Categories: Trust and reputations
29 October 2008
I smell big business for PR
Yesterday in the midst of recession, Volkswagen briefly became the world’s most valuable company, worth £238 billion. Hedge funds were gambling, which is what they do for a living, that VW shares would fall.
Nobody told them that Porsche was secretly buying up VW shares to the tune of 74 percent. When reality hit perception, there was bloodbath among hedge funds causing many billions of pounds in losses, much of which will never be recovered. As today’s FT says, there can be no orderliness in a system of financial regulation that allows investors to operate on the basis of misleading information. The crisis raised questions about the competence of regulators, risk managers and the transparency of financial markets. This was just one of many weaknesses, another being the credit crunch, to have been exposed recently in global markets.
Change is inevitable. It will be required to allay public concern, restore confidence and resume economic growth. The details of that are still to be decided upon. First we need crisis management and a debate. But whatever happens next, the development of the language of those changes and the communication of them will be PR’s business. As the saying goes, where there’s muck there’s brass.
The FSA and its American equivalent have completely failed in terms of regulation. A change of attitude won’t help, only a change in law. Brokers and bankers who claim that there is no risk in CDOs for the potential investor are committing a fraud and should be jailed accordingly. Credit Suisse chose to convince potential investors that the Lehman offer was 100% guaranteed so that CS could collect fat commissions. Only a massive whack across the knuckles can stop this happening again.