Spain | Solid fundamentals and steady structural reform could be undercut by political chaos and global market turbulence.
PORTUGAL | With a hefty debt overhang, Portugal can’t quit now on structural reform.
The United Kingdom | Individuals and corporate teams alike are struggling through the implications of Brexit, looking for opportunities, and still hoping the whole thing will go away.
Facing reputational risk and poor prospects, private banking operations are bailing on Russia and encouraging its wealthy to park their assets offshore.
The promise of London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, to build 50,000 homes (half of them affordable) with a reasonable commute is being heralded but also questioned.
The Panama Papers’ revelation that Iceland’s prime minister had offshore interests, including claims on Icelandic banks, caused outrage in this naturally volcanic island state.
Capital Markets | Fixed Income
US companies are rushing to borrow in European bond markets. They’re taking advantage of low interest rates on euro-denominated issues after the European Central Bank’s decision to start buying investment-grade corporate bonds in June—part of its economic stimulus program. Last year already set a record for corporate borrowing in Europe’s bond markets, where rates are significantly lower than in the US.
Trends | Inversions
The US Treasury Department’s recent rules against corporate inversions are intended to stop “serial inverters.”
Tax Reporting & Compliance
The OECD’s “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” principles are being incorporated into tax laws in some nations, requiring more transparency from corporate treasury departments.
In April the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commemorated a quarter-century of history, with president Suma Chakrabarti emphasizing how far the Bank had come since its first investment—to WBK Bank in Poland (now Bank Zachodni WBK).
Nordea Chief Financial Officer Heikki Ilkka, appointed in December after many years with Ernst &Young, talked with Global Finance editors about how the bank is handling negative interest rates and regulatory challenges, and how it deploys technology to satisfy its customers.
He’s a kickboxer and a football fanatic, an accomplished pianist and possibly the next president of France—and only 38.
Ralph Hamers, CEO and chairman of ING Group, talks with Global Finance about how ING’s lending practices and use of fintech are bolstering the bank—and sustaining the environment.
Alberto Bisin, professor of econo-mics at New York University and fellow at the Econometric Society, studies social, financial and behavioral economics, regulation and income distribution. He spoke with Global Finance on Brexit and other global risks.
Capital Markets | Regulation
“Nothing will make us deviate or change our course. We are not exiting our operations in any of our African markets,” declared Maria Ramos, CEO of Barclays Africa.
Nordea Markets Investment Banking is an integrated part of wholesale banking in the Nordea Group. A move from different legacy systems to one single platform is part of Nordea’s simplification program. Svante Andreen, Nordea co-head of markets investment banking, expects the move to foster agility, enabling Nordea to become a truly digital bank.
Trends | Taxation
As part of a crackdown on generous tax incentives across the European Union, in January the European Commission (EC) demanded Belgium claw back €700 million ($762 million) in tax breaks from at least 35 European firms.
Spain: Legislators in Catalonia elected Carles Puigdemont, who has been pushing for independence for the big Spanish region for years, as president on January 10.
Capital Markets | Fixed Income
A bail-in provision, which places the onus on bondholders and other investors to write down their holdings in the event of winding up a troubled financial institution within the European Union, came into effect on January 1, 2016.