Monday, February 23, 2009

Sex and investing in Japan

The Financial Times recently reported on the historically female role of managing household finances in Japan. Part of the article traces that role back to the historical division of labor during the Edo or Shogunate period, at least among the aristocracy. Granted, lower classes probably didn't have much surplus wealth to invest.

But the article is really about how low Japanese interest rates early this decade, as a result of the "lost decade" and the attempts to stimulate the economy through monetary policy, may have led to a situation where "a culture of saving underwent a significant behavioural change, making ... frugal savers into bold, courageous investors."

That kind of thing can sweep up members of either sex, of any age, and so on and so on. The article delves much less into why this might be specially interesting in Japan, other than how it reports the hot water housewives had gotten into with their financially oblivious husbands.

Risk tolerance does vary by sex, however, and one would thing that all things equal, having the purse strings controlled by women probably dampened the irrational exuberance that otherwise would have raged.