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What a difference a pandemic makes.
The bull market for stocks and credit
ended abruptly in March as investors
witnessed the spread of Covid-19 and
how it depressed economic activity.
Governments and central banks are less
coordinated than when they battled the
2008 financial crisis. Adding to the chaos,
an oil price war slammed energy
Bets against energy sector bonds
have been a focus for Knut Kjaer, who
was the first chief executive officer
of Norway’s massive oil fund and is now
trying to protect the climate. In “From
Black Gold ... to Brown Bonds” (page 58),
Stockholm bureau chief Charles Daly
profiles Kjaer and his effort to punish
climate-damaging companies by driving
up their borrowing costs.
In Barbados, Prime Minister
Mia Mottley is also trying to prepare
for climate change. After choosing to
default on the island nation’s debt in
2018, she’s negotiated with creditors to
gain some leeway in paying debt interest
if Barbados is hit by a hurricane. In
“ ‘Nature—and What It Brings With It —Was
Our Greatest Threat’ ” (page 64), reporter
Ezra Fieser describes how Mottley’s
effort could be a template for other
vulnerable borrowers around the world.
The credit business has changed
since 2008 as direct-loan funds such as
Owl Rock Capital were created to replace
banks. Kelsey Butler, a New York-based
reporter who covers private credit, spoke
with Marc Lipschultz, one of Owl Rock’s
three founders, about the challenges and
opportunities of the new landscape in
“Not Your Father’s Banker” (page 70).
Amid fast-moving markets, we try
to bring some long-term perspective.
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