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from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

The money’s in the bank: What financial institutions are not telling investors

The largest Wall Street investment banks reported good earnings this week, many beating analysts’ expectations, but the devil remains in the details.

Banks are in the middle of implementing global regulations designed to create a safer framework under which they operate and avoid an encore of 2008. Still, these financial institutions are not as forthcoming as they should be in disclosing key elements that would help measure their resilience, Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, managing principal of MRV Associates and a bank regulation expert told the Reuters Global Markets Forum during a LiveChat this week.

Mayra Rodríguez Valladares. Managing Principal, MRV Associates

Mayra Rodríguez Valladares. Managing Principal, MRV Associates

Notably thin or missing from quarterly reports is: the identity and credit quality of trading counterparties in derivatives portfolios, how a bank calculates loan loss reserves and more transparency on leveraged loans, which are on the rise.

“Banks are chasing yield again and let's remember that the leverage rule does not really kick in yet, so we need to keep an eye on bank leverage,” Rodríguez Valladares told the GMF.

from MacroScope:

Sanctions tighten

Britain's PM Cameron, Portugal's PM Passos Coelho, Germany's Chancellor Merkel and Finland's PM Stubb attend an EU leaders summit in Brussels

EU leaders failed to get anywhere on sharing out the top jobs in Brussels last night but did manage another round of sanctions against Russia.

This time they will target Russian companies that help destabilize Ukraine and will ask the EU's bank, the European Investment Bank, to suspend new lending for Russia and seek a halt to new lending to Russia by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

from Alison Frankel:

SCOTUS Libor case, by itself, won’t revive antitrust claims

Don't get too excited about the news Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of bond investors whose antitrust claims against the global banks involved in the Libor-setting process were tossed last year.

Untold billions of dollars are at stake in the Libor litigation, in which investors in all sorts of securities pegged to the London Interbank Offered Rate claim that the banks conspired to manipulate the interest rate benchmark. There are now about 60 cases consolidated in the Libor multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, asserting a potpourri of state and federal securities, racketeering and fraud claims as well as violations of federal antitrust laws. Last year, Judge Buchwald gave the bank defendants an almost priceless gift when she concluded that U.S. antitrust laws don't cover the sort of rate-rigging alleged in the Libor scandal because the banks' conduct wasn't anticompetitive. Buchwald has permitted other pieces of the litigation to move forward, most recently refusing to dismiss classwide unjust enrichment claims in an 80-page decision last week, but has refused to re-instate the big-money antitrust allegations, which offer the prospect of treble damages.

from Global Investing:

Indian shares: disappointment may lurk

Should Indian shares really be at record highs?

The index is up 3.6 percent this year. Foreign funds have been pouring money into Mumbai shares, betting that the opposition BJP, seen as more reform-friendly than the incumbent Congress, will form the next government. They purchased $420 million worth of Indian stocks last Friday, having bought $1.4 billion over the past 15 trading sessions.

There is also the fact that the rolling crisis in emerging markets, having smacked India during its first round last May, has now moved on and is ravaging places such as Russia and Nigeria instead. The rupee has firmed almost 2 percent this year to the dollar, as last year's 6.5 percent/GDP current account deficit has contracted to just 0.9 percent of GDP.  Many international funds such as Blackrock and JPMorgan Asset Management have Indian stocks on overweight and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch's monthly survey showed investors'  underweight on India was one of the smallest for emerging markets.

from Global Investing:

Waiting for current account improvement in Turkey

The fall in Turkey's lira to record lows is raising jitters among foreign investors who will have lost a good deal of money on the currency side of their stock and bond investments.  They are also worrying about the response of the central bank, which has effectively ruled out large rate hikes to stabilise the currency. But can the 20 percent lira depreciation seen since May 2013 help correct the country's balance of payments gap?

Turkey's current account deficit is its Achilles heel . Without a large domestic savings pool, that deficit tends to blow out whenever growth quickens and the lira strengthens . That leaves the country highly vulnerable to a withdrawal of foreign capital. Take a look at the following graphic (click on it to enlarge) :

from Breakingviews:

The wrongs and rights of the euro banking union

By George Hay 

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

The euro zone banking union was always going to have a difficult birth. European governments finally agreed on Dec. 18 the second of three key milestones – a resolution directive establishing a common approach for dealing with struggling lenders. As with most EU compromises, it is an imperfect reform. It was criticized by European Central Bank officials, including president Mario Draghi, and doubts remain. But the euro zone at least has the beginning of a banking union.

from Global Investing:

Red year for emerging bonds

What a dire year for emerging debt. According to JPMorgan, which runs the most widely run emerging bond indices, 2013 is likely to be the first year since 2008 that all three main emerging bond benchmarks end the year in the red.

So far this year, the bank's EMBIG index of sovereign dollar bonds is down around 7 percent while local debt has fared even worse, with losses of around 8.5 percent, heading for only the third year of negative return since inception. JPMorgan's CEMBI index of emerging market corporate bonds is down 2 percent for the year.

from Global Investing:

Turkish savers hang onto dollars

As in many countries with memories of hyperinflation and currency collapse, Turkey's middle class have tended to hold at least part of their savings in hard currency. But unlike in Russia and Argentina, Turkish savers' propensity to save in dollars has on occasion proved helpful to companies and the central bank. That's because many Turks, rather than just accumulating dollars, have evolved into savvy players of exchange rate swings and often use sharp falls in the lira to sell their dollars and buy back the local currency. Hence Turks' hard currency bank deposits, estimated at between $70-$100 billion --  on a par with central bank reserves -- have acted as a buffer of sorts, stabilising the lira when it falls past a certain level.

But back in 2011, when the lira was in the eye of another emerging markets storm, we noticed how some Turks had become strangely reluctant to sell dollars. And during this year's bout of lira weakness too, Turkish savers have not stepped up to help out the central bank, research by Barclays finds. Instead they are accumulating dollars -- "rather than being contrarian, their behaviour now seems aligned with global capital flows," Barclays  analysts write. While the lira has weakened to record lows this year, data from UBS shows that the dollarisation ratio, the percentage of bank deposits in foreign currency, has actually crept up to 37.6 percent from 34.5 percent at the start of the year. Here's a Barclays graphic that illustrates the shift.

from Breakingviews:

China bank IPO shows rewards of financial alchemy

By John Foley 

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

Financial innovation is paying off for Bank of Chongqing, a small Chinese lender preparing for a $2 billion stock market listing in Hong Kong. What sets the bank apart isn’t its enviable 32 percent return on equity, but its copious use of what might be China’s most baffling securities.

from Breakingviews:

China’s debt molehills could turn into mountains

By John Foley

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

The mountains are high, and the shareholders are far away. China’s banks are reporting results that suggest their bad debts are under control and earnings healthy. But where investors don’t easily see them, risks are growing. It’s at the local level that the problems with China’s debt build-up could escalate most rapidly.

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