Tokyo's Giant Brokers Take A Nasty Tumble

In the go-go days before the 1990 Tokyo stock market crash, Nomura Securities Co. epitomized Japan's expanding power in global money circles. As the largest of Japan's Big Four brokers, its $14.1 billion in equity outweighed that of Merrill Lynch, Salomon Brothers, and Shearson Lehman combined. Now, there are signs that Nomura and its main rivals--Daiwa, Nikko, and Yamaichi--are in for tough times. On May 10, Standard & Poor's Corp. put all four companies on a credit watch that may lead to a ratings downgrading and higher borrowing costs. Daiwa, Nikko, and Yamaichi were recently downgraded by the Japan Bond Research Institute.

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