Low interest rates proved mightier than concern about Europe’s precarious economics in 2011. The opportunity to refinance debt at low rates drove $2.9 trillion in corporate bond sales, the second-highest total on record after 2009’s $3.2 trillion.
Corporate and sovereign-bond deals around the world generated a total of $13.6 billion in fees for bankers, down from $14.9 billion in 2010, according to data compiled for Bloomberg Markets’ ranking of the best-paid investment banks.
“The third quarter really took everyone’s wheels off,” says Richard Zogheb, co-head of capital markets origination for the Americas at Citigroup, No. 3 in the bond fee ranking. “It became very scary that it was possible that the European crisis could spread beyond Greece, Ireland and Portugal and encompass Italy and Spain.”