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July 2002

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  • There have been many means mooted for helping to raise money in the memory of those killed in the September terrorist attacks in New York but Barclays Capital has come up with one of the more apt, as well as more entertaining. At the end of last month, on Saturday, June 29 to be exact, the UK and US Barclays Capital football teams met up with the Fire Department of New York and New York Police Department football teams (they call themselves soccer teams, of course) for a four-way tournament played in New York's East River Park.
  • Investment banks have a genius for gobbledegook. Whether dressing up their activities in meaningless jargon to bamboozle their clients, or giving preposterous job titles to their people to make them feel more important, they are masters of the craft. It is a long time since the appearance of silly-sounding titles such as "global head" first raised a titter. And we have all become jaded by the serial abuse of language carried out by investment banks over the years.
  • The euro continues its recovery against the US dollar. Everything seems rosy in the EU garden. Dissatisfaction among citizens has not become a concerted anti-European platform. The extreme right in France has failed in elections and it is inconceivable that German dissatisfaction with the euro will spill over into actual opposition to it. The British government is growing increasingly confident about its ability to take the UK into monetary union. Above all, enlargement seems to be on target.
  • For such an original thinker, Joseph Stiglitz's latest book, Globalization and its Discontents, has a desperately unoriginal title. But you mustn't let the fact that offers three other works with that title put you off reading this one. For Stiglitz has produced the first genuinely authoritative and compelling argument that globalization, at least as practised by the IMF and the World Trade Organization, is actually a bad thing for precisely those developing countries the multilateral organizations are meant to be trying to help.
  • Investors looking for silver linings to cloudy markets might care to take note of a new report that backs up the theory that you should "sell in May and go away". Taking a long summer holiday is the best way to avoid the worst downsides of a bear market, says Heydon Traub, managing director of global asset allocation at State Street Global Advisors.
  • As if London-based bankers didn't have enough distractions to deal with during the World Cup, Merrill Lynch tested its employees' focus on the job to the limits last month. A photograph of supermodel Kate Moss was splashed across the giant screen in Merrill's lobby to welcome management at Burberry as they arrived at the bank for a presentation. Merrill is leading the luxury goods company's forthcoming IPO along with Morgan Stanley.
  • Kazakhstan
  • The growing involvement of institutional investors in leveraged loans is bringing liquidity and transparency to markets traditionally seen as clubby and opaque. As an asset class, leveraged loans have a lot going for them - despite the current dearth of supply. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
  • Corporates need bank liquidity more than ever as the capital markets can close suddenly. Bank providers sense an opportunity and loan volumes, though down, have remained healthy. But banks also need to shore up their defences or risk drowning in bad debt.
  • After Argentina, emerging-market professionals are facing up to the prospect of a default in Brazil. The effects could be so disastrous that collective action clauses in bond documentation are winning more and more favour. But broader IMF measures look necessary if such restructuring mechanisms are to work effectively.
  • There have not yet been any cross-border mergers between the leading European telecoms operators. But some of these troubled companies may have to get together to survive. They could do worse than look to Scandinavia for inspiration.
  • Falling stock markets in the past 18 months have affected the share prices of financial institutions of all sizes and from all countries. But the effects have been uneven. A comparison of the shifting market capitalizations of the world's leading financial institutions from March 2001 to March 2002 makes surprising reading.
  • Latvia
  • Wimm-Bill-Dann, the first Russian company to launch an IPO on the NYSE, posted flat profits in the first quarter. The dairy and juice producer is already demonstrating its skills in the art of positive spin. It says results are good if one-off seasonal promotional expenses and the higher cost of raw materials over the Russian winter are taken into account. It claims that its 2001 and first-quarter 2002 net profits are in line with company targets, although its net profit margin remained flat over 2001 at 4.8%, below analyst expectations.
  • Another week, another scandal. At least the regulators are learning from past mistakes. Having been upstaged by New York State Attorney Eliot Spitzer over conflicts in sell-side research, SEC chairman Harvey Pitt took less than 24 hours to respond after WorldCom admitted to a $3.8 billion accounting fraud.
  • Czech Republic
  • Western corporate governance scandals have prompted a flight to quality in emerging markets that are seen to be cleaning up their acts. But investors need to keep their wits about them: in some cases corporate governance may only have improved from "horrible" to "bad".
  • Usually when we receive letters we publish them in the Market Monitor section (see below). From next month, Euromoney is launching a dedicated letters page in the magazine and we would encourage readers who have a view, either on the contents of the magazine or website, or on key issues in the markets, to contact us. This is your opportunity to respond directly to what we write and we welcome your views and opinions - favourable or unfavourable. So if you have a few moments to spare, why not drop us a line? You can contact the editor at Euromoney, Nestor House, Playhouse Yard, London EC4V 5EX or email to: Dear Sir
  • European Exchange traded funds are taking off - with more than e1 billion now invested. Crédit Lyonnais Asset Management and Barclays Global Investors each offer ETFs based on the S&P Europe 350, with funds respectively traded on Euronext and the American Stock Exchange. The S&P Europe 350 is the only index offering exposure to European markets that trades as an ETF in both the US and Europe. It consists of 350 large caps from 17 European markets. The stocks are chosen from a universe of publicly traded European companies, covering roughly 70% of the market cap of the broader European market. Futures and options on the index are traded on the Spanish Derivatives Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
  • Outrage over executive compensation is now widespread. Linking pay to economic valued added rather than more easily manipulated EBITDA might be an improvement.
  • Fund management
  • Fund management
  • Ratings agencies
  • Hedge funds
  • Managing director, Ernst & Young
  • Issuer: Malaysia Global Sukuk IncAmount: $600 millionLaunched: June 25 2002Bookrunner: HSBC
  • In a year of falling securities markets, liquidity crises, credit blow-ups, scandals and falling business volumes, only the very best firms stand out. Euromoney commends this year's winners of the 2002 Awards for Excellence. Peter Lee, Julian Marshall, Nick Evans, Antony Currie, Jennifer Morris, Tessa Oakley.