Arab Spring, asset managers, AUM, banks, de-leveraging, DiamondCorp, EIIB, European Islamic Investment Bank, frontier markets, GCC countries, HBG Holdings, inflation, Islamic finance, John Burbank, MENA, NAV discount, oil, Rasmala Holdings, real assets, Saudi Arabia, Sharia'a, TBTF, Zak Hydari
I have a long-standing aversion to banks. To me, they represent the perfect collision of two really bad ideas:
i) Regular investment in bonds & loans – a strategy offering little prospect of capital gain, but which will (quite often) attempt to wipe out your capital. And the paltry yield you earn offers little compensation. I’ve never understood how people ever find this ridiculously biased risk/reward proposition attractive.
ii) The answer lies in leverage, I guess… Another terrible idea, but this is the incredible solution people usually seize upon to juice low returns. And it usually works just long enough for everybody to forget how savagely leverage can impact liquidity & solvency, when things take an inevitable turn for the worse.
Banks, of course, take this bad marriage to its ultimate & ludicrous extremity. [And require even more leverage to overcome the drag of their cost:income ratios]. But consider the private & public incentives – why wouldn’t they?! When times are good, leverage multiplies profits…which multiplies bonuses! And leverage makes it far easier to reach that ideal bank status: TBTF, where the taxpayer’s forced to pay for your mistakes (& bonuses).