Banking in Turmoil: Strategies for Sustainable Growth by Steven I. Davis (auth.)

By Steven I. Davis (auth.)

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This chapter will summarize briefly the efforts by global agencies such as the IMF and bank economists to provide answers to the universal questions of length, depth and profile of the downturn. It will then turn in more detail to the views of our interview sample. Such forecasts invariably are based on past downturns, in particular those commencing with a banking crisis which is followed by a major economic recession or depression. The widespread assumption, as indicated in Chapter 2, is that such a combination is more lethal than the two downturns occurring separately.

Goldman is a merchant bank for these clients – not institutional asset management but a private bank. Other investment banks will try to do the same. Geographic focus At the outset of the current banking turmoil, emerging markets from the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to Asia-Pacific to Latin America were the almost universal geographic priority for banks largely because of their superior growth potential. Economic growth in most of the developed world had shrunk to low single digits, and competition had slashed margins across the board.

A senior investment banker is outspoken on the subject: There are so many multiple risks in play – globality, securitization, etc – and all these are being taken without a risk manager at the top. Banks’ big problem is that they have committed themselves to risk taking, but the individuals who run them, using questionable models like VaR, have to deal with complexities far beyond their grasp, and delegate it to technical people. Sam Theodore, who had spent over 15 years managing European bank ratings, first at Moody’s and then at DBRS, notes that a transformation of risk management has been driven by the recent crisis: The whole mentality is changing for banks and investors.

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