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September 2003

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LATEST ARTICLES

  • Source: www.breakingviews.com is Europe's leading financial commentary service
  • With Islamic banking business growing faster than more conventional financial services, competition to provide new products is heating up.
  • A growing number of companies are realizing that there is a large pool of cash in the Islamic world that they may be able to tap into to diversify their funding sources and lower their financing costs. However, they must be willing to embrace Shariah-compliant structures.
  • In the wake of September 11, the US authorities targeted informal financial networks serving people in the Islamic world for particularly severe treatment. One of these was called Barakkat, a cash-transmission network that linked expatriate Somalis living in the US with their impoverished home country. Barakkat was closed down less than a month after the outrage, causing enormous stress to the large expatriate Somali community in the US and their families in Somalia.
  • After a weak 2001, most Arab banks enjoyed little pick-up in their fortunes in 2002. However, early results in 2003 suggest that the tide may be turning.
  • An embarrassing and potentially damaging controversy is emerging in Islamic equity funds. Because of the way the vast majority have been handled by mainstream brokers, many may not be as Shariah-compliant as investing customers would expect.
  • Saudi Arabia is making progress in restructuring its economy, but keeping up to speed a move away from dependence on oil itself rests on high oil prices and low interest rates.
  • Country risk index: East Asia continues to lead the growth pack, but offers significant risk; Turkey is - once again - at a turning point; and Africa continues to be unsettled, but with less risk of inter-country contagion.
  • What are the defining traits that good investment bankers share? Energy, creativity, entrepreneurship, willingness and ability to take risk, the strength of intelligence to form independent views of the world and the courage to back them: all traits that tend to be driven out of people when they become institutionalized within large organizations under cynical leaders. Everyone toiling at the coalface in a large bank should take lessons from the stories that follow of those who have quit to set up on their own. There's never been a better time to do it.
  • After falling out with the US over access to Iraq, Turkey is regaining favour with the west as its economy revives. Its long-term goal is EU membership, but how far away does that target remain?
  • China's A-share market has such a shady reputation that foreign investors might have been expected to revel in their exclusion from it. But its recent opening to outside institutional investors has been greeted with enthusiasm.
  • David Mulford, chairman of CSFB International and long-term friend of the banks, is set to follow such luminaries as JK Galbraith by becoming US ambassador to India. If his past is anything to go by, expect India to do a billion-dollar debt swap within months.
  • Banks reported strong results for the first half of the year, so it seems odd that senior executives at US banks are so concerned about stagnant revenues. It has been an issue for two years, but there were ways of getting around it. First came cost-cutting. Then revenue from the consumer sector held up, with sustained buying and remortgaging of houses, and spending on credit. Third was what banks call yield-curve plays and the rest of us proprietary trading.
  • Advisers: UBS (Cordiant); Goldman Sachs (WPP)
  • Promontory Financial; Scalene Capital Management; USPowergen; Recovery Partners; Schechter & Co; Van Oss
  • Significant new oil finds and the completion of several large liquefied natural gas projects will shortly give Egypt's hard-currency earnings a much needed boost. However, continued fiscal and regulatory reform is needed if Cairo is to succeed in creating sustainable and broadly based economic growth.
  • Russia's richest businessmen have set themselves a new objective - the acquisition of foreign enterprises for pleasure, profit and expertise.
  • Emerging markets are back. That's the conclusion of the latest quarterly debt survey by Emta, formerly the Emerging Markets Traders Association. In the second quarter of 2003, total emerging-market debt trading passed $1 trillion for the first time in five years.
  • National Bank of Kazakhstan's governor, Grigori Marchenko, won't say it, but he has been the main influence behind his country's widely acclaimed economic success story.
  • Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Saudi Arabia's minister of finance and national economy since 1996, has steered the economy through a difficult period. He has played a leading role in the modernization, diversification and liberalization of the Saudi economy and managed its finances prudently in a period in which oil prices have swung between $10 and $30 a barrel. Al-Assaf, a 54-year old economist who has served as the country's executive director at the World Bank for six years and as vice-governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) and wins Euromoney's finance minister of the year award for 2003, spoke to Nigel Dudley in his office in Riyadh.
  • Banking talent is always newsworthy, especially when it is unearthed in a dimly lit bar and involves Elvis renditions. The bar, in London's Canary Wharf, is a haunt of Gareth Jones, a salesman at BNY Securities. The event was the inaugural public gig of The Dealers.
  • Source: www.breakingviews.com is Europe's leading financial commentary service
  • THE CEO OF a leading investment bank recently offered Euromoney a telling judgement on the state of the sector. "There is now more talent outside the industry than inside it," he noted, reflecting on the exodus from the big banks of some of their brightest and most successful people.
  • Latin America's poor economic performance in the past decade has overturned analysts' judgements that getting rid of the region's dictatorships and introducing free-market reforms would clear the path to sustainable economic growth.
  • Emerging markets offer US funds significantly safer investment opportunities than some G7 countries, according to new research from risk analysis firm RiskMetrics.
  • Turkish banks' dependence on earnings from treasury bills has put them in the same ramshackle boat as the government and rendered them apathetic towards innovation and consolidation.
  • GEMS Management & Investment | East Capital/Prosperity Asset Management | Longreach Capital | Protego GEMS Management & Investment
  • An advocate of privatization and foreign investment, Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf is a key figure in economic change in Saudi Arabia.
  • Results of Euromoney's corporate governance poll suggest that the efforts a company makes to ensure appropriate practices are reflected in its share price.
  • MONGOLIA IS A country of extremes. Landlocked between its two former colonial rulers in a landmass some three times the size of France live just 2.6 million people. A dwindling, ageing one-third of the population ekes out an increasingly precarious living as nomadic herdsmen on Mongolia's vast steppe facing up to the world's widest extremes of temperature.