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Euro-Zone Debt Markets: Small states plan issue calendar

This autumn, after the annual IMF/World Bank meeting is over, the men and women responsible for raising money for six of the smaller states in the euro zone will hold a private meeting in Portugal to discuss ways of ensuring that their interests are given as much weight as those of the area's largest sovereign borrowers. They will try to build a coordinated approach on issues such as a euro-zone borrowing calendar and establishing common standards for primary dealers. In the longer term some bankers believe they will be able to plan joint bond issues for more than one country in the same way that German Länder have made joint borrowings.

There is growing concern that the smaller states in the euro zone may be squeezed out by France, Germany, Italy and Spain after the single currency is established in 1999. Their domestic investors, who used to buy the bulk of their debt, will then be able to choose where in the 11 member states to put their money without incurring any currency risk. Bankers say that state treasuries are concerned they will lose investors which they used to regard as captive and that they "have no way of measuring what they will get in return from membership of the zone".

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