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Banks fail to face up to NPL crisis

Taiwan’s banking sector has a burgeoning non-performing loan problem that invites comparison with Japan’s. Swift and decisive action has been thin on the ground. Without it Taiwan may head down the same self-destructive path as its former colonial master.

Sophia Cheng

When talking about Taipei, one banker from Hong Kong says: "When that city was being built, you do have to ask the question, where the hell were the architects?" Another banker describes Taiwan's capital, as being "not the most inspiring place".

Unfortunately, the notable absence of inspiration and the ability to build one eyesore after another seems to have rubbed off on the island's financial sector. As one Taiwanese banker admits: "Unfortunately, the heads of some of Taiwan's banks believe that it is better to live miserably than to die honourably."

It almost seems that the Taiwanese government and its leading bankers have managed to miss the flood of bad news coming out of Japan about how woeful the world's second-largest economy's banking sector really is. If they had read the reports then they wouldn't be taking such a lethargic approach to their own institution's challenges.

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