Alibaba’s founder, chairman and spiritual sultan will continue to exert near-total control of the Chinese e-commerce giant even after its massive IPO. For prospective shareholders, the question is whether Ma can be trusted to act in their interest. The answer is a qualified yes.
During the 2000s, speculating in commodities became the new fad, contributing to soaring prices and increased volatility, says Kate Kelly in a new book. She oversimplifies some of the dynamics of this complex world, but the powerful club she exposes should not be overlooked.
Many books about China strive for a sweeping overview. Evan Osnos’ “Age of Ambition” adopts a refreshingly human perspective. Despite some inevitable gaps, his close-up portraits of people in the People’s Republic are as revealing as a torrent of statistical superlatives.
Central bankers and economists say the official cost of money in the post-zero rate era will remain cheap by historic standards. Their prognostications rely on a theory which is unsound, unsupported by evidence and impossible to apply. Future rates are as likely to be high as low.
The five-year average crude price is in triple digits for the first time. Global growth has been sluggish but not disastrous. The period also brought better efficiency, the fracking boom, cheap solar, and new products like Tesla’s. It’s a score for innovation against pessimism.
Stephen Roach presents the relations between the world’s two largest economies as a dangerous codependency. The former Morgan Stanley economist’s national parallels are not always persuasive. But his criticism of America’s irresponsible policymaking rings true.
Brett King’s account of how smartphones are changing retail banking suffers from an excess of acronyms and advertorial. Still, King explains how compliance costs make the emergence of an Amazon of banking unlikely, and how internet data can help banks provide better services.
The UK-created conflict on the appointment of the former Luxembourg PM as European Council president is coming to an end. Europe’s leaders now have to sort out the somewhat confusing British demands for change. Once that is done, there will be room for compromise.
Scarce rains have left California and the U.S. Southwest dry just as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about the availability of H20. That presents a flood of opportunity for water tech firms and Great Lakes states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Even before England’s latest World Cup woes, its ruling body was mulling curbs on foreign players to nurture homegrown talent. That type of “import substitution” could hobble home markets. Financial subsidies for English players to play abroad would work better.