Magazine article Global Finance

The World's Safest Banks 2008

Magazine article Global Finance

The World's Safest Banks 2008

Article excerpt

Global Finance selects the world's safest banks, the 50 institutions with the highest ratings from the leading international credit ratings agencies.

After a year in which many of the world's banking titans have shown themselves to be apt to making some very, very expensive mistakes, the concept of the world's "safest" banks might seem overly relative. Is that safe relative to Britain's Northern Rock, which only remained in business after a government-sponsored rescue, or safe relative to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, both of which bit the dust this year-or safe relative to the US Federal Reserve?

In compiling this year's list during the most volatile month in recent history, we are aiming at a moving target. Questions have emerged over the credit ratings of many of the world's banks-some of which appear on this list. Bank of America, for example, which had already tumbled to 44th on the list from last year's 24th, suffered another ratings downgrade after announcing it would buy Merrill Lynch. That will almost certainly see it tumble off the list next year. In contrast, Britain's HBOS has been clawing its way up the table to reach 21st place this year. Then, as Global Finance was going to press, it endured a run on its shares and leapt into the welcoming arms of fellow UK banking giant, Lloyds TSB-ranked at number six-in a merger that many have described as a shotgun wedding.

While most of the banks at the top of the table remain the same, perhaps the worst casualty has been UBS, which plummeted from number six last year to 43rd this year. …

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