Corporate Social Responsibility 2008
Most people do not derive pleasure from harming those around them. The same is true of most businesses. There are, of course, some that derive their profits directly from morally questionable pursuits, such as arms trading. But many more companies incur the wrath of a new generation of ethically activist investors and consumers for actions that are peripheral to their core business: factories that pollute rivers; manufacturers that employ underage workers or do not provide safe working conditions; or power companies that emit excessive greenhouse gases – or leave a legacy of radioactive waste for future generations to deal with.
Warren Buffett famously called them financial weapons of mass destruction. In the world of derivatives, there has probably never been so much devastation as was evident in the aftermath of the collapses of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers.
Debt Capital Markets 2008
It has been the most difficult year in living memory for finance. Less than twelve months ago, many bankers were still optimistic that they would arrive back at their desks for the New Year to be greeted by a newly resurgent market. How naïve that seems now.
Environmental Finance 2008
Environmentalism has come a long way in a short space of time. The cause that was once the preserve of a radical minority has now burst onto the mainstream: bankers and traders have joined the dreadlocked hippies in the belief that the world needs to move to a low-carbon economy.
National Champions of the ECM 2008
A look around the top investment banking players in Europe in the current climate quickly confirms the difficulties most have faced since the middle of 2007. An analysis of the individual performance of those banks is inevitably a kind of referendum on their performance in the face of the credit crunch, although they do not operate on a level playing field, and the impact the crisis has had has been determined – at least to some extent – by the country in which the bank operates.
IMF/World Bank 2008
A little over 12 months ago, bankers still regarded emerging markets with the kind of excitement usually exhibited by young children approaching their birthdays. Constituting a significant proportion of the world’s land mass, emerging markets seemed to offer almost boundless opportunities as they struggled to close the gap on their more developed neighbours.
India stands on the threshold of economic greatness, if only it can ride out the global credit squeeze and overcome an innate desire to regulate itself out of international competitiveness.
Top 250 Borrowers 2008
The last 12 months have certainly been interesting. But at times like these it is easiest to differentiate between the highest quality issuers and everyone else. During the extended bull market that ended in the summer of 2007 there was a gradual erosion of the kind of hard-headed investor scrutiny that has since returned in force. Companies wishing to raise capital had found it easy surfing the waves of investor exuberance, without having to worry unduly about pricing their debt. No more though.
Pfandbriefe/Covered Bonds 2008
It has been an interesting year for covered bonds. While few asset classes outside commodities have flourished in the current market conditions, covered bonds on aggregate have enjoyed relatively good performance. This has ranged from being among the least bad performers in the credit universe in some of the newer covered bonds markets – such as Spain and the UK – to delivering very good returns in absolute terms in some of the more established markets – like Germany and France.
Triple-A Issuers 2008
Investors have frequently fallen into the trap of viewing the Triple A label as the equivalent of a capital guarantee. Being less sophisticated, retail investors have been particularly susceptible to this. In the extended bull market that finally ended in the summer of 2007 this illusion looked increasingly like reality and investors had no reason to question the system that was bringing them consistent financial rewards.
So much fuss has been made of the political issues raging around Turkey in recent years that it is easy to forget its financial markets. The question of Turkish membership of the EU has received more column inches throughout Europe and Turkey than many other issues put together. More recently, the question of how far Turkey’s secular traditions should be respected has been equally explosive.
Middle East 2008
Welcome to the third annual Reuters International Financial Review (IFR) and Project Finance International (PFI) report on the Middle East capital markets. We publish the report at a time of unprecedented turbulence in the global markets. For much of this year the Middle East has shown a degree of isolation from the global problems, but the latest shocks to the system will have an impact even in this region.
In fashion, as in finance, things move quickly. It is clear from Moscow’s ubiquitous designer handbags and expensively tailored suits that the 1990s are but a fading memory for the devoted fashionistas of the new millennium.
Central and Eastern Europe 2008
Germany is at heart of Europe. It is a metaphor that encapsulates the importance of the country, which sits at the centre of the continent, but also the fundamental interrelationship between the fortunes of individual country with the continental collective. As Europe has suffered the global virus of disappearing liquidity and recessionary fears, so the beating of the heart has grown somewhat fainter. But it beats on.
Latin America 2008
No longer at the centre of the financial crisis as in times past, Latin America has been relatively resilient amid the storm generated by the US credit crisis. On the contrary, the region has been seen as a sort of safe haven, given the strong fundamentals, deepening local markets and upward ratings trajectories in countries like Brazil, Peru and Colombia.