Latest articles from Western Europe

Italian debt rating downgrade comes not a moment too soon

August 2, 2004

Political infighting among four-member coalition underscores the need for structural reforms and perhaps a new government.
The Standard & Poor’s downgrade of Italian debt to AA- is long overdue. The only wonder is that the other rating agencies have yet to jump on board.

Grand Duchy strikes back

August 2, 2004

Facing competition from other centres, Luxembourg has found ways to innovate, writes Jan F Wagner.
Despite the perceptions of many in western Europe, Luxembourg’s success as a financial centre is not down to its private banking industry alone. In fact, it has more to do with a financial activity that is a lot more mundane: the domiciling and administering of investment funds.

Taxing times ahead for Luxembourg

August 2, 2004

Jan F Wagner examines Luxembourg’s options for maintaining a competitive edge as the end of its tax-free status looms.
In Germany, Luxembourg is known for one thing only: it’s where rich Germans put their savings to shelter them from tax. This may sound overly simplistic, but it’s easy to see why the tiny country has gained that reputation.

BoE reforms sterling markets

August 2, 2004

The Bank of England isproposing reform of the sterling money markets in a bid to reduce the volatility of short-term interest rates. In what the bank says are the “most far reaching reforms for a quarter of a century or more”, it will replace the present system, which involves frequent bank intervention to stabilise rates, with an arrangement modelled on best practice that should minimise interest rate swings.

French savings merger spawns a global player

July 2, 2004

French government efforts to encourage mergers between state-owned and private banks are paying off, says Jan Wagner. But Germany’s Sparkassen are resisting efforts to get them to follow suit.

Working its way towards the West

July 2, 2004

Turkey is endeavouring to meet requirements for EU membership by extending its IMF standby agreement to combat spiralling debt while attempting to recoup money that was used to rehabilitate shaky private banks. Metin Demirsar reports from Istanbul.

Germany’s VDH takes control of European covered bonds dispute

June 2, 2004

German mortgage banks are campaigning to develop a common legal definition and standard for covered bonds. The dispute was sparked last year by three UK banks issuing covered bonds which do not legally qualify as this asset class.

Plenty of action at the EU’s edge

June 2, 2004

Ireland continues to be a magnet for foreign banks conducting international business, and some are now targeting the domestic retail market. Michael Imeson reports from Dublin.

Another success for the corporate healer

June 2, 2004

Intesa managing director and CEO Corrado Passera tells Karina Robinson how he plans to keep the bank on an upward path after turning it around.

Confidence rises

June 2, 2004

A new generation of directors, bankers, economists and politicians are determined that Portugal will be completely transformed, writes Peter Wise in Lisbon.

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