Throughout 2019, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into reflecting the rich history of Euromoney, and the markets that we cover, to celebrate this magazine’s 50th anniversary. Our first edition was launched in June 1969.
Just 15 months later, Euromoney made its debut at the World Bank/IMF annual get-together, passing itself off as the ‘official magazine of the meetings’ – a ruse of our founder, Sir Patrick Sergeant. Fortunately, the powers that be forgave our predecessors and ever since then there has been a close relationship between the two organizations.
Over the years, the Euromoney IMF/World Bank issue grew in importance and size. The people we were writing about every month were all there every year in Washington – or farther-flung locations when the IMF hit the road. We had to be there with them and we have been ever since.
So the IMF/World Bank 50th anniversary edition is a very special one indeed.
It is remarkable to look back now and reflect on how much of Euromoney’s first three decades of coverage dealt with issues surrounding sovereign risk. Government bonds were the biggest part of the market and, therefore, the biggest part of our coverage.
There weren’t many cross-border banks in operation, but there were plenty of cash-strapped countries looking to cast their funding nets wider. And, as often as not, where a new market was opening up – or a country needed a little extra help – the World Bank and the IMF were there alongside it.
For much of the last 20 years, the focus on sovereign risk declined in the markets and in Euromoney’s coverage as well. Of course, there was the odd country default, or restructuring, or new market opening up, and we were there to cover it.
But finance moved more and more to the private sector, to the banks that went global, to the corporate and institutional clients that became the priority of their businesses and to the increasingly esoteric ways they could finance their daily needs. We went there too.
Euromoney, like the markets, never stands still or stops looking forward
Things are changing again. Sovereign risk is back on the agenda as globalization wanes for the first time in at least a generation.
Supranationals see a new and important role for themselves as they try to corral countries and financial institutions with often-competing interests to work together for a greater good in areas such as conservation, climate change, financial inclusion and anti-money laundering.
And it might be that 2019 will be remembered as much in future for 200 US business leaders saying publicly that shareholders don’t always have to come first as it will be for Brexit.
We can but hope.
In light of our anniversary year and this issue’s circulation at the annual meetings in Washington, we’ve curated a rather different – and perhaps throw-back – series of articles in this edition.
In our cover section, we look closely at some of the places left behind by finance in the last 50 years. If you believe that finance is a force for good, as Euromoney does and has always done, then these are places desperately crying out for its help. Haiti, Laos, Liberia, Kurdistan – these and many other territories should be on the agenda for global finance’s leaders this October.
We use nearly 40 years of data from our proprietary platform, Euromoney Country Risk, to examine trends in sovereign credit risk.
You might think that the world – from a financial point of view – is a much safer place than it was in the 1980s. That’s not necessarily the case. And perhaps that suggests the greatest risk of all to the global financial edifice constructed over the last five decades is complacency.
And we could not let this anniversary pass without reflecting on the role of the World Bank itself over the last 50 years. It is a much-maligned institution, not because it has achieved little – its influence has been enormous – but because it could in theory have achieved much more. If you marry finance and politics, the offspring can be tricky. Will that ever change?
Euromoney, like the markets, never stands still or stops looking forward. Our feature on Facebook’s new cryptocurrency is unlikely to be the last time we write about a threat to the traditional fiat currency system.
And we look forward, as ever, to seeing you in DC.