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Delete Merger marks Japan’s reform progress

August 24, 2004

Last month’s proposal of marriage between MTFG and UFJ would create the largest bank in Japan, but it will only be positive news if the two businesses can be integrated, writes Geraldine Lambe
For the Japanese banking system, recuperation has been a long and painful process. It is only now, after more than a decade of despair, that Japan’s so-called mega-banks are ready to start performing as mega-banks should.

China’s statistics don’t add up

August 2, 2004

Statistics interest about 10% of the population. The processes that determine the underlying accuracy of statistics probably interest 1% of the population. And the number of people willing to spend more money to improve the accuracy of statistics approaches zero. But, unfortunately, without good statistics, those interested in economics are flying blind without a map.

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.

Ackermann acquitted in Mannesman bonus trial

August 2, 2004

After seven tortuous months of the Mannesman trial, the Dusseldorf regional court has acquitted the six defendants, including Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, in what could prove to be a landmark decision in the German corporate world.

Reserve Bank of India ruling dismays bankers and investors

August 2, 2004

A proposed policy on ownership rules for Indian private banks put out by the Indian central bank on July 2 has left bankers and investors dismayed.
To ensure that ownership and control of private banks is as diverse as possible, the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, proposes to limit ownership by a single investor or corporate group to 10% of the paid-up capital of the bank.

Correction

August 2, 2004

In the July issue of The Banker (page 60), it was reported that French savings bank Caisse d’Epargne had merged with state-owned Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC). Caisse d’Epargne has effected a merger with CDC, but only with part of it, namely the commercial and investment bank CDC Ixis.

PRS scheme needs reinforcing

August 2, 2004

The poverty reduction strategies (PRS) initiative, launched by the World Bank and IMF in 1999, has helped focus attention on poverty but needs strengthening, the bank’s independent operations evaluation department (OED) said.
It said most PRS papers completed by low income countries “focus largely on public expenditures, and pay more attention to social sector spending than to infrastructure, rural development and other areas with poverty reduction potential”. It added that more needed to be done to find out what development and poverty reduction policies worked best.
The OED said the initiative had added the most value in countries where government leadership and aid management were already strong, but said the initiative had been difficult to implement because there was no mechanism to account for differing country conditions and no milestones to help assess progress.

Mexican bank accord eases bad debt spat

August 2, 2004

One of the thorniest chapters of Mexico’s 1994-95 financial meltdown may be closing. In mid-July, four of the country’s biggest foreign-owned banks – Citigroup-controlled Banamex, HSBC of the UK, BBVA Bancomer, the local unit of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, and Mexican-run Banorte – agreed to absorb nearly $830m in bad loans that the government took on in return for bonds in order to help save the banks following the peso crash.

New money laundering rules lead to chaos in Russian bank system

August 2, 2004

Russians have seen it all before; when the queues began to form outside banks that were refusing to pay out last month, panic began to set in.
A bank crisis that started in May with the closure of medium-sized Sodbiznesbank threatened to spin out of control after the large retail bank, Guta Bank, closed its doors and a run started on accounts at Alfa Bank, one of the two biggest commercial banks in Russia.

SEC registration solves nothing

August 2, 2004

On September 29 2003, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported on the hedge fund industry after a 15-month investigation. The most significant recommendation is for hedge fund managers to register with the SEC under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

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