Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, Hong Kong's outgoing chief of the de facto central bank, said the global financial system still needed support from governments, which had the difficult task of deciding when to withdraw support measures. He told reporters yesterday that many financial markets had almost returned to pre-crisis levels after the global financial turmoil a year ago when Lehman Brothers Holdings collapsed. But Yam expressed concern that the recent market rebound might make people 'too aggressive' in their investment behaviour and warned against letting a bubble develop. Now that the global economy had stabilised largely because of government support and loose monetary policies, governments had to unwind their actions at some point, he said. 'If not, there will be a potential risk of creating another asset bubble,' he said. Yam also told a conference that financial players' short-term focus on maximising profits sometimes clashed with the broader public need for an efficient system of financial intermediation. Governments should have emergency powers to intervene, act independently and promptly, if necessary, to protect the public interest, he said. Peter Sands, the group chief executive at Standard Chartered, told the same function that things had improved markedly over the past year and the real economy had bottomed out, particularly in Asia. 'But the financial system is still in hospital as there is a very long list of things that need to be done,' he said. He said more regulatory work was needed and imbalances remained. Sands said one of the more difficult issues was how the governments could unwind their fiscal and monetary policy without causing problems. Ronnie Chan Chichung, the chairman of Hang Lung Properties, said some of the bigger problems that helped cause the crisis had still not been addressed. He questioned, for example, the continued existence of institutions with commercial and investment banking operations under one roof.