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Sovereign Wealth Funds, Gucci and Prada

It’s morning on the second day of SIBOS 2008, and I’m thinking it’s horrible.

That’s a good start to the day, but it’s horrible weather.  Non-stop rain and only 10 degrees C.  In fact, it was horrible yesterday and the day before.

Actually, the whole summer has been pretty horrendous.

London has had nothing but clouds and clouds and clouds.  No Sunshine since about June.

Maybe it’s the credit crisis.

And just as I left London on Sunday to come to Vienna, the clouds broke.  It was sunny.

Then we get to Vienna and it’s not just cloudy.  It’s raining.  A lot.

Ah well, I guess that with the news of Lehmans, Merrill and BoA, along with 8,000 bankers being here in Vienna, who would expect sunshine.

The good news is that opera was fantazerooney.  I’m not a big opera buff, but this was amazing with the lead soprano, Nina Stemme, absolutely in phenomenal form.

So much so, that I got a lump in my throat once or twice … or maybe that was the crisps I was eating.  In fact, I couldn’t work out why the guy next to me kept frowning at me.  I can only think it was due to the trainers and anorak I was wearing.

But then it was raining.

Anyways, up bright and early and back to the conference hall.

After looking up the emails, and finding some nice comments on the risk aspects of my comments yesterday and last week.  This is that the risk models in banking are broken and do not work.  In fact, Bill Rhodes, Chairman of Citibank, said yesterday that the whole leveraged model of investment banking was broken, and he should know. 

Anyways, the risk models in banking are broken, and yet we now want to place the guys responsible for this, the Risk Management leadership, on the Board.  That makes sense to me.

Ah well, c’est la vie.

Meantime, I came back into the conference plenary to hear a session about the move from West to East.  Esteemed panellists from Dubai, Singapore, India, Russia and Germany are all debating where and who will be the next dominant power.  After all, the last one, America, is economic deadmeat, according to this panel.

The dialogue was wide and varied, but my favourite comment was from Keng Yong Ong from the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In response to the question, "should we be afraid of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)?" he said, "No. Not at all.  SWFs are just like you and me. You go out shopping locally and you buy the things available in your local market.  After a while, you run out of nice things to buy, so then you look overseas.  And when you look overseas, you don’t buy any old stuff, but the best branded goods.  That’s all SWFs are doing.  Buying some nice branded businesses."

Or words to that effect. 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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