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Jul 31, 2012
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Facebook costs UBS some of its new friends

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

UBS is making a habit of springing nasty second-half surprises. Eleven months ago, the Swiss bank shocked investors with a 2 billion Swiss franc rogue trading loss. Now it has fessed up to dropping 350 million francs on Facebook’s bungled initial public offering. In an already tough second quarter, it’s the last thing UBS’s slimmed-down investment bank needed.

Jul 30, 2012
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HSBC held back by developed-world headaches

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

HSBC can’t leave its developed-world headaches behind. More than a year after new Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver sketched out plans to focus on growth in emerging markets, the bank has set aside $2 billion for mis-selling in the United Kingdom and money-laundering in the United States. The setback will only reinforce HSBC’s strategic shift.

Jul 23, 2012
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Investment banking job cull is long overdue

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

The investment banking job cull is finally underway. Faced with slumping income and tough regulation, the industry is bracing for another round of cuts. Making further savings won’t be straightforward. But with shareholders antsy and no rebound in sight, investment banks have little choice.

Jul 18, 2012
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Credit Suisse bows to Swiss National Bank pressure

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Credit Suisse has bowed to the inevitable. Ever since the Swiss National Bank questioned its reserves last month, the group was under pressure to carry out some kind of equity boost. The plan to lift capital by 8.7 billion Swiss francs removes the immediate question marks over its balance sheet. But any sustained share price recovery requires investors to believe the capital rebuild is now over.

Jul 12, 2012
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Europe’s bank recap strategy has reached its limit

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Europe’s bank recapitalisation strategy has reached its limits. The continent’s lenders have added 94 billion euros to their capital buffers since the end of September, comfortably exceeding demands set by the European Banking Authority. Yet they are not yet in the clear. To restore trust, banks will have to clean up their loan books – and hope the euro zone can solve its sovereign woes.

Jun 28, 2012
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Barclays’ board should replace Bob Diamond

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By Peter Thal Larsen
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Barclays’ chief executive has become a liability. A $450 million regulatory fine imposed after bank employees attempted to rig key interest rates has tarnished Bob Diamond’s track record. Added to previous controversies over tax and pay, it undermines his attempts to revamp the UK bank. Though Diamond has been an asset to Barclays for most of his 16-year career at the lender, the bank will find it hard to move on while he is in charge.

Jun 25, 2012
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The world’s central banks are running out of road

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

In the global economic crisis, central bankers are often portrayed as superheroes. Mario Draghi: the only man who can save the euro zone. Ben Bernanke: “please do more” for the U.S. economy. The Bank for International Settlements is unhappy with the image of omnipotence: its latest annual report laments that central bank money-printing and support for the financial sector are reaching their limits.

Jun 20, 2012
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State meddling won’t solve UK bubble-pricking bind

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

George Osborne is exerting his influence on the Bank of England. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer has decided that the central bank’s new Financial Policy Committee must support government policy. That raises questions about the FPC’s ability to bust financial bubbles. But it won’t change the committee’s current dilemma: how to combat excessive risk-aversion.

Jun 18, 2012
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BoE can’t blame Europe for its monetary U-turn

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Reality is catching up with Mervyn King once again. After months of resistance, the governor of the Bank of England has announced plans to channel subsidised loans to British borrowers and pump extra liquidity into banks. The overt justification for the U-turn is to pre-empt a storm from Europe. But King can’t lay all the blame on the euro zone: many of Britain’s woes are self-inflicted.

May 29, 2012
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Europe’s banks must stop making muppets of savers

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By Peter Thal Larsen and Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

European banks are treating their retail customers like muppets. Lenders in Spain and elsewhere have flogged increasing volumes of their own bonds to unsophisticated retail customers. Such investments look ill-advised, at the very least. It also complicates government efforts to impose pain on creditors, rather than taxpayers.

    • About Peter

      "Peter is Assistant Editor of Reuters Breakingviews, based in London. He oversees coverage of financial services and regulation. Prior to joining Reuters, Peter spent 10 years at the Financial Times. From 2004 to 2009 he was the FT’s banking editor, leading the paper’s award-winning coverage of global banking during the credit crunch. Between 2000 and 2004 Peter reported for the FT from New York. He played a leading role in the paper’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. A Dutch national, Peter has degrees from Bristol University and the London School of Economics."
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