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from Breakingviews:

Loeb wrestles Sotheby’s over new art paradigm

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By Richard Beales
Thea author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dan Loeb is wrestling Sotheby’s over a new art paradigm. The Third Point founder reckons, essentially, that the listed auctioneer should be more like privately held arch-rival Christie’s. The $3.5 billion Sotheby’s, whose stock is up more than 40 percent over the past year, is hardly a basket-case. Its total auction sales increased 19 percent in 2013 to top $5 billion, outgrowing the larger Christie’s. Unusually for an activist investor – typically an analytical breed focused on the here and now – Loeb’s main beef with the company seems to be over the direction and pace of broad art market trends.

Sotheby’s boss Bill Ruprecht has promised to reveal the results of a strategic self-examination soon. Aside from overdone barbs about the chief executive in the letter Loeb sent the company in October, the hedge fund boss raised questions about the performance of Sotheby’s in the contemporary category, in its embrace of the internet, and in its international strategy.

The debate is really over shifts in the market. There was a time when long-established rivals Christie’s and Sotheby’s knew that their well-connected senior people only needed to move in the right circles in London, New York and other Western capitals and they would regularly cross paths with the customers who really mattered – a few big Western collectors and art dealers. No longer.

from Breakingviews:

China’s capital flight may be banks’ next headache

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Western banks’ next regulatory headache could be made in China. Most of the recent scrutiny of financial institutions’ business practices has come from the developed world – particularly the United States. But as Chinese citizens become more aware of the offshore wealth held by the country’s elites, banks are increasingly at risk of a regulatory backlash.

from Breakingviews:

China’s growth slower but no more believable

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By John Foley

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

China’s GDP growth may be getting more sustainable, but it’s no more believable. The country’s 31 provinces are on course to report aggregate nominal GDP far in excess of the total central figure for 2013 – and not for the first time. Big numbers are getting less reliable, which strengthens the case for new ones.

from Breakingviews:

Quitting China is all about knowing how to go

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By Ethan Bilby

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

An increasing number of foreign businesses are folding their tents in China. Multinationals used to be desperate to get into the People’s Republic. Now, as easy growth vanishes, leaving China is becoming less unusual. While some have kept a foot in the door, others have made a show of slamming it.

from Breakingviews:

China trust default is least painful option

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By John Foley

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

Much about China’s financial system is fuzzy, particularly when it comes to so-called trust companies. But when push comes to shove the case for letting an investment product fail is pretty clear.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong can’t build away high house prices

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s plan to cool an overheated housing market by increasing supply sounds like repeating past mistakes. Even if the territory is able to boost construction as much as it intends, the expansion is modest. Property prices remain at the mercy of external forces.

from Breakingviews:

Another reason to be gloomy about emerging markets

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Investors have another reason to wrinkle their noses at emerging economies: fading labour productivity.

from Breakingviews:

Coal typifies China’s reform: it’s hard and dirty

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By John Foley 

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

Coal is much like China’s reform challenge: hard and dirty. Even as politicians fret about the country’s chronic smog, they approved 100 million tonnes of new mining capacity in 2013, six times the amount for the previous year. That will add to the 300 million tonnes or so already due to come on stream in 2014. The habit is proving difficult to kick.

from Breakingviews:

China still means the world to car makers

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By Ethan Bilby

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

China loves to do things big, and that includes buying cars. The country accounted for 85 percent of the expansion in the global automobile market last year. China’s growth may down-shift to 10 percent this year, according to consultancy IHS, as top cities introduce caps on new car-buying. Even then, it remains the world’s most important car market.

from The Great Debate:

Where does Britain stand in the global economic race?

Following the international financial crisis of the late 2000s, the world’s financial leaders have been working towards a standardized banking system that will strengthen banks at an individual level, and thus improve the banking sector’s ability to survive stress when it occurs.

In 2010 the Basel Committee produced a third accord outlining a set of regulations, with the goal of solving the banking system's ongoing problems. Since then the conversation has yet to cease over whether enough has been done, since the peak of the crisis in 2008, to ensure a stable financial environment that supports growth on an international scale.

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