Buaban Wanmoon wanders around Laksi Plaza in Bangkok with a hot-dog-on-a-stick in her hand. There's nothing remotely like this vast, air-conditioned shopping mall in Buaban's village in northern Thailand -- and even if there were, the scant living her parents eke out from growing rice and manioc wouldn't let them enjoy it.
On a warm Chicago evening, the wheeling and dealing continues after the sun goes down. A skeleton crew staffs the 15th-floor trading room of Dean Witter all night, working the phones, buying marks and selling yen, keeping a close eye on computers silently registering new economic data from Australia and the morning gold price from Zurich.
WHEN HE SIGNED ON AS Bill Clinton's trade representative 16 months ago, Mickey Kantor promised big changes. ""The stale debates between free trade, protectionism, managed trade have no meaning in the real agenda of negotiating agreements and making sure agreements work,'' he says.
NOBODY CARES WHY markets rise. But it's a fundamental theorem of economics: when markets quake, something must be to blame. Today's favorite culprit is derivatives, high-tech, high-controversy financial products that are ringing cash registers-and alarm bells-around the world.
If words were deeds, Bill Clinton's trade policy might well be revolutionary. Within the past month alone, his administration has blamed Europe's subsidized plane maker Airbus Industrie for hard times in the U.S. aircraft industry; threatened retaliation against European procurement rules; demanded changes in the proposed free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and warned Japan to buy more computer chips from U.S. firms.
The battered banking industry has turned the corner: most major banks posted higher profits in 1991's fourth quarter, and bad loans are finally receding. But at the Park Avenue headquarters of Citicorp, the nation's largest banking company, red ink is still flowing copiously.