Latest articles from Comment

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.

Top 1001-2000 highlights growing polarisation between the big league and the smaller players

August 2, 2004

As Japan’s banking sector gets set for a mega-merger, the Banks of the Future listing illustrates the challenge facing emerging markets to strengthen their banks, and by extension their economies.
The Banks of the Future listing of the world’s Top 1001-2000 banks demonstrates dramatically not only the dominance of US and European banks even among the world’s smaller banks but also the paucity of capital available to banks in developing countries trying to grow their economies.

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.

Award highlights women’s plight in management

August 2, 2004

Morgan Stanley’s recent $54m record settlement in a sex discrimination case will force banks to put the issue of bringing women into senior management on the front burner again, says Karina Robinson

Merger marks Japan’s reform progress

August 2, 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.

Why banks need a reality check on global economic change

August 2, 2004

Most predictions about the world are based on the increasingly powerful role of China and its booming economy. The trouble is that China is not booming in anything like the style that its official statistics would suggest. Leading US academic Lester Thurow, in a startling article written for The Banker’s Viewpoint, looks more closely at Chinese data and finds it wanting. A debate is now required on what this means for the global economy.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel’s prime minister in waiting

July 2, 2004

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s finance minister, tells Karina Robinson about Israel’s economic turnaround and his thoughts on returning to power.

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