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from Hugo Dixon:

How Greece can turn vice to virtue

Most Greeks know the expression vicious cycle – or favlos kyklos. But when you ask them the Greek for virtuous cycle, they often struggle to find the term, or even deny it exists.

After six years of recession that have shrunk the economy by a quarter and left Greece with an unemployment rate of 27 percent, it is not surprising that vicious cycles loom large in the national psyche. But there is a Greek expression for virtuous cycle – enaretos kyklos – and the country may be beginning to enjoy one.

Athens returned to the bond market last week with the issue of 3 billion euros of five-year paper. The country’s banks are also able to raise equity on the market.

The challenge now is to take this positive momentum in financial markets and use it to build on the tentative signs of recovery in the real economy. Confidence can be infectious. It is not just financial investors who are giving Athens the thumbs-up. So are Greece’s euro zone partners, led by Germany’s Angela Merkel, who was in Athens last Friday.

from Breakingviews:

Anadarko’s $5.1 bln settlement adds up in market

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

Stock investors seem to have a firm grip on Anadarko Petroleum’s toxic waste settlement. The record $5.15 billion settlement on Thursday, covering years of environmental claims, was at the low end of a court-defined range which had a midpoint of $9.8 billion. The 15 percent jump in the oil company’s market capitalization is mostly explained by those numbers. And it brings Anadarko’s 12-month stock performance nearly back in line with the S&P 500 after a bumpy ride.

from Breakingviews:

GM can find small comfort in Toyota’s ride

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

General Motors can find some small comfort in Toyota’s recall ride. Before Chief Executive Mary Barra was hauled up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the U.S. automaker summoned more vehicles back into the shop and doubled the estimated cost of fixing safety issues in the first quarter. Toyota’s expensive accelerator fiasco suggests GM’s costs will probably rise from here, but ultimately the financial fallout should be manageable. Culture may be the harder repair.

from Breakingviews:

Official attention will make or break bitcoin

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

Official attention will make or break bitcoin. Scrutiny from tax authorities like the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and financial regulators around the world may deter off-the-grid types from using the digital money. Yet interest from investors and even creators of derivatives could start drawing bitcoin into the mainstream.

from Breakingviews:

UK’s political budget transfers from young to old

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By Ian Campbell

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

George Osborne claimed to have a big white rabbit up his sleeve. It turned out the UK chancellor had hidden a cuddly toy for pensioners. Osborne is running the budget for both the economy and the election.

from Breakingviews:

Smartest U.S. export to China could be Max Baucus

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

Uncle Sam's new man in China arrives just as his employer seems to have lost interest in its biggest trading partner. Max Baucus, who starts as ambassador to Beijing this month, has little experience of China and even less of diplomacy. Yet used wisely by his bosses, Baucus may be well placed to prize open new trade agreements that would leave both sides better off.

from Breakingviews:

Fannie investors may be using magic calculators

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

Fannie Mae investors may be using magic calculators. With the latest reform blueprint taking shape in the U.S. Senate, hedge funds like Fairholme Capital Management have urged Washington to revitalize Fannie, the mortgage finance giant, which along with Freddie Mac was kept alive with nearly $190 billion of taxpayer cash in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The prospect has pushed up the price of Fannie’s preferred stock more than 10-fold in 18 months. But according to a Breakingviews analysis, even cheerful assumptions suggest Fannie’s business isn’t worth enough for shareholders to get much if anything back.

from Breakingviews:

Detroit turns bankruptcy precedents upside down

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

Bondholders in Detroit’s $18 billion bankruptcy must feel like they’re in a mirror universe. A restructuring plan filed by the city’s emergency manager would effectively turn bankruptcy precedents upside down by paying equity holders – in this case, ordinary Detroiters – at the expense of secured creditors. Such a shareholder-friendly approach might save the city and anoint Judge Steven Rhodes a hometown hero. But it may yet come at a market price.

from Breakingviews:

Italy’s Renzi off to a bad start

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By Neil Unmack

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

Matteo Renzi has been forced to amend his electoral reform. The result could mean that Italy will remain ungovernable. The new prime minister’s hand is weaker, even though the risk of early elections has subsided. And serious economic reforms will be harder.

from Breakingviews:

Italy’s Renzi has big dreams and small mandate

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By Neil Unmack

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

Italy’s new prime minister has big dreams and a small mandate. Matteo Renzi has announced ambitious reforms on a tight deadline. But his position in parliament is weaker than even his sleepy predecessor’s.

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