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May 2001

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  • After a nightmare decade of war, sanctions, mismanagement and institutionalized criminality, Serbs are hoping for a speedy deliverance from a mounting economic crisis. Yet despite promises of aid to the post-Milosevic Serbian and federal Yugoslav governments, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Erik D’Amato reports from the frontlines of the most critical European economic transition since 1991
  • Faced with rising technology costs and regulatory change, fund managers are seeking to transfer more processes to their global custodians. In doing so, they are presenting service providers with a new set of challenges and opportunities. Rick Butler asks how far the trend to outsourcing can go
  • The Federal Reserve caught the markets off their guard when it slashed the Federal Funds rate by half a percentage point on April 18.
  • India has built an innovative, fast-growing export industry in IT services, software and equipment thanks to a highly skilled, low-cost workforce. However, the US slowdown has hit share prices of Indian IT companies hard and executives fear it could damage their revenues. Others are more sanguine, pointing out that a newly chastened, cost-conscious IT industry in the US will find India’s value-for-money outsourcing proposition even more attractive.
  • Smith&Wollensky has come up with the ideal recipe for those bankers and investors who are still smarting, and who are feeling slightly less flush in the wallet department. Despite sounding like a boutique financial firm, Smith&Wollensky is in fact one of New York's premier steakhouses, oft frequented for lunch and dinner by all echelons of Wall Street.
  • Richard Li, chairman of Hong Kong-based Pacific Century Cyber Works (PCCW), is rewriting his CV. But he's not just updating his work experience and leisure activities. He has to make a major alteration to his qualifications.
  • Mexico's bourse looks more like a battleground these days than a financial market.
  • Marc Viénot talks about his paris Europlace and life after Société Générale.
  • Merrill Lynch Investment Managers’ approach to the US institutional market can best be described as nascent. Until two months ago, there wasn’t even anyone charged with the responsibility for overseeing, developing or even simply describing Merrill’s US institutional business.
  • Still convinced that their ailing currencies are sick because of the attentions of speculators, Asean finance ministers have agreed a fund for mutual defence through forex market intervention. Most bankers reckon the $1 billion put in the pot is a derisory amount to cope with what is anyway a misdiagnosed condition. Beyond that there’s disagreement on whether Asean currencies have bottomed out or have further to fall.
  • Former assistant secretary of US Treasury for international affairs
  • Peter Hancock has made quite a name for himself as a talented banker, skillful innovator and determined risk-taker. So when he addressed Isda's AGM in Washington last month, he was guaranteed a good turnout. But, as the audience quickly realized, Hancock has a talent for saying a lot while giving little away.
  • Turkey has been suspended on the brink since February 22 when the government floated the lira and ended the 14-month stabilization programme supported by the IMF. The new programme has not been finalized and until it is Turkey will drift in semi-darkness.
  • KMV designed its expected default rate charts as a way to make first banks, and now investors, better able to monitor credit risk and trade bonds. Now its data might be the harbinger of doom for the US, which has spent most of the year hoping that a series of interest rate cuts will be enough to salve its ills and stave off recession.
  • The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the biggest in the world, with fierce competition between hotels and airlines to persuade the much-prized business traveller to stay or fly with them. What differentiates the hotels and airlines that these much-sought-after business customers regard as the most desirable? Euromoney polled executives at 115 institutions from all over the world on their favourite hotels – city by city – and their favourite airlines.
  • New bankruptcy legislation making its way through the US Congress may have unintended consequences that could cause it to backfire on the banking industry.
  • South Africa is a contradictory country. Its economy is the size of Poland's or Thailand's. It has income disparities similar to Brazil's. In population and wage rates, it's Argentina. But it spends three times more of GDP on public education than China and twice as much as the average of all emerging markets.
  • Six months ago, Peru might have been in bad shape, but at least the future looked bright.
  • On a trip to Baroda, a dusty, remote town in western India, a senior executive from a multinational in Mumbai was astonished to find a small IT company that processes parking tickets for the New York Police Department.
  • The rapidly evolving credit default swap market advanced a few steps this month when the International Swaps&Derivatives Association (Isda) reached a breakthrough agreement on restructuring. Its amendment states that when a default swap is triggered by a restructuring event the maximum maturity of the obligations the buyer of protection can deliver to the seller is 30 months.
  • It's been another bad month for the European Central Bank, with everyone telling it what to do. Horst Köhler of the IMF said the ECB would have to cut rates to prevent the US recession from spreading. US finance minister Paul O'Neill agreed, and at a meeting in Malmö in Sweden, so did European finance ministers.
  • If Silvio Berlusconi and Italy's new centre-right coalition take power they will depend heavily on Milanese tax lawyer and academic Giulio Tremonti to win and maintain the trust of the financial markets.
  • Winners and losers reflect on the results.
  • Colleagues describe Jeff Peek as straightforward, engaging, decent, and a man with a clear vision and a good sense of humour.
  • The strategic resource that Indian IT companies rely on to grow at the recent cracking rate of 50% a year is the country’s pool of 340,000 technical professionals. Yet, if a recent study by consultants McKinsey is to be believed, that pool is not growing fast enough.
  • After the initial shock following the announcement in March that both Carol Galley and Stephen Zimmerman were to retire this year, it turns out that very little has changed.
  • Of the leading multi-dealer sites that will serve the online foreign exchange market, only Currenex and State Street’s Global Link FX Connect services are trading yet. Both Atriax and FXall are yet to complete testing, though both expect to be on stream in the very near future.
  • While Horlick’s problems were perhaps the most widely documented of the SocGen team, Keith Percy and John Richards also had their own difficulties.
  • Russia defaulting on its domestic debt in 1998 might seem like a distant memory, but one economic problem keeps coming up, and is stifling foreign investment: poor corporate governance.
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