What is “normal” in financial markets?

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The FT has an intriguing interview with Jean-Pierre Mustier, chief executive of Societe Generale’s corporate and investment banking division:

Mr Mustier reckons that credit conditions will normalise at around the level they were late in 2004. This means that private equity groups will be able to borrow to finance leveraged buy-outs, but at one or two multiples of cashflow less than the average level earlier this year, he says.

Similarly, he believes that credit spreads for senior debt instruments will ultimately end up at about 60 basis points higher than they were at the market’s peak.

“We have to go through the rationalisation, leave behind the irrational mistrust and move to a more rational and a more normalised view of what the world should be,” he says.

“And the normalised view is not June 2007.”

I would agree with that last point. But how can the man be so sure late 2004 was normal?

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