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Friday, December 28, 2012

A retrospective look at Japan's banking crisis

I recently stumbled across a research paper by Richard Koo titled "Japan's disposal of bad loans: failure or success?"

The thesis of this analysis is that Japanese monetary/fiscal authorities handled their post bubble banking crisis relatively well compared to how the US has handled its banking crisis which began in 2008.  The paper contains a lot of good data so it is worth the time even if you disagree with Koo's conclusions.

However, it looks like Koo is defining "success" as a fourteen year recessionary period.

The problem I have with this Koo analysis is with its conclusion is that Japanese monetary/fiscal authorities did mostly the right things.  The paper shows that the Japanese equivalent of the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund was in a negative balance from 1996 to 2008. This implies that it could still be in a negative balance now.  If your deposit insurance fund is negative, that's not "success".

In Japan much of the banks' bad loans were simply shifted into government debt.

Koo posits the concept that the US is handling its banking crisis differently when in fact the US is doing the same things that Japan has done.