Twiddling Their Thumbs

Since Heizo Takenaka was appointed Japan's Financial Services Minister five weeks ago, he's been remarkably blunt about what was needed to straighten out the country's overextended, reform-proof banks, those black holes that continue to suck the life out of Japan's economy. A hard landing was required, he said. Hopeless loansíXthere are at least $420 billion worth of themíXhad to be sold off on the cheap or written off once and for all. In addition, the government would have to take over banks that were insolvent by any definition other than that of wishful-thinking Japanese bankers. Last week, however, Takenaka...

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