Revised article published in Global Financial Crises: Cases, Correlates & Caveats, in B.N. Ghosh; editor London Routledge (2001).
Japanese banks are among the world's largest global financial intermediaries, with a significant presence in many regions, particularly the United States and Southeast Asia. In addition to being among the world's largest banks, they have some of the world's largest problems. Recent studies have found that Japanese banks have reduced lending as a consequence of these problems, that this shrinkage has been concentrated in their overseas operations, and that this shrinkage has influenced real activity in the United States. Southeast Asian economies, with both a large Japanese bank presence and capital markets less developed than those in the United States, are likely to be even more severely affected by any major retreat by Japanese banks. In addition, given recent problems in many Asian countries, the extent of any Japanese bank retreat might be magnified by host country as well as home country problems.
This paper examines Japanese banking activities along three dimensions. First, it documents the expansion and the initial stage of retrenchment of lending by Japanese banks in Southeast Asia. Second, we examine the response of Japanese banks to their problems at home, as exemplified by their lending behavior in Southeast Asia. We evaluate this Japanese bank response relative to that in their home market and in the United States. Third, the Japanese bank response to the problems in Southeast Asia is then compared to that of their U.S. and European competitors. This paper was prepared for the Second Annual Conference of the Central Bank of Chile, "Banking, Financial Integration, and Macroeconomic Stability," Santiago, Chile, September 3-4, 1998.