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Banking

IIF: Harmonization is the watchword in Washington

From integration to level playing fields: the discussions at this year’s IIF meetings in Washington were dominated by talk of combating divergence. Other familiar complaints were still present, but the overall tone was less fearful than in 2016.

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Bankers at October’s Institute of International Finance (IIF) meetings were in broadly upbeat mood as they convened in Washington DC alongside the broader IMF/World Bank annual jamboree. And with good reason.

“Last year everyone was worried about whether Deutsche Bank was going bust – this year everyone is wondering who will buy Commerzbank,” one global banking head told Euromoney. “That tells you everything you need to know.” 

It was a neat illustration of what had been a startling change of tone, all the more startling given the many political and economic worries still hanging over markets.

The watchwords for many attending were integration and harmonization – both political and regulatory. In both a European and Asian context, delegates saw a failure to generate more commonality as likely to hamper continued growth or continued recovery. 

On the global level, talk of uneven playing fields was pervasive, both in relation to bank regulation bugbears like Basel IV and the many emerging digital challenges to the traditional order.

RBS chairman Howard Davies knows all about mixed pictures: his bank has been one for years.

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