The Banks' Nuclear Secrets

Shaky economies in Asia aren't good places for delicate financial instruments like DERIVATIVES. The fires engulfing Indonesia could scorch American banks

The instant Asia's economies cracked last year, Howard Greenspan feared the worst for his bank. As a longtime customer and investor in the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the second largest in Canada, Greenspan knew it was a big player in the Asian derivatives market. The bank would suffer from the Asian fallout, but how much? At the company's annual meeting in January, Greenspan, a Toronto management consultant, asked CIBC chairman Al Flood about the bank's derivatives. But Flood cut him off, and a subsequent attempt was unavailing. So Greenspan took CIBC to court a month later to compel the bank...

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