In 1963, there was about $25 billion worth of Eurodollars - American dollars floating around the world in currency transactions.
Ten years later that amount has swelled to between $400 billion and $600 billion, and it shows no signs of letting up.
In the meantime, lightning fast currency transactions have shifted millions of dollars into other currencies within seconds, and the growth of multinationals has continued virtually unbridled.
And new questions have been raised about the ability of national banks or bank regulatory agencies around the world to keep watch over the money markets.
A former Citibank money trader has charged his ex-employer with "parking transactions" from European branches in Nassau in an effort to avoid tax payments - charges the bank denies.
Further, the same ex-banker, David Edwards, has written a magazine article depicting the daily life of a currency trader, and hinted that traders working in concert have at time beaten down the price of the dollar deliberately in order to make individual profits for their banks or companies.
The only reason they were beating the dollar down, he says, was because that was the direction in which it was already heading, merely making it easier to capitalize and effect market swings. At some other time, they could have manipulated the dollar up, as well.
What he has raised is two different issues that really go to the same question. Are the banks regulated enough?
As to the first charge, that Citibank itself created transactions between its European branches and Nassau branch in an attempt to lower the tax bite in the various countries in which it operates, bank sources say such activity would be clearly illegal if it was indeed happening.
And according to the Library of Congress, which did a study for a congressman, the bank could face criminal charges for violating a never-used banking law more than 50 years old that prohibits "any false entry in any book, report or statement of a corporation organized to do foreign banking with intent to injure or defraud any other company, body politic or corporate, and sets criminal penalties for making such entries or aiding or abetting the making of such entries."
Though some form of parking is done by virtually every multinational coporation or bank, Citibank just may have gone too far, banking sources say.
At one point in November 1976, it has been reported that Citibank had booked loans totaling $15 billion in Nassau, though none as negotiated there. That total reflected one-fourth of the assets of the bank at that time.
And despite Citibank claims that there is no tax advantage for parking loans in Nassau, other banking sources say that the complex tax relationship between the United States and other countries does provide an advantage for those with their profits shifted to Nassau.
When Edwards brought his charges to Citibank, according to sources in the bank, he was essentially told not to worry about them. But his persistance to have it cleared up cost him his job, and he, in turn, filed a $14 million suit charging the bank with wrongful dismissal.
But it was Edward's second, more sexy, set of allegations about a conspiracy of sorts on the part of money traders to manipulate transactions to their benefit that caused an uproar, and has attracted the attention of the banking and bank regulating community as well as the media.
Coming at a time when the dollar was hitting new lows all over the world, the charges that some select few might have been dumping the dollar for profits served to excite many who have reasons to doubt the intentions of the banking community.
THe comptroller has decided to open up a new office to watch multinational transactions, the Justice Department is investigating Edwards' charges of collusion, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry and at least three congressional committees have investigated the situation with the intention of holding hearings to look into the matter.
Both sets of charges raise the same questions through different situations: Can the world money system ever be regulated?
Up until now, there has been enough confidence in the various local bank regulators from each country. But the attitude of the big bankers in the face of Edwards' charges has been one of arrogance toward those who do not understand international banking. And that confidence has begun to erode into confusion.
"What people don't understand," said one New York bank official, "is that money must flow around the world 24 hours a day. The various local laws concerning money flow don't recognized the needs of the fast moving world of internatinal finance.
It is that attitude that has inspired the backlash of Congress, the Justice Department and the bank regulators.
And despite the fact that many governments do not fully understand international money trading, and have laws reflecting that ignorance, there is one fact that the banking community, for the time being, will have to contend with: People elects governments. People do not elect bankers.
And after the dust settles from all of the racy headlines, the key question will still remain.
How can international currency trading be regulated?