FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

Asia and Latin America News Network focusing on Financial Markets, Energy, Environment, Commodity and Risk, Trading and Data Management

ETF Landscape: Industry Review – Q1 2011 – BlackRock

At the end of Q1 2011, the global ETF industry had 2,605 ETFs with 5,905 listings and assets of US$1,399.4 Bn  from 142 providers on 48 exchanges around the world. This compared to 2,131 ETFs with 4,133 listings and assets of  US$1,081.9 Bn from 123 providers on 42 exchanges at the end of Q1 2010.  ETF Industry Review_Q1-2011

Additionally, there were 1,119 other ETPs with 1,835 listings and assets of US$183.7 Bn from 58 providers on 23 exchanges. This compared to 718 ETPs with 1,025 listings and assets of US$153.6 Bn from 42 providers on 18 exchanges at the end of Q1 2010.

Combined, there were 3,724 products with 7,740 listings, assets of US$1,583.2 Bn from 178 providers on 52 exchanges around the world at the end of Q1 2011. This compared to 2,849 products with 5,158 listings, assets of US$1,235.4 Bn from 147 providers on 44 exchanges at the end of Q1 2010.

Below is a list of some upcoming events where we will be presenting:

Asia Trader and Investor Convention 2011, Singapore 07-08 May 2011
Complimentary passes are available
www.theatic.net

2nd Annual Inside ETFs – Europe Conference, Amsterdam, 05–06 May 2011
Complimentary passes are available for institutional investors.
www.indexuniverse.eu

Turkey Investment Summit, Istanbul, 09–11 May 2011
www.terrapinn.com

iShares Investment Konferenz, Frankfurt, 11 May 2011
www.ishares-events.com

22nd Annual Conference on Globalisation of Investment Funds, Boston,
15–18 May 2011
www.int-bar.org

ETF & Indexing Investments, New York, 16–18 May 2011
www.terrapinn.com

Factset Investment Process Symposium, Monaco, 23–25 May 2011
www.cvent.com

ASX ETF Institutional Conference, Sydney, 02 June 2011
www.asx.com.au

The 10th Annual Canada Cup of Investment Management, Toronto,
07–08 June 2011
Complimentary passes are being offered by IMN to attend this event to investment professionals at Pensions, Foundations, Endowments, Hedge Funds, Insurance Companies as well as for Registered Investment Advisors. Please contact Jackie Rubbo at jrubbo@imn.org.
www.imn.org

ETF & Indexing Investments, Madrid, 15–16 June 2011
www.terrapinn.com

The Mondo Visione Exchange Forum, London, 15–16 June 2011
www.mvexchangeforum.com

Africa Investment Summit, Johannesburg, South Africa 20–23 June 2011
www.terrapinn.com

European Cup of ETFs and Investment Management, London,
19–20 September 2011
Complimentary passes are being offered by IMN to attend this event to investment professionals at Pensions, Foundations, Endowments, Hedge Funds, Insurance Companies as well as for Registered Investment Advisors. Please contact Jackie Rubbo at jrubbo@imn.org.
www.imn.org

ETF & Indexing Investments, London, 17–19 October 2011
www.terrapinn.com

Please join ETF Network on Linkedin at www.linkedin.com.

Source: BlackRock, 06.05.2011

Advertisements

Filed under: Banking, News, Services, Wealth Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ETF panorama: Aspectos Destacados del 1er Quartal 2011 BlackRock

La industria global de los ETFs mantiene la trayectoria ascendente con la que inició el año, si se comparan los 2,605 ETFs con activos por USD$1,399.4 millones al cierre del primer trimestre de 2011, con respecto de los 2,131 ETFs con activos por USD$1.082 mil millones en el mismo periodo de 2010.  _ETF  Reporte 1er Quartal 2011

En Latinoamérica el sector de ETFs cuenta con 26 ETFs, 405 listados y activos bajo administración por USD $10.2 mil millones, de ocho proveedores en tres bolsas, que se comparan con 21 ETFs, 231 listados y activos por USD$9.3 mil millones de tres proveedores en tres mercados que había a finales del primer trimestre de 2010.

Como sabes, los ETFs son instrumentos que siguen índices, listados y cotizados en mercados bursátiles, que proporcionan transparencia diaria al portafolio. El reporte da cobertura a los productos Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) a escala global e incluye rankings de proveedores de ETFs e índices globales, en Estados Unidos, Europa, Japón, Asia, Latinoamérica, Medio Oriente y Africa.

Además, incluye comentarios respecto al impacto en los mercados de inversión global debido a acontecimientos como los disturbios en países de Oriente Medio y norte de Africa, así como desastres naturales como el terremoto y tsunami, y la consecuente catástrofe nuclear en Japón.

Adjunto te hacemos llegar el reporte completo en inglés, en formato PDF. En caso de cualquier duda adicional, quedamos a tu disposición.

Source: BlackRock- Carral Sierra, 06.05.2011

Filed under: Asia, Exchanges, Latin America, Library, News, Services, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why China and Japan Need an East Asia Bloc

Withering exports and asset bubbles have forced Asians – especially China and Japan — to work harder at free trade pacts.

All kinds of proposals have been floated about creating an Asian bloc a la European Union. Bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTA) have been suggested for various combinations of Asian countries. Lately, there’s been a flurry of new ideas as Japan’s recently installed DPJ government seeks to differentiate from the ousted LDP.

By promoting ideas that lean toward Asia, DPJ’s leadership is signaling that Japan wants less dependence on the United States. This position offers a hope for the future to Japanese people, whose economy has been comatose for two decades. Closer integration with Asian neighbors could restore growth in Japan.

Whenever global trade gets into trouble, Asian countries talk about regional cooperation as an alternative growth driver. But typically these talks die out as soon as global trade recovers. Today’s chatter is following the same old pattern, although this time global trade is not on track to recover to previous levels and sustain East Asia’s export model. Thus, some sort of regional integration is needed to revive regional growth.

Which regional organization is in a position to lead an integration movement? Certainly not ASEAN, which is too small, nor APEC, which is too big. Something more is needed – like a bloc rooted in a trade pact between Japan and China.

ASEAN’s members are 10 countries in Southeast Asia with a population exceeding 600 million and a combined GDP of US$ 1.5 trillion in 2008. The group embraced an FTA process called AFTA in 1992, which accelerated after the 1997-’98 Asian Financial Crisis and competition with China heated up. When AFTA began, few gave it much chance for success, given the region’s huge disparities in per capita income and economic systems. Today AFTA is almost a reality, which is certainly a miracle.

ASEAN has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams. These days China, Japan, and South Korea join annual meetings as dialogue partners, while the European Union and United States participate in regional forums and bilateral discussions.

China and ASEAN completed FTA negotiations last year, demonstrating that they can function as an economic bloc. Now, China is ASEAN’s third largest trading partner. Indeed, there is a great upside for economic cooperation between the two.

Before the Asian Financial Crisis, the ASEAN region was touted as a “miracle” by international financial institutions for maintaining high GDP growth rates for more than two decades. But some of that growth was built on a bubble that diverted business away from production and toward asset speculation. This developed after credit expansion, driven by the pegging of regional currencies to the U.S. dollar, encouraged land speculation. ASEAN’s emerging economies absorbed massive cross-border capital due to a weak dollar, which slumped after the Federal Reserve responded to a U.S. banking crisis in the early 1990s by maintaining low interest rates.

Back then, I visited companies in the region that produced goods for export. I found that, despite all the talk of miracles, many were making money on financial games — not business. At that time, China was building an export sector that had started exerting downward pressure on tradable goods prices. Instead of focusing on competitiveness, the region hid behind a financial bubble and postponed a resolution. Indeed, ASEAN’s GDP was higher than China’s before the Asian financial crunch; now China’s GDP is three times ASEAN’s.

China today faces challenges similar to those confronting ASEAN before the crisis. While visiting manufacturers in China, I’ve often been discovering that their profits come from property development, lending or outright speculation. While asset prices rise, these practices are effectively subsidizing manufacturing operations – an asset game that can work wonderfully in the short term, as the U.S. experience demonstrates. When property and stock markets are worth more than twice GDP, 20 percent appreciation would be equivalent to four years of business profits in a normal economy. You can’t blame businesses for shifting their attention to the asset game in a bubbly environment. Yet as they focus on finance rather than manufacturing, their competitiveness erodes. And you know where that leads.

I digress from the main focus for this article — regional integration, not China’s bubble challenge.

So let’s look again at ASEAN’s success. In part, this reflects its soft image: Other major players do not view ASEAN as a competitive threat. Rather, the FTA with China has put pressure on majors such as India and Japan to pursue their own FTAs with ASEAN. Another dimension is that the region’s annual meetings have become important occasions for representatives from China, Japan and South Korea to sit down together.

In contrast to ASEAN’s success, APEC has been an abject failure.
Today, it’s simply a photo opportunity for leaders of member countries from the Americas, Oceania, Russia and Asia. APEC was set up after the Soviet bloc collapsed, and served a psychological purpose during the post-Cold War transition. It was reassuring for the global community to see leaders of former enemy countries shaking hands.

However, APEC is just too big and diverse to provide a foundation for building a trade structure. So general is the scope that anything APEC members agree upon would probably pass the United Nations. Now, two decades after end of the Cold War, APEC has clearly outlived its usefulness and is withering, although it may never shut down. APEC’s annual summit still offers leaders of member countries a venue for meetings on the sidelines to discuss bilateral issues. Maybe the group is useful in this way, offering an efficient venue for multiple summits concurrently.

Although ASEAN has succeeded with its own agenda, and achieved considerable success in relation to non-member countries, it clearly cannot assume the same role as the European Union. Besides, should Asia have an EU-like organization? Asia, by definition, clearly cannot. It’s a geographic region that includes the sub-continent, Middle East and central Asia. Any organization that encompasses Asia as a whole would be as unwieldy as APEC.

I am always puzzled by the word “Asia,” which the Greeks coined. In his classic work Histories, it seems ancient Greek historian Herodotus primarily referred to Asia Minor — today’s Turkey, and perhaps Syria — as Asia. I haven’t read much Greek, but I don’t recall India being included in ancient Greek references. So as far as I can determine, there is no internal logic to treating Asia as a region. It seems to encompass all places that are neither European nor African. Africa is a coherent continent, and Europe has a shared cultural past. Asia belongs to neither, so it shouldn’t be considered an organic entity.

Malaysia’s former prime minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad Mahathir was a strong supporter of an East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC) which would have been comprised of ASEAN nations plus China, Japan and South Korea. But because Japan refused to participate in an organization that excluded the United States, the idea failed.

Yet there is some logic to Mahathir’s proposal. East Asia has a shared history, and intra-regional trade goes back centuries. Population movements have been significant, and as tourism takes off, regional relations should strengthen. One could envision a future marked by free-flowing capital, goods and labor in the region.

Yet differences among the region’s countries are much greater than in Europe. ASEAN’s overall per capita income is US$ 2,000, while it’s US$ 3,500 in China and US$ 40,000 in Japan. China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam share Confucianism and Mahayana Buddhism, while most Southeast Asian countries embrace Islam or Hinayana Buddhism, and generally are more religious. I think an EU-like organization in East Asia would be very hard to establish, but something less restrictive would be possible.

Because Japan turned down Mahathir’s EAEC idea, there was a lot of interest when recently elected Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s proposed something similar – an East Asia Community — at a recent ASEAN summit. Hatoyama failed to clarify the role of the United States in any such organization. If the United States is included, it would not fly, as it would be too similar to APEC. Nor could such an organization be like the EU. But if Japan is fully committed, the new group could assume substance over time.

The Japanese probably proposed the community idea for domestic political reasons. Yet the fundamental case for Japan to increase integration with the rest of Asia and away from the United States grows stronger every day. Despite high per capita income, Japan remains an export-oriented economy, having missed an opportunity to develop a consumption-led economy in the 1980s and ’90s. In the foolish belief that rising property prices would spread wealth beyond the industrial heartland in the Tokyo-Osaka corridor, the government of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka pursued a high-price land policy, discouraging the middle class from pursuing a consumer lifestyle as they saved for property purchases.

Even more seriously, high property prices have been a major reason for Japan’s rapidly declining birth rate, as land prices inflated living costs. Now, facing a declining population and public debt twice GDP, Japan has few options for rejuvenating the economy by promoting domestic demand. It needs trade if it hopes to achieve any growth at all. Without growth, Japan will sooner or later suffer a public debt crisis.

Japan’s property experience offers a major lesson for China. Every Chinese city is copying the Hong Kong model — raising money from an increasingly expensive land market to fund urban development, leading to rapid urbanization. But this is borrowing growth from the future. Rising land prices lead to rising costs and, hence, slower growth and the same rapid decline in the birth rate that Japan experienced. Unless China reverses its high-land price policy, the consequences will be even more disastrous than in Japan or Hong Kong, as China shifted to the asset game much earlier in its development.

Yet I digress again. The point is that Japan has a strong and genuine case that favors more integration with East Asia. The United States is unlikely to recover soon and with enough strength to feed Japan’s export machine again. There is no more room for fiscal stimulus. Devaluing the yen to gain market share is not an option as long as Washington pursues a weak dollar policy. Without a new source of trade, Japan’s economy is doomed. Closer integration with East Asia is the only way out.

In addition to Hatoyama’s EAC proposal, a study jointly sponsored by China, Japan and South Korea is considering the possibility of a FTA. Of course, ASEAN could offer a template for any new East Asian bloc. ASEAN has signed an FTA with China and is talking with Japan and South Korea. If they all sign, regional integration would be halfway completed.

Whatever proposals for East Asian integration, the key issue is a possible FTA between China and Japan. Adding other parties avoids this main issue. China and Japan together are six times ASEAN’s size and 10 times South Korea’s. Without a China-Japan FTA, no combination in East Asia would truly support regional integration.

Five years ago, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Financial Times entitled China and Japan: Natural Partners. At the time, a prevailing sentiment was that China and Japan were antithetical: Both were still manufacturing export-led economies and could only gain at the other’s expense. I saw complementary demographics and capital: Japan had a declining labor force and China needed to employ tens of millions of youths migrating to cities from the countryside. China needed capital and Japan had surplus capital. And their trade relations indeed tightened, as Japan had increased the Chinese share of its overall trade to 17.4 percent in 2008 from 10.4 percent in ’04.

Today, the situation has changed. China has a capital surplus rather than a shortage. Demographic complementarity is still good and could last another decade. As China shifts its development model from resource intensive to environmentally friendly, a new complementarity is emerging. Japan has already made the transition, and its technologies that supported the transition need a new market such as China’s. So even without a new trade agreement, bilateral trade will continue growing.

An FTA between China and Japan would significantly accelerate their trade, resulting in an efficiency gain of more than US$ 1 trillion. Japan’s aging population lends urgency to increasing the investment returns. On the other hand, as China prepares to make a numerical commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emissions at the upcoming Copenhagen summit on global warming, heavy investment and rapid restructuring are needed for its economy. Japanese technology could come in quite handy.

More importantly, a China-Japan FTA would lay a foundation for an East Asian free trade bloc. The region has a population of 2.1 billion and a GDP of US$ 13 trillion, rivaling the European Union and United States. Blessed with a low base, plenty of capital, sound technology and a huge market, the region’s GDP could easily double in a decade.

Trade and technology are twin engines of growth and prosperity. No boom is sustained without one or the other. And when they come together, the boom can be massive. Prosperity seen over the past decade, for example, is due to information technology along with the opening up of China and other former planned economies. But these factors have been absorbed, forcing the world to find another engine. An integration of East Asian economies would be significant enough to play this role.

The best approach would be for China and Japan to negotiate a comprehensive FTA that encompasses free-flowing goods, services and capital. This task may appear too difficult, but recent changes have made it possible. The two countries should give it a try.

It would be wrong to begin by working out an FTA that includes China, Japan and South Korea. That would triple the task’s level of difficulty, especially since South Korea doesn’t have a meaningful FTA with any country. To imagine that the Seoul government would cut a deal with China or Japan is naive. China and Japan should negotiate bilaterally.

A key issue is that China and Japan should put economics before politics. If the DPJ government wants to gain popularity by increasing international influence rather than boosting the economy, then all the current speculation and discussion about an East Asia bloc would be for nothing. But if DPJ wants to sustain power by rejuvenating Japan’s moribund economy, chances for a deal are good.

While Japan is talking, China should be doing. China should aggressively initiate the FTA process with Japan. Regardless of China’s current difficulties, its growth potential and vast market are what Japan will never have at home nor anywhere else. Hence, China would be able to compromise from a position of strength.

Some may say a free trade area for East Asia is beyond reach. However, history belongs to the daring. The world has changed enough to make it possible. China and Japan should seize the opportunity.

Source: Caijing, 10.11.2009 by Andy Xie, guest economist to Caijing and a board member of Rosetta Stone Advisors Ltd.

Full article in Chinese

Filed under: Asia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, News, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Demise of the Dollar, Robert Frisk

In a graphic illustration of the new world order, Arab states have launched secret moves with China, Russia and France to stop using the US currency for oil trading

By Robert Fisk

October 06, 2009 “The Independent” — — In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars. The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

The Americans, who are aware the meetings have taken place – although they have not discovered the details – are sure to fight this international cabal which will include hitherto loyal allies Japan and the Gulf Arabs. Against the background to these currency meetings, Sun Bigan, China’s former special envoy to the Middle East, has warned there is a risk of deepening divisions between China and the US over influence and oil in the Middle East. “Bilateral quarrels and clashes are unavoidable,” he told the Asia and Africa Review. “We cannot lower vigilance against hostility in the Middle East over energy interests and security.”

This sounds like a dangerous prediction of a future economic war between the US and China over Middle East oil – yet again turning the region’s conflicts into a battle for great power supremacy. China uses more oil incrementally than the US because its growth is less energy efficient. The transitional currency in the move away from dollars, according to Chinese banking sources, may well be gold. An indication of the huge amounts involved can be gained from the wealth of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar who together hold an estimated $2.1 trillion in dollar reserves.

The decline of American economic power linked to the current global recession was implicitly acknowledged by the World Bank president Robert Zoellick. “One of the legacies of this crisis may be a recognition of changed economic power relations,” he said in Istanbul ahead of meetings this week of the IMF and World Bank. But it is China’s extraordinary new financial power – along with past anger among oil-producing and oil-consuming nations at America’s power to interfere in the international financial system – which has prompted the latest discussions involving the Gulf states.

Brazil has shown interest in collaborating in non-dollar oil payments, along with India. Indeed, China appears to be the most enthusiastic of all the financial powers involved, not least because of its enormous trade with the Middle East.

China imports 60 per cent of its oil, much of it from the Middle East and Russia. The Chinese have oil production concessions in Iraq – blocked by the US until this year – and since 2008 have held an $8bn agreement with Iran to develop refining capacity and gas resources. China has oil deals in Sudan (where it has substituted for US interests) and has been negotiating for oil concessions with Libya, where all such contracts are joint ventures.

Furthermore, Chinese exports to the region now account for no fewer than 10 per cent of the imports of every country in the Middle East, including a huge range of products from cars to weapon systems, food, clothes, even dolls. In a clear sign of China’s growing financial muscle, the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, yesterday pleaded with Beijing to let the yuan appreciate against a sliding dollar and, by extension, loosen China’s reliance on US monetary policy, to help rebalance the world economy and ease upward pressure on the euro.

Ever since the Bretton Woods agreements – the accords after the Second World War which bequeathed the architecture for the modern international financial system – America’s trading partners have been left to cope with the impact of Washington’s control and, in more recent years, the hegemony of the dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.

The Chinese believe, for example, that the Americans persuaded Britain to stay out of the euro in order to prevent an earlier move away from the dollar. But Chinese banking sources say their discussions have gone too far to be blocked now. “The Russians will eventually bring in the rouble to the basket of currencies,” a prominent Hong Kong broker told The Independent. “The Brits are stuck in the middle and will come into the euro. They have no choice because they won’t be able to use the US dollar.”

Chinese financial sources believe President Barack Obama is too busy fixing the US economy to concentrate on the extraordinary implications of the transition from the dollar in nine years’ time. The current deadline for the currency transition is 2018.

The US discussed the trend briefly at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh; the Chinese Central Bank governor and other officials have been worrying aloud about the dollar for years. Their problem is that much of their national wealth is tied up in dollar assets.

“These plans will change the face of international financial transactions,” one Chinese banker said. “America and Britain must be very worried. You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate.”

Iran announced late last month that its foreign currency reserves would henceforth be held in euros rather than dollars. Bankers remember, of course, what happened to the last Middle East oil producer to sell its oil in euros rather than dollars. A few months after Saddam Hussein trumpeted his decision, the Americans and British invaded Iraq.

Source: The Independent, 06.10.2009

Filed under: Asia, Brazil, China, Energy & Environment, India, Japan, Latin America, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Challenges and opportunities for Islamic finance; BMB Islamic UK

Humayan Dar, chief executive officer of BMB Islamic UK, discusses new developments in Shar’iah-compliant finance.

BMB Islamic was founded in 2007 in London to provide Shar’iah advisory and structuring services. It enlists Shar’iah scholars and Islamic financial consultants to guide investors, lawyers and other investment professionals.

What new developments are taking place in Islamic finance?
There is little in the world of conventional finance that Islamic finance cannot replicate – whether in terms of financial instruments or funds. Sukuk — similar to bonds — are of course very well established now, and going forward it will be interesting to see which jurisdiction, whether Malaysia or the Middle East, will evolve as the dominant one for issuance and trading. But even sophisticated fund structures, such as private equity, hedge funds or specialist funds, are being set up so they are Shar’iah-compliant. We, at The BMB Group, have recently formed a private equity joint venture with Emerging Markets Partnership (EMP) to invest in emerging markets. BMB Islamic is also helping an investment bank to set up a Middle East infrastructure.

What about regional cooperation?
On February 18, The BMB Group formed a partnership with the International Zakat Organisation (IZO) to set up and manage a 2 billion Malaysian ringgit Global Zakat and Charity Fund, which will manage zakat (the act of giving alms to the poor) and other charitable funds to alleviate poverty in the 57 states which are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. It is a long-awaited initiative. There has been inevitably a huge emphasis on Shar’iah-compliance in Islamic banking and finance, but the announcement of a Global Zakat and Charity Fund is the beginning of a new Islamic financial trend, which favours social responsibility and community development.

Will there be a resolution of what seems to be conflicting jurisdictions and centres for Shar’iah interpretation, and also competing centres for Islamic business?
In Malaysia there is strong inherent demand for Islamic products and the country has rapidly developed as a centre for Islamic finance. Perhaps most importantly, the government has provided institutional support, particularly through Bank Negara Malaysia (the central bank) but also through favourable legislation and tax treatment, for Islamic products. Middle Eastern financial houses have recognised this, and hence have entered the Malaysian market either directly or through partnerships and joint ventures. Malaysia is also correctly perceived as a gateway to other Asian markets.

Significantly too, Shar’iah-compliant financial products are now seen as competitive alternatives for non-Islamic people, who will happily buy them if they prefer the returns or their risk profiles compared with conventional products. Islamic finance is in the mainstream in Malaysia and is likely to become so elsewhere in the world — even Europe. Product standardisation will come through time, not by edict but through a wide acceptance of a particular norm.

What about Indonesia?
Indonesia, with its vast Muslim population obviously has tremendous potential. Once the institutional framework is in place — and already the government has issued its first sukuk — then the market should develop quickly. Perhaps the authorities need to be more like Malaysia and be more proactive and encouraging. Islamic finance will expand to countries and regions where there is a friendly regulatory environment, supported by a clear legal framework.

How will this year pan out, and what will be your main role?
This year will be tough, as it will be for all financial markets. However, pressure on government budgets, especially in the Middle East due to the lower oil price, means that some significant sukuk issuance is likely.

But, actually, the current conditions also offer the potential to take advantage of new opportunities and provide new products. With so much uncertainty, investors are seeking alternative havens for their capital, while depressed asset values of all kinds means there is a chance to build portfolios from a reasonable cost base. For instance, Islamic art funds are becoming popular.

An essential role for us is to monitor the Shar’iah-compliance of funds which are advertising and marketing themselves to Islamic customers. Integrity and credibility is all important.

Source: FinanceAsia.com, Rupert Walker , 26.02.2009

Filed under: Banking, Islamic Finance, News, , , , , , , , , ,

The Economic Outlook: 2012 and beyond

To see into the future of our economies, with some small degree of certainty, we have to pay attention to what is happening around us and what we do.  American Cronical 22.02.2009 full article

But to get an idea of how the future will be, one has to have a real picture of the present. This is important since a false picture will present us with false alternatives, on which we act which in turn will result in unexpected outcomes (i.e., future that we are not prepared for).

It is not always easy to see through all the false pictures and data that we are constantly presented with. For example, in Norway on February 18th, the real-estate association came out with the statement that the housing crisis was almost over and the bottom was reached. This was plastered all over the place. Next day on February 19 th, the Norwegian Centre for Statistics came out with its own forecast; stating that house prices will continue to fall for the next year and that situation will deteriorate further.

It was clear to some of us that the real-estate association was putting out false information to drum-up business for its members. But if banks, industrialists, and even politicians also send out false and misleading information, then the average person will make decisions that may be contrary to his or her best interests.

Most of us do not have the time, energy, or even the necessary knowledge to gather and sift through large amount of data. We rely on news media, and the experts to make most of our decisions. Until last year, very few people were talking about the tremendous crisis that was well under way; even though as early as 2006, there were clear signs that the economy was under tremendous pressure.

In this article I will try to provide you with a picture of the present situation and then try to extrapolate based on the current policies adopted by various governments, what the near future will look like.

The current economic situation

Let me tell you in no uncertain terms that we are facing a synchronised global economic depression and I am not the only one that is saying this. In early February, the International Monetary Fund’s chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the world’s advanced economies — the U.S., Western Europe and Japan — are “already in depression”. Gordon Brown, the UK’s Prime Minister also used the word “depression” to describe the global economy, although his aides quickly said it was a slip of the tongue.

The politicians and others of course avoid using the term “depression” for fear of creating a panic; instead they use terms such as “severe recession” or “one of the most serious financial crises since the great depression”, etc. But they all are saying the same thing, we are in a depression and all the available data support this. An important fact to remember is that this depression is synchronised and this synchronicity has been made possible by the globalization and accompanying deregulation; the very things that were making workers poorer and the rich, richer.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. All economies are now suffering. Such promising economies as Iceland’s saw its GDP shrink by 10%, while the success show case of Europe, Ireland, had its GDP shrink by 6%. Germany, the euro zone’s biggest economy shrank by 2.1% in the three months to December, seconded by Italy, which suffered a 1.8% drop in GDP. The French economy also contracted by 1.2% while IMF put Spain on its vulnerable list. UK ‘s GDP has also suffered and is forecasted to contract by 3.5% in 2009.

The misery list includes most of the Eastern European countries as well with some such as Ukraine set to experience severe contraction. According to IMF Ukraine’s GDP will shrink by 8 to 10% in 2009. The Russian economic growth is also set to fall. According to the Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach the forecast for the Russian economy has worsened to a 2.2-percent contraction in GDP.

Japan’s economy, the second largest in the world, contracted by 12.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted annualised basis in the fourth quarter and is set to contract by. According to the Taiwanese government, Taiwan’s GDP will shrink by 3% in 2009. Another big economy in Asia is Korea. According to S&P sovereign ratings, Asia’s fourth-largest economy will contract by about 3.5 percent this year. All other South East Asian economies are reporting severe slow down or outright contraction except China.

According to National Bureau of Statistics of China, by comparing the fourth quarter 2007 to that of the fourth quarter 2008, China had achieved a 6.8 percent growth in 2008. However, many believe that this figure is misleading and that the Chinese are hiding the extent of the economic contraction of its economy. They point out that energy consumption in China has substantially been reduced. This could not have happened without a marked slowing down of the economy.

According to the article published in The Epoch Times (17 Feb 09) “Economists at the Standard Chartered Bank estimate China’s growth rate to be around 1 percent. Morgan Stanley analysts estimate it to be at 1.5 percent. This is much lower than the CCP reported 15 percent for the first quarter of 2007. According to economists at Merrill Lynch, the sequential growth rate of fourth quarter of 2008 was zero percent.”

Middle Eastern countries have also been severely affected by the financial crisis. The revenue from their major source of income, oil, has fallen at an incredible rate. Oil prices that were around 120 to 140 dollars last year have come down to around 30 to 40 dollars this year. Every country has slashed its expenditure with the accompanying slowing growth. For example recently UAE was forced to halt construction projects worth $582 billion or fully 45% of all projects. A recent report in New York Times (11th Feb. 09) paints a grim picture of the situation in Dubai. The report states that ” with Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills)”. Iranians, Saudis, Iraqis, Kuwaitis and others have also been forced to slow down or freeze many projects. One must not forget that many of these countries’ petro-dollars are re-circulated back into the US and European economies. Those funds are drying-up fast.

Turkey sitting between the Europe and Middle East is also suffering. Turkey has the largest GDP in the Islamic world. Turkey’s GDP was 750 billion in 2008, the GDP of Saudi Arabia was 600 billion dollar for the same period. A once dynamic economy is now negotiating with IMF for help.

Having surveyed most of the economic landscape of Europe and Asia, we can now look at the world largest economy, the US. The US economy is in a terrible shape, with all sectors going through severe depression. Housing market has completely collapsed. The auto industry is going bankrupt. The banking sector is alive only by the grace of the government handouts. The entertainment industry (TV and film industry excluded) is facing severe problems and unemployment is increasing rapidly. The Federal Reserves’ forecast for 2009 shows a contraction of 0.5 to 1.3 percent of the GDP with official unemployment rising to 8.5 or 8.8 percent. Here one should note that this official unemployment rate does not present a true picture, since all those who give-up registering with the unemployment office or are barely working (part-time workers, etc) are not counted as unemployed.

The missing engine of growth

Before we look at the future development we have to remember that there are four factors that power an economy: consumers, investors, government, and a favourable trade balance. Some economies such as China rely on favourable trade balance and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for their growth. For example according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, from 1990 to 2007, China received $748.4 billion in FDI. At the same time, since its economic liberalization, China has recorded consistent trade surpluses with the world. For example China has registered trade surpluses of $102 billion for 2005, $177.47 billion for 2006, $262.2 billion for 2007, and $295.47 billion for 2008. China currently has accumulated nearly two trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves.

In contrast to the China, the United States has relied on consumers and the government for its growth. According to Peter G. Gosselin citing Roach of Morgan Stanley Asia, U.S. consumers constitute only about 4.5% of the global population, yet they bought more than $10 trillion worth of goods and services last year. In contrast the Chinese and Indian consumers combined which account for 40% of the global population bought only $3 trillion worth. He goes on to point out that according to government statistics, from 2001 to 2007, U.S. consumer spending shot up from a little over 73% of the economy to nearly 77%.

If we just look at the differences in consumption levels between US and China-India, we’ll see that these countries are not in a position or have the financial resources to pick-up the slack left by the US consumers. Anyway, China’s growth is based on its exports and the FDI and not its consumers. When the international market shrinks, the Chinese will see (as they do now) a sharp drop in their actual growth. If they try hard they may be able to keep their people’s standard of living at its current level (highly unlikely); but they will be unable to increase consumption. Anyway, according to the Bloomberg (19 January 09), the Chinese unemployment rate has jumped to its 30 year high and will most likely increase further.

How about Japan? Japan also started its economic miracle by export-led growth. Japan saved hard, and worked hard to become one of the largest economies in the world. However, the bursting of the housing bubble of 1990-91 started a deflationary period that Japan never really recovered from.

If we look at the Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) for Japan, the U.S., and the Euro Area from 1999 to 2006, with 1999 being the base (100), we’ll see that by 2006, the CPI index for US was 122.8, 118.5 for EU and 97.7 for Japan. This shows that until 2006 Japan was still in the grip of deflation.

Add to this the recent financial crisis and you’ll see that Japan is once again entering another deflationary period. In deflationary periods, consumers spend less and try to save more. The fear of losing one’s job, the psychology of ever decreasing prices, and general feeling of doom act against free spending by the consumers. One should also understand that Japanese consumers are reluctant to spend like their American counterparts. According to the available figures (2005), the Japanese consumption was only 55% of the GDP. Compare this to the American consumption of 77%. So the Japanese consumers cannot help either.

What about the EU? Euro zone consumers have a slightly better consumption rate than the Japanese. The consumption rate for Euro zone (2005) was 57% of the GDP. In addition the Euro zone is facing severe financial problems with many countries such as Spain, Ireland, Italy and others facing mounting debt and shrinking export market. Consumers already hit by the housing crisis, financial crisis and now the imminent unemployment crisis cannot be expected to start spending wildly.

So who is going to take the position left vacant by the US and act as the world’s economic locomotive and pull the world out of the depression? The answer is no-one and everyone. US is clearly not able to do that much. As a matter of fact the US consumers have to get used to lower spending levels for at least a decade, if not for good.

According to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, as quoted by Aaron Task in Yahoo Finance, American’s standard of living is undergoing a “permanent change” – and not for the better as a result of:

  • An $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values
  • A $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets.
  • A $14 trillion consumer debt load amid “exploding unemployment”, leading to “exploding bankruptcies.”

“The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school [and] buy a car,” Davidowitz says. “A lot of that is gone.

The diminishing wealth
Last year when the depth of financial crisis became apparent the US Feds started to aggressively cut interest rates, in the hope of reducing the severity of the crisis. Other countries specially the Europeans soon followed the Americans in cutting their interest rates. As the crisis spread to Asia and the Middle East, they also began to cut their interest rates. But soon it became apparent that this crisis was not like any they had seen since the great depression and simply cutting interest rates was not going to solve the problem.

To start with the housing market had collapsed completely leaving many banks holding worthless pieces of paper. In addition, these papers were (partly) insured by many insurance and financial institutions that weren’t banks, but because of financial deregulations, had acted as banks. They were also hit by the bad mortgage problems. In short, all the financial institutions, banks, insurance companies and others were suddenly in trouble.

This hit the stock markets, with the shares of these institutions taking a nose dive. These institutions are extremely important for the economy. They provide the logistics for financial transactions. Any problem here affects all parts of the economy. So it was not a surprise to see that all normal financial transactions suddenly came to a halt, hitting other sectors of the economy. Share prices of all the affected sectors began to go down and with it the fortune of the share holders. To see the extent of the damage done one just has to look at how much various stock markets have fallen.

The following stock markets data was published by The Economist (21 Feb. 2009) which shows the extent of the fall since Dec 31st 2007:

US (NAScomp) – 44.7%, US (DJIA) -43%, US (S&P 500), Japan (Nikkei 225) -41.3%, China (SSEA) -55.1%, Hong Kong (Hang Seng) -52.9%, Canada (S&P TSX) -53%, Australia (All Ord.) -61%, Britain (FTSE 100) -55.8%, Euro area (FTSE 100) – 59.5%, Euro area (DJ STQxx 50) – 58.7%, France (CAC 40) -56.1%, Germany (DAX) -55.3%, Greece (Athex comp) -73.7%, Italy (S&P/MIB) -63.1%, Netherlands (AEX) -60.4%, Norway (OSEAX) -64%, Denmark (OMXCB) -55.2%, Sweden (Aff.Gen) -57.7%, Russia (RTS, $ terms) -77.1%, Turkey (ISE) -70.3%, India (BSE) -64.9%, South Korea (KOSPI) -62.6%, Taiwan (TWI) -50.5%, Brazil (BVSP) -53%, Argentina (MERV) -56%, Mexico (IPC) -52.9%, Venezuela (IBC) – 55.6%, Saudi Arabia (Tadawul) -56.8%, South Africa (JSE AS) – 54.1%…. WORLD all (MSCI) -51.2%.

For people in general, shares act both as saving and investment. The average person buys share in hope of getting better return than the banks. It is also easy to get in and out of the market. The advancements in information and communication technologies, the costs of buying and selling have fallen steadily in the last decade. So now anyone with a computer can buy and sell shares. This ease of entry enticed an ever increasing number of ordinary people to enter the stock markets.

Now the people have been hit by three disasters. First they lost a lot of money in the housing market. This was both real and illusory. First they were hit with the housing crisis. Many have lost their homes or have seen the value of their homes depreciate heavily. Then they were hit with the collapse of the stock markets. Trillions of Dollars, Yens, Euros and Yuans have been wiped-out in a relatively a short time. Then many have lost their jobs and many are uncertain about the future job security. All these have had a tremendous impact on the consumers, forcing many to heavily reduce their consumption, which in turn have begun to affect businesses which in-turn are shedding workers to compensate for the loss of sales and revenues. This is a classical deflationary circle that feed on itself.

The governments’ response to this threat has been to stimulate the economy by pumping large sums of money into the economy. A decade ago, a hundred billion dollar was an astronomical sum. Today we don’t even bother to look at it twice. Today we talk of Trillions. A few hundred billions here and a few hundred billions there soon add up to a few nice trillions; especially the trillions that we don’t have.

Now we face a classical problem: the increasing budget deficits. Exactly when the economy is contracting and tax receipts are falling, the government expenditure is rising rapidly. In addition, the governments are buying bad debts (US, UK, etc) and trying to spend more on whatever they can in order to arrest the increasing unemployment and stimulate the economy. These large sums have to come from somewhere. They can be borrowed or money can simply be printed. The problem is that some governments are opting for both.

The most important economy is of course the US economy. The US government under Bush spent close to one trillion dollars, and now the Obama administration is promising to spend trillions in the years to come to stimulate the economy. With official US debt now close to 11 trillion dollars and climbing fast, the situation is becoming untenable. According to treasurydirect.gov, last year (2008) US government paid $451 billion dollars interest on its debt. Add to this the Medicare and social security obligations and suddenly things look a lot worse than they appear.

So how can the US continue its deficit spending? By issuing treasury bonds and other security certificates of course. Both public and foreign governments buy these securities which are guaranteed by the US government. According to Reuters (February 18th 2009), foreign central banks alone held $1.76 trillion dollars in US treasuries. According to the same report “The combined holdings of Treasuries and agency securities by foreign central banks at the Fed totalled $2.573 trillion, up $11.223 billion”.

The coming inflation

So far the foreign governments and businesses have been willing to buy US debt, but with the current economic downturn things are beginning to change. According to New York Times, in the last 5 years China has spent as much as one-seventh of its entire economic output buying mostly American debt. However, with the sharp slowdown in its economy, China is finding it difficult to keep buying. China has also come-up with its own $600 billion stimulus plan. This along with the falling trade surplus and the falling tax receipt will make it exceedingly unlikely that China can keep financing part of the US government’s deficit spending. The same applies to other countries as well.

So as the economic downturn continues we can see two things: the interest on US treasuries increase substantially to make it attractive and or printing money. Printing money is not so farfetched as many would like to believe. Already countries that cannot find willing lenders are resorting to this. A good example of this is UK. With the current plans to nationalise a few more banks (Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland), the UK national debt is set to surpass the £2.2 trillion pound mark. This is 150% of UK’s GDP. It is not then surprising to see that the Bank of England voted unanimously earlier this month to seek consent from the government to start the process of quantitative easing by buying gilts and other securities. Quantitative easing means printing money. With interest rates at 1%, printing money is likely to increase inflation.

Already many governments find it difficult to cover their deficits. It is only a matter of time before they also begin to print money. It is especially appealing for the US government to do this since inflation means a real value reduction in debts. With mounting trade and budget deficit and decreasing tax receipts and the shrinking of the number of willing lenders, US government may not have any choice but to print money.

So far, all governments are reducing their interest rates to historic lows and at the same time spending a lot of money that they don’t have. It will take at least two more years for the economy to stabilise. Here we should note that by stabilise I mean an arrest in decline rather than outright growth. Once that point is reached we will begin to see the effects of the loose monetary policy: a tremendous rise in inflation which can be accompanied by low economic growth or in other words stagflation.

The fear of stagflation arises from the fact that from all indication, growth will not strengthen anytime soon. It is quite clear now that the US and to a large extent the European consumers have been hit hard by the current crisis. There is also the possibility that another banking crisis may still ensue such as the commercial real-estate mortgage defaults and above all the repetition of currency crisis (1997 Asian Financial Crisis). Already we see that China Japan, Korea and others are setting-up $120 billion currency defence fund to protect Asian currencies against speculative attacks.

The current economic crises have left many countries’ local banks with foreign currency loans that they find difficult to repay in that currency. This and the possibility of defaults have made these countries a good target for speculators. If such an attack starts, many countries will automatically have to devalue their currencies (even more than they already have) or try to defend their currencies. In either case this may trigger yet another crisis that may actually destroy a good portion of many economies around the world.

Even if we assume that no more nasty surprises will appear in the next two years and the economies stabilise, we are left with the reduced levels of consumption around the world, especially in major economies. As I have mentioned above, it is very clear that at least in US, the consumers are not going to recover anytime soon. I have also shown that the Chinese and Indian consumers cannot replace the US and European consumers. So there will be a dearth of market for the goods and services produced by others. In absence of US, the question will be: which country or countries are able to increase demand to such a degree as to trigger a recovery; a recovery that most likely will be accompanied with high inflation.

In 2006 in the article “the coming financial crisis”, I stated the following:

“At the end of the WWII, 45 nations gathered at a United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to address the problems of reconstruction, monetary stability and exchange rates.

The delegates agreed to establish an international monetary system of convertible currencies, fixed exchange rates and free trade. To facilitate these objectives the delegates agreed to create two international institutes: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank). An initial loan of $250 million to France in 1947 was the World Bank’s first act.

Since then there has already been considerable criticism of the roles of IMF and the World Bank. The above mentioned problems and the ongoing trade imbalance in the world have to be addressed by a similar gathering. Sooner or later, both the United States and the rest of the world have to address the existing problems. These problems are not the United States’ alone. We cannot ignore the largest economy on earth. It is said that if United States sneezes, the world catches cold. We have to either make sure that the United States doesn’t catch cold or vaccinate ourselves against it.”

Once again I restate my earlier arguments: we need a new “Bretten Woods” agreement where we can address the existing problems and restructure the world’s economic system. If we don’t do this, and soon, we will face protectionism, low economic growth, and even trade wars. We have ignored this problem for a long time and are now paying the price. What would the price be if we continue to ignore the existing systemic problems?

Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He’s a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway. He can be contacted at : Bakhtiarspace-articles@yahoo.no

Source: American Cronicle, 22.02.2009

Filed under: Asia, Australia, Banking, Brazil, China, Energy & Environment, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Malaysia, Mexico, News, Singapore, Venezuela, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fidessa group expands in the Middle East

London – 26th January 2008: Fidessa group plc (LSE: FDSA), provider of the award winning Fidessa and Fidessa LatentZero trading, compliance and global connectivity solutions for the sell-side and the buy-side, has today announced the appointment of two new key staff as part of the expansion of its operations in the Middle East.

The company will also open a new office in Bahrain which will serve as its Middle East headquarters.  This represents the latest step in the company’s ongoing strategy of global expansion.

Fidessa’s sell-side operations in the region will be managed by Edward Manley who will serve as Regional Manager for the Middle East and Africa. Manley brings extensive experience of the Gulf region having worked for Reuters Middle East for 12 years before joining Fidessa.

For Fidessa LatentZero on the buy-side, Gary Dingwall will be responsible for new business development in the region; he also brings a wealth of experience having lived and worked in the Gulf as Regional Manager for Swift for over a decade.

Simon Barnby, global director of marketing communications for Fidessa group, comments: “The Middle East presents an important new marketplace for Fidessa group, with opportunities for both our buy-side and sell-side products, as well as for our global connectivity solutions.  These key staff appointments and new regional headquarters demonstrate our commitment to the region.  The Middle East is a lucrative emerging market with international aspirations, and we are looking forward to being a part of the developing landscape there.”

Fidessa group will be marking the official launch of its enhanced activities in the Middle East at MEFTEC, the Banking & Financial Technology event, at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre on February 10 and 11 (www.meftec.com).

Source: Fidessa, 26.01.2009

Press Release fidessa-middle-east-office-opening

Filed under: News, Trading Technology, , , , , ,

World Wealth Report 2008 -GapGemini Merrill Lynch

Down Load: World Wealth Report 2008 -GapGemini Merrill Lynch

Source: GapGemini – Merrill Lynch, December 2008

Filed under: Asia, Banking, Latin America, Library, News, Services, Wealth Management, , , , , , ,

Boston Consulting: A Wealth of Opportunities in Turbulent Times

BCG: Global Wealth 09.2008: A Wealth of Opportunities in Turbulent Times

Source: The Boston Consulting Group, September 2008

Filed under: Asia, Latin America, Library, Risk Management, Services, Wealth Management, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Global funds industry shifting to Asia

More than ever, fund management companies of all stripes need to build distribution into Asia and the Middle East, says Strategic Insight.

New York-based consultancy Strategic Insight says in a new report that the credit crunch has revealed the essential need for fund management companies to have a distribution into Asia – and predicts many more will build it.

Source: AsianInvestors, 27.10.2008 by Jaime DiBiaso

Funds under management in Asia as well as the Middle East and Latin America will grow much more quickly than those in the United States and Europe over the next five years, says Daniel Enskat, managing director and head of global consulting.

Fund companies that lack an Asian reach have suffered the most in the credit crunch, he suggests – not only because they missed out on last year’s asset-gathering bonanza, but because redemptions in Western countries, particularly Europe, have been most severe.

Such companies with only European clients, even if they have great performance, are nonetheless suffering acute redemption pressure, because investors are panicking and dumping anything to move to cash.

Strategic Insight says mutual funds in Asia have enjoyed net inflows of $60 billion from January to August, versus a net outflow of $360 billion in Europe.

Finally, for fund companies around the world, Asia is the most likely source of business to pull them out of the slump, due to its demographics, its economic growth prospects, the low penetration of investment products and the youth of the domestic fund industries.

Enskat cites China as an example. He compares China’s investors today to European ones in the run-up to the 2000 tech bubble collapse. In both cases, many first-time investors got burned. In Europe, investors generally switched to low-risk savings products and capital guarantees. So far, however, Chinese investors don’t seem to be in full retreat.

“Distributors don’t want to make the same mistake in China,” Enskat says. “They want to educate investors about having a longer-term framework.” He notes that regulators have taken a proactive stance against mis-selling and improving products, which is why the industry hasn’t suffered the kind of mass redemptions that have taken place this year in markets such as Germany and Italy.

Enskat reckons there is also a cultural factor. He says Asian societies, lacking a welfare state, have instilled a sense of self-reliance. First-generation entrepreneurs are relatively young and willing to take risks with their money, while Westerners, already wealthy, are more interested in capital preservation. “Asian investors are proactive, not defensive,” Enskat concludes.

He says the credit crunch, and blow-ups such as the Lehman Minibond fiasco in Hong Kong and Singapore, is an opportunity for the mutual-funds industry to argue its case: that funds are the most transparent, liquid and straightforward investment products that investors will find.

“Distributors want a simple story told with conviction for a transparent product,” he says.

The challenges are how to convey this message to investors (and to distributors’ sales teams). High management fees and front-end loads can be a problem during bear markets, although Enskat believes investors are willing to overlook these when times improve; eventually Asia will need to shift to an American model in which asset managers force their brokers to sell on the basis of advice, rather than commission for pushing products.

Today it seems nearly all the big global names in asset management are already on the ground in Asia. But Enskat observes that there are many small- and mid-sized fund managers in Europe and Asia that have yet to set up a presence in the region. Should this matter?

Consider, Enskat suggests, that two-thirds of today’s top 50 global houses would not have been ranked 10 years ago. Names like AllianceBernstein, BGI, Janus, Pimco, SSgA and T. Rowe Price would not have figured.

Now consider the coming regulation of the hedge fund industry. The biggest hedge funds will find themselves going public and competing for assets from sovereign wealth funds and other institutional investors, rather than rely on family offices and endowments. How many of these will be in the top 50 in another decade’s time? And how many of them have distribution networks in Asia now?

And the traditional funds world will also throw up new winners that are relatively unknown today, Enskat argues. He notes that fund companies can become major players on the back of a single product, citing Kokusai’s income bond fund (sub-advised now by Western Asset), Pimco’s total return bond fund, Pictet’s utilities fund, BlackRock’s global allocation fund and some of Schroders’ global balanced funds for UK pension clients.

There are plenty of mid-sized players in America and Europe with similar products, some of which will become the blockbusters of the future – but these companies have no exposure to the world’s new growth markets. Which means they will be looking to set up distribution arrangements. The pain of the credit crisis is going to accelerate this process.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,