On a sticky wicket? Asia’s the place to be
Taipan popped back in the UK this week as it wouldn’t be summer if I didn’t spend a few days at Lord’s watching England being beaten at cricket by one of the former colonies — talk about the Empire Strikes Back. It also provided me with a chance to drink proper pints of bitter and catch up with my old chums who I started on the trading floor with.
I don’t know if it is just the poor state of English cricket that has put my friends in such a bad mood but the great men (and OK then women as well) of the City are really not a happy lot. Money and bonuses are back, but they seem as glum as they did in September 2008.
Why? Because the US seems intent on fixing its budget deficit by fining European banks, meaning that the real rock stars of banking are now compliance officers rather than traders. Personally, I can't wait for the New York attorney general to start issuing some paper — I'd buy some ABS-penalty-receivables-backed-ABS any day of the week. The new CDO-squared, I guess.
But it’s just no fun anymore, the bankers complain, especially as they now spend almost as many hours in compliance meetings as they do executing business. And that budget-busting deal they did for Iran or some other sanction-hit regime back in the day that made the bank a whole heap of money and made their name in the market could now see them sacked and hounded by the Department of Justice.
The answer, I told them, was obvious — they should come to Asia where there are plenty of questionable but US approved regimes you can do business with. And the cricket’s not too bad either. Howzat!