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Sep 12, 2011
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UK bank commission sticks to its guns

By Peter Thal Larsen and George Hay  The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Britain’s Independent Commission on Banking has stuck to its guns. Despite concerted industry lobbying and growing political nervousness about the consequences of reform, its recommendations on how to fix Britain’s banking system are resolutely tough. The ICB’s only real concession is to delay to 2019 implementation of its proposals for ring-fencing crucial operations. Sorting out the details of the new rules could leave banks in limbo for years.

Aug 8, 2011
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ECB’s bazooka has a limited shelf life

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

Did Standard & Poor’s spur the European Central Bank into action? There was no direct link between the rating agency’s decision to strip the United States of its triple-A status and the euro zone debt crisis. But fears of market turmoil triggered by the downgrade may have prompted the central bank to restart its bond-buying program. The intervention has calmed nerves. However, it is only buying time.

Jul 22, 2011
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Banks escape Greece with a minor trim

By Peter Thal Larsen and George Hay
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

LONDON — Greek creditors who were worrying about a severe haircut can relax — for now. Most holders of the country’s debt should escape the latest euro zone bailout with no more than a modest trim. But if Greece’s finances don’t recover, they could still end up with a much harsher shaving.

Jun 28, 2011
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EU bank test laggards will need capital backstop

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

LONDON — Persistent critics of Europe’s bank stress tests may have to pipe down. Sources close to the exercise have told Reuters that up to 15 of the continent’s banks — one in six of those sitting the exam — could flunk it. That would give the tests a credibility boost. But it raises another problem: how to plug the resulting capital hole.

Jun 7, 2011
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The level playing field is a regulatory pipe dream

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

LONDON — Tim Geithner is worried about a regulatory race to the bottom. The U.S. Treasury Secretary has warned other countries against taking advantage of tough rules introduced in the United States. He has a point. But the quest for a global level playing field in financial regulation is futile — and confusing.

May 31, 2011
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Italy’s slow justice finally snares central banker

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

LONDON — It’s taken six years, but Italy’s justice system has finally caught up with Antonio Fazio. The former governor of the Bank of Italy has been sentenced to four years in jail for his role in helping to rig a 2005 takeover battle. The conviction suggests Italy’s courts can hold the powerful to account. But the drawn-out process allows many to slip through the net.

May 9, 2011
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Oil crash shows investors still trust flawed model

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

LONDON — Are oil investors clinging to flawed financial models? That’s the strong impression given by last week’s sharp oil price drop. If market movements followed a normal distribution, such a plunge would be extremely surprising. But what’s really astonishing is that investors still appear to be relying on risk management techniques that were comprehensively rubbished by the credit crisis.

Apr 11, 2011
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UK puts scope of investment banking up for grabs

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

LONDON — Britain has put the scope of investment banking up for grabs. The UK’s Independent Commission on Banking has recommended that lenders be required to “ring-fence” their domestic retail arms from their wholesale operations. But it has deliberately left open the question of where to draw the line.

Apr 6, 2011
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Europe’s latest bank re-cap wave is one to surf

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

LONDON — Europe’s latest bank recapitalisation wave is the one to surf. Shareholders have seen so many false dawns that they could be forgiven for thinking daylight would never come. But there are reasons to believe that this round of rights issues will be final. For equity investors, it’s a sign that the risk-reward balance has finally shifted in their favour.

Mar 17, 2011
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Bank capital debate obscures more urgent reform

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

LONDON — Before the crisis, financial regulators were often accused of being in thrall to bankers. Today, they are in greater danger of being captured by academics. British boffins have recently got bogged down debating whether banks should hold significantly higher levels of equity. Even if the idea is right, it is not remotely realistic. Policymakers should concentrate on more modest but practical reforms.

    • 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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