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March 2012

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  • When RBS reported fourth-quarter 2011 results even worse than the already dire consensus estimates of analysts, the tedious row over its investment bankers’ bonuses broke out again in the UK media, alongside detailed estimates of just how much money UK taxpayers have lost by investing in the bank’s equity.
  • Even as Iceland’s economy improves, moves to dismiss the country’s bank regulator reveal continuing institutional weakness.
  • "Aha! You have been eating a beaver!"
  • There’s a new demographic pounding the pavements of Wall Street: mothers. The area of Lower Manhattan, home to Wall Street, is now the baby-making capital of New York City. According to the Department of City Planning, the area has the highest birth rate across the borough of Manhattan and beats stroller heavens such as Park Slope in Brooklyn as now the trendiest place to have babies. In 2010, 1,086 babies were born near Wall Street – up 12% on 2009. More babies are on their way. According to Downtown Alliance’s latest report, 40% of childless households in Lower Manhattan are planning to have children within the next three years, and by 2013 the population of the area is expected to reach 60,000 – more than double that of 10 years ago.
  • "I had a discussion with a very senior regulator recently who told me: ‘Look, I know we’ve gone too far too fast on some of this and that we’ve made some errors, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to stop this process.’ Now that’s quite scary"
  • Research from LCH Investments, published at the end of last month, makes it clear that getting the big macro calls right is the key to performance.
  • BlackRock chose February 29 to launch what it describes as a multi-faceted global initiative to offer investors the chance to build "the more dynamic and more diverse portfolios that these times require".
  • In his first interview as new CFO of Embraer, Paulo Penido Marques says the company is well placed to diversify and grow with its current balance sheet – but he is tempted by the rates on offer in the international debt capital market to pre-fund some 2012 capex.
  • A dynamic economy is transforming the country. The central bank governor predicts good times ahead for a nation rich in resources and competitive in manufacturing.
  • Primary issuance in Latin American DCM is enjoying unprecedented liquidity, supply and deal volumes. The region is leading the 2012 emerging market fixed-income resurgence, and the battle for power between issuers and investors is developing into a fascinating contest.
  • Expansion in the region to take advantage of rapid economic growth and the opening of operations elsewhere in the world are core themes among Latin America’s best-managed companies.
  • As of late February Brazil was yet to see its first IPO of 2012, leading ECM bankers to ponder what was needed to get an issuer successfully to market.
  • Emerging market Eurobond issuance is on the up. But bankers in emerging Europe, the Middle East and Africa – including in Russia – might be disappointed.
  • It could be nine months between Brazil’s last IPO and its next, leading investors to urge banks to do a better job of reining in candidates’ pricing expectations.
  • Kuwait is perhaps not the first country investors might think of as vulnerable to a sovereign debt crisis. One of the world’s biggest oil producers, its gross external public-sector assets amounted to some 200% of GDP at the end of the last fiscal year, according to Moody’s. Nevertheless, Kuwait’s central bank governor of 25 years standing resigned last month – apparently over government spending. In comments to Kuwait’s state news agency, the former governor, Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al Sabah, said: "The challenge of current local economic conditions and forecast growth in public expenditure has reached a point where it would prevent the [Kuwaiti central bank] from carrying out its duties as stated in the bill of its establishment."
  • The strongest support for a bullish view of growth comes from US prospects. However, caution is warranted even here. Bearishness seems appropriate elsewhere...
  • Transelectrica on the block; Pricing ‘key to success’
  • After flying nearly 5,000 miles for a series of interviews, having researched topics, deals and interviewees, Euromoney wrote an in-depth article about the characteristics of one of the many markets we cover. We had access to some of the most senior bankers in the market who told us exactly what they thought of the current problems, dislocations and possible remedies. Specific deals were discussed – successes and failures – and the lessons for peers and investors.
  • Deutsche Bank is not alone in discovering that a dash for assets can lead to a lingering headache.
  • Credit Suisse’s Q4 loss and disappointing return for 2011 says as much about the state of the industry as it does about the bank.
  • Eurobond investors seek clarity on oil revenues; Gabon follows with new sovereign fund
  • By piling up the burden on banks, regulators have started a shrinking of the banking industry that they can no longer control and that markets are accelerating. This threatens the real economy, and market participants want to delay and review of the new rules. Regulators are divided. Some want to pause, most want to press on, but they are all united in their desire for one thing: not to take any blame.
  • Facebook’s pending multi-billion dollar IPO is raising the spectre of a new tech bubble. Bankers argue that today’s tech and social media boom is different to that of the late 1990s. But the competition for mandates is more pressing than ever.
  • Ronald Reagan once joked that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Wall Street traders tend to share the view that the business of profiting from capital flows works best with minimal interference, but the government in the form of the Federal Reserve recently gave the moribund market in mortgage-backed securities a big boost.
  • Derivatives dominance spells doom; Mifid undermines traditional model
  • Bolivia is preparing to issue a $500 million international bond, primarily as a statement about the strengthening of the country’s finances.
  • Regional resolution legislation put back; Calls for bad banks grow
  • Credit Suisse maintained its reputation for bonus structure creativity when times are tough with its recent move to make payments to some staff in the form of bonds linked to its own derivatives counterparty exposure. The paper will offer healthy coupons of 5% in Swiss francs or 6.5% in dollars, but without the upside offered by the original Partner Asset Facility (as it was dubbed) from 2008, which delivered a return of 70% by giving staff exposure to toxic mortgage and high-yield debt assets that had collapsed in price but later recovered value.
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