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September 1997

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  • Currency crises in emerging markets are the result of too much foreign capital, not too little. An early warning barometer is a country's "fundamental balance" - current account plus foreign direct investment. But even then, if small economies can't absorb the inflow they should form regional currency blocs. Roll on the Singapore yen, the Polish euro and the Mexican dollar, writes Michael Howell.
  • In the game of Monopoly there's nothing worse than going to jail. Thanks to a bizarre negative-pledge clause written in the mid-1980s, Westpac has suffered the capital markets' equivalent. For more than a decade, it has been locked away from the international bond markets. But not any more. The Australian bank received its get-out-of-jail-free card on August 26. Now, free to borrow without constraint, it is mustard-keen to enter the bond market.
  • Its issuers are good enough for the international capital markets. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Morgan Grenfell are eager lead managers of their deals. Futures contracts on its equity index are listed in Chicago and Singapore. Its stock market has risen by over 30% this year, in stark contrast to neighbours Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand whose stock markets have each crashed between 25% and 35%.
  • Belt-tightening is not easy, particularly when the belt is an imported fine leather one with a high-priced Louis Vuitton label. As the IMF urges financial self-control, Thailand's elite are finding the austerity package hard to swallow.
  • It seems anyone from eastern Europe can launch a Eurobond these days.
  • Credit Suisse First Boston can't keep its staff, it seems, once they've seen Moscow. Less than two years after losing Boris Jordan, who opened the Russian securities market for CSFB and the rest of the world, the firm has parted company with local equities chief Peter Halloran.
  • The New Zealand economy's been riding a switchback. Stability would offer a welcome breather, as Albert Smith explains.
  • The development of the simple syndicated loan into a more liquid security advanced a stage further this summer with two groundbreaking financings which arranger Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) describes as bond/loan hybrids.
  • In the old days, regulators set the rules and bankers followed them. Now, the Group of Thirty wants to create voluntary standards for global risk management. Some people applaud this experiment. But bankers who Oppose it have been biting their tongues. James Smalhout reports.
  • Emerging market governments may be keen to attract foreign equity investment, but, as foreign investors in Russia are learning, the lack of legal protection threatens to stop such investment in its tracks. By Christopher Stoakes.
  • Australia's financial markets have hit the headlines this year. While Australian dollar-denominated Eurobonds have been in vogue with European investors, privatization and a changing mortgage market have spurred a wave of issuance by Australian companies. Albert Smith looks at some of the landmark deals.
  • The world's economic and financial leaders at this month's IMF/World Bank meeting will preside over a strengthening global economy. Real GDP will be stronger next year than this. But the reasons differ by region.
  • Issuer: World Bank
  • Talk about a baptism of fire. The crisis in Mexico erupted soon after economist Stanley Fischer joined the IMF in September 1994 as first deputy manager. It was a brutal lesson in the ways of the real world for the former head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's world-renowned economics department.
  • Taiwan's Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank is an unknown name in global finance. But this private-sector bank is very special. It gets a top ααα in Euromoney's new emerging market bank (Emba) ratings, covering 450 lesser-known banks. Pakistan's state-owned United Bank came bottom. The ratings go where others have feared to tread. Brian Caplen explains their use as a vital tool for counterparty risk.
  • It's been the year of the emerging markets with many of Euromoney's 50 best deals of the year coming from key countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and Argentina. Our selection focuses on the important, interesting and innovative transactions from January to August. We have selected five for special mention and also highlighted some deals that were, frankly, dogs. By Robert Minto.
  • With a rare combination of rising oil prices, bumper harvests and policy reforms lifting the economic fortunes of the Middle East, its banks enjoyed a good year in 1996. Tony Wynne and Anthony Christofides take a look at the top 100 Arab banks and assess their prospects for 1997.
  • Much more private-sector activity from Brazil is expected on international capital markets as the privatization programme progresses. Unsecured bond issuance is only part of this expansion. And as hyperinflation becomes a distant memory, the domestic capital market is also growing rapidly. Michael Marray reports.
  • For emerging-market bond investors in the know, the former Soviet Union - especially central Asia - is the place to be. Debt markets have rallied across the board, yields are mostly buoyant, and currencies have held their own against the dollar. But title and settlement can sometimes be a little hairy. Theodore Kim investigates the excitement.
  • His combative approach - along with $70 billion reserves - has seen off all the currency speculators so far. But does Joseph Yam sleep easy at night?
  • Not all the central bank governors in Hong Kong this September for the IMF/World Bank annual meetings are staid middle-aged men in suits.
  • Investment bankers have nothing but plaudits for Gao Jian, the man who is turning China into one of the world's premier borrowers. A smallish, soft-spoken individual, Gao is the director general of the state debt-management department at the ministry of finance. He cuts a distinctive figure, sporting a shock of spiky hair, a worsted silk tie and chunky black, rectangular spectacles.
  • Hong Kong is always a party town. The IMF/World Bank meeting can only add to its renown as the city that never stays sober. Delegates will be faced with over eight cocktail parties on Monday 22 September and at least 10 the next day. But which are the ones to be seen at?
  • After two successful privatizations this summer, foreign investors have become highly enthusiastic about Polish stocks. And there's more to come: some 80 companies have applied to the SEC to issue shares before the end of the year, and 60 of these would be IPOs. Antony Currie reports.
  • International investors this summer gained their best chance yet to invest in Transcaucasia, the region of the CIS separating Russia and the Middle East, with the start of voucher privatization in Azerbaijan. The country's programme is more open to foreign investment than almost any other in the CIS and lets investors take exposure to an economy that is growing at more than 5% a year.
  • The Mexican financial scene has substantially changed since the 1994 crisis. Out of the dust of the crash broader and better organized capital markets have emerged. Debt restructuring has built up yield curves and bank asset sales are creating new instruments. Even the equity markets seem more buoyant. Jennifer Tierney reports.
  • Rather than demonizing George Soros as the prime mover of the run on their currencies, Asian central bankers need to ask themselves hard questions. Why did the hedge funds go on the attack, and who provided the funding? Do they realize what banks are up to, have they decided which of these activities are legitimate, and are there any effective means of restraint? Laura Covill reports.
  • Next month marks the biggest change to London's stock market since Big Bang of 1986. On October 20 the London Stock Exchange (LSE) will replace its current quote-driven system of market-makers with an electronic order book - initially for the market's top 100 shares and later, perhaps, for the whole market. This innovation, accompanied by a number of other changes to trading practices and regulations, will have a major impact on both the liquidity and transparency of the stock market, But it may, inadvertently, erode the LSE's virtual monopoly on securities trading in the UK.
  • France's banks are stifled by bureaucratic management, crippled by the over-expansion they undertook in the 1980s and hampered by regulatory obstacles to restructuring. What better time for an outsider with deep pockets to buy into one of the largest banking markets. By John McGrath.
  • Private-sector Brazilian and Argentine institutions top our table of the leading banks in Latin America ranked by shareholders' equity. Commentary by Rebecca Dobson.