Globalization, operational efficiency and regulation were dominant themes at this year’s Sibos conference, sponsored by SWIFT, that drew more than 7,500 delegates—38% from the Americas; 47% from EMEA and 15% from Asia-Pacific—to Toronto last month. And in a week when Italy’s credit rating was downgraded and world markets plunged again, the sputtering global economy was never out of mind.
Companies are hunkering down, anxious again about counterparty risk and uncertain about consumer spending, taxes and especially regulation, since many rules have yet to be written, bankers noted. Americans are concerned about the European debt crisis, while Europeans are just as worried about the high unemployment in the U.S., with each side thinking the other is in worse shape, observed Sue Webb of J.P. Morgan Treasury Services. Meanwhile nothing much gets firmly fixed, and it’s doubtful that the emerging markets with better growth stories can pull the world out of its economic funk, others noted.