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Hold on tight for 2006

Nobody in their right mind would spend the week before Christmas trawling through the credit outlooks for 2006 published by investment banks, so Euromoney has done it for you. The good times should continue to roll, but look out for some painful bumps along the way.

And at first glance it makes for comforting reading: “Spreads in Europe to remain tight,” says Lehman Brothers, while ABN Amro forecasts a benign outlook in 2006. How does this play out for fixed income, which has provided the bread and butter for many investment banks for the past five years, even though M&A and equities have returned to the fore in 2005? Setbacks such as General Motors or Delphi did not stop the majority of banks enjoying another stellar year. Almost all have reported record profits and fixed income/credit has been at the forefront of increased earnings. Sales and trading, origination, structuring and lending business have been highly profitable businesses in investment grade, high yield and emerging markets.

But storm clouds are brewing that could make the coming 12 months even more volatile for fixed income franchises than the previous year.

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