Breakingviews on Twitter
Search League Tables

Friday, 06 May 2016

BREAKINGVIEWS

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S., May 1, 2016.

Trump's Fed position befits a banana republic

06 May 2016

The reality-TV veteran turned White House contender says Janet Yellen is following the right monetary policy, but he’d replace her because she’s not a Republican. That’s not only a break with decorum. It’s a red flag that a President Trump would meddle in central-banking affairs.

Mongolian mine workers

Rio Tinto goes Genghis on the copper market

06 May 2016

By expanding its $5.3 bln Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, the miner hopes to ride an upswing in demand. Under-investment in new mines and declining quality could see the market in deficit by 2020. But there’s a risk that copper goes the way of iron ore, into a damaging supply war.

A Southwest Airlines logo on plane

Brexit advocates: heed the tale of Herb Kelleher

06 May 2016

The co-founder of U.S. budget airline Southwest took the glamour out of air travel. But the increased connectivity has had unexpected benefits - like more scientific breakthroughs, a new study shows. Those who seek a British exit from the EU may be giving up more than they know.

Engineers oversee the gas distribution system in Kiskundorozsma, Hungary on January15, 2015.

Farcical oil deal prompts George Costanza defense

05 May 2016

Like the character in sitcom “Seinfeld,” Energy Transfer hopes to shake up a sour relationship: the $21 bln takeover of pipeline rival Williams. ETE aims to pay less cash, seeming to force the issue by making itself as unattractive as possible. The stakes are no laughing matter.

Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma speaks in front of a screen showing real-time data of transactions at Alibaba Group's 11.11 Global shopping festival in Beijing, China.

Alibaba's strong core comes with shaky periphery

05 May 2016

The Chinese e-commerce group’s revenue soared 39 pct year on year, faster than volumes of stuff sold on its sites. Alibaba also disclosed losses on its fintech, services and logistics affiliates. Those trends can co-exist, so long as online shopping growth stays sturdy. 

Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari in Tokyo, Japan, January 28, 2016.

Sard Verbinnen sale burnishes its deal credentials

05 May 2016

The crisis and merger PR firm is unloading 40 pct of itself to a buyout shop. Word leaking out with ugly details about unhappy partners hardly showcases its spin services. A valuation of nearly eight times what the founders paid a decade ago, however, suggests a certain M&A nous.

A statue of colonial Dutch governor Jan van Riebeeck stands before the headquarters of Barclay's South African subsidiary Absa bank in Cape Town.

Barclays Africa sale starts clock on Diamond bid

05 May 2016

The UK bank has placed $878 mln of shares in its Africa arm at a tight discount of 6.5 pct, with South Africa’s state pension fund taking a tenth. Central bank opposition to private equity won’t stop a tilt by its former boss for the rest. Barclays can sell that in 90 days’ time.

The Italian flag waves in front of The "Altare della Patria" also known as "Vittoriano" downtown Rome, Italy, March 23, 2016.

Italy fixes tomorrow's debt crisis before today's

06 May 2016

Rome is to tackle the inefficient Italian bankruptcy system, after a bad debt crisis forced big banks to rescue straggling lenders. Its proposals are radical, but they don’t tackle a pre-existing 320 billion euro pile of dud loans. That may not help the weakest lenders much.

The 1109 carat "Lesedi La Rona" diamond is displayed in a case at Sotheby's in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 4, 2016.

Prize diamond sales mask a less sparkly mid-market

06 May 2016

Three whopper gems will be auctioned by Sotheby’s and Christie’s, with one set to fetch $70 million. These hefty price tags give the diamond trade a misleading lustre. Slowing Chinese purchases and a supply glut mean the outlook for more mundane stones is far less dazzling.

A dog looks from inside a house in Shepshed, central England August 6, 2013.

U.S. watchdog gives bank customers back their bite

05 May 2016

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reviving class-action lawsuits as a way to fight unfair fees and other scams. Existing rules often allow only solo cases in arbitration, where lenders get the edge. The masses deserve a better shot at bringing Wall Street to heel.

A company logo is seen at a Pfizer office in Dublin, Ireland November 24, 2015.

Pfizer mulls actually having an M&A strategy

05 May 2016

The $205 bln drug giant’s last two huge acquisition attempts failed. Pfizer could yet try another merger to cut its tax rate, it could enter a potentially heated auction for $10 bln biotech Medivation, or it could split up. Dealmaking success depends on having clearer goals.

Sadiq Khan, Britain's Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London and his wife Saadiya pose for photographers after casting their votes for the London mayoral elections at a polling station in south London Britain May 5, 2016.

Who's London's next mayor? It doesn't matter

05 May 2016

Neither Sadiq Khan nor Zac Goldsmith, frontrunners for May 5’s vote, have the tools to fix London’s housing shortage. That’s a national issue. The question for businesses isn’t who runs the capital after Boris Johnson, but whether expansion elsewhere in the UK makes more sense.

An employee holds a 500 euro banknote in the Money Service Austria company's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 3, 2016.

500-euro note passes into illogical limbo

05 May 2016

If the ECB really feared its highest-value bill were a tool for criminals, it would scrap the note altogether. If it saw a strong case for keeping it, it would print more. Instead, the central bank is merely suspending production from 2018. It’s a classic euro-compromise.

Features

Peter Thal Larsen

India shows China the way to deal with bad debt

06 May 2016

State-backed banks in both countries have lent too much to politically connected companies that are now in trouble. While India is pushing lenders to come clean, China is still not admitting the extent of the problem. Future growth depends on a proper cleanup.

Antony Currie

Climate change is investment deal of the century

22 April 2016

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions and hitting other sustainability goals will cost trillions of dollars. But it should spur growth and jobs and create the higher-yielding, long-term assets investors crave. Policymakers, though, need to follow through on their pledges, too.

Robyn Mak

Review: A short tour of Jack Ma's virtual mansion

22 April 2016

An insider’s account provides fresh insights into the origins of China’s most successful entrepreneur. Yet the tale of Ma’s rise reveals little about the inner workings of his e-commerce empire. Outsiders are no closer to disentangling Alibaba’s future from its founder.

Columns

Rob Cox

Cox: What Mark Zuckerberg could learn in Quebec

28 April 2016

The founders of mini-mart leviathan Couche-Tard devised a clever way to balance supporters and detractors of dual-class stock by eliminating voting rights over time. The idea would suit Facebook and many others, if only bad tendencies fueled by ego could somehow be overcome.

Edward Chancellor

Chancellor: Oil prices don't need a Doha to rise

22 April 2016

An agreement among feuding OPEC members to cut production may still be elusive. But the Saudis and other oil-producing nations are in no position to ramp up. As U.S. oil output is set to fall sharply this year, the price of energy is likely to keep heading upwards.