Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

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.

“So, we just were in the Cayman Islands on vacation some time ago. We were in Aruba back in December. I’m heading to Vancouver in July and probably take a week or two in the Hamptons. I’m thrilled to spend money in this environment.

“I got an e-mail from a client in the heart of ’08 saying the advise and commentaries have been great but you’re just so relentlessly negative in ’08, you’ve got to say something that makes me not want to commit suicide.

Brazil on everyone’s lips (and in pockets too)

Forget China, at least for now. That “B” in BRICs is really gaining momentum. Many investment managers attending the “Reuters Investment Outlook Summit 2010″ in New York this week mentioned Brazil as a hot destination to park money next year.

There is a growing perception among decision makers that Brazil is on the right track for dynamic growth.
Pimco’s founder Bill Gross, who helps oversee $940 billion in fixed-income securities, says both China and Brazil have big domestic markets with relatively low consumption levels, around 30 percent of GDP, and still room to grow.

Talbots still has too many shops: shortseller

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KRAVETZApparel retailer Talbots announced a deal that will reduce its debt by about $330 million through its purchase of a blank check company.

The company, which caters to older women, has suffered since it bought trendier retailer J. Jill in 2006 for $517 million. But it resold it this year to private equity firm Golden Gate for $75 million.

Stop lumping us together! say Central Europeans

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An invitation to the Reuters Central European Investment Summit may sound perfectly acceptable to many policy makers and executives but not to Czech central banker Mojmir Hampl. It’s not that he objected to visiting our Vienna office and being interviewed by a crew of editors — Hampl was ready and willing to do that. He just questioned the very idea of lumping together all the different countries in a very diverse region.

 

“I’m a bit disappointed that the key topic is how the Central and Eastern European region will develop,” Hampl told us, reviving a complaint often heard around the region. It’s a serious issue, one that has bothered many policy makers in central European countries, who grew frustrated at the height of the financial crisis that investors were not differentiating between those with sound fundamentals such as the Czech Republic and Poland and those on decidedly shakier ground.

The Nowotny-shaped recovery

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By Petra Spescha

 

European economists have been nearly unanimous about what Europe’s recovery from the crisis will look like on a chart: L-shaped — a severe slump with a prolonged period of flat or minimal improvements in the economy.

 

But at the Reuters Central European Investment Summit Ewald Nowotny created a new shape when he tried to clarify a statement he made to an Austrian newspaper earlier this month about the economic turnaround.

Emerging Europe – what’s next?

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Reuters Central European Investment Summit, September 28-30, 2009

 

The former Communist countries of central Europe have been the last to be hit by the global economic crisis, but th e hit they took was among the hardest. Only big neighbour Russia’s deep plunge into recession is rivaling the sharp fall from record economic growth that’s in store this year for the economies between the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.

 

Global risk aversion and deleveraging exposed the weaknesses that the countries had been able to gloss over during the boom years – which in retrospect appeared to have been, in some countries, a colossal binge bankrolled by cheap foreign credit extended by Western European banks that had to come to an end when funding dried up.

Moscow: The least worst place for your money

   Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital was a big backer of Moscow’s ambition to become a major emerging-markets financial centre, a bridge between European and Asian capital, a rival to Dubai.

    It not only trumpeted the idea, but was one of the first big local firms to take out offices in a sleek glass skyscraper by the Moscow River, surrounded by foundation pits and towers of naked steel girders that were to become Moscow’s Canary Wharf.

Will oil price rise hamper economic recovery?

Charles Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders believes the rise in oil prices is in part directly related to the improvement in the economy. Sonders says “there’s no reality if the economy is starting to improve to the ten-year staying at 2-percent and oil staying at $32 dollars.” Do you agree? Or, will the rise in prices start raising red flags? Click here to listen to Sonders’ view.

Will the rise in oil prices slow the economic recovery? from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

Islamic finance just one more crisis victim?

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It’s not just traditional western banks that are hurting — the recession is hitting Islamic finance hard, too.

The industry, which operates according to Islamic law and hence has an in-built conservative investment strategy, is seen as relatively insulated from the financial crisis. But some executives at the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit are not so sure.

For a banker, no panic in China

“Well insulated” China, though suffering from sharp drops in its own equities markets, doesn’t have the sense of crisis that exists in the U.S., says Philip Partnow, managing director of UBS Securities Ltd in Beijing. UBS, the first Western bank to assume management control of a domestic mainland brokerage, points out the fact that what’s hitting companies is not subprime-related securities gone bad.

“I think there’s nothing here we feel is toxid,” he told Reuters on Wednesday at the Reuters China Summit in Beijing. He goes on:

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