A Nightmare Year For Japan's Bankers

Poor Mitsui Trust & Banking Co. It's one of Japan's most respected lenders and a cornerstone of the giant Mitsui industrial keiretsu. Yet the $169 billion lender has seen the price of its shares plunge 25% in Tokyo's latest stock market rout. At $6 apiece, Mitsui shares are now down an astonishing 80% since 1987. The problem? Collapsing property prices. As speculator after speculator has gone bust, Japan's big lenders are taking a pasting. "Real estate?" asks Robin Monro-Davies, managing director of the credit-rating agency IBCA Ltd. "It's spectacularly bad."

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