Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Ranbaxy sale shows risk in Japanese M&A adventures

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Daiichi Sankyo has just reminded corporate Japan of the dangers of overseas adventures. The drugmaker is handing control of its ailing Indian affiliate Ranbaxy to local rival Sun Pharmaceutical in a $3.2 billion deal. The investment has lost almost 40 percent of its value in six years.

It’s a timely reality check. When Daiichi bought 64 percent of Ranbaxy in 2008, it was in the vanguard of Japanese corporations expanding abroad, especially in emerging markets. Since then the Indian drugmaker has suffered one setback after another. U.S. regulators have banned products from four of its Indian plants, while the company admitted to lying about safety standards and paid a $500 million fine. The problems are still mounting: on Monday, Ranbaxy said it had received a subpoena from authorities in the U.S. state of New Jersey.

Ceding control to India’s Sun Pharma is probably the best option in the circumstances. Nevertheless, it’s a painful financial blow. The all-share deal values Daiichi’s stake at around 123 billion Indian rupees ($2.04 billion), 38 percent less than what it paid six years ago. The destruction of value is even more dramatic when measured in U.S. dollars. Daiichi has indemnified Sun Pharma against any costs arising from Ranbaxy’s latest subpoena, which means the bill could still rise further. And while Daiichi does get a 9 percent equity stake in the combined Indian company, recovering its original investment requires a dramatic revival.

from Lawrence Summers:

The right agenda for the IMF

The world’s finance ministers and central bank governors will gather in Washington this week for the twice yearly meetings of the International Monetary Fund. Though there will not be the sense of alarm that dominated these meetings after the financial crisis, the unfortunate reality is that the global economy’s medium-term prospects have not been so cloudy for a long time.

The IMF in its current World Economic Outlook essentially endorses the secular stagnation hypothesis -- noting that the real interest rate necessary to bring about enough demand for full employment has declined significantly and is likely to remain depressed for a substantial period. This is evident because inflation is well below target throughout the industrial world and is likely to decline further this year.

from Breakingviews:

Triple defence will shield Japan from tax burden

By Andy Mukherjee

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

If history is a reliable guide, the Japanese economy will wilt when the country raises its sales tax on April 1. When Japan last increased the levy in 1997, consumer spending collapsed. But the three-pronged defence Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is putting in place makes a repeat doubtful.

from Global Investing:

Asia’s path to prosperity and investment opportunities

Investors have been worried about the effect of a Chinese slowdown on Asian emerging markets, but the long-term growth story is still intact, according to specialist investment manager Matthews Asia.

Consumption is one of the key areas of growth. Illustrating the divergence of Asian economies and their path to prosperity, here's an interesting chart from Matthews which shows the standard of living of various Asian countries, expressed by applying Geary-Khamis dollars -- the concept of international dollars based on purchasing power parity -- to today's Japan.

from Breakingviews:

Japan stock market selloff is a temporary setback

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Japan’s stock market has suffered a temporary setback. The country’s equity indices have dropped more than 10 percent this year in local currency terms. With the central bank on standby for more easing, however, Japanese stocks should benefit from home support.

from MacroScope:

Putin welcomes Crimea in

Vladimir Putin has told Russia’s Duma that he has approved a draft treaty to bring Ukraine’s Crimea region into Russia and in doing so continues to turn a deaf ear to the West’s sanctions-backed plea to come to the negotiating table.

Overnight, Japan added its weight to the sanctions drive, suspending talks with Moscow on an investment pact and relaxation of visa requirements. EU and U.S. measures have targeted a relatively small number of Russians and Ukrainians but presumably there is scope to go considerably further, particularly if Putin decided to move into eastern Ukraine too.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Japan as the crisis next time

Which major economy is most likely to disappoint expectations this year, and perhaps even cause a financial crisis big enough to break the momentum of global economic recovery? The usual suspects are China and southern Europe. But in my view the most likely culprit will be Japan.

While Japan no longer attracts much attention these days, it is still the world’s third-largest economy, with a gross domestic product equal to France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal combined. Its industries still pose the main competitive challenge to U.S., European and Korean manufacturers, and its regional weight is still sufficient to trigger financial crises across the whole of Asia -- as it did in 1997.

from Breakingviews:

Japan index: Weak demand shows need for stimulus

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The Breakingviews Abenomics Index inched higher in January. But manufacturing stumbled, and the trade deficit zoomed, suggesting anaemic demand both at home and abroad. With wages subdued and sales taxes about to rise, the economy may need a fresh dose of monetary easing.

from Photographers' Blog:

Fukushima’s children

Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

By Toru Hanai

It will soon be the third anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I myself live in Tokyo, more than a three-hour drive away. Right after the disaster, I too bought bottled water both to drink and to use around the house. Now, however, I drink from the tap without thinking about it.

from Breakingviews:

Japan pension debate goes beyond bonds and stocks

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Japan’s pension reform debate is heating up. But it’s in danger of missing the wood for the trees.