Monday 28th July 2014
slib33
FRIDAY ANALYSTS TICKER: July 25th 2014 - According to Adam Cordery, global head of European fixed income, Santander Asset Management, and fund manager for the Santander Euro Corporate Short Term and Euro Corporate bond funds, “Pricing of risk assets doesn’t offer much of a margin for error at the moment. And now Europe is starting to go on holiday, market liquidity may get poorer than normal, and any buys today may well have to be holds until September. It is always interesting to note what yields are required to attract clients to financial products. Twenty years ago, bond funds offering yields of 10%+ could generally attract lots of client interest very quickly. However as rates have come down over the years, so the yields clients demand have fallen. Now 4% seems to be the new 10%, he say. Cordery thinks that unfortunately, investors often want today the yield/risk mix that was available last year, so the products that get launched, sold and bought in size may be more risky than people think. “Products with 4% yield will sell well today, but to get to a 4% yield in Euro you need to invest in a portfolio with an average rating of single-B, and that is far from being risk-free. I get the impression the conventional wisdom today is to think that interest rates must surely go up soon and the main risk to bond portfolios is an increase in bund yields. Because of this many investors are buying short-duration products and floating rate notes, perhaps viewing them as a safe choice, almost like cash. It is possible however that these products may yet prove to have a considerable sensitivity to changes in credit market spreads and/or bond market liquidity, and may prove to be no protection at all.” - Commenting on the RBS share price jump, Dr Pete Hahn of Cass Business School, says “It's hard to tell whether the RBS share price jump today is more about relief or optimism. The former is about fewer fines, fewer losses on loans, and fewer costs in a shrinking business and possibly dividends for shareholders. And there's the rub, owning shares (as opposed to interest bearing debt) should be about optimism and long-term growth in dividends. But from a shrinking business? Few would argue that RBS' retail and corporate bank had efficiencies to be gained and cash flow that might be converted to dividends; yet like most banks, RBS' cost of equity remains stubbornly and appropriately above its ability to provide a return on that equity. For shareholders, current improvements should mean dividends in the medium term but a recognition that RBS may lack any merit for new investment and delivering any long-term dividend growth - not good. While many large retail banks are getting safer, in some aspects, and we often speak of them in terms of moving toward utility type models, banks take risks, are cyclical, face competition, have new business challengers, and are simply are not utilities. Investors shouldn't get ahead of themselves here.” - According to the monthly survey held by the central bank of Turkey, the country’s capacity utilization (CU) rate declined slightly to 74.9% in July from 75.3% in June. Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted (SA) CU also declined to 74.3% from 74.7% in June, writes Mehmet Besimoglu at Oyak Yatirim Research. As for manufacturing confidence, the index declined to 109 from 110.7 in May. On SA basis, the index also edged down slightly to 106.4 from 107.2. SA capacity utilisation was broadly stable in 1H14, averaging at 74.7%. This is the same level with the 2013 average. Despite the political turmoil and volatility in financial markets, activity has been relatively resilient. Export recovery & government spending supported production in 1H. Following the elections, public spending relatively decelerated. The turmoil in Iraq also decelerated export recovery from June. Nevertheless, we still expect 3.5% GDP growth in 2014, writes Besimoglu.

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Regulatory Update

Lessons from an Industry Titan: Jamie Dimon’s Testimony

Friday, 15 June 2012 Written by 
Lessons from an Industry Titan: Jamie Dimon’s Testimony This week, J.P. Morgan Chase’s CEO, the highly regarded Jamie Dimon, testified before the US Senate banking committee regarding the failures of its Chief Investment Office (CIO), the group responsible for certain well-publicized losses. We thought his testimony provided more than a few lessons on governance matters and the state of the world generally. Here they are: http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

This week, J.P. Morgan Chase’s CEO, the highly regarded Jamie Dimon, testified before the US Senate banking committee regarding the failures of its Chief Investment Office (CIO), the group responsible for certain well-publicized losses. We thought his testimony provided more than a few lessons on governance matters and the state of the world generally. Here they are:

"[W]e are still reviewing the facts...”

Lesson: Never speak out publicly in a definitive way until you fully know the facts.  You will not fully know the facts for months.

"...I will explain everything I can to the extent possible."

Lesson: Even for Dimon, transparency matters.

"CIO's strategy...was poorly conceived and vetted.  The strategy was not carefully analyzed or subjected to rigorous stress testing.... CIO's traders did not have the requisite understanding of the risks they took.”

Lesson: Didn’t we learn this lesson in 2008? Back then we learned that some strategies had assumptions that seemed poorly founded in retrospect. This was particularly true about the behavior of the mortgage markets and their derivatives.  Guess the lesson is that most people never learn this lesson. Before a system or strategy is implemented, and periodically thereafter, management (including the board) should ask the probing questions. Make no assumptions on this score.

"Personnel in key control roles in CIO were in transition and risk control functions were generally ineffective in challenging the judgment of CIO's trading personnel.”

Lesson: The press reported that the CIO’s then-current chief risk officer began to internally express his concerns about London office trading strategies last year. This past January, he was replaced as the head of risk by a former trader who, at least according to the press reports, had no prior risk management experience. This lesson relates to human nature: it's very hard to appreciate someone who has a different point of view. Watch out – he may be right.

"Risk Committee structures and processes in CIO were not as formal or robust as they should have been.”

Lesson: Assessments have to be substantive, robust, and “real”, and be tested and documented regularly as assumptions and/or reality changes. Structure, process and formality may not protect you from all losses, but they can provide a protective shield that will hopefully mitigate them. Be sure to build your protective shield. 

 

Deborah Prutzman

Deborah Prutzman is the founder and CEO of The Regulatory Fundamentals Group (RFG), a New York-based firm that designs and implements business and risk solutions for alternative asset managers and institutional investors. RFG's senior-led team employs a robust suite of tools, including practical alerts on new and potential industry developments and its powerful RFG Pathfinder® knowledge management platform which simplifies the challenges of operating in a regulated environment.  To learn more about The Regulatory Fundamentals Group call (212) 537-4058, email a representative at Information@RegFG.com or visit RegFG.com

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