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Concerns Abound As Global Economy Churns

posted on September 14, 2001


Of the thousands of heart-rending stories to emerge from this week's tragedy, few have been as compelling on both a commercial and human level as that of Cantor Fitzgerald Partners. With its offices at the very top of one of the World Trade Center towers, Cantor Fitzgerald grew to become the world's largest trader of third market equities and global fixed-income instruments. It's estimated the firm controlled up to 75 percent of all trading in long-term Treasuries ... and handled trillions of dollars in transactions.

Now, 600 of the 800 people who worked for Cantor at the top of the doomed building are unaccounted for. And though colleagues, in honor of the missing and the dead, reopened for business by midweek, the global financial network shaped by companies like Cantor Fitzgerald was shaken to its core.

Indeed, the financial and political interdependence that fostered the climate in which companies like Cantor thrived has been tragically primed for a sea change.

Concerns Abound As Global Economy Churns Against the ominous backdrop of rescuers digging through rubble, Congress tried to get back to work on Wednesday. But late Thursday, security concerns forced the evacuation of the Capitol.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are scheduled to meet in Washington later this month, but officials are strongly in favor of canceling the meetings.

As world leaders condemned the actions of terrorists in New York and Washington, the U.S. was reminded this week that, increasingly, it is part of an interdependent, global community... and when one link is damaged, the entire chain suffers.

With the World Trade Organization scheduled to meet in Qatar, later this year, there likely will be increased security and a heightened awareness of global food concerns.

In fact, an adequate and safe food supply is cause for concern in nearly every corner of the world.

Parts of Africa and Asia, continue to battle hunger. In Europe, the struggle has been to contain and eradicate foot-and-mouth disease. For the U.S., which arguably has the most plentiful and cheapest food supply in the world, the issue tends to be more philosophical... Should so few hands control a food system relied on by so many? Can genetically modified foods be segregated from conventional foods, and so on.

And there are strident differences between WTO members themselves, involving subsidies, market access, and the environment to name just a few.

On Friday, Congress approved the expenditure of forty billion dollars to provide relief to victims of the New York tragedy and to hunt down the perpetrators. The measure also included the authorization to use force.

With matters of national security at the forefront, it appears unlikely that Congress soon will undertake more mundane concerns, including work on the next farm bill. But when it does, it's likely the financial playing field will have been tilted by the events of the week ... and the next farm bill will be structured differently than current law.

Tags: 9/11 markets news terrorism