The similarities between our current economic situation and that of Japan 20 years ago is striking, especially in regard to the government policies which have resulted in continuing "stagflation." By trying to ameliorate the effects of a downturn, the government has prevented the realignment of production and consumer demand which is necessary for a robust economic recovery. Case in Point: The U.S. housing market is being propped up by artificially low interest rates. Because we don't know the true value of real estate, banks are hesitant to make loans for even 80% of the agreed-upon sales price. Likewise, appraisers are fearful of valuing any property above an average dollars per square foot price. What does mean for the future? Will we be repeating Japan's experience for the next 20 years? What investments will be protected from inflation, much less appreciate in real terms? Comments?