LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 86

2
THE
FUTURE
OF LATIN
FINANCE

Latin America’s banking system has been defined by a conservatism born of
bitter experience, says Roberto Setúbal, chief executive of Brazil’s biggest
wprivate sector bank. By Taimur Ahmad

Roberto Setúbal
No false moves

I

n nature, organisms often acquire immunity through contact with diseases, learning to recognize them, and adapting to withstand future encounters.
While few today would argue that latin america’s banks are immune to external shocks,
their extraordinary resilience in the wake of the 2008 global crisis left many wondering what
went right.
for Roberto Setúbal, chief executive of itaú-Unibanco, Brazil’s largest private bank, the
answer is clear: banks in latin america knew the shape of a crisis and, after many years of
exposure to them, had built up their defenses accordingly.
“in Brazil, we had a banking crisis in the 1990s. after that crisis, banks became more
conservative,” he tells LatinFinance in an interview. “this is true across latin america: banks
here took fewer risks, they had a high capital base and this was the basis of their resilience.”
latin american banks, unlike their US and european counterparts, had also shunned
excessive leverage, he says, aware of its pitfalls. “Banks were very conservative in general, not
getting into high leverage. this was definitely an important factor in latin america’s credit
resilience – its low dependence on external funding and high reliance on domestic deposits,”
says Setúbal.
for latin america’s banks, this was conservatism born of experience: higher capital ratios,
more liquidity and enhanced efficiency all helped the industry cope better with the effects
of the global crisis on credit. “in Brazil, we had more capital requirements for many types of
risk, which were not a requirement for banks in the developed world,” he says.
Setúbal, who took over as head of itaú in 1994, flatly rejects the view that it was latin
banks’ relative lack of sophistication that inadvertently spared them from the impact of the
global financial crisis – or that, if the region’s banks had had the opportunity, they would have
been every bit as brash as their Western counterparts in dabbling in complex, and potentially
unsound, financial instruments.
“it’s not really a matter of having these instruments, structured and leveraged finance, or
what have you,” he says. “at the end of the day, regardless of what kind of instruments you
have, it’s all about leverage.”
the fact is simply that Western banks were overly leveraged, he says. “at some point, too
high leverage leads to volatility in the market and then banks get in trouble,” he says. “Banks
in the developed world took more risk than they should have. many of them regret what was
done in the past and they would not do it again today.”
in contrast, banks in latin america simply “did not take risks as banks in the developed
world took.”
of course, it helped that the spillover effects of the global crisis to the region’s economies
was also limited, thanks in part to the buffers in place at the macro level. “this was quite
important in allowing the banks to go through this period,” Setúbal says.

86 l atinfina nce.com - 25 Years - August 2013

Risk off
Yet as the environment for Brazil’s banks
deteriorates following a sharp slowdown
latin america’s largest economy, questions
have emerged anew over how well the
country’s banking sector will stand up to
the undesirable turn.
With Brazil’s economy stalling, demand
for credit is falling. after expanding just
0.9% last year, the economy is expected to
grow by no more than 2.3% in 2013.
the downturn has already taken its
toll on the domestic credit market, with a
surge in loan delinquencies over the past
two years. and moves by the central bank
to curb inflation by hiking borrowing costs
could yet exacerbate the problem in the
year ahead.
“the Brazilian economy has had a significant slowdown compared to the last
decade. this has created some problems in
terms of the credit markets,” Setúbal says,
adding that he regards Brazil’s downturn
as part of a broader phenomenon affecting
emerging markets, rather than a countryspecific event. “there is a slowdown in
emerging economies more deeply, and
Brazil is part of that. this is a new thing, a
new phenomenon and we have to readapt
our economies [to slower growth].”
nevertheless, he insists that the Brazilian
banking sector has seen the worst of the
downturn and that the level of bad loans is
under control. “the worst of the problem
is behind us. We are moving to a better and
more controlled level of delinquency in
general, so this is not a problem anymore.”
financial results bear this out, he says.
itaú’s delinquency rate declined to 4.2% in
the second quarter of 2013 from 4.5% in the
first quarter and 5.2% a year earlier. moreover, the bank’s profits of 3.62 billon reais
beat analysts’ expectations for the quarter,
following a two-year strategy to reduce risk.
Setúbal, an engineer by training and


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LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013

Latin Finance - Special Edition - August 2013
The Evolution of the Markets 1988-2013
The Future of Latin Finance
"Twenty-five Years Ago, LatinFinance Was Launched With One simple, if Well-worn, Belief: That Crisis Inevitably Gives Way to Opportunity"
Evolution of the Markets & Deals of the Quarter Century
Turnaround Time, for Some
Rising Champions
Locals Wanted
Gaining Pace
A Question of Depth
The Public-Private Balance
Cheaper Borrowing
Keeping It Simple
Local Banks Are Increasingly Stepping Up the Latin League Tables
LatinFinance Charts a Quarter Century of Change for the Biggest Banks in Latin America
LatinFinance Picks Out the Major Turning Points in the Region’s Political, Economic and Financial History Over the Past 25 Years
Governance & Reform
President, Mexico
Former President, Brazil
“the Government Has Not Given Up on What Is Fundamental. but When It Comes to Improving The Lives of Brazilians, There Are Signs It Has Started To Weaken"
Former President, Colombia
Opposition Leader, Venezuela
Former Us Treasury Secretary
Stability & Regulation
Governor, Bank of Mexico
“Latin America Did Very Well During the 2008 Crisis. but It’s Also True That a Lot of Ammunition Was Used”
Chairman, Grupo Financiero Banorte
Former Vice-Chairman, Citigroup
Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Former Governor, Central Bank of Brazil
Former Governor, Central Bank of Venezuela
Former Governor, Central Bank of Argentina
Professor of Economics, Columbia University
Corporates & Capital
CEO and co-CIO, Pimco
CEO, Gávea Investimentos
Founder, Celfin Capital
With Joyce Chang, Richard Frank, Hari Hariharan, Hans Humes, Will Landers, Mark Mobius and Martin Schubert
CEO, Itaú-Unibanco
CEO, Grupo Sura
Chairman, Santander
CFO, América MóVil
Former CEO, Vale
Chairman, Roubini Global Economics
Growth & Development
Former President, Chile
President, CAF
President, IDB
Former President, IDB
Former President, Caribbean Development Bank
President, Centennial Group Latin America
A Look Into the Future With Alternate Visions of Latin America a Quarter Century From Now
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Latin Finance - Special Edition - August 2013
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Cover2
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - The Evolution of the Markets 1988-2013
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - The Future of Latin Finance
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 3
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - "Twenty-five Years Ago, LatinFinance Was Launched With One simple, if Well-worn, Belief: That Crisis Inevitably Gives Way to Opportunity"
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 5
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Evolution of the Markets & Deals of the Quarter Century
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 7
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Turnaround Time, for Some
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 9
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 10
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 11
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Rising Champions
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 13
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 14
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 15
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Locals Wanted
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 17
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Gaining Pace
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 19
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 20
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 21
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - A Question of Depth
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 23
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 24
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 25
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - The Public-Private Balance
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 27
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Cheaper Borrowing
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 29
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Keeping It Simple
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 31
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - LatinFinance Charts a Quarter Century of Change for the Biggest Banks in Latin America
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - G2
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - G4
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - G5
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 34
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 35
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 36
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 37
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 38
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 39
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 40
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 41
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 42
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 43
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 44
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 45
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 46
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 47
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Governance & Reform
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 49
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - President, Mexico
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 51
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - “the Government Has Not Given Up on What Is Fundamental. but When It Comes to Improving The Lives of Brazilians, There Are Signs It Has Started To Weaken"
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 53
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 54
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 55
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former President, Colombia
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 57
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Opposition Leader, Venezuela
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 59
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former Us Treasury Secretary
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 61
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Stability & Regulation
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Governor, Bank of Mexico
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 64
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - B1
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - B2
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 65
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Chairman, Grupo Financiero Banorte
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 67
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former Vice-Chairman, Citigroup
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former Governor, Central Bank of Brazil
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former Governor, Central Bank of Venezuela
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former Governor, Central Bank of Argentina
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 73
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Professor of Economics, Columbia University
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Corporates & Capital
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - CEO and co-CIO, Pimco
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 77
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 78
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 79
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - CEO, Gávea Investimentos
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Founder, Celfin Capital
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - With Joyce Chang, Richard Frank, Hari Hariharan, Hans Humes, Will Landers, Mark Mobius and Martin Schubert
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 83
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 84
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 85
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - CEO, Itaú-Unibanco
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 87
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - CEO, Grupo Sura
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Chairman, Santander
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - CFO, América MóVil
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former CEO, Vale
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Chairman, Roubini Global Economics
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Growth & Development
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former President, Chile
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 95
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - President, CAF
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 97
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - President, IDB
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former President, IDB
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Former President, Caribbean Development Bank
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 101
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - President, Centennial Group Latin America
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - 103
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - A Look Into the Future With Alternate Visions of Latin America a Quarter Century From Now
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Cover3
LatinFinance - Special Edition - August 2013 - Cover4
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