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Loan Ranger: LMA larks

loan ranger

Last week the market gathered for one of the biggest events of the year: the Loan Market Association conference, and this year’s event was all the more special for being the shindig's 20th anniversary. While many attendees were brimming with enthusiasm for the big day there were, as always, a few renegades lurking in the background.

The most diligent and earnest delegates arrived early to secure a seat at the front of the conference hall. The Ranger was not among them, skulking into the back of the room with moments to spare and was left with a seat in the dark; a position in the loan market the Ranger never likes to occupy. Luckily, Deutsche Bank’s Simon Derrick was in a similar boat, and later on in the afternoon Commerzbank’s Graham Lofts was also found sat in the naughty corner aside the Ranger.

Reinhaard Haas, Commerzbank's loans chief, had recently travelled to China and told the Ranger before the event how the trip had bowled him over. Haas was most surprised to have been jostled and elbowed by fellow pedestrians on the streets of Beijing, where there was no Germanic sense of order, we hear.

A hectic trip to Asia was probably good preparation for Haas who had to step in at the last minute to chair the first panel at the LMA conference. Roland Boehm had planned to return to chair the event for the last time but was held up at the airport on the big day.

The heads of syndicate panel was a blockbuster event and included some of the market's key players. The bankers did well to avoid saying anything that could put them at risk of market collusion or breaking non-disclosure agreements, in doing so we suspect they skirted around the juiciest topics of conversation.

Capital Economics’ economist Roger Bootle showed more bottle, however. He told the 900-strong audience that a hard lading in China was not an imminent threat and that equity market volatility in emerging markets was just part of the bargain. We will do well to remember that the next time financial markets are roiled by shocks from China.

Though one banker, who shall remain anonymous, had less enthusiasm for the conference and chose to stay in the office on the day. When the Ranger asked why the banker was not attending the event, he responded with another question:

Banker: How many times have you been to the LMA conference?

Ranger: A couple of times.

Banker: You should know better! It’s the same every year.

The jaded certainly seemed to be in the minority however judging by the numbers packing the halls at the conference. Or maybe, irrespective of the sparkling panel discussions, some of them just wanted a break from the office.

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