Shareholders are souring on the hope that Japan Inc. can become better-run and more profitable. That’s too gloomy. Last year’s returns on equity were humdrum and there have been big disappointments. But real change is underway and the pressure for more is huge.
The country’s online giants are pouring cash into local services like taxi-hailing and takeaway food. Baidu invests mostly in wholly-owned units, while Tencent takes minority stakes. Alibaba does both. As costs mount amid uncertain returns, investors are happier with less risk.
In “America’s Bank,” Roger Lowenstein shows how the Federal Reserve was created to act as lender of last resort and little more. Since then, there’s been mission creep with many ill consequences. A century after its foundation, the central bank needs to address its failings.
CEO Elizabeth Holmes persuaded a clutch of bigwigs like George Shultz to join her board, tapping the roster at Stanford’s world-improving think tank. Theranos’ headline valuation shot skywards. But the wise old men don’t seem to be helping now that things are looking shaky.
The fierce U.S. response to the carmaker’s emissions manipulation shows Europe has been lax on a core public health issue. Exhaust limits are too high, test procedures too weak, and evidence of non-compliance was missed. Clean diesel is possible, but only with lower auto profit.
Policymakers are struggling with a debt hangover while trying to avoid another crisis. Current methods won’t work, Adair Turner argues in “Between Debt and the Devil”. He wants to drop the prohibition on printing money. But that still requires placing our faith in central banks.
The country’s Q3 GDP grew at 6.9 pct, its slowest rate in six years. Yet the real state of China’s economy has become unreadable. Market signals suggest a worrying new truth: the country’s leaders are doing no better than might be hoped from a group of clever but fallible humans.
It could be called Anheuser-Busch de Bebidas das Américas und South African et Asian Inter-Breweries (ABBASAAIB). Breakingviews columnists brainstorm some alternatives to this over-fermented concoction of beer-merger dregs past and present.
Ambrose Bierce wrote “The Devil’s Dictionary” a century ago, ranging acerbically across government, commerce and life. Breakingviews’ original re-use of the form for finance – in 2007, when the crisis was barely beginning – is no longer adequate. Herewith part two of the sequel.
A new Hollywood biopic directed by Danny Boyle provides a glossy, fictionalized yet revealing glimpse of the human being behind Apple’s iconic products. A recent documentary has a harder critical edge. Four years after his death, Jobs’ flawed genius defies categorization.