Anthem and Cigna are the latest big U.S. providers to serve up a blockbuster merger. But they and their peers need to satisfy a slew of regulators before chowing down. Here’s a look at the agencies and the transactions officials may be asked to swallow in a concentrated industry.
The crisis has made many suspicious of new ideas in finance. “Smart Money” sets out to plead for the other side. The optimistic tone is refreshing, and the book offers many interesting examples of new business models. However, the case has too many gaps to be truly persuasive.
The newest buzzword is O2O, or “online to offline”. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are racing to connect half a billion smartphone users to local services, from taxis to takeaways. There’s huge growth – but this is an expensive battle. Breakingviews offers a download.
Markets are more ethical than confrontational, writes Pierre de Lauzun. The French banker even praises his industry for tying present to future and supporting the common good. He’s onto something. Finance can be socially helpful, if it shakes off so-called economic rationality.
Britain reckons it can raise 1.5 billion pounds by limiting a loophole that allows wealthy residents to avoid tax on overseas income. The country’s budget watchdog is sceptical. Regardless of the merits of changing an archaic system, it’s just as likely to lose as make money.
The Motor City’s slide into bankruptcy was inextricably linked to the troubles of the car industry. Chicago has no such excuse for its mangled finances, and may not be able to shed debt in court. For policymakers, the Windy City offers a more apt cautionary tale than Motown.
Appointing a “contrarian director” to challenge management recommendations was the winning suggestion from an MBA student in a competition sponsored by Cambridge and McKinsey. Even some Breakingviews columnists who reject the proposal would like to see more devil’s advocacy.
Financiers like to compare their negotiations to military strategy. Yet the art of the deal matters far more when those talking also kill. Jonathan Powell’s “Terrorists at the Table” is a primer like few others, by a worldly ex-diplomat of stubborn hope. It’s also darkly funny.
In their attempts to prop up share prices, the authorities abandoned all pretence of respecting market forces. Worse still, their efforts were visibly ineffective. The debacle undermines China’s reputation for competent economic management. It may also set back broader reforms.
Euro zone governments are on the hook for losses worth hundreds of billions of euros if Greece leaves. But these losses can be held off-balance sheet, fiddled away by statistics or spread over decades. That may be why EU negotiators are becoming less guarded about the risks.