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from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong protests lay minefield for business

By Una Galani

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

Hong Kong’s protesters have laid a minefield for big business. The city’s democracy debate is a deeply divisive issue. For companies, keeping quiet is less risky than expressing an opinion guaranteed to irk customers and staff or strain relations with Beijing. It’s even harder for individual employees who must tread a blurry line between free speech and corporate interests.

Before the movement took off a month ago, many business leaders were happy to predict that protests would bring chaos. The Big Four accounting firms even took out joint advertisements in local newspapers warning that disruption could shake Hong Kong’s position as an international financial center.

Now that activists are on the streets, silence is the preferred policy. Those companies that do speak out mostly take a conciliatory tone. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has called on protesters to go home. Jack Ma, chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, blamed dissatisfaction with the city’s huge wealth divide, but also warned protesters not to push too hard.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong protests reach polite impasse

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

The most surprising thing about Hong Kong’s pro-democracy campaigners is that they are still there. A month after a small group of students stormed a space outside the government’s head office, the protests now known as the “umbrella movement” have confounded predictions of chaos, apathy or a violent crackdown by China. Though a compromise on democratic reform remains as distant as ever, Hong Kong’s mostly civil activists have changed the city’s political geography for good.

from Breakingviews:

Missed stock connection hurts China’s reform drive

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

China’s financial reform drive has suffered another setback. A flagship scheme to link the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges has been delayed after regulators failed to approve it ahead of an expected launch on Oct. 27. The setback puts another question mark over why foreign investors would want to access China’s markets in the first place.

from Breakingviews:

China’s capital defences have sprung a major leak

By John Foley

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

China’s strict capital controls are designed to shield the economy from flighty foreign money. In practice, they haven’t stopped a tremendous build up of fickle cash from abroad. There’s enough to create a serious nuisance if it starts to flow the other way.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong tycoons can be part of protest solution

By Una Galani

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

Hong Kong’s tycoons could be part of ending the standoff with pro-democracy activists. The city’s business leaders have an outsize influence over local politics. Relaxing their grip on special corporate votes could ease divisions over electoral reform as well as tensions over rampant inequality.

from Global Investing:

Measuring political risk in emerging markets

(Corrects to say EI Sturdza is UK investment firm, not Swiss)

Commerzbank analyst Simon Quijano-Evans recently analysed credit ratings for emerging market countries and concluded that there is a strong tendency to "under-rate" emerging economies - that is they are generally rated lower than developed market "equals" that have similar profiles of debt, investment or reform. The reason, according to Quijano-Evans, is that ratings assessments tend to be "blurred by political risk which is difficult to quantify and is usually higher in the developing world compared with richer peers.

However there are some efforts to measure political risks, and unfortunately for emerging economies, some of those metrics seem to indicate that such risk is on the rise. Risk consultancy Maplecroft which compiles a civil unrest index (CUI), says street protests, ethnic violence and labour unrest are factors that have increased chances of business disruption in emerging markets by 20 percent over the past three months. Such unrest as in Hong Kong recently, can be sudden, causing headaches for business and denting economic growth, Maplecroft says. Hong Kong where mass pro-democracy protests in the city-state's central business district which shuttered big banks and triggered a 7 percent stock market plunge last month.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong weathers Occupy’s financial disruption

By Robyn Mak

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

Hong Kong’s economy is coping with pro-democracy protests, now heading into their third week. Some retailers and other businesses have suffered and traffic is bad, but the city’s financial system is undisturbed. A prolonged standoff between protesters and the government matters less to investors than the slowdown in consumption and spending in mainland China. Warnings that the movement would threaten Hong Kong’s financial health look misplaced.

from The Great Debate:

Why Hong Kong showdown could never have morphed into Tiananmen 2.0

rad -- alan chin

As pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong confronted police in the fumes of tear gas, the world looked on in admiration of their spirit and bravery and in fear of a possible crackdown.

Those who dreaded a Tiananmen-like scenario in Hong Kong can now breathe a sigh of relief. The standoff came to a peaceful end. But the protesters failed to achieve their basic goal -- reversing Beijing’s Aug. 31 decision to restrict elections to candidates the Chinese Communist Party approves of. They couldn’t even force the city’s chief executive, C.Y. Leung, to resign.

from Breakingviews:

Occupy misses real threats to Hong Kong’s future

By Robyn Mak

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

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement misses the real threats to Hong Kong’s future. While tens of thousands of protesters led by students have taken to the streets demanding electoral reform, most of the former British colony's 7.2 million residents have shied away. Universal suffrage deserves public support, but the gradual erosion of rule of law and free speech poses a greater threat to the city's prosperity. It’s unlikely these concerns can unite the region in open confrontation with Beijing.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong harmony hits Beijing’s worst fears

By John Foley

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

Protests often start out peaceful, then fizzle out, or descend into chaos. So far, Hong Kong is turning that playbook on its head. Demonstrators whose demands for democratic elections were met with tear gas and batons on Sept. 29 had, by the next day, settled into a kind of happy, harmonious state. For the authorities in Beijing, that’s potentially an even more nerve-jangling state of affairs.

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