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January 2009

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  • Those of us involved in finance tend to treat the vagaries of investment banking as a matter of life and death.
  • As in all other areas of financial services, the credit crunch has made its presence felt in international cash management. Banks and corporates have found their relationships and business practices severely tested and have found out who they can, and cannot, trust in a downturn.
  • Deleveraging is the key word of the moment and there is still a long way to go for banks and hedge funds. Beyond that, the impact in the real economy of the banking crisis is only just starting to appear. The tools at governments’ disposal may not be strong enough to handle the challenge. Is a raft of new regulation inevitable?
  • Who dropped the ball?
  • In this downturn, corporate restructurings will be driven by problems at the banks rather than the struggling companies themselves. Louise Bowman explains why.
  • The credit crunch has spread to emerging Europe – despite what the region’s central bank governors may claim. They have taken action to bolster liquidity and shore up the banking sector. Chloe Hayward asked 14 monetary authority heads what more they can do to manage the inevitable downturn.
  • Just two years after facing its previous financial crisis, Hungary is once again in trouble thanks to over-reliance on foreign markets. But it is not necessarily the banks that need saving. Jethro Wookey reports from Budapest.
  • Jordan’s Arab Bank is one of the most influential financial institutions in the Middle East. It has thrived for nearly 80 years, largely because of a strict risk management policy. Sudip Roy reports from Amman on how the bank is managing the financial crisis.
  • "We call upon the top management of the commercial banks to take these decisions into account and recognize that they are operating in an environment in which a lot of the fundamental risks to liquidity and solvency have been addressed. There now is a different situation because of the actions of central banks and governments. The banks should recognize that they are no longer in a similar state of shock as they were for example in September"
  • Euromoney was emailed this from a Wall Street contact:
  • For those senior bankers bemoaning the fact that they were not awarded a bonus this year take heart – things could be worse. You could be working for Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank decided to pay employee bonuses for 2008 with illiquid leveraged loan and CMBS debt that no-one else will touch with a bargepole.
  • Investment bankers are struggling in so many ways. The operating environment is far from rosy. Round after round of redundancies are announced and yet even those spared the black-bin-liner treatment are left wondering whether they might have drawn the short straw – the business is not going to be much fun for the few left behind. For those who do have jobs, such is the disdain in which the profession is held by the general public that many are finding themselves having to lie to avoid discomforting situations.
  • Global stock markets are at their cheapest for 25 years. Belated measures taken by the US authorities, and possible stimuli from the new Obama administration – and not forgetting a proper historical analysis – show rewards will come in 2009 for those brave enough to buy, writes Charles Dumas.
  • It wasn’t all gloom as a post-crisis financial world looked forward to a belt-tightening 1998, though: one reader found time to send a poem eulogizing the euro before its launch. Perhaps Ms Opal Innsbruk’s ode can encourage in these dark times as it did over a decade ago:
  • "I was going through passport control and they asked me the purpose of my visit and what I did. For the first time in my career, I thought "I can’t say I’m a banker, I’ve got to say something else – maybe I can tell them that I’m a doctor."
  • In the first of a series of interviews for 2009 with some of the world’s leading corporate chief executives, boss Antonio Brufau talks to Laurence Neville about his strategy for keeping a top-10 energy company on track in challenging times.
  • US policy failures in the autumn of 2007 were crucial both in letting the financial crisis fester and then spiral out of control, and in a premature, panicky slashing of interest rates that paradoxically aggravated the slowdown severely, writes Charles Dumas.
  • Kazakhstan has emerged as the principal conduit for South Korean investment in central Asia. Guy Norton reports from Almaty on the future for cooperation.
  • In 2009 corporate issuers are likely to join financials in seeking to push through equity issues aimed at repairing balance sheets. Intricate measures might be needed to attract investors. However, IPOs look set to be less thin on the ground than in 2008 – at least by mid-2009. Peter Koh reports.
  • "There are concerns that bonuses may increase the appetite for risk," warned Anthony Bellchambers of London’s Futures & Options Association in a prophetic comment from a January 1998 Euromoney, ‘The end of the bonus bonanza?’
  • In the past few months the Russian capital markets have been hit by a rush of selling as spooked investors head for the exit, sending valuations into free fall. Guy Norton reports from Moscow on what lies in store.
  • Agency brokers have returned to fixed income just as investment banks have withdrawn from the market. Will they be able to create dark pools of liquidity and repair the breach in the distribution of debt securities? And does their increasing power herald the return of the primacy of relationships?
  • After enjoying years of plenty, the country’s investment banks are facing up to the prospect of leaner times ahead. Guy Norton reports from Moscow on how they are looking to survive the economic downturn.
  • Unlike most sovereign wealth funds, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan is still growing strongly and looking for more foreign risk. Will the country’s experience of the global downturn rob the international capital markets of a new hope? Dominic O’Neill reports from Baku.
  • The president of the European Central Bank is at the centre of the global financial storm. He knows his actions are crucial to the survival of the entire global financial system. He gives his most in-depth interview since the collapse of Lehman Brothers to Clive Horwood and Mark Johnson.
  • James Garvey announced his retirement from Goldman Sachs in December 2008. Garvey’s title was chairman of investment-grade financing – a role that was given to him after the firm made syndicate and debt origination a global business run under Jim Esposito a year ago.
  • Even in tough capital markets, open only to the few, it’s still possible to craft good deals, attract new investors, bolster balance sheets and stave off disaster. For all their past sins and excesses, investment banks – the good ones at least – will prove themselves invaluable over the coming 12 months
  • Markets are positioned for something akin to the Great Depression. With so much doom and gloom in the air, now is the right time to buy equities.
  • Otherwise the country faces a crisis akin to 1998.
  • The use of technology to create a virtual single-trading environment is well understood. But while attention has tended to focus on the front end, it is just as important to get all the links in place in the post-trade area as well.