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Saturday, 20 December 2014


Quentin Webb

Review: An Icelandic tycoon’s sorry saga

19 December 2014

Thor Bjorgolfsson embodies Iceland’s volcanic rise and fall. He made a fortune in post-Soviet Europe, lost a bank in 2008 and caused Deutsche Bank years of grief with Actavis. This deal junkie’s memoir is self-critical in parts - but unlikely to win many new friends in Reykjavik.

Forgotten Depression

Review: "Forgotten Depression" worth remembering

12 December 2014

James Grant’s new book on the U.S. government’s response to the 1921 crash is a timely reminder that our forebears knew of other, apparently more efficacious, remedies to cure financial hangovers than the hair of the dog.

Edward Hadas

Beware of overhyping the oil dividend

09 December 2014

The sharp crude decline is widely seen as good for growth. Yet its main impact is not to boost the world’s total output but to change the distribution of income. Even then, the GDP shift from oil-exporting to oil-importing countries is likely to be substantially less than 1 pct.

Martin Langfield

Review: The shirk ethic - a user's guide

28 November 2014

Work can be seen as a blessing or a curse. In “Empty Labor,” Roland Paulsen examines people who take mostly the latter view, asking how and why they shirk, and whether it’s always a bad thing. His study of idleness on the job is enlightening, amusing and sad.

Kate Duguid

Review: Congo's problems run deeper than oil

21 November 2014

Virunga Park sits on top of reserves and between hostile states inhabited by warring militias. A new documentary casts UK oil firm Soco as the park’s top threat. Unethical exploiters are just one symptom of a nation whose institutions are too weak to assure economic stability.

Mark Haefele

Guest view: German growth fears are overblown

17 November 2014

Recent data from Germany is not as bad as it looks, and EC growth forecasts for the country are too gloomy. Europe’s largest economy is competitive enough to spur growth across the continent next year, says Mark Haefele, global chief investment officer at UBS Wealth Management.

Martin Langfield

Review: Through a distorting mirror, darkly

14 November 2014

William Gibson’s novel “The Peripheral” paints future worlds that are built of present fears writ large. Algorithms not only roil financial markets, they travel in time. Nanotech eats people. Money corrupts and spies surveil, even more than now. Yet human decency has a chance.

Peter Thal Larsen

China's stock connection: a guide for the perplexed

14 November 2014

Hong Kong and Shanghai are about to activate a long-awaited link between their exchanges. The hook-up could have big implications for investors. But it’s also restrained by China’s determination to limit cross-border capital flows. Breakingviews explains what’s at stake.

Neil Unmack

Diabetes wars a taste of things to come for pharma

10 November 2014

Obamacare and healthy competition are to blame for Sanofi’s problems in the insulin market. But copycat “biosimilar” drugs will disrupt other pharmaceutical markets. These new-style generics could create big problems for some substantial firms, including Amgen and AbbVie.

Trust: A History

Review: The secret cause of economic crises

07 November 2014

Trust, not self-interest, is the main support of market economies, says Geoffrey Hosking. He persuasively argues that widespread trust is crucial for growth. He explains how business cycles are propelled by mutual confidence, too little at the bottom and far too much at the top.