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Aug 9, 2011

Breakingviews-Financials investors brace for the worst

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own)

By Antony Currie

NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Most large U.S.
financial institutions look far better prepared for a downturn
than before the last crisis. Investors don’t seem to care. The
Standard & Poor’s downgrade of Uncle Sam’s AAA credit rating
added fuel to fears the country’s anemic economic recovery will
stumble back into recession. That helped spur double-digit drops
in financials across the board.

Aug 4, 2011

Investors in Motown see nothing but recession

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Antony Currie

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Investors in Motown have been struck by a single-minded obsession: fear of recession. Considering the economy’s wobbles, they’re right to be cautious about automakers. But shareholders have wiped a combined near $50 billion off the value of Ford and General Motors since January’s highs. That’s more than either company is currently worth. Yet both look pretty solid, with GM’s $2.5 billion consensus-beating second-quarter earnings its best showing in years. The reaction looks overdone.

Aug 3, 2011
via Breakingviews

Corzine covenant smacks more of PR than protection

By Antony Currie and Agnes T. Crane
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.)

NEW YORK — Jon Corzine makes no secret of the fact that politics is his passion. Now buyers of debt in MF Global, the firm he runs, are set to get a boost if the former Democratic politico and Goldman Sachs CEO should leave the broker-dealer to decamp to Washington. They’ll get an extra one percentage point of interest on the firm’s $300 million bond deal. That might sound encouraging. After all, bondholder activism is a good thing. But this key-man clause seems to benefit Corzine’s image more than creditors.

Jul 29, 2011
via Breakingviews

Boutiques Bearing Up

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Wall Street’s M&A shops are hitting a few wobbles after a good run. Lazard missed second-quarter estimates on Thursday, if only by a penny, because of lower growth in advisory fees than peers. Evercore delivered a similar underperformance as compensation expenses more than doubled. And Greenhill has been frantically trying to calm nerves about departing executives.

Jul 19, 2011
via Breakingviews

BofA boss needs to kick it up a notch — or two

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — Brian Moynihan needs to kick it up a notch or two. The Bank of America boss has spent much of his 18 months in the corner office cleaning up the mess left by predecessor Ken Lewis. But despite the yeoman efforts, he has failed to persuade investors he’s turning the firm around.

Jul 11, 2011
via Breakingviews

Morgan Stanley should keep two at the top

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — Morgan Stanley should keep two at the top. John Mack is due to retire as chairman at the end of the year and the board may well grant the title to James Gorman, adding to his duties as chief executive. Combining the two roles is far more common in the United States than in Europe. But the directors should resist the temptation.

Jul 11, 2011
via Breakingviews

Carmakers indulge in sales pipe dreams again

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — The world’s carmakers are indulging in pipe dreams again. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chief executive, last week predicted the company would sell 82 percent more vehicles globally in 2016 than last year. Ford boss Alan Mulally earlier targeted a 50 percent bump, while Volkswagen’s Ferdinand Piech is shooting for just a tad less growth than that. If the rest of the industry is as optimistic, in about five years’ time manufacturers will be producing almost 20 million more cars between them than market forecasters currently expect to be sold.

Jun 30, 2011
via Breakingviews

Fed’s debit-card U-turn doesn’t mean it’s caving

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Federal Reserve’s U-turn on debit-card charges doesn’t mean it’s caving on financial regulation. It’s true the agency’s decision to double the cap on swipe fees it first proposed in December makes it look as if it can be cowed by the kind of intense lobbying the banks unleashed. It raises fears the Fed might go soft on other parts of Dodd-Frank. But its new debit fee plan is actually a decent compromise.

Jun 29, 2011
via Breakingviews

Maybe now BofA boss Moynihan can open Moynihan era

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Maybe Brian Moynihan can finally start Bank of America’s Moynihan era. The $21 billion of mortgage-related charges just unveiled by the beleaguered megabank’s chief executive doesn’t quite clear the decks. But it removes one of the biggest stains left by his predecessor Ken Lewis.

Jun 27, 2011
via Breakingviews

Wall Street may get temporary stay of execution

Wall Street is once again aflutter with talk of impending job cuts. But jittery traders may have a few months more grace before the knives come out. With trading revenue falling, the pressure is growing for investment banks to lay off staff. But executives are still debating whether the current slump is a blip. Nobody wants to slash ranks right before a turnaround. The summer could be safer than many think.

It has happened before. Morgan Stanley scaled back its fixed-income operations after the 2008 crisis, leaving an already-damaged franchise unprepared for the bailout-fueled market recovery the following year. The firm has since hired 400 or so people in interest rates and other more liquid markets, but has not yet made much progress toward its goal of increasing revenue by around a third to 8 percent of the top 10 players’ share.

    • About Antony

      "Antony Currie has more than a decade of experience as a financial journalist, having worked with Euromoney since 1996, most recently as a U.S. editor. He has worked on assignments in the major financial centers of Europe and the U.S. and written stories on capital markets, global economies and the investment banking industry. He holds a bachelor's degree in German language and literature and a master's degree in politics and international relations from the University of Bristol."
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