Financial markets safer after crisis but big risks exist

Updated: 2014-01-23 10:49


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DAVOS - Top financial experts said on Wednesday that the international financial system are safer now than they were five years ago but big risks still exist.

At a debate called "Are markets safer now", HSBC's chairman Douglas Flint said the financial markets are safer than back in 2009 because behavioral changes have contributed to a more sound financial system and it can withstand shocks better than before.

"After six years following a dramatic crisis, efforts have been made successful to make the system safer than it was in 2007 and 2008," Douglas said.

Douglas noted that although the system can withstand shocks better, it does not mean no risk exists. However, there is much more transparency in terms of counterparty risk.

Chief executive of Barclays Antony Jenkins also agrees with Douglas that financial system is safer but he thinks it's wrong to just focus on banks. He said that the key is to keep bankers' animal spirits in check.

Paul Singer, the founder and chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer of fund manager Elliott Management, is also on the panel. He argued that relatively modest improvements cannot make things safer and cautioned that banks are still involved in exotic products that pose a big risk.

"Notional amount of derivatives in aggregate is 36 percent higher than pre-crisis. Nobody knows the exact number and it is not perfect, but nothing has changed from 2008." Singer said.