Taiwan's increasingly dangerous credit-card problem

Concerns over aggressive growth in unsecured consumer loans prompt Fitch to lower its outlook for Taiwan's Chinatrust, Taishin banking groups and Far Eastern International Bank.
In a rather strongly worded statement on Monday March 27, Fitch Ratings revised the rating outlooks for Taiwan's Chinatrust and Taishin banking groups, as well as that of Far Eastern International Bank, to negative from stable.

The outlook revision reflects Fitch's general concerns over Taiwan's banking system brought about by the banks' aggressive growth in unsecured consumer loans and the subsequent deterioration in the quality of such loans as compounded by the authorities' inept handling of the unfolding debacle, says Jonathan Lee, senior director in Fitch's financial institutions group.

The annualised charge-off rates on credit card and cash-card loans soared to 14% and 17% respectively in January 2006 from a level of around 6%...
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