10 OCTOBER 1998, Page 28


THE MONEY that flowed so freely all around the world has been flowing back again and has left debtors and creditors beached. When money dries up, value dries up with it. The rush to raise cash leads to forced sales and bargain-basement prices, and those lenders who are still in business find that their security is not so secure as they thought. Then comes the next contrac- tion. No wonder the bankers are pale. Some of them have stayed at home and four of them — the top brass of the Untied Bank of Switzerland — lost their jobs and their invitations along with the money their bank lost by pumping it into a hedge. There will be more losses and more casualties. pie strong will survive and the losers will come over with their hands up. Banking and credit have always been like this. The mistake is or was to believe the old seduc- tive promise: this time it's different.