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from Breakingviews:

Deutsche/UBS: there’s life in EU bond trading yet

By Dominic Elliott

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

Deutsche Bank and UBS have shown there is life in Europe’s bond traders yet. The two banks and Credit Suisse have been losing share to Wall Street since last year, but in the second quarter they hit back. Fixed-income revenue at Deutsche was flat year-on-year, and down just 2 percent at UBS – against a 9 percent average fall at American banks.

Deutsche is doing better because of favourable European credit conditions. The bank struggled in flow-based foreign-exchange and interest-rate trading – as peers did – but lively markets in Europe for distressed and commercial real-estate debt helped offset the pain. Swiss peer Credit Suisse recently benefitted from the same dynamics: its fixed-income top line jumped 4 percent year-on-year. Once U.S.-centric, it now derives a quarter of its credit revenue from Europe.

UBS, meanwhile, has avoided humdrum markets by changing the way it does flow business. Greater investment in electronic trading helped it to raise second-quarter FX revenue by 13 percent year-on-year, says a person familiar with the bank.

from Breakingviews:

Memo to Wall Street: more Ace Greenberg please

By Antony Currie

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

Wall Street needs more leaders like Alan “Ace” Greenberg. The onetime Bear Stearns boss, famed for his pithy missives to staff, died on Friday. He was 86. Though he was no longer in charge, the firm’s 2008 collapse is a notable blemish on an otherwise illustrious career. The industry could use more of Greenberg’s scrappy PSD: poor, smart and driven.

from MacroScope:

EU slowly tightens screw

A coffin of one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, is carried from an aircraft during a national reception ceremony at Eindhoven airport

The EU is slowly tightening the screw on Russia, with senior officials proposing yesterday to target state-owned Russian banks in its most serious sanctions so far. Ambassadorial talks on how precisely that is to be done continue today and the measures are likely to be enacted next week.

One key proposal is that European investors would be banned from buying new debt or shares of banks owned 50 percent or more by the state. These banks raised almost half of their 15.8 billion euro capital needs in EU markets last year. That is a big deal and there are increasing signs of investors turning their back on Russia lock, stock and barrel. However, with its giant FX reserves, the central bank can provide dollars to fund external debt for a considerable period of time.

from Breakingviews:

StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

By George Hay

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

Standard Chartered STAN.L is doing a passable impression of HSBC circa 2010. The UK-based emerging markets bank has told investors that it does not accept “media rumours” concerning the future of Chairman John Peace and Chief Executive Peter Sands. The parallels with HSBC’s succession planning four years ago – a crisis that culminated in the dual departures of chairman and CEO amid a boardroom power struggle – are worrying.

from Breakingviews:

“New Deutsche” just got pushed back again

By Dominic Elliott

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

Raising $12 billion last month now looks like the easy part of Deutsche Bank’s renewal. The German lender is, it emerges, under fire from United States regulators for a raft of procedural failings. Deutsche may have repaired its capital position and revamped its strategy this year. But persuading investors the bank holds itself to higher standards than before the crisis is starting to look like a generation’s work.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Suisse cost cuts mask uneven performance

By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse’s cost-cutting is masking uneven performance overall. The Swiss bank’s ugly second-quarter net loss was down to an already announced 1.6 billion Swiss franc charge: part of a mega-fine to U.S. authorities for helping American citizens evade taxes. But even after stripping that out, investors can’t sleep easy.

from Breakingviews:

UK banks have much to fear from latest probe

By Chris Hughes

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

The latest competition review of UK banking should aim to be the last. An antitrust probe in 2000 led to limited price controls after concluding that British lenders made excess profit. There were two more big investigations after the financial crisis. Yet concerns about market inefficiencies persist. That suggests the Competition and Markets Authority should do something radical this time.

from MacroScope:

EU carve-up

Elected president of the European Commission Juncker is congratulated by European Parliament President Schulz after his election in Strasbourg

EU leaders meet for a summit at which they were supposed to decide who gets which European Commissioner posts – one for each member state – in what will be a huge carve-up, so huge in fact that it may well be that only a very few jobs are decided tonight.

Current best guesses – though they are just guesses – are that despite a willingness among some to play nice with the Brits, Prime Minister David Cameron may lose out again having voted against Juncker at a June summit. He is seeking one of the big economic portfolios; internal market, trade or competition but putting forward a low-profile politician as his point person in Brussels has not that made that any more likely.

from Breakingviews:

Banco Espirito Santo could lure periphery bulls

By Neil Unmack

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

Euro zone periphery bulls should be eyeing up Banco Espirito Santo. The troubled Portuguese bank’s shares were at one point down 20 percent on July 15, and it needs capital to stabilise itself. For hedge funds looking to profit from Europe’s banking recapitalisation, or an acquisitive bank, this is the moment to pounce.

from Alison Frankel:

The last, best chance for besieged bank defendants

Goldman Sachs has a little more than two months for a miracle to happen.

Otherwise, on Sept. 29, the bank will go to trial in federal court in Manhattan against the Federal Housing Finance Agency to defend claims that Goldman deceived Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about the quality of the mortgage-backed securities it was peddling before the financial crash.

For defendants in the FHFA litigation, trying to explain to jurors -- and to a deeply skeptical judge -- that you're not responsible for woefully deficient securities is so unappealing a prospect that 15 other big banks have coughed up a collective $15 billion to Fannie and Freddie's conservator. Only Goldman and three other banks have stuck out three years of lopsided litigation in which U.S. District Judge Denise Cote has consistently ruled against them on matters large and small.

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