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September 1997

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  • 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.
  • Did Bankers Trust buy Alex Brown to make itself more attractive to a potential buyer? And should NationsBank buy First Chicago to give it more bargaining power in any future merger talks, possibly with BankAmerica? As America awaits its biggest-ever banking mergers, such are the advanced strategies under discussion. All will become clear after the final round of mega-mergers, reports Peter Lee.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Private-sector Brazilian and Argentine institutions top our table of the leading banks in Latin America ranked by shareholders' equity. Commentary by Rebecca Dobson.
  • The 1997 Euromoney poll reveals some sharp differences of opinion between borrowers and bankers themselves about which are the best capital market intermediaries. But JP Morgan stays the overall favourite. By Rebecca Dobson.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Foreign banks looking to diversify in international markets have pinpointed Latin America as the new growth area. But whereas in the past they largely confined themselves to investment banking and elite customers they are now seeking to build broader retail operations, either through outright purchases of local banks or buying large stakes in them. Michelle Celarier reports on a race that has sent the prices of even the shakier institutions to surprising levels.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The new South African government's enthusiasm for the free market has surprised some sceptics. But does it have the right plan to tackle the country's problems of entrenched unemployment, fitful economic growth and a heavy dependence on gold exports - not to mention rampant crime? Bruce Cameron reports.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Issuer: World Bank
  • The New Zealand economy's been riding a switchback. Stability would offer a welcome breather, as Albert Smith explains.
  • When Armstrong World Industries, a $2 billion US company, announced in early June that it was launching a $354 million hostile takeover of Domco, a Canadian floor-products maker controlled by Sommer Allibert of Paris, investment bankers were surprised to learn that the company's long-time investment banker, Goldman Sachs, was not advising Armstrong.
  • The African Development Bank (ADB) gets full marks for its efforts to reform and modernize its operations in what is arguably one of the world's toughest banking environments.
  • 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.
  • This is the game to beat all games. And it has a purpose: to give bankers and regulators experience of a financial crisis without the pain of losing their money - or their jobs. Euromoney (with PA Consulting Group and CSFI) set the conditions for a financial meltdown and invited 50 experienced professionals to come and play it out. The tension and the rivalry were real. Most agree they learned something about crises, and perhaps how to prepare better for the next one. By David Shirreff.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia, shows an increasing tendency to talk rubbish. Commenting in early September on foreign investor selling of Malaysian stocks and the ringgit, he said: "They are racists. I say it openly. They are not happy to see us prosper."