Brave New Financial World

Lunchtime crowds on Calle San Martin in Buenos Aires jostle for a view of the financial data displayed in windows of the exchange houses and brokerages. Just two years ago, their concern was how fast Argentina's currency was falling. Now, the noon-hour gawkers are catching up with Argentina's surging stock market. A 10-hour plane ride north, in Mexico City, Swiss bankers also have a new approach to the markets. Not so long ago, they were discreetly salting away deposits from jittery Mexican investors into safe baskets of yen, dollars, and Swiss francs. Now, the bankers are offering Mexican stocks and bonds--and those same clients are scooping them up.

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