Banking On Japan

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NEW YORK: Stop worrying so much about those third-quarter corporate earnings reports. The U.S. markets' best chance to shake off their October blues is the passage of a bank rescue package in Japan. And while Tokyo has been something of a watched pot on the subject for almost a year now, some encouraging action Tuesday in the Japanese parliament has raised the prospect of the measures becoming law by Friday. And that has visions of a global economic recovery dancing in Wall Street watchers' heads.

"No matter how bad earnings are this quarter, if the Japanese are successful this week it could touch off a nice rally," says TIME business reporter Bernard Baumohl. Earnings reports, by definition, are the past. But the $517 billion recapitalization of the Japanese banks, giving them the cash to start lending again to their Asian neighbors -- that's about the rosiest future economists will allow themselves to imagine right now.