Spiralling debt

Cover story

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Financial institutions in Asia, like their peers elsewhere, have been hit by new credit shocks from Europe and the US in the aftermath of the subprime lending problems that emerged in mid-2007. The latest bombshell is that highly rated monoline insurers - which have insured $125 billion of structured credit products, according to rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P), as well as billions of dollars of US municipal bonds - face downgrades or even defaults (see box).

The latest developments are coi

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