In Thailand, The Banks' Holiday Is Over

Bangkok finally tells lenders to write offbad debt--or merge

For months, Thailand's top economic officials have been the target of blistering criticism from investors and analysts for failing to address a crisis in the country's banks and finance companies. But did investors cheer when Finance Minister Amnuay Viravan on Mar. 3 kicked off an overhaul of the beleaguered industry? No way. As soon as a controversial one-day suspension of trading in bank and financial shares was lifted on Mar. 4, they rushed to sell, sending the Bangkok stock market to near its five-year low (chart). The suspension infuriated many in Bangkok. "It's unbelievable," says Asia Equity country manager Mark Greenwood.

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