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from Breakingviews:

The perks and pitfalls of depending on Jack Ma

By John Foley 

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

Buy a share in Alibaba and you place your trust in Jack Ma. The Chinese e-commerce giant’s founder, executive chairman and spiritual sultan will remain a controlling force even after the company completes its massive initial public offering later this year. The $100 billion-plus question for prospective shareholders is whether they can depend on him to always act in their best interests.

Given Alibaba’s success, the question may sound absurd. Under Ma’s leadership, the Hangzhou-based retail marketplace has grown into a colossus. Almost 85 percent of China’s e-commerce activity passes through its Taobao and Tmall platforms. Revenue in the first quarter of 2014 increased 39 percent to 9.4 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). When the long-awaited IPO debuts in September, it could be one of the largest ever, likely surpassing the $16 billion raised by Facebook in 2012.

But the company and Ma are at a turning point. After years of expanding its market share, Alibaba is now under attack from Chinese rivals like JD.com, which resembles Amazon. The group is straying into new areas from mobile messaging and maps to cable TV and football. It has spent at least $7.3 billion on acquisitions since January 2014. What Alibaba’s leader does next is integral to the company’s value.

from Ian Bremmer:

World Cup chants reveal true state of U.S.-German relations

 Germany's national soccer players acknowledge their fans after their win over the U.S. at the end of their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Pernambuco arena in Recife

As Germany basks in its World Cup victory, it’s easy to forget that one of the most telling geopolitical moments of the tournament came during the Germany-U.S. game. As American fans chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” the Germans countered with, “N-S-A! N-S-A! N-S-A!”

In the weeks since, relations have crumbled. After it learned that a German intelligence officer allegedly spied for the United States, Germany expelled the CIA station chief in Berlin -- a rare move by a close American ally.

from Breakingviews:

Asia’s solid exterior hides internal weakness

By Andy Mukherjee 

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

Asian economies are becoming more resilient externally, but sputtering economic growth is weakening them from within.

from MacroScope:

Tight consensus on China’s growth rate not reflecting real range of opinion

AChina’s economy, even to a non-specialist given a few minutes to stop and think, is clearly extremely difficult to measure.

When your population is 1.4 billion and you are in the midst of an unprecedented government and credit-fuelled expansion in infrastructure on your way to developed economy status, there are plenty of things that may get overlooked.

from Breakingviews:

China’s “De-IOE” campaign takes a bite out of tech

By Rob Cyran 

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

China’s “De-IOE” campaign is taking a bite out of some Silicon Valley stalwarts. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s being used by tech executives to describe Beijing’s nudging of state enterprises to wean themselves off U.S. software and service firms, chiefly IBM, Oracle and EMC. The drive, which has been going on for at least a year, but accelerated after Washington indicted Chinese army officials, has dimmed the brightest star in Big Tech’s otherwise dull constellation.

from Breakingviews:

As KFC doubles down in China, will profits roost elsewhere?

By Rob Cox

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

A year after the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989, Tiananmen Square was a preternaturally quiet place. Unlike the heart of Beijing today, bicycles and pigeons outnumbered cars and people. The only exception to the calm was a bustling corner near the square: the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.

from Global Investing:

Emerging markets; turning a corner

Emerging markets have been attracting healthy investment flows into their stock and bond markets for much of this year and now data compiled by consultancy CrossBorder Capital shows the sector may be on the cusp of decisively turning the corner.

CrossBorder and its managing director Michael Howell say their Global Liquidity Index (GLI) -- a measure of money flows through world markets -- showed the sharpest improvement in almost three years in June across emerging markets. That was down to substantially looser policy by central banks in India, China and others that Howell says has moved these economies "into a rebound phase".

from Breakingviews:

China’s corruption purge nears tricky second phase

By John Foley 

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

China is entering the second stage of its colossal fight against graft. Nabbing high-profile culprits was a good start. Now, other miscreants have to believe the same could happen to them. Finally, the rewards for good behaviour must be made comparable to the spoils of wickedness. From here, things get tougher.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Nothing pacific about it: Japan pushes back on China

Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne troops stand at attention during the annual SDF troop review ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka

China is on the march. Or, to be precise, China has made a strong push, militarily and otherwise, into seas nearby, setting off alarms among its neighbors. Now Japan has pushed back, announcing it will “reinterpret” its pacifist constitution so it can be more militarily aggressive in responding to China’s persistent territorial expansionism.

Japan’s actions, however, have also raised alarms. A century ago, Japan set out on a destructive path of conquest, and many still remember firsthand the brutality with which Japanese troops occupied the region -- from Korea and the Philippines, through Manchuria and China, Vietnam and Thailand, all the way to Singapore. Though China is now threatening peace, the memory of Japan’s savage adventurism adds to the general unease.

from Breakingviews:

WH Group’s revived IPO shows one lesson learnt

By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s revived initial public offering shows it has learnt at least one lesson. After an attempt to sell shares two months ago ended in disaster, the Chinese pork producer has returned, cheaper and with fewer banks working on the deal. But it’s not clear why it is rushing back to market at all.

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