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Wednesday, 01 October 2014


Sainsbury's shopping trolleys

Victory equals loss in UK supermarket price war

01 October 2014

Sliding revenue at Sainsbury dashes hopes the grocer might circumvent the struggle enveloping UK rivals, including Tesco and Morrisons. A strategic review shows welcome determination to get a grip on Britons’ changing shopping habits. But the falling tide will lower all boats.

The euro sculpture is seen behind an emergency telephone in Frankfurt

Sovereign doom loop haunts EU bank stress tests

01 October 2014

The euro zone banking union was meant to start with a robust bank solvency test. Yet national regulators have successfully lobbied the ECB to count deferred tax credits as capital. That restores the state/bank dependency the single banking supervisor is trying to sever. 

China index: Time to reach for the bottle

01 October 2014

Our economic forecasting index slipped to 87.9 in August as the domestic economy struggled to recover. Truck sales plummeted by 25 percent and steel output sunk to a two-year low as home sales sputtered. The only positives: bank lending and the price of expensive spirits.

A man walks next to a collapsed part of Route 14 near East Montpelier in Vermont.

Bankrupt toll road leaves taxpayer sitting pretty

30 September 2014

Private investors in a 157-mile Indiana toll road are set to be wiped out in bankruptcy court – but only after they sunk millions into new lanes and tolling technology. It’s a rare example of a boom-era deal successfully transferring risk from the public to the private sector.

The EU and the Union flags fly outside The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom in central London January 23, 2013.

Sometimes business can't avoid talking politics

30 September 2014

A British lawmaker reckons business should stay out of the debate over UK membership of the EU. Staying above politics may usually be the mark of a good board. But it would be negligent to ignore any material impact on owners and workers from a one-issue referendum.

A model presents a creation from Jimmy Choo during its London Collections: Men show in London June 16, 2014.

Jimmy Choo investment case is a bet on China

01 October 2014

The luxury shoemaker is seeking a London float, giving its private equity owners a partial exit. A mooted $1 bln price tag values Choo at a premium to most peers. The justification could be the potential to grow in Asia. But it’s a market that can spring unpleasant surprises.

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in the Manhattan borough of New York January 24, 2014.

Goldman's new conflict rules raise bigger question

30 September 2014

Bankers there face fresh limits on investing in stocks, bonds and hedge funds. Goldman knows how easy it is to cross a line when treading close to it. Why Wall Street dealmakers can own individual securities at all is the real mystery that speaks to a culture loath to change.

A worker wipes a poster advertisement for Apple's iPhone 5C.

Governments are real targets in Apple's tax case

30 September 2014

The European Commission thinks that the iPhone maker has received preferential treatment from the Irish government. Both Apple and Dublin beg to differ. At least Brussels has put member governments on notice that tax leniency could amount to state aid.

A man stands near a currency exchange office in Kiev February 7, 2014.

FX benchmark reform plan can only go so far

30 September 2014

A Financial Stability Board report on reforming FX benchmarks strikes a decent balance between the needs of users and those of banks. But in the end, it’s up to the latter to clamp down on illicit activity – and up to governments to make sure there is an interest in doing so.



Rob Cox

Rob Cox: Flurry of ski M&A aims to control weather

30 September 2014

CEOs and corporate financiers revel in the power of the deal. One company, Vail Resorts, is taking the idea to extremes. By acquiring clusters of snowy U.S. retreats in different climates and selling “Epic” season passes, it is trying to smooth bumps caused by Mother Nature.

Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon: UK faces unpalatable election choice

29 September 2014

The Labour opposition has a somewhat anti-business agenda, while the Conservatives want to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. Next May’s election contest isn’t quite a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but it’s not a good one.


John Foley

Hong Kong harmony hits Beijing's worst fears

01 October 2014

The tens of thousands of protesters occupying Central send a disturbing message to authorities: unrest can be both disruptive and peaceful. That resonates far more than images of violent conflict. Little wonder China is trying to make sure citizens look the other way.

Neil Unmack

Scrapper Renzi lives up to his reputation at last

30 September 2014

Italian prime minister and “scrapper” of Roman politics Matteo Renzi has angered his own camp with his labour reform plans. If his Jobs Act passes, it will boost growth and help the ECB maintain loose monetary policy in the meantime. But many tough fights lie ahead.

John Foley

China house prices on brink of pessimism spiral

30 September 2014

As prices fall in most big cities, developers and banks are trying to lure buyers back to the market. But cheaper mortgages and less red tape are no match for sagging real price expectations. Short of giving cash to buyers, it is hard to arrest negative thinking once it sets in.