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Finanzplatz faces up to odious comparisons

German banking

Commerzbank: wild rumours of
its supposed financial problems
followed a leaked email

Sometimes it's not only what you say that matters but when you say it. When Merrill Lynch analyst Stuart Graham published a research report on the German banks entitled Turning Japanese, his timing was perfect - or disastrous. It depends on your point of view. At a time when so much of the research churned out by investment banks goes straight into the bin, panic-stricken investors picked up on it. Investors say it moved the market.

"A weak banking sector coupled with a weak economy is in itself worrying," says Graham in the report. "But the more we think about it, the more we see the disturbing parallels with Japan."

In the light of how the German banks had been performing in the stock market, these sorts of concerns were difficult to shrug off. It's difficult to separate the impact of the research from the maelstrom of confusion over potential credit problems at the banks.

As one fund manager puts it: "Sentiment was very bad when the note hit our desks.

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