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Friday, 31 October 2014


European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi reacts at the monthly ECB news conference in Frankfurt March 6, 2014.

Draghi can only dream of moving like BOJ's Kuroda

31 October 2014

The ECB chief might fantasise about taking big decisions with a one-vote margin, as the Bank of Japan leader just did. But realpolitik requires a goodly majority. The euro zone’s inevitable compromises complicate Draghi’s fight against stubbornly low inflation. 

The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on top of the bank's building in Fontenay-sous-Bois, eastern Paris, May 30, 2014.

BNP's U.S. demons repelled but not quite banished

31 October 2014

France’s largest listed bank rebounded from a U.S. mega-fine with an 11 pct rise in Q3 profit. A big drop in volatility helped everything but trading. Now, though, volatility is up and the upcoming temporary dollar-clearing ban for U.S. sanctions breaches may cause more pain.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda speaks during a news conference at the BOJ headquarters in Tokyo April 30, 2014.

Japan's bulked-up bazooka is last chance for QE

31 October 2014

The Bank of Japan is cranking up its bond-buying just as the Federal Reserve winds down. But even the Japanese central bank is becoming more sceptical of quantitative easing. If 2 percent inflation proves elusive, the BOJ will need even bolder policies - or to throw in the towel.   

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with China's Vice President Xi Jinping (2nd L).

APEC summit shows value of calm and platitudes

31 October 2014

Obama, Xi, Putin and Abe will have much to disagree about when they meet with other national leaders in Beijing next week. The host city’s odd theatrics add to the awkwardness. But the fact that top people from around the Pacific want to show a united front helps keep the peace.

China index: Home truths upset economy

31 October 2014

Our alternative growth index hit its lowest levels since April 2009 last month. Housing investment is leading the downturn with the slowest pace of growth in over two years. In the past, more bank lending was seen as the answer. This time, it doesn’t seem to be helping at all.

A customer looks at the new Starbucks logo on a cup at the Solana store in Beijing March 8, 2011.

Starbucks Venti cup is half full

30 October 2014

Sales at the $60 bln coffee chain’s established locations increased less than expected. Even so, 10 pct revenue growth is a problem the likes of McDonald’s would love to have. Savvy marketing and smart acquisitions should help Starbucks keep pace with changing consumer tastes.

The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington.

Friends of finance put to U.S. election test

30 October 2014

Two Republicans face unexpected threats this midterm season. As a Democrat narrows the gap against New Jersey’s Scott Garrett, a moderate is challenging Jeb Hensarling’s spot atop the financial services committee. Six years post-crisis, Wall Street’s taint may not have worn off.

Empty bottles of beer sit at the entrance of Anheuser-Busch InBev plant.

AB InBev miss pushes dividends to the fore

31 October 2014

Latest earnings suggest the once-fizzy beer company is becoming ordinary. AB InBev’s valuation reflects its history of M&A-fuelled growth. More big deals may come. But even if future revenue growth is flatter, its dividend ambitions will support the share price. 

An aerial view shows planes parked on the tarmac.

Spain’s $10 bln airports IPO is just shambolic

31 October 2014

Auditor-related technicalities have grounded one of the largest European share issues this year. The Aena airports sale will probably go ahead in early 2015. But the IPO process will be easier to re-rail if the government makes its commitment unequivocal.

A protester waves a Hong Kong flag during a rally as they block the main road to the financial Central district in Hong Kong September 29, 2014.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong protests lay minefield for business

31 October 2014

The democracy debate is dividing the city. For companies, keeping quiet is less risky than expressing an opinion that could irk customers, staff, or Beijing. It’s even harder for employees who must tread the blurry line between free speech and representing corporate interests.

Citigroup logo

Citi's legal misery better have some company

30 October 2014

Having to slash $600 mln from recently disclosed earnings because of new regulatory developments is an unwelcome surprise for investors. The bank blames fast-moving investigations. If rivals don’t follow suit, though, the excuse may not be enough cover for Citi’s top brass.

Cinema-goers wearing 3D glasses watch a movie at a PVR Multiplex in Mumbai.

Regal movie chain could follow competitor's script

30 October 2014

The largest U.S. theater group is considering a sale. Rival AMC is flush after being acquired by China’s Wanda in September 2012 and relisting in late 2013. For Regal, keeping up may cost more than 47 pct owner Philip Anschutz is willing to spend. It needs its own AMC sequel.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in the demonstration room after the Apple event introducing the new iPad in San Francisco, California March 7, 2012.

Tim Cook's pride may expand corporate talent pool

30 October 2014

The Apple CEO’s decision to speak publicly about being gay should help advance the march toward acceptance. As boss of the world’s biggest company by market value, Cook could inspire others, giving C-suites and boardrooms more choice. They could use it.



Edward Hadas

Edward Hadas: Robots can be our best friends

30 October 2014

If the cult of economic efficiency is not abandoned, then machines which can emulate and sometimes surpass human thinking are likely to bring lower wages and more unemployment. But robots provide a wonderful opportunity to combine low labour productivity with high prosperity.

Andy Mukherjee

India in depth: Beating the emerging-market gloom

29 October 2014

GDP growth in China and India is too low for investors to risk their now-costly capital. This is dimming the lure of these large developing nations. Without reforms to boost returns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign will face testing times.

Rob Cox

Rob Cox: Zuckerberg's Chinese lessons are scalable

28 October 2014

Bilingual CEOs should be the norm, not fuel for the kind of media frenzy that greeted the Facebook founder’s Q&A in Mandarin last week. Learning a foreign language doesn’t just help conquer new markets. It fosters risk-taking and new thinking, and helps eliminate biases.


Peter Thal Larsen

Hong Kong protests reach polite impasse

28 October 2014

The “umbrella movement” has lasted a month, confounding predictions of apathy, chaos, or a Beijing crackdown. A compromise on democratic reform is as distant as ever. Yet Hong Kong’s mostly civil activists have changed the city’s political geography for good.

Andy Mukherjee

Robots may spell "Control-Alt-Delete" for workers

23 October 2014

Researchers think automatons could displace half of all existing U.S. jobs. If that happens rapidly, it could push humans into a strife-torn future in which lack of wage income hobbles prosperity even in capable societies. Yet governments can make the transition less stressful.