Nobuyuki Saji Mitsubishi UFJ
second team Takahide Kiuchi Nomura
third team Mikihiro Matsuoka Deutsche
runners-up Mitsumaru Kumagai Daiwa Institute; Kiichi Murashima Nikko Citi; Tetsufumi Yamakawa Goldman Sachs
Capturing the crown for an eighth consecutive year is Nobuyuki Saji of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co., who "visits a lot of countries to find out what is going on in the real economy, and then uses this information to support his theses and opinions," observes one client. In March, Saji noted that a downturn in China’s real estate market, which is heavily influenced by earnings from that country’s export-driven economy, foretold a decline in real gross domestic product growth in Japan; China is Japan’s biggest trading partner. "We revised Japan’s real GDP growth in 2008 and 2009 to two straight years of negative growth," says Saji, 50. Japan’s real GDP contracted at an annualized rate of 12.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the biggest decline of any developed economy. Takahide Kiuchi , who according to one buy-sider "helps fund managers understand macroeconomic developments," claims second place for a third year running. The Nomura Securities Co. economist told clients in November that, because of the worsening financial crisis in the U.S. and Japan’s dependence on the American economy, Japanese real GDP growth would fall precipitously in the fourth quarter and the country would be in a recession until at least 2010, with stock prices continuing to plummet. Japanese stocks dropped 11.0 percent from Kiuchi’s warning through February. It’s three straight years in third place for Mikihiro Matsuoka of Deutsche Securities, described by one investor as an "economists’ economist." In a July report Matsuoka told clients that the recent appreciation of emerging markets’ currencies, which puts pressure on earnings from exports, a contraction of their trade surpluses and global monetary tightening would result in a "massive head wind for asset prices." Since then stocks plunged 45.0 percent worldwide, through February. Matsuoka was "one of the few economists who clearly denied an opportunistic decoupling scenario on emerging economies," asserts one backer.