How subprime is like Mt. Fuji

July 1, 2008

Mt Fuji

Analogies abound when it comes to assessing just how far the world has come in coping with the subprime mortgage crisis originating from the United States.

In American terms, the nine innings of baseball games are often invoked. In Japan, it is often how far up the mountain you’ve climbed.

Tatsuo Tanaka, deputy president of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ, told the Reuters Japan Investment Summit that some fear the subprime debacle means one mountain peak has been scaled but another looms ahead.

While he doesn’t share those worries, the uphill slog is not over yet. “We are already past the fifth station,” he said in response to a question about where we stand in the crisis, referring to the half-way point in climbing a mountain in Japan. “The biggest part of the confusion is behind us. But in terms of impairment of capital, it is not over,” Tanaka said.

So far subprime-related losses have totalled more than $400 billion, and that figure is still climbing.

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