The world of finance is almost as integrated today as it was in 1913.The catastrophy of World War I, however, set off events that hindered what some consider an inevitable march of history toward globalization. But today that phenomenon seems to be recovering.

To some, though, these "best of times" appear really more like August 1914-the prelude to WWI-except that current threatening forces are not imperial. Globalization may sound great, but integrated financial markets mean greater vulnerability to chain reactions that can threaten disaster from unexpected places. The collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert in the late '80s, or, more recently, Barings are only two examples.

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