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from Breakingviews:

London real estate at an inflection point

By George Hay

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

Most real estate valuers in London think property prices in the UK capital are about to fall. That prediction has been easy to make and easier to get wrong in the last five years. This time, the evidence that global investors’ favourite housing market has peaked is looking credible.

House prices in London as a whole are still rising on a monthly and annual basis, and are 20 percent more expensive than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. But there is stasis in the process upstream. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest monthly survey shows a sharp dip in those wanting to buy in London, and an even sharper jump in those keen to sell.

Monthly sales volumes are off 17 percent in Greater London since December, says the Land Registry. A small majority of RICS’ members now expect values in the city to fall in sympathy.

from Photographers' Blog:

The world’s best commute?

London, United Kingdom

By Toby Melville

As a Reuters Photographer based in London, an average commute to my first assignment of the day – normally covering either a political or business story in the city centre – would take roughly an hour. That’s 60 minutes, to drive all of 8 miles.

These commutes take place in the morning rush hour, when I find myself bumper-to-bumper with thousands of other short-tempered drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, buses and taxis. And I do this journey while trying to get to my first job, usually in a state of tension and anxiety...

from Photographers' Blog:

City Slickers

London, Britain

By Eddie Keogh

The beast that is Canary Wharf underground station spits out its batch of workers every morning and swallows them up again every evening, Monday to Friday.

The relentless cycle never seems to change for the financial markets’ suited workers, who return every day, smartphone in hand. They are concentrating on their emails – the oxygen of business.

from Photographers' Blog:

Morning Glory

London, Britain

By Andrew Winning

Morning Glory is the antidote to a room full of rowdy, drunken party-animals lurching out of step to booming dance music. Here, sleepy-eyed clubbers queue up quietly in the early morning, some still in their pyjamas and dressing gowns, before filing into the venue.

Others wearing fancy dress stretch and warm up as they try to generate some enthusiasm in the pre-dawn gloom. Once inside the venue, patrons pick up a coffee or a smoothie, maybe do a little yoga or have a massage before the music draws them onto the dance floor.

from Breakingviews:

ICBC takes slow-burn approach to global expansion

By John Foley

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

ICBC’s purchase of Standard Bank’s UK trading division has moved at a glacial pace, and gives rivals little to fear. That’s the best sign that China’s largest lender knows what it’s doing.

from Breakingviews:

Who’s next for Boris Bikes? Co-op? Wonga?

By Quentin Webb

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

 

Memo, Dec. 13 2013

Status: Confidential

To: Mayor Boris Johnson

From: Blue Sky Thinking Department

Subject: Candidates for Cycle Hire Scheme

 

Dear Boris,

As requested – a list of potential replacements for the cycle hire scheme, which seems to have no place in Antony Jenkins’ cuddly new Barclays. No matter. There are many impressive potential candidates out there.

from MacroScope:

The big questions on the UK housing market: what the analysts say

Although UK house prices will head steadily higher in the next two years, analysts polled by Reuters are divided over whether the Bank of England can restrain the market if it overheats. Here's what they said in the latest Reuters poll, taken this week: How confident are you in the BoE's ability to moderate the housing market if necessary?

PETER DIXON, COMMERZBANK: "Not very. A cynical interpretation would be that the government wants to see a decent rise in house prices over the next couple of years and would not be best pleased to see the BoE take the steam out of it. Nor is it clear that the BoE has the policy instruments to target the housing market without causing collateral damage elsewhere in the economy. Finally, it would call into question the thrust of policy if Help to Buy is giving to the housing market with one hand whilst the BoE is taking away with another."

from India Insight:

Rupee spoils holidays abroad for Indians, but not for all

With the rupee hovering near a record low, Indian tourists would be tempted to give foreign shores a miss this year. But staying home is not an option for Harsh Chadha, a multinational executive just back from a three-week family vacation in the UK.

Chadha, 35, is part of India’s growing elite, whose trips abroad are not affected by the vagaries of the currency market.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Lessons of the London butchers

The sickening scene from Britain of a blood-spattered man spouting Islamist hatred, who had just beheaded an off-duty British soldier in broad daylight, sends shivers down the spine. Is this the face of modern terrorism? If so, is no one safe anymore?

After the initial horror at the barbaric butchery on a leafy London street come questions about our attempts to prevent terrorism. Eleven years on from the attacks of September 11, we are still left grappling with some basic questions: What exactly is terrorism? And what can we do, if anything, to prevent it?

from Global Investing:

China data: Lessons from Yongzheng

 Is China's data reliable? With official figures showing the Chinese economy grew by 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013, a so-called slowdown or 'soft patch' in the Chinese economy has concerned some marketeers. Whether gross-domestic-product calculations involve macro data or micro data, the overall picture is not so clear, though some say a focus on regional numbers, cement, oil and gas usage would help complement official statistics. Kang Qu, assistant vice president of research at the Bank of China, said at a panel discussion earlier this week organised by the centre for the study of financial innovation, and supported by NowCasting, on calculating official Chinese data there is not so much government focus as in other countries on business confidence indicators but more on GDP prints, which are still under some doubt:
This is a reference when the People's Bank of China makes big decisions.
Difficulty in collating accurate data is perhaps not so surprising, given the rapid urbanisation of the world's second largest economy. Off-beat labour statistics (employing dissimilar methodology to the ILO) are partly skewed due to a large number of temporary registrants that slip the official statistics net. The solution? Jinny Lin at Standard Chartered, who thinks China's real GDP level is more likely around 5.5 percent, suggested this could be taken from the history books. Emperor Yongzheng, China's ruler in the late Qing dynasty, set up an independent body to look at data at the local level, and successfully stemmed tax evasion.

If local data is reliable enough, we should use local data.

photo

Source: Flikr creative commons

Problems are found at a local level too, however. While the current system sets local government officials' bonuses for better GDP growth, there is no penalty for supplying incorrect data, neither are local government officials assessed on the jobs they create but via a points system. Instead local governments have 'soft' and 'hard' targets to attain, according to the panellists, some of which include environmental targets.

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