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March 2003

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  • Impending full liberalization of Malaysia's banking system is encouraging local players to grow their investment banking business, with RHB Sakura and CIMB taking the lead.
  • In volatile equity markets, more deals than ever are being done with no documentation and little if any due diligence. Are banks taking too many risks?
  • A unified European securities trading infrastructure finally appears to be within reach. But will the market appreciate it when it gets what it's always asked for? After all, inefficiencies present opportunities to make money. If cross-border trading gets cheaper the benefit should be passed back to the end investor. Yet banks and fund managers, under pressure to slash costs, might not be ready to hand it over.
  • UK prime minister Tony Blair is facing the biggest test of his political career as he tries to persuade the British public to support military action against Iraq in alliance with the US. But his government is not just dealing with a major foreign policy problem. The UK economy is also under scrutiny.
  • President Arroyo took office in the Philippines with ambitious plans to increase revenues, curb corruption and cut the state deficit. But after two years in office little has been achieved on these fronts. Now pessimistic country analysts are making worrying comparisons between Asia's busiest sovereign borrower and Argentina.
  • Few people would want Michael Conolly's job. As the chief financial officer of Portugal's state-owned carrier TAP, he faces all the problems his airline peers are struggling with, plus a few that are specific to his own company.
  • The new euro-denominated 30-year bond market found natural buyers in insurers with long-term liabilities. But when the market broadened into a rush, things rapidly went wrong.
  • Roberto Lavagna is that rarest of breeds in Argentina: a popular politician. As finance minister he has put the economy on a steady growth course as elections approach.
  • IT WAS THE kind of grouping that could only happen at Davos. Five Latin American presidents were assembled in one place in February, for a panel discussion: Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, Eduardo Duhalde of Argentina, Alejandro Toledo of Peru, Vicente Fox of Mexico, and Lula of Brazil. Uribe explained the economic reforms that he had managed to push through with the aid of his finance minister, Roberto Junguito, who was sitting next to Francisco Gil Diaz, his Mexican counterpart.
  • Foreign exchange
  • Malaysia
  • John R Taylor Jr is the CEO and founder of FXConcepts, a global investment management and research firm specializing in currency risk ( Uncontrollable major disruptions in financial markets are a distant memory. That's about to change.
  • Jochen Friedrich arrived at DZ Bank last year to become head of fixed income. This bank, along with WGZ Bank, is one of the two central institutions linking Germany's mutual banking network. Consolidation is under way among the cooperatives as well as the Landesbanken. DZ itself is the product of a difficult merger between DG Bank and GZ Bank, and expects the total number of German cooperative banks to fall from about 1,600 today to roughly 800 by 2008.
  • Credit derivatives
  • CEO, Epic Investment Consulting
  • Despite investment banks' profits being under pressure, with share prices on the slide, bonuses and jobs being slashed and a general state of panic and insecurity throughout the industry, all the major banks will still be shelling out for a box or suite at this month's CSFB-sponsored Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
  • Germany's banking elite struggles to keep a secret, it seems. Confidential talks between executives from the country's largest banks and government officials wound up being anything but.
  • There's a war that's always being fought in financial markets - sometimes beneath the surface, sometimes in plain view - between the interests of debt holders and shareholders.
  • The focus of consolidation of European equity exchanges lies in the triangle of Deutsche Börse, Euronext and the London Stock Exchange. To the impartial, dispassionate observer, there might seem little problem with any tie-up between London and a continental European player. But to those who work and live in the markets, exchanges, like national airlines, are a mark of a country's honour and something to be fought for.
  • Portugal
  • Pity small investors. After three years of being kicked around by the markets, now they're being kicked by the people who encouraged them to have a punt in the first place.
  • Bankers have long been fond of jargon and they do a good line in euphemisms too. As we reported in December, some will do anything to avoid actually saying that the economy is in tatters and people are being sacked.
  • Financial markets seem to be assuming a short, sharp US assault on Iraq with finite post-war costs. But there's well-documented evidence that Iraq is only the first step in a strategy of total war that could undermine both the US and global economy.
  • Argentina is coming out of crisis, but few investors have noticed. Those that have can do little to profit from their knowledge. But there's a long way to go and the aspirations of the 1990s are unlikely to be fulfilled.
  • With much of south America in economic turmoil, central America has become a safe haven for high-yield bond investors. But oversupply and renewed instability might soon undermine the region's attractiveness.
  • Issuer: Deutsche Telekom
  • Paul Myners' address at Institutional Investor's European equity research awards' dinner was a neat second act to New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer's attack on US equity research analysts at the magazine's awards dinner in New York in November.
  • With so many corporates under pressure to raise cash, and understandably loath to sell off holdings at depressed prices in a weak market, the hunt for higher valuations is driving a wave of complex structured equity deals.