What's With Japanese Stocks?

Twitter pal @jayrosen_nyu checks in with a query:

Will you explain to us today why, when a deal to save U.S. auto makers collapses, the Japanese market goes down? Why not up?

I may have more on this in the podcast tonight, but the short answer appears to be that the Japanese economy depends on exports to countries like the U.S. Japanese investors get nervous at any sign that more Americans might be losing their jobs or feeling anxious enough to curb spending.

Still, on first thought, you might expect Japanese automakers to benefit if their U.S. competitors tank. But shares of Toyota dropped by 12 percent after the Senate spiked the auto bailout. Honda fell by nearly 15 percent. The Times of London has this take:

If a major US automaker were effectively forced to liquidate its assets and inventory, the world's largest car market would be immediately flooded with hundreds of thousands of new cars at fire-sale prices.

In that scenario, anyone selling Japanese cars at regular prices in America would lose out.

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