The shock waves of the Asian currency crisis are reverberating through some of the biggest U.S. banks this year. The downturn in Asia comes at a time when banks are already struggling with a frenzy of high-cost mergers and acquisitions, a slowdown in commercial loans, and flat yields on long-term loans. James Schmidt, a portfolio manager at John Hancock Funds in Boston, expects commercial loan growth to slow from 9% to 10% this year to 7% to 8% in 1998, taking bank earnings down with it. "Earnings per share growth was about 12% in 1997, and we're expecting 10% growth" in 1998, Schmidt says.

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