Asia's Bad Banks

For decades, easy money fueled Big Business in Asia. Now, many banks are sinking and a huge bill is coming due

Only a few years ago, the elite financiers running Asia's cloistered banking business led a charmed life. The stunning economic expansion and robust stock and property markets of the late 1980s meant giddy times for the bank presidents of Tokyo's Ohtemachi financial district. And from Jakarta's Jalan Sudirman financial strip to the concrete canyons of Seoul, lenders prospered amid seemingly endless demand for high-rise offices and flashy condos. The last thing anyone worried about then was what Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan Ltd. President Katsunobu Onogi wistfully calls the "preciousness of capital."

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