Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Private bankers must show restraint in Europe

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Private bankers remain in demand in some key European markets, but they will have to live with lower salaries if they want to continue to be part of this business.
Top wealth managers told the Reuters Global Private Banking summit that they have stopped offering the huge packages seen in the run up to the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
“We are not offering packages that are outlandish. And I do not see the other banks doing that either,” said Samir Raslan, General Manager of Citibank (Switzerland).
Raslan said the structure of banker’s salaries had also changed. Relationship managers who form the backbone of a private bank’s workforce were getting higher fixed salaries than before, but no more huge bonuses.
“We see more rational hiring, rather than aggressive, open cheque-book hiring,” said Raslan.

That’s rich. I meant the wine.

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Jeffrey Rubin

What do gold and wine have in common?

Price.

Well, too high of a high price, according to Jeffrey Rubin, director of research at Birinyi Associates, the stock market research and money management firm.

Rubin told the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit on Tuesday that he thought gold prices were “certainly a little frothy” at current levels and that he would rather be a buyer of the gold miners such as Newmont Mining Corp, Barrick Gold Corp, or Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. Gold hit an all-time high  above $1,250 an ounce on Tuesday as investors piled in due to fears that European credit contagion could lead to a double-dip recession.

Ritholtz: I zig when everybody zags

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The U.S. economy is experiencing an ongoing but slow recovery, says Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ. But that’s not stopping him from enjoying discounted prices in a low-inflation environment, at least when it comes to his personal spending habits. The world is on sale if you’ve got the money to spend, he told the Reuters Investment Outlook summit in New York when asked, for example, if he might spend less while on a vacation or forego a purchase or two.

“I am an enormous counter-cyclical spender. At the top of the bull market I don’t want to buy anything. I am a seller into a bull market. We have been buying a ton of stuff over the past year. We got two new cars long before the May…. so we picked up two new cars. We’re doing work on the house. We’re adding a kitchen. I got my wife a very lovely birthday gift. She got me a very lovely birthday gift. We’ve been buying artwork. We’ve buying jewelry. I love to buy stuff when it is on sale. I hate to buy top dollar for it.

Angelides: People make mistakes, take Alan Greenspan and Captain of Titanic

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Phil Angelides, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chairman, says he’d rather see some taking of responsibility than hear another “I’m sorry.”

REGULATION-SUMMIT/“Personally I don’t see my role as … to obtain apologies. What I don’t hear is a sense of responsibility and self-assessment about what occurred. There seems to be a disconnect between the practices that people undertook and the financial collapse,” he said at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit.

Where disaster and compensation intersect you’ll find Kenneth Feinberg

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You can call him mediator, or you can call him negotiator, but don’t call him pay czar. REGULATION-SUMMIT/

Kenneth Feinberg says he doesn’t like the shorthand title that’s used to describe his role as the administration’s supervisor of compensation practices at firms that received money under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Shunning bankers

Banker bashing has become a bit of an international sport — and fraud allegations against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs and a U.S. class-action suit against Germany’s Deutsche Bank has added more grist to the mill. So it’s small wonder that a bank lobby group struck a wistful note at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in London on Tuesday.

“No politician, for the next couple of years, is going to be close to a banker, hug a banker, be friendly to a banker,” said Mark Austen, the acting chief executive of AFME (Association for Financial Markets in Europe). “They (banks) are seen as institutions that have caused a crisis … We are still faced with a public’s anger to the banking community … It will take time to rebuild that trust.”

Eliot Spitzer loved politics, so will he run again?

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This much is clear — Eliot Spitzer loved politics, he loved being New York governor, he loved being New York attorney general.

So will he run for public office again?

Well here it gets a little bit like watching a tennis ball going back and forth over the net. REGULATION-SUMMIT/

Against high Hill drama, SEC chief mum on Goldman

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First of all, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro would not talk about Goldman Sachs.

There was no drawing her out. The head of the agency that filed a civil fraud lawsuit charging that Goldman misled investors would not say a word about the case. GOLDMAN/

FDIC Chair Bair: think before you point that finger…

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The latest blame game circulating in Washington on financial regulation may end up with those who point fingers  finding that they have three fingers pointing back.

During the debate on tightening financial regulations, there have been some backhanded jabs at regulators with the implication that perhaps they were asleep at the wheel. Just this morning on NBC’s “Today” show, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said Wall Street had been creating things just to bet on — “they were like the casino, but they had less regulation than Las Vegas.”

What if there were no “too big to fail”? Fed’s Hoenig has a vision

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USA/Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill say they want to toss out the concept of “too big to fail” in the financial regulation reform they are tussling over. That way if a financial firm is going to go under, it will go under, with no thought for a taxpayer handout.

Since the concept of “too big to fail” has yet to be erased by law, and its demise yet to be tested by a failing financial institution, it was interesting to hear how Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig envisioned the financial industry without that concept to lean on.

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