Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Global News Journal:

Waiting for Europe’s “appropriate response”

Will the euro zone finally act decisively?

Investors are hoping for something big from European leaders at the EU summit on Oct. 23 and of the Group of 20 on Nov. 3. But they also know the 17 nations of the euro have a habit of offering delayed, half-hearted rescues that have cost them credibility.

So there's been a lot of "urging" and "warning" in Brussels lately -- politicians and central bankers have all been demanding Europe act as international alarm grows that its sovereign debt problems may drag the world into recession. "Further delays are only aggravating the situation," said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on Tuesday in his last appearance at the European Parliament, before he hands over the post to Mario Draghi on Nov. 1.

A day earlier, Germany's Deputy Finance Minister, Joerg Asmussen, at the parliament to promote his candidacy to join the ECB's board, made his call, saying "cooperation has to be increased," across the euro members, divided as to who should pay to rescue the heavily indebted nations of southern Europe. "I want to see a solution for debt sustainability for Greece," Asmussen said. So do so many others, especially Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who in Brussels on Thursday said it was a "crucial element to make the necessary decisions concerning Greece."

The European Roundtable of Industrialists, a business lobby of multinationals ranging from French car maker Renault to Spain's Telefonica, has also come through Brussels to make its point. The group's head, Leif Johansson, who is also chairman of Swedish phone maker Ericsson, warned that if European leaders fail to act, businesses could see a repeat of the liquidity freeze that followed the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

More or less fun in a recession? It’s a tough call

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EA_Jens_Uwe_Intat_SVP_Reuters_Summit_Paris_2010_17_May_30pctStill unsure whether economic recession is good or bad for video-games sales, more than a year in? If so, you’re in good company — neither does the world’s biggest games publisher. Electronic Arts’ head of European publishing says the company still hasn’t figured out whether people cut spending on big items like housing and cars first, or whether those kinds of decisions are just too hard.

“We really wonder, hmm, in economically difficult times would people in order to have SOME fun actually play more games or less games, and then, would they spend more or less?  It’s really, it’s impossible to say,” Jens-Uwe Intat told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris.

Recession’s perfect storm speeds up change in ad industry

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Why is it that the United States’ advertising as a proportion of marketing services is at its lowest point since 1977, maybe even lower than since the Second World War?

You may have guessed it it’s the recession.

But it will get better, Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, said.

“The recession is less worse,” Sorrell said, repeating a favourite phrase of late, and while it’s the biggest recession since 1929 it is also “a perfect storm” that has brought forward change. 

Lamenting the good ol’ days

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    The sprouting of privately-held alternative trading venues has seriously mucked up the trading landscapes in the United States and elsewhere, or so says Thomas Caldwell, chairman and chief executive of Caldwell Financial.
    Caldwell, founder of a major exchange investment firm, sees a world that has quickly evolved into one of nimble, electronic players coupled with more and more trading venues with the proliferation of alternative trading systems, or ATSs.
    (They’re also called electronic communications networks (ECNs) in the United States and multilateral trading facilities (MTFs) in Europe).
    These new venues, which can include the ominously-named dark pools, or alternative venues, where they can secretly match buy and sell orders, leads to, among other things, “deeply flawed” pricing for market participants, in Caldwell’s view.
    The idea of bank-backed stock trading venues is also suspect, says Caldwell.
    “Publicly-owned exchanges, open and visible trading, an auction market environment,” he said during the Reuters Exchanges and Trading Summit in New York.
    “These are centerpieces if you really want an economy to grow and you want to encourage entrepreneurs with access to capital. The more we get into gamesmanship and side products and all this other stuff it depletes from this.”
    (Posted by Jennifer Kwan)

NYSE if Grasso were in charge? Bankrupt, says Liquidnet CEO

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The emergence of off exchange stock trading in the United States in the past 10 years has eaten away at the market share of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq by breaking their duopoly.

But those two U.S.-based exchanges have had strong management to help them weather the storm, Liquidnet CEO Seth Merrin said at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit.

Central Europeans frown at state bank ownership

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Talk in western Europe of possibly nationalising private banks to save them from the credit crisis is sending shivers down the spine of policymakers in ex-communist central Europe.

They remember how their government controlled financial systems completely collapsed in the 1990s and threatened to take the countries’ economies along with them due to pouring money into firms with little prospect of returning it.

Carbon fails to capture EU cash

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alan_svoboda.jpgThe EU boasts of its global leadership in fighting climate change but some in the energy industry wonder whether the bloc will put money to work to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

EU governments have been reluctant to back clean technologies — such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) that could sharply reduce pollution from coal — with cash, potentially killing their future, Czech power utility CEZ told the Reuters Central European Investment Summit this week.

Will environment be forgotten in crisis? OMV says no.

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wolfgang_ruttenstorfer.jpgThere are some who say the economic downturn means ambitious plans to fight global warming should be put on ice.

But Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, the head of Austrian oil and gas group OMV, reckons cutting carbon emissions is inevitable in the long run, despite the financial crisis and its impact. 

AUDIO – Gazprom: “We are mutually dependent”

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GazpromA quarter of the gas that heats European homes and powers European industry is piped in thousands of kilometres from the Russian tundra. By 2015, Russia’s share of European gas supplies will rise to at least one third. That powerful lever of influence over Europe’s economy raises the stakes in its confrontation with Russia over its invasion of Georgia.

But Alexander Medvedev, deputy chief executive of Russia’s state gas export monopoly Gazprom, opened the Reuters Russia Investment Summit on Monday with a reminder that even the mighty Gazprom is not invulnerable to Europe and the West, relying as it does on foreign revenue and capital.

No mangoes, no cappuccinos without packaging

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huhtamaki_ceo2_web.JPGIf you think that packaging produces loads of unnecessary waste, think again, says head of ice-cream and fast-food packaging maker Huhtamaki.

Chief Executive Jukka Moisio told a Reuters Paper Industry Summit in Helsinki that packaging a product actually reduces the amount of waste used rather than creating it.

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