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December 2008

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  • At a town hall meeting in New York on November 17, embattled Citi chief executive Vikram Pandit felt compelled to spell out the basics of banking to his assembled troops.
  • "The issue has gone unanswered for years. What is going on is simple stealing. We don’t need new laws against this, we already have them. If the Fed won’t step in, then the Department of Justice has to"
  • Don’t shed a tear for government authorities working overtime to sort out the financial crisis. The dire situation is playing into their hands by not only increasing their influence but also helping to solve one of their own long-running challenges – how to attract top talent on the cheap.
  • "Fees are way up... I mean, risk is being more appropriately priced"
  • Even though it is now under pressure from the global financial crisis, Brazil can look back on 2008 as a relatively good year, with growth close to target, and look forward from a position of strength, sustained by high forex reserves and a sound policy environment. Laurence Neville reports.
  • Investors’ fears about the limitations of the debt capital markets have reached extreme levels of late. A UK treasurer recently told Euromoney about an incident his firm experienced earlier this year.
  • Among the delegates at the 2008 Felaban conference in Panama City were two senior members of the fixed-income department at Santander, named best bank in Euromoney’s 2008 Awards for Excellence in July. The Spanish bank sent Dan Vallimarescu (head of DCM) and Erik Deiden (senior VP) to the conference but unfortunately managed to book their trip so late that the best hotels available were not exactly Panama’s finest.
  • "You may ask what there is to celebrate," said Hans Van Beeck to a decent-sized crowd of clients at Société Générale’s Beaujolais Nouveau party in Tokyo on October 20. Referring to the markets’ gloomy mood, Van Beeck, chief country officer for the French bank’s securities operation in Japan, suggested that the young wine might stand as "a symbol of nature’s ability to rejuvenate itself" and thus lift his guests’ spirits, if only temporarily.
  • The global financial crisis has taken hold in the region, leading to a drastic slowdown in traditional capital-raising. With job cuts expected soon, investment bankers are working hard to meet nervous clients’ needs and perhaps simultaneously save their own jobs. Lawrence White reports.
  • Newly peaceful, liberalized Algeria is an attractive prospect for Middle Eastern and European investors. But a change in the political wind has blown in a whiff of protectionism. Dominic O’Neill reports from Algiers.
  • Zombie banks are stalking the global economy, choking off credit to viable businesses. The solution, writes Lincoln Rathnam, is a straightforward separation of the good from the bad.
  • Data from the Islamic Finance Information Service indicate that rapid growth of Shariah-compliant banking comes mostly from a low base. Is the sector set for a wave of consolidation as organic growth slows? Chris Wright reports.
  • With capital markets effectively closed, cash-rich Chinese firms are well placed to profit. They have tended to rely less on international markets for funding than some regional peers, and are able to develop strategies without the liquidity worries that plague rivals. Lawrence White reports.
  • Beloved by the international markets for her professionalism and by most compatriots for her reformist zeal, Mulyani Indrawati is battling with those who prefer things done the old way. Lawrence White spoke to her at the G20 summit.
  • The spread of the credit crisis to emerging countries will have more than just domestic repercussions.
  • Banks in emerging markets appeared to have escaped the worst of the financial crisis. Now, as capital markets seize up and the global economy heads for recession, they must face the same liquidity and solvency pressures as their western counterparts. Sudip Roy looks at the banks most likely to cope.
  • Access to debt refinance has all but dried up for corporate treasurers. Those expecting tier back-up loan facilities to bail them out could be in for a nasty surprise. Alex Chambers looks at how companies can survive the liquidity crisis.
  • A tumbling blade has to land some time. Hank Paulson may have decided against trying to stop it directly but John Paulson is apparently back buying mortgage-backed securities. Louise Bowman speaks to other credit investors who believe there is money to be made from this shattered market.
  • Long sheltered from the credit crunch, sovereign, supranational and agency spreads have ballooned in the wake of the introduction of government-guaranteed bank debt. How will SSA names find their place in the uncharted territory of Libor-plus? Jethro Wookey reports.
  • The market is growing fast in Muslim countries and among Muslim communities. Its fuller development, Euromoney’s roundtable of experts suggests, depends on clearer views on objectives, further development of regulation and standardization of products and approaches.
  • Kenan Altunis, global head of sales at UniCredit, has struck lucky and won a big lottery held on Long Island, New York. Altunis, who will receive $1 million a year for life, says he is slightly embarrassed by his slice of good fortune. He tells Euromoney that he will donate a portion of his annual windfall to charity and that he is looking into the possibility of supporting an orphanage in Iraq.
  • The credit crisis has, so far, raised Santander’s relative standing among its peers, as the Spanish bank has sidestepped some of the pitfalls of its rivals and picked up a few bargain acquisitions. The bank’s reputation for savvy deal-making has also been enhanced, making it surely one of the most sought after financial sector clients for any investment bank.
  • Investors stay on the sidelines and look at directionless strategies.
  • Although 60% of UK hedge funds surveyed by consultants Kinetic Partners said they were strongly supportive of the industry best practices standards overseen by the Hedge Fund Standards Board, fewer than one in 10 said they would sign up to them. The HFSB standards, put together in January by a group backed by 10 hedge fund managers, lay out a recommended approach to issues including risk management, disclosure, governance and valuation. Respondents cited regulatory burden and compliance concerns as reasons why they would not comply.
  • Jobs are far from the only concern as the car icons plead to Congress.
  • This crisis is only going to end when the root cause of the problem – the housing market – is fixed.
  • A survey of 100 institutional investors conducted by business school EDHEC showed that only 15% have invested in replication products, with 30% reporting that they will never do so. The majority of respondents doubted that the behaviour of hedge funds could be replicated and criticized the products’ poor performance, lack of transparency and deficient technology.
  • Rating downgrades threaten CLO structures.
  • Bumper results produced by many FX units are likely to prove a sideshow in what will be a year of write-downs and general value destruction.
  • Sifma’s new covered bond group seeks to find a consensus among traders. But with no public covered bond market in evidence, why now?
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