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INTERNATIONAL BANKING






Banks have been heavily involved in selling their services across national borders from the industrys very beginning. The first banks were located principally in global trading centers around the Mediterranean Sea, including Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Rome, aiding merchants in financing shipments of raw materials and goods for sale and exchanging one nations currency and coin for that of another to assist travelers as well as local merchants.

Nowadays international bankers face unprecedented challenges in both raising and allocating funds. E. Gerald Corrigan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, perhaps has best captured the essence of today's global bank management problems: Financial markets and institutions are caught up in an unprecedented wave of change and innovation which makes it very difficult to distinguish ends from means, causes from effects, and actions from reactions.

As the bankers themselves admit, international bank fund-raising increasingly is being affected by three forces:

1. Financial markets are broadening rapidly into worldwide institutions, and many of these markets (such as the markets for Eurocurrency deposits, commercial paper, foreign exchange, and government securities) are becoming 24-hour markets linking Europe, North America, the Far East, and the Middle East in a chain of continuous trading. Not far behind are the stock and futures markets, with overseas exchanges expanding to accommodate multiple listings of companies and financial instruments (as evidenced, for example, by the recent expansion of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and LIFFE and SIMEX in London and Singapore). Moreover, the developing nations, confronted with huge capital needs and the decline of these traditional funding sources, are seeking to tap the surplus liquidity of industrialized countries and recycle global savings.

2. Old kinds of debt and borrowing methods are being transformed into new kinds of financial instruments and new fund-raising techniques. Among the most notable developments here are securitized loans, currency options and dual-currency bonds, and global mutual funds. In recent years, international banks have found it increasingly difficult to bring in low-cost deposits and must reach farther a field for funds, encouraging financial innovation but also bringing international banks into competitive conflict over sources of funds with thousands of other financial institutions. At the same time, scores of desirable loan customers have found innovative ways to raise their own funds (such as through direct sales of short-term notes to investors) without the banker's help.



3. The barriers between securities dealers and international banks are falling in many countries, aided by London's "Big Bang" and deregulation in leading countries. This erosion of traditional roles is making it harder for the public to see real differences between financial institutions. While banks were the first to internationalize their operations, securities dealers have followed in the 1970s and 1980s, capturing many former customers that traded almost exclusively with international banks.

Many international banks and other financial firms see their future success closely linked to their ability to establish a firm beachhead in all major global markets and to offer a complete line of financial services, centered around securities trading and underwriting, investment planning and saving, credit insurance, and risk management. This is particularly important in fund-raising by international banks because of the necessity in today's intensely competitive environment for each bank to find the cheapest funds sources, whenever they may be found, around the globe.

1. Where were the first banks located?

2. What forces is international bank fund-raising being affected by?

3. What do many international banks see their future success in?

 

T E X T 7



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