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Apr 24, 2012
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Dutch government felled by austerity boomerang

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

“Wie boter op het hoofd heeft, moet uit de zon blijven.” The Dutch proverb is particularly appropriate for the country’s right-of-centre government, which has collapsed after failing to agree big budget cuts. In English, it reads: “He who has butter on his head must stay out of the sun”.

Apr 19, 2012
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The Bank of England needs a home-grown governor

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Must the governor of the Bank of England be English? That’s the intriguing question raised by a report that Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of Canada, has been sounded out as a possible replacement for Mervyn King, who is due to retire next year.

Apr 4, 2012
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JPM insider non-trading case puts banks on notice

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

No-one can accuse the Financial Services Authority of avoiding big targets. Indeed, the UK watchdog has trained its sights on one of the City of London’s most prominent dealmakers by fining Ian Hannam the best part of half a million pounds for passing on price-sensitive information about his client, Heritage Oil.

Mar 30, 2012
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Review: Fictional financiers remain elusive

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

Banking is fiction’s hidden profession. Despite decades of financial expansion, novelists and playwrights have struggled to imagine a contemporary Shylock or Augustus Melmotte, the shadowy star of Anthony Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now”. A quarter of a century has passed since Tom Wolfe dreamt up Sherman McCoy, the bond trader who personified the arrogance and greed of an earlier boom in “The Bonfire of the Vanities”. With the crisis wreckage still smouldering, the characters in most contemporary novels are more likely to be found robbing a bank than working for one.

Mar 23, 2012
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UK’s bubble-prickers seek iron grip on banks

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Britain’s bubble-prickers are aiming high. The Bank of England’s new Financial Policy Committee, which is charged with averting future crises, has asked the government for sweeping powers to rein in banks, insurers and fund managers. Even if it doesn’t get everything it wants, the FPC will clearly have muscle. The snag is that it has few ideas for solving the most pressing current problem: excessive risk aversion.

Mar 22, 2012
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UBS rolls the dice with Andrea Orcel grab

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Sergio Ermotti is taking a gamble. The UBS chief executive is preparing to install his former colleague Andrea Orcel as co-head of the Swiss group’s investment banking division. Luring the BofA Merrill Lynch dealmaker would be a sign that battle- and scandal-scarred UBS can still attract big names. But given Orcel’s patchy management track record, he has a lot to prove.

Mar 14, 2012
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Goldman’s omerta loses force – along with brand

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

Greg Smith’s biggest impact on Goldman Sachs may have been the manner in which he departed. On Wednesday, the equity derivatives banker kissed goodbye to his employer of a dozen years with a resignation letter, published in the New York Times op-ed pages, in which he accused Goldman of putting its interests ahead of those of clients, who he said are regularly described as “muppets.”

Though Smith’s complaints may be familiar, they tend to be aired in private. The worry for Goldman is that some employees are no longer scared of criticising the firm, nor take much pride in its pedigree.

Mar 9, 2012
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Review: Bank of England exposed, but not decoded

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

At some point in the next few months, the UK government is expected to publish an advertisement inviting applications for the position of Governor of the Bank of England. Though the job will not become vacant until the incumbent, Mervyn King, steps down in June 2013, his successor is expected to be named before the end of this year.

Mar 8, 2012
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Investment bankers complete Deutsche Bank takeover

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Investment bankers have finally completed their takeover of Deutsche Bank. The German group’s latest reshuffle has vaulted executives from its corporate and investment banking division into senior positions. That’s partly new co-CEO Anshu Jain picking his own team. But it’s also confirmation that, despite post-crisis reforms, trading and risk management nous are still essential.

Mar 5, 2012
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ECB handout carries risks of renewed bank backlash

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Banks should be wary of Mario Draghi’s gifts. The president of the European Central Bank has averted economic disaster in the euro zone and sparked a broad market rally by spraying financial institutions with 1 trillion euros of cheap money. But if the real economy does not share in the benefits, banks may face a renewed backlash.

    • 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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