"Real" Economy Sharply ImprovingConsumer consumption, which had decreased drastically since the IMF bailout in 1997, is now increasing sharply since January 1999.
According to the 'Report on the Trend of the Real Economy in January 1999' issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economy(MOFE) on February 21, major indices related to consumption, for example gas consumption and total traffic on highways, increased sharply in January compared to the same period last year.
MOFE explained, 'These results show that our economy has already entered a recovery phase, even though the economic situation one year ago was the worst one ever.'
Department stores' sales increased 11.3 percent in January this year, and gas consumption rose 10.2 percent, and highway use jumped 8.4 percent.
Automobile sales increased 111.5 percent, semi-conductors 417.8 percent, petrochemical products 18.2 percent, and iron and steel 8.1 percent.
However, machinery sales dropped 7.2 percent and machinery imports dropped 48.8 percent. This indicates that companies' expenditures on facility investment are still falling.
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