Agnes's Feed
Jan 26, 2012
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Banks gain unlikely allies in Volcker rule battle

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By Agnes Crane and Peter Thal Larsen

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The Volcker rule has encountered some surprising new enemies. U.S. banks have long loathed the regulation, which aims to limit proprietary trading. But as policymakers put the finishing touches on it, Canadian and Japanese authorities have joined the chorus of complaints.

Jan 19, 2012
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Alluring subprime debt can still poison investors

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By Agnes T. Crane

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Subprime mortgage debt has got its mojo back. A growing number of investors reckon there’s life yet in the mortgage market’s toxic sludge from the crisis – and that now’s the time to buy. But buyers should tread carefully.

Jan 11, 2012
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Double-dipping Twinkies tarnish bankruptcy process

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By Agnes T. Crane

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Wednesday marked a day of mourning for American junk food aficionados – and not for the first time. Hostess Brands, maker of the cream-filled bright yellow Twinkie snack, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just three years after emerging from the court’s protection. That’s not just a kick in the gullet for Ripplewood Holdings, the private equity owner that sank $40 million into the baker last year. The company’s failure leaves a greasy stain on the American bankruptcy process itself.

Jan 9, 2012
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Women are still winning the U.S. jobs game

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The sluggish economic recovery hasn’t been kind to the female population in the U.S. workforce. They’ve nabbed only 43,000 of the 1.4 million net new nonfarm jobs created since June 2009. Though painful, this gender rebalancing makes some sense. Men disproportionately suffered the worst of the post-crisis mega-bust – so much so, in fact, that the high incidence of unemployment was given its own awkward moniker: “Mancession.”

Moreover, female-dominated work areas are still in the dumps. Government jobs are a case in point. Tough talk and action to tighten belts at the federal, state and local levels have been hard on women, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of the job cuts, even though they represented only 57 percent of the bureaucratic staffers.

Dec 29, 2011
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Corporate bonds push for sovereign status

By Agnes Crane and Neil Unmack
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Finance directors may start giving finance ministers a run for their money. The woeful state of national balance sheets will push risk-averse investors into highly rated companies like Microsoft and other cash-rich issuers best positioned to withstand uncertain times. Corporate bonds could prove more attractive than even top quality sovereigns.

Dec 22, 2011
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Missing at the New York Times – a dividend?

By Agnes Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The New York Times Co has regrouped since flirting with oblivion three years ago. The company looks ready for a deeper digital dive. But before it can take that plunge, the firm may need to pay its dues to its controlling family.
 
The Ochs-Sulzberger clan has stood by the Gray Lady in her time of need. But it has been nearly three years since the company paid a dividend – a flow that in 2007 poured nearly $25 million into the various family members’ coffers. The Times’ fortunes, though still challenging, have taken a turn for the better. It paid off an onerous $250 million loan ahead of schedule, shed assets like a stake in the Boston Red Sox, and plans to unload 16 regional newspapers.

Dec 13, 2011
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Morgan Stanley housecleaning will please Basel

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman’s settlement with bond insurer MBIA puts a big chunk of the financial crisis legacy behind the firm. At $1.8 billion, it doesn’t come cheap. But it puts the investment bank on the right track by boosting regulatory capital and tidying up a very messy second year for Gorman.

Dec 7, 2011
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Fed needs better PR on last-resort lending, too

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is working to improve its monetary policy communications. But its key role as a crisis lender is also now in the spotlight. Ben Bernanke’s Fed would get less flak if it managed this message better as well.

Nov 14, 2011
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IBM bet doesn’t mean Buffett’s tech spots changed

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Warren Buffett’s well-known aversion to tech stocks got Twitter feeds chirping about his disclosure on Monday that Berkshire Hathaway had amassed a $10.7 billion stake in IBM. But the move says more about the evolution of Big Blue’s investment profile than it does Buffett’s.

Nov 9, 2011
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U.S. money funds may not be players in next crisis

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

U.S. money market funds have played a supporting role in the euro zone crisis – they’re short-term lenders to European banks. Before that, they lent to the likes of Lehman Brothers. The regulators of the $2.5 trillion market, meanwhile, want to end the fiction that they are just rebadged savings accounts.