near-zero interest rates, a broken financial system and politicians who don’t seem to realize the severity of the economy’s plight. The only question is whether the U.S. will be so lucky.

Lucky? Japan? Well, yes. For all its rigidities and idiosyncrasies, Asia’s biggest economy never fully collapsed. It never got near a depression, nor did deflation get out of control the way many analysts predicted following the implosion of the 1980s bubble economy. […]

Even so, the U.S. can only wish that its own “lost decade” would go as smoothly as Japan’s. It’s highly doubtful that the U.S.’s experience would be as stable as Japan’s.

Households in Japan were sitting on trillions of dollars of savings; Americans aren’t. Japan began its crisis as a creditor nation; the U.S. is a decidedly debtor nation. Japan doesn’t rely heavily on foreign capital to finance imbalances; the U.S., with its gaping current-account deficit, does.

Global growth also softened Japan’s slide. In the late 1990s, then Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was referring to the U.S. as an “oasis of prosperity” during Asia’s crisis. Today, there’s no such source of growth as the biggest economies fall. Exports won’t bail the U.S. out the way they did Japan.

Full Story: Bloomberg

(via Twitter, I think – can’t remember who)