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December 2003

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  • Long-term themes, such as the US current account deficit and output gap, have caught the forex market's attention and will be crucial to the dollar exchange rate. Lara Rhame reports
  • After two tough years, most big Wall Street and City of London firms are expected to post higher profits this year. It is early days but average end-of-year bonuses are predicted to rise by about 20% at the larger firms.
  • Since the Madrid meeting of the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision in October, a new realization has dawned on the senior managements of banks around Europe and the rest of the world. The Basle II accord will go ahead - having looked in doubt at various times this year - and the time is fast approaching when banks must move beyond arguments over complexity, pro-cyclicality and inappropriate incentives. They must start implementation.
  • When it comes to debt, the British are the kings of binge. British debtors now owe the equivalent of UK GDP and their debts are much more sensitive to interest rate rises than US consumers'. Two-thirds of US borrowing is at fixed rates; almost 90% of secured UK household debt - mostly mortgages - is at variable rates. And UK rates have begun to rise.
  • Greek GDP growth has outpaced that of EU peers since 1996 but underlying fiscal imbalances exacerbated by faltering privatization and the inevitable passing of the Olympics effect look set to slow it down. Dimitris Kontogiannis reports.
  • The US economy is growing at over 8% a year. Jobs are returning, industrial production is improving and households are still spending. Everybody expects this business cycle to be like those before and they've lapped up stocks in the US and Europe, in anticipation.
  • Will Germany finally start to generate true-sale securitizations next year, with all that means for the German economy?
  • A growth rate rivalling China's has thrown up compelling corporate stories from India. Analysts polled by Euromoney favoured its companies for their investor-friendly qualities Kathryn Tully reports; research by Andrew Newby, Paul Pedzinski and David Skalinder.
  • As the demand for Latin bonds strengthened over 2003, so did the supply, at least in terms of the number of investment banks competing for mandates. After years of a shrinking market as a result of banks pulling out or merging, the number of players is increasing again, as a consequence of European commercial banks deciding that debt capital markets activity is a good complement to lending operations.
  • One exchange's successful capture of liquidity from another is a rare event. So why are both the London Stock Exchange and the Deutsche Börse attempting to take Dutch equities business away from Euronext? Peter Koh reports
  • Issuer: Junto de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha
  • In a bid to moderate dollar inflows, the Indian government took steps early last month to discourage Indian companies and financial institutions from borrowing in foreign currency. The new rules stipulate a lower all-in cost for commercial bank loans and restrict the purpose for which loans of over $50 million can be raised.
  • By Mike Monnelly & Camilla Palladino
  • Issuer: Commerzbank
  • Hopes that fiscal consolidation would begin paying off for Lebanon in 2004 were dashed by the draft budget approved by the cabinet in late October.
  • From banking to bongos. Until 2001, Jay MacDonald was a nickel trader, most recently for Standard Bank in London. But 18 months ago he ditched his day job and six-figure salary to become a professional bongo drum player.
  • Most bankers would have said the stakes were high enough at the Rugby World Cup final between bitter rivals Australia and England in Sydney. But that was not the case with Aussie investment bank Macquarie. It upped the ante by publishing research confidently predicting a home victory, entitled "Rugby World Cup - quant style - Why the Wallabies will win".
  • The biggest debt deal of the year from eastern Europe wasn't the Yukos loan, or the Poland dollar deal, or even the Gazprom blowout. For once, the banks involved don't want to tell you how well it went, and it probably doesn't appear on any league table. That's because it's an arms financing deal, one of the biggest private financings of this type for several years.
  • Activity might be picking up in M&A departments but that hasn't stemmed the flow of experienced bankers willing to make the leap into corporate in-house teams. Partly it's a case of unemployed corporate financiers taking any job on offer. Recruiters say that the candidate pool in M&A is still much bigger than the number of jobs available, and there are now more positions going at corporates. "The money's nothing like what you get in the good times at a bank, but we have got corporate assignments on our books at the moment, but not banking ones, which speaks for itself," says David Timson, senior partner of recruitment firm The Curzon Partnership.
  • "We've got three dollars to the pound," used to be one of the songs favoured by England's Barmy Army cricket fans on their tours to Australia. The slur on Australia's sliding currency, sometimes dubbed the Aussie peso, was one of the few ways they could get back at their hosts, who regularly thrashed them on the field.
  • CEO, the Americas Society
  • Led by imaginative sovereign issues, Latin American bond markets made a remarkable recovery this year. Corporates are now joining the bandwagon as sovereign yields come down. Felix Salmon reports.
  • Following the passage of a new law allowing for securitization in the Greek financial sector last summer, the first transaction originated by a non-state entity is about to hit the market, paving the way for what some bankers say could develop into a promising market.
  • New financial legislation and infrastructure in Dubai and Saudi Arabia give them the opportunity to challenge Bahrain's position as the Middle East's prime financial centre. Nigel Dudley reports.
  • As the controversy over the proposed constitution for the EU rages, it's hard to know if former UK finance minister Kenneth Clarke's most recent contribution will alarm Europhiles or Europhobes most.
  • In the name of transparency, liquidity and, paradoxically, fair pricing for investors, the current draft of the EU's revised Investment Services Directive threatens to undermine investment banks' internalized securities trading. Ian Mackenzie reports.
  • Has Silicon Valley finally got its groove back? Venture capital investment in start-up companies rose to $35 million in the third quarter, up 36% on the previous three months. M&A activity is also rising. And talk of a $20 billion initial public offering by Google is generating the kind of buzz last experienced in 1999.
  • Headlines exposing torrid tales of corporate miscreants and tough talk by governments and regulators about imposing new standards have kept the issue of corporate governance bubbling over in recent times. Investors suspect companies are paying no more than lip service. However, a few Asian companies have been quietly setting their own standards - and reaping significant gains. Chris Leahy reports.
  • By Brian Mooyart
  • The article entitled “The World’s Best Banks” published in the July issue mentioned Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz in the context of his stewardship of NCB in the 1990s. He has asked us to clarify a couple of issues. Sheikh Khalid wishes to make clear that he was not fined by the US regulators for his part in the collapse of BCCI. Sheikh Khalid settled the matter without any admission of guilt in relation to the charges brought against him. Sheikh Khalid also wishes it to be made clear that he was not ousted from NCB following the collapse of BCCI. He states that he chose to stand down in order to devote his time to defending himself against the BCCI charges. Euromoney wishes to further clarify that while new management then set provisions for possible loan losses in 1999 at 10 times higher than any previous year, no dramatic increase in actual loan losses has since occurred.