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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story



BANKING IS A NUMBERS game, and the numbers say the financial sectors of several Southeast Asian nations could face big losses in coming years. Robust economic growth this decade stimulated a large demand for loans, and banks zealously responded. Investment helped drive GDP increases, but a high proportion was sunk into property. That resulted in an unhealthy concentration of real estate loans on the books of banks throughout the region. History suggests this is a formula for disaster. In Japan, Korea and Taiwan, property bubbles burst in the early 1990s following periods of escalating property prices and overdevelopment. When borrowers couldn't pay off loans, bankers got stuck with overwhelming losses that they are still writing off. Banks in other Asian countries appear unprepared. They've been setting aside less money to offset potential defaults.

Sources: Thomson BankWatch Asia, Jardine Fleming Research, central banks

Chart at top of this page and tables on countries contain information for domestic commercial banks. All data was current as of June 30 , 1997, with the following exceptions: India -- March 31, 1996; Japan -- May 31, 1997; Malaysia -- March 31, 1997; Philippines -- March 31, 1997; South Korea -- Dec. 31, 1996; Taiwan -- March 31, 1997. All banks may not be accounted for in the statistics, due to differences in financial reporting practices among countries.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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