"By 1994, it was apparent that Japan was girding itself for a new leap forward with the help of powerful Keynesian economic stimulation via increased public spending….While American observers continued to dwell on the illusory gloom of the past few years, the Japanese were focusing on a bright future."

—Former Forbes and Financial Times editor Eamonn Fingleton in his 1995 book Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000. Read this and dozens of other howlers in a Cato Institute study, "Revisiting the Revisionists: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Economic Model," by Brink Lindsey and Aaron Lukas (

The Angus Reid Group, a Toronto-based market research firm, has conducted surveys for The Economist each of the last two years, attempting to measure attitudes about the future in 29 countries. Respondents are asked their predictions on the state of the world in one year, 10 years, and the next generation. Optimism may well be an indicator of future success, as The Economist notes, since people who think the future will be better tend to "do the things that will make it better, such as working hard, saving and taking risks."

This year's Hope Index (available at finds five of the eight most optimistic nations are in Asia (Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, China, and Taiwan). The U.S. finishes in a tie for fourth. But the least optimistic people are the Japanese, who are even more bummed about the future than residents of Russia, Germany, and France.