No smoke without fire

Cover story

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Thousands of miles removed from the US, share prices of Asian financial institutions have tumbled. Firms such as Taiwan's Shin Kong Financial Holdings have seen a 20% share price drop in the past two months, while Australian non-conforming mortgage lender RAMS Home Loans saw a 19% drop in a single day. And several Japanese firms, including Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Financial Group, in August reported combined losses of Yen18.7 billion ($161 million) linked to investments backed by subprime l