'At some point world markets are going to say: 'Hey, wait a minute Uncle Sam, we will continue to finance your bubble dot.com, but we're only going to do it at much higher interest rates', and that's going to put the skids under Wall Street.' Deutsche Bank Asia Pacific chief economist Kenneth Courtis. 'In the late 1980s, global banks meant Japanese banks. But then they became sluggish and the butt of world ridicule. [But with this alliance], signs have emerged that two or three Japanese banks can act on the international stage.' Japan's Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa on the merger of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan. 'A five per cent drop in retail sales anywhere in the world is regarded as a depression. As Hong Kong's retail sales dropped an astonishing 28 per cent in value to date from November 1997, it is even worse than a depression.' Hong Kong Retail Management Association executive director Rodney Miles. 'An unsatisfactory solution would be a disaster scenario, which I don't want to speculate on at this stage. As long as the Bank Bali case remains unresolved, the economic programme is at risk. You just watch, the IMF will act when it is necessary.' International Monetary Fund Asia-Pacific director Hubert Neiss. 'If PricewaterhouseCoopers wants access to our books, they need to go through the State Audit Body - if not, they'll be breaking the law, and we could throw them in jail for up to five years.' Bank Indonesia Director Achjar Ilyas. 'Cyberports are for people that do not understand the Internet.' Distacom Communications chairman Richard Siemens. 'As a manager, he was remarkable, but Paribas' strategy of building an independent investment bank was never accepted by the market. Perhaps the moral of this story is that in France, you never win against AXA.' CCR Actions manager Marc Renaud on retiring Paribas chief executive Andre Levy-Lang, who failed to prevent a hostile takeover bid from Banque Nationale de Paris. AXA is Paribas' main shareholder. 'More important than building a physical Cyber-Port would be to asses the quality of tertiary education here.' Senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute Derek Shearer. 'I think there's a real danger that the buying and selling of shares could become so commoditised that brokers making money from the buying and selling of shares could become non-existent. The competition on execution is getting so great.' CLSA Global Emerging Markets chairman and chief executive Gary Coull in on-line brokering. 'There are countries which feel they've been locked out . . . and they're right. I want to be their champion. While I'm unbiased, as I must be, the poorer, the smaller economies need to have a downpayment. They need to get results.' The World Trade Organisation's new leader, Mike Moore.