The 18th Euromoney Global Borrowers & Investors Forum celebrated the 40th anniversary of Euromoney magazine, and the return to health of global fixed income markets after a torrid 18 months.
The Forum once again attracted the great and the good in debt capital markets. The biggest borrowers in the world gathered in upbeat mood, feeling they are getting to grips with the new market environment. Few could have predicted even at the end of 2008 just how quickly the fixed income markets could have revived in recent months.
The forum opened on Tuesday morning with former London mayor Ken Livingstone appraising London’s position as a financial centre and whether it can maintain its dominance in future. Mr Livingstone went on to surprise us all by revealing himself to be an old-fashioned fiscal conservative. As the day’s proceedings progressed, fiscal discipline - or more accurately the lack of it -proved to be an enduring theme for the day. Most of the world’s leading sovereign borrowers explained how they were managing to expand their debt programmes so quickly and in the face of wrenching uncertainties in the world economic outlook. On Wednesday morning, the focus shifted east as Thomas Mirow, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, addressed the challenges still facing the CEE economies, most immediately in Latvia. Panels of corporate, emerging market and supranational and agency borrowers took their turns to talk about their markets too on Wednesday.
Overall, the two days of discussion reassured that lessons are being learned. Issuers understand the need to approach markets more sensitively. Investors know they have to seek new sources of information and manage risk in different ways. And underwriters are keen to seek out new ways of matching issuers and investors.
But throughout the two days of the forum, participants stressed that significant risks remained for markets, as well as for leading economies.
We are looking forward already to the 2010 Forum when we will reconvene to find out whether that cautious optimism was well-placed, and whether lessons have indeed been learned. The unwinding of quantitative easing will no doubt be underway by next June, a test for all in the markets.
Euromoney would like to thank all sponsors, speakers and delegates for helping to make the Global Borrowers and Investors Forum such a success.