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YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OF MY MOUTH: Alcoholics Bankers Anonymous

«Bankers, like alcoholics, must first admit they have a problem

The temptation to circumvent the rules might prove irresistible, writes Philip Augar  

They really can’t help it, can they? Like alcoholics in a liquor store, the investment banks cannot resist an illicit swig whenever they think nobody is looking. That is the conclusion from the fines imposed on 10 US investment banks last week for breaking the rules designed to manage conflicts of interest in initial public offerings.

The shock is that the event in question occurred in 2010, a mere seven years after rules were passed to clean up the IPO market in the wake of the dotcom crash. Back then Eliot Spitzer, then New York State attorney-general, had led an investigation that showed how investment banks’ analysts had been puffing new issues. It was a scandal that blew Wall Street’s claim to be a trusted adviser out of the water. Ten investment banks paid $1.4bn to settle the matter and signed up to new rules restricting analysts’ involvement in IPOs.»

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