It’s easy to see how Jamie Dimon would consider an independent chairman at JPMorgan a demotion for him. If peers like Lloyd Blankfein hold both top jobs, CEOs only may feel like second-class citizens. U.S. financial regulators could turn the division of labor into a virtue.
The Wall Street firm has made all the changes business-standards enforcers wanted. An activist investor even dispensed praise at its annual confab. Lloyd Blankfein still has to show the new approach can last. But with results improving, some of the old luster may be returning.
A $1.1 bln deal to take rue21 private is rife with conflicts. An Apax-affiliated fund owns 30 pct of the U.S. teen clothier while two Apax partners also sit on the rue21 board. But safeguards put in place suggest the lessons from TPG’s raggedy purchase of J Crew have stuck.
While similar-sized peers pare back in fixed income, the Japanese bank has actually doubled its global market share since 2010. It’s even hiring. Success is part luck, part strategy. Nomura dodged much of the subprime crisis, and Japanese strength has suddenly come into its own.
The CEO reins at the global brewing house are changing hands with a commendable lack of fuss. The evolving strategic objectives are also sound and the company is delivering financially. But expectations, as measured by the equity valuation, leave precious little room for error.
SoftBank and Dish Network have pulled out the stops in their battle to control the U.S. cellphone operator. But SoftBank has the edge. The claim that Japanese ownership of Sprint is a risk to national security is half-baked and shows Dish boss Charlie Ergen’s desperation.
After years of slow growth and ineffective policy responses, experts are stumped and investors are jittery. Bernanke’s two-sided talk and the Japanese market’s exaggerated response were all too typical. Barring recovery, crisis or revolution, there will be much more of the same.
The budget is under control, bad banks are being sold, the sovereign wealth fund opens soon and growth is over 6 pct. But a rebellion could hinder President Goodluck Jonathan’s progress. Combining careful anti-insurgent activity with solid economic management is a tall order.
Ljubljana’s ambitious privatisation plan, still-low borrowing costs and upcoming “bad bank” will ease calls for external help this year. But Slovenia’s fragile politics, weak banks and deteriorating finances, if not fixed, will force it into a bailout in 2014.