Japan, slightly sidelined by the U.S.-UK “special” relationship and the Franco-German alliance at the G20 summit, is keen to stress the country can offer lessons to be learned from the country’s banking crisis in the 1990s.
Here’s a re-cap of what happened. In 1992, then-PM Miyazawa warned of a financial crisis unless banks were recapitalised using public funds now. Yet no action was taken. Between 1995 and 1997, staggering 5 financial institutions failed, forcing the government to inject public funds into 21 banks in 1998. Then two major banks were nationalised, then the government injected additional capital into 32 banks.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner experienced the crisis himself as a financial attache at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo in the 1990s.
But how relevant are Japanese lessons to the global markets today?
“In some ways, Japan was lucky. Its lost decade was spent at a time when the global economy was recovering from recession. As a result, there was an opportunity for exports to grow,” Ian Bright, ING economist, writes in a paper which won the Society of Business Economists’ Rybczynski Prize.
“Today, the situation is different. The problems in financial markets are global rather than local. As a result, the chances of any one country finding solace in exports are slim.”