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As an American student abroad, I found Jeffrey Garten's thesis--that America's business leaders must contribute to foreign-policy formulation--to be cogent ("A foreign policy harmful to business," Book Excerpt, Oct. 14). He is right that our industries' leaders are uniquely qualified to give sound advice on America's international relations. Unfortunately, Garten detracts from the seriousness of his argument by making highly partisan snipes--to wit, that the Administration has contemptuously ignored important international treaties. Garten should have reserved his advocacy of the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court treaty (harmful to U.S. interests) for the opinion pages of France's ultra-leftist Le Monde.
Gerard Max van Amerongen
Aix-en-Provence, France The U.S. and other nations should welcome the Islamic Justice & Development Party coming to power in Turkey ("Turkey: A rising Islamic party gives the West the jitters," International Outlook, Oct. 21). We should try to appease both Muslims and non-Muslims alike in our policies. We shouldn't fear this or any other Islamic group.
Markham, Ill. "Anatomy of a crackdown" (Finance, Oct. 21) mentions that private analysts have long suspected that Japanese banks are carrying twice the official bad-loan estimate of $430 billion, or about 10% of Japanese gross domestic product. This particular private analyst would say double it and double it again, and add some more. The generally accepted level of crystallized and contingent nonperforming loans is around 45% of GDP for the private-sector institutions and 25% of GDP for the public-sector institutions among those of us who follow these matters in any detail.
Resolute action taken on the well-known Swedish and Finnish banking crisis models of the early 1990s for the private-sector institutions--banks, insurance companies, etc.--should reduce the final fiscal cost to 15% to 25% of GDP. We are all waiting for Heizo Takenaka to push the "zombie" companies and institutions well and truly over the Scandinavian cliff edge.
The only consolation left to us is that Japan is the world's greatest creditor nation, and no foreign currency exposure is involved. We have Latin American-style scale, but no Latin American-style default.
Tokyo The last sentence of "Boon for Japanese scientists" (Global Wrapup, Oct. 21) says that Koichi Tanaka, at 43, is the youngest Nobel laureate since 1937. But I happened to know Georges Koehler, who received the 1984 Nobel prize at the tender age of 38.
Los AngelesEditor's note: The youngest Nobel laureate ever was William Lawrence Bragg, who received the 1915 Nobel prize in physics at 25. So shareholders have discovered that most mergers are a failure; big surprise ("Mergers: Why most big deals don't pay off," The Corporation, Oct. 14). A 1973 London Business School study found that 95% of mergers result in a poorer return on net assets and that fewer ever produce positive benefits for customers, staff, or owners. Of course there are people who gain from mergers and takeovers--in every case. Those are the directors (board members) of all the companies, and the banks and financial advisers who arrange them.