Global financial crisis: Banks struggle to put their house in order ... before outsiders do it for them
Even as they delever, shed assets, raise capital and hoard liquidity against further hits, banks know they must also fundamentally change the rotten underlying business practices that led them to disaster. If they can’t, even those that manage to survive this disaster will fall victim to the next. That’s if the regulators don’t shut them down first. Peter Lee reports on an industry trying to relearn the basics.
ONE YEAR AGO, as bankers, finance ministers, central bankers and their retinues descended on Washington for the annual IMF/World Bank meetings, Rick Waugh, chief executive of Scotiabank, didn’t know what was about to hit him.
For many bank chief executives, the meetings of the Institute of International Finance, the private sector banking industry association, are now almost as important as the official meetings themselves. And as they assembled last year, many IIF board members, among their number the chief executives of many of the largest banks in the world, must have sensed that their careers were about to run into a brick wall of write-downs, distressed asset sales and emergency capital-raising. Quite a few of their peers won’t be back this year.
But a different kind of surprise was being cooked up for Waugh.
Concern had been bubbling up through the senior ranks of the global banking industry for many months from roughly the end of 2006 through the first half of 2007.