American corporations have not paid enough attention to the euro, the new European currency that will be adopted by 11 countries in two weeks, according to executives at Barclays Capital.
"The euro is important for a lot of reasons. But one of the most important is the challenge it could pose to the U.S. capital markets," said Thomas L. Kolaris, chief executive officer of Barclays Capital Americas, on Tuesday.
Bankers from Barclays Capital Americas, the New York-based investment banking unit of London's Barclays Bank, have been trying to persuade major U.S. corporations with significant operations in Europe to issue some of their debt in euros, Mr. Kolaris said.
"It only makes sense to have their credit and receivables in the same currency," he explained.
But at the moment, most U.S. corporations are still in the "study mode" when it comes to the euro, he said.
The European bond market, which has long been dominated by government issues, is expected to develop a much broader and deeper corporate credit market over the next few years, said Chris Iggo, Barclays Capital's chief international economist.
"It could lead to a much more efficient allocation of capital throughout Europe," Mr. Iggo told a press meeting in New York yesterday.
But Mr. Iggo also said the economic outlook in the 11 euro-zone countries is not nearly as rosy as it was a year ago. His projections for growth in the gross domestic product of the largest countries adopting the euro are substantially lower than they are for the United States.
Political and economic developments in Germany, France, and Italy could be a potential drag next year on the euro's strength, Mr. Iggo said.
But even if fundamentals are stronger here than in Europe, he said, pent-up demand for euro-denominated issues will drive the global credit market next year.
Though it will be many years before the euro bond market rivals the U.S. credit market in size, market observers say global investors with dollar- dominated portfolios are prepared to move large sums into euro bonds.
Large Asian investors, including central banks, are particularly interested in diversifying their portfolios with euro bonds, said William T. Lloyd, head of Barlcays Capital's market strategy.
Mr. Lloyd said that could drive the dollar's value down from its current lofty peak to below 1995 levels, when it was substantially lower.
The one big uncertainty that all of the economists at the meeting pointed to was the shakiness of the global equity, credit, and commodity markets.
Though Barclays Capital does not foresee any major market shocks next year on the scale of Russia's economic collapse this fall, a tremor like that could delay the euro's growth, its executives said.
Barclays Bank, with $387 billion of assets, is the world's 15th-largest bank.