Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

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.

Looking back in time — “If you had a clear resolution process, and you had clear rules on leverage,” a domino-like string of large bank failures may have been less likely.

“And if the other institutions were sound but only had liquidity problems, the discount window could have been and would have been used in those instances,” he said at a Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit.

CFTC’s Gensler explains the present with the past

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Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, likes to go to the past — sometimes as far back as 1,000 years — to explain the financial situations of today.

REGULATION-SUMMIT/For example, derivatives existed for 145 years, since the Civil War, and they became regulated in the 1930s, he said at a Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in explaining that derivatives need regulation.

Reuters set to spotlight financial regulation in DC

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FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA
The fight over new rules that will dramatically change Wall Street and financial markets is approaching the finish line in Washington, with both lawmakers and the financial industry making last-ditch efforts to put their stamp on the reform effort. Reuters will be hearing from the key players in the debate on April 26-29 during the 2010 Global Financial Regulation Summit.

Top regulators, watchdogs, lawmakers and stakeholders will provide their perspectives on how this landmark legislation will impact banks, investors, traders and consumers. The talks will focus in on proposals for a strong new consumer agency, strict oversight of derivatives and attempts to end the perception that some financial firms are “too big to fail.”

Reuters set to spotlight financial regulation in DC

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FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA
The fight over new rules that will dramatically change Wall Street and financial markets is approaching the finish line in Washington, with both lawmakers and the financial industry making last-ditch efforts to put their stamp on the reform effort. Reuters will be hearing from the key players in the debate on April 26-29 during the 2010 Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit.

Top regulators, watchdogs, lawmakers and stakeholders will provide their perspectives on how this landmark legislation will impact banks, investors, traders and consumers. The talks will focus in on proposals for a strong new consumer agency, strict oversight of derivatives and attempts to end the perception that some financial firms are “too big to fail.”

Reuters set to spotlight financial regulation in DC

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FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA
The fight over new rules that will dramatically change Wall Street and financial markets is approaching the finish line in Washington, with both lawmakers and the financial industry making last-ditch efforts to put their stamp on the reform effort. Reuters will be hearing from the key players in the debate on April 26-29 during the 2010 Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit.

Top regulators, watchdogs, lawmakers and stakeholders will provide their perspectives on how this landmark legislation will impact banks, investors, traders and consumers. The talks will focus in on proposals for a strong new consumer agency, strict oversight of derivatives and attempts to end the perception that some financial firms are “too big to fail.”

Jon Stewart’s brother says mom ‘pretty happy with both’

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EXCHANGES-SUMMIT/A bit grayer and world wearier, maybe, but there’s no mistaking the family resemblance between NYSE Chief Operating Office Larry Leibowitz and his kid brother Jon Stewart. Unlike the Daily Show host, Leibowitz mostly keeps a low profile, although he did find himself in the spotlight even before his appearance at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit on Monday. The Wall Street Journal interviewed him in a story about the NYSE’s effort to turn some high frequency traders — who have been chipping away at the exchange’s business — into exchange floor traders.

Leibowitz may be sick of the Jon Stewart questions, but when pesky Reuters editors and journalists  inevitably raised them, he answered them with relatively good humor.  

Avoiding another financial crisis

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The Global Exchanges & Trading Summit takes place as lawmakers and regulators craft new rules to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis. The rising chorus for more transparency in capital markets could drive a host of new derivatives to exchanges and clearinghouses, propelling them out of the recession, but growing calls for a clampdown on speculation and automated trading could hit some of the world’s most powerful dealers and investors, undercutting the exchanges that rely on them. High-frequency trading is behind much of the spike in volumes over the last year, but as volatility drops from crisis-era highs, traders of all kinds are forced to reevaluate strategies, and exchanges are maneuvering to attract that business. A couple years after a period of blockbuster mergers, investors wonder whether the heavyweight exchange operators are angling for another round. Join us March 29-31 as we ask some of the biggest players in the industry to share their insights and outlook for the industry at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit which will take place in New York, London, Hong Kong.

Economic security or environmental destruction?

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OBAMA-CANADA/
The Oil Sands, the world’s second-largest proven reserves after Saudi Arabia, hold out the promise of energy security for the United States and economic security for Canada. But environmentalists fear the destructive, energy intensive process of extracting the oil will carry direct consequences for the planet. Despite the doubts, new oil sands projects are again springing up after the financial crisis halted development. How will oil companies balance the quest for more oil with environmental concerns? Mar. 22-23 we’ll put those questions to the oil companies, environmental groups and government officals at the first Reuters Canadian Oil Sands Summit in Calgary.

Will growth in the food industry spur inflation?

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Food and agriculture companies, having weathered the global economic meltdown, are now facing the prospects that renewed growth will spur renewed inflation.
With costs poised to rise for commodities like wheat and already high for items like sugar and cocoa, packaged foods makers face the task of trying to preserve profits at a time while retailers and consumers are balking at price increases.
Trade battles over U.S. meat and regulatory issues like a tax on soft drinks and push for more accurate disclosure of calories and fat on restaurant boards and food package are also concerns for the industry.

Would the last person to leave the smelter please turn out the lights?

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For UC RUSAL, one simple act is crucial to reducing costs.
Bonuses for managers at the world’s largest aluminium company
depend on the company’s 75,000 workers heeding the message.
“We have to introduce a new culture: if you leave the
office, turn off the lights,” Artyom Volynets, UC RUSAL’s deputy
chief executive for strategy, said at Reuters Global Mining and
Steel Summit on Monday.
“We have 16 smelters, each with their own headquarters and
offices. We employ 75,000 people. If each one of them is
switching off the lights at the end of their shift, that would
help tremendously.”
UC RUSAL embarked on a major drive to slash production costs
last year as part of an ultimately successful attempt to secure
Russia’s largest ever private sector debt restructuring.
Easy access to Siberian hydroelectric power, compared with
relatively high-cost coal used to power smelters in other parts
of the world, affords UC RUSAL a distinct cost advantage when
making aluminium used in transport, construction and packaging.
In the first half of 2009, it cost UC RUSAL an average
$1,400 to produce a tonne of aluminium. The metal is now selling
at above $2,200 a tonne.
UC RUSAL has cut costs by sourcing cheaper raw materials of
better quality and improving throughput rates at its smelters in
Siberia, which account for about 80 percent of its total output.
But cheap power in Siberia had also led to complacency.
“Our smelters are located in probably the only remaining
major energy-long region in the world. Therefore, if you buy
power at 2 cents per kilowatt, you don’t really care how much
you spend,” Volynets said.
“For my colleagues on the operational side of the business,
their key performance indicators are 100 percent tied to cost
improvements,” he said. “They will not be compensated if these
improvements are not implemented.”
(Writing by Robin Paxton in Moscow)

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