The systemically-important 30
The first thing to jump out from the list is that just 5 of the 30 companies are American, and none of the six insurers: the likes of Mizuho, Intesa and Aviva are considered systemically important, while, say, Wells Fargo isn’t. (It’s not clear what the status of AIG is. Maybe it can’t be too big to fail if it’s already failed.)
The second thing of note is that there’s not much in the way of BRICs here, or even emerging-market institutions in general. Two of the four UK groups — Standard Chartered and HSBC — are about as close as it comes; there’s no Chinese bank on the list at all. Never mind all the chatter over Dubai: emerging markets are still very much the victims of financial meltdown, rather than the cause of it.
Finally, why is it only European insurers who make the cut? Two of them are Swiss; the others (Axa, Aegon, Allianz, and Aviva) are generally considered French, Dutch, German, and English respectively. What’s Berkshire Hathaway, chopped liver?