As the Street absorbs the shockwaves engendered by the recent slew of big-name mergers, observers are simultaneously bracing for the cloud of regulatory and accounting changes looming above the financial markets - changes which will not only feed the ongoing trend of consolidation but may ultimately determine which players enter or exit the debt sectors over the next few years.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board's recent re-thinking of its proposed ban on pooling-of-interest accounting for mergers, coupled with the inauguration of FAS 133 and the amendments to the ERISA "Underwriter Exemptions", should provide an interesting beginning to the year 2001.

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