Do you read Barron’s? Alan Abelson, whom I profiled as “The Smartest Man on Wall Street” in 1973, and who probably still is, had a column about a month ago that mentioned something about Japan. Alan has been bullish on Japan, as have been some other smart folks I know, and noted that $100 billion in Japanese 6% and 7% postal savings bonds come due next year. (In Japan, much of the prodigious saving people do is down at the post office.) Are the Japanese really going to roll them over into bonds that now yield practically nothing, Alan wonders? Or will some of them try their hand at the Japanese market? One more reason Alan is betting on Japan.

Then again, I was reading somewhere else that Confucianism prizes obedience before almost anything else, which is why, according to this, the Japanese — even more than the Chinese, for some reason — are slow to revamp their existing institutions, as some of its Asian neighbors have been. This writer was doubtful Japan would make the needed changes.

Someone else told me the rebound in Korea and Thailand had been so swift, the pain so relatively fleeting, he was afraid they had not really “gotten it,” and would largely revert to their bad old ways.

As usual, the world is too complex to scope out with any certainty. But Asia is not going away. And it would be foolish to assume that the Asian economies will never be able to figure out how to compete in the global marketplace. It wasn’t so long ago we actually thought they had won the competition.

Meanwhile, here is Chapter 14 of Fire & Ice. (You already have Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.) It’s called, “Women Are Liars and Cheats,” and suggests that beneath that crude exterior, Charles had a somewhat crude interior. But was basically just a lump of insecurities like everyone else. Or well, maybe a bigger lump.

Have a good weekend!

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