Passing the Buck: Banks, Governments, and Third World Debt

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Passing the Buck: Banks, Governments, and Third World Debt

By Philip A. Wellons
Harvard Business School Press, 1987
342 pp. $24.95

No matter how international their operations, banks still differ significantly from one another according to their nationality. This is not just because of what their governments do, but is also the result of their place in the national economy and of the influence of history. Professor Wellons demonstrates these propositions in an excellent and many-sided book that focuses on British, French, German, Japanese and American banks. He deploys rich material including, for example, a case study of bidding for contracts for a Mexican steel plant; a comparison of national regulatory laws and practices; a study of the record of 28 banks as leaders of syndicates; an analysis of the way in which an international lender of last resort is created and what limited functions it performs. Whatever the outcome of the debt crisis-on which he has some recommendations-Wellons concludes that "banks that know how to use their governments as allies in international competition will be at an advantage."

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