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BNP Asset Management's Pojarliev discusses a variety of options to address foreign currency exposures. Although there is no single best-practice solution for addressing foreign currency exposures, institutional investors have three main choices, he says.

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November 11, 2008

Fourth-Quarter Comeback

By Michael Scotti

Wall Street and financial news are similar to the sports pages: There's almost always a winner, a loser and a final score. And when there's a continuous story of historic proportion, like the current financial crisis, even the man on the street knows the names of the players. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Fed chief Ben Bernanke are as well known to the average citizen as his favorite sports stars.

These two are the main protagonists of the current drama and have markets hanging on their every word. I must confess, it took a while for me to cut through the complexity of this credit crunch to understand it. Like everyone else, I parsed the news accounts and watched CNBC to figure out how it happened and to understand potential remedies. But what was clear was that we were-and still are-waiting for someone to lead us to financial sanity. We need a hero-someone like Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who can hit that fourth-quarter pass to win the Super Bowl and save the day. That's the American way. But the real world is more complex than sports.

If more of these products that produced the crisis traded on exchanges in transparent markets, like equities, we wouldn't be in this mess. Equities are simple compared with these exotic mortgage-backed derivatives. But even the simple we sometimes try to make complex. The media, in particular, is guilty of this, and I'm not sure if it is because of demand or supply-it takes a lot of information to fill a bottomless news hole of Internet and cable TV. In sports, we take a three-hour event and then afterward analyze it for a week. The simplest financial announcement gets interpreted as if it contains hidden signs from the financial gods. Keeping things simple is never easy. But it's almost impossible in this era of specialization and nonstop coverage and noise.

Everyone watched their retirement savings ravaged last month. For baby boomers, it was clear their retirement years won't be as golden as their parents'. Some of these boomers in their youth undoubtedly read author and coach Clair Bee's Chip Hilton sports stories. Hilton was a fictional sports hero who could not only win the game with his skills, but who also did the right thing-the quintessential leader and teammate.

In the course of 23 books, from 1948 to 1965, Bee introduced Hilton to all sorts of difficult situations, from "Triple-Threat Trouble" to a "Tournament Crisis." Hilton came out on the winning side, one way or another. Boomers would cheer a Chip Hilton coming to their financial rescue right now. So would Wall Street.

Michael Scotti

Editorial Director

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