On paper it looks great, like so many other New Economy ventures. We're talking about the exciting new portals through which giant banks are creating alliances to deliver foreign exchange services (see page 55). Here we have titans lining up, taking sides and dreaming of a killer app that will dominate the $1.5 trillion-a-day forex business. It's mind-boggling: Citigroup, Chase Manhattan, Deutsche Bank and more than two dozen others on one side (Atriax), and on the other, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston, UBS, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Bank of America, plus a handful of others (FXalliance).

True, we're in a new world, and what has come before may have no relevance to what we're facing. But the history of consortia, especially bank consortia, is not good. Few have worked.

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