Breakingviews

HSBC revival overshadowed by existential questions

May 5, 2015

Better investment banking revenue and fewer bad loans boosted the $194 bln bank’s quarterly results. That’s a welcome respite from the Swiss tax furore. Still, long-term fortunes rest on decisions about its shape, head office location and UK business. None will be resolved soon.

Hedge fund pay hauls a political-financial shame

By Edward Hadas
May 5, 2015

The top 25 managers took in $11.6 bln last year, Alpha magazine calculates. If these rewards were for building a stronger economy, the 0.001 percent’s political clout might still be troubling. But such gains for largely mediocre performance in secondary markets are shocking.

UBS pulls ahead of both activist and rivals

May 5, 2015

The Swiss lender’s Q1 profit leapt 88 pct to 2 bln francs. A strong return at the leaner investment banking unit further discredits Knight Vinke’s case for an exit. And with better capital ratios on both main metrics, UBS is piling pressure on less decisive competitors.

China’s investment bank wannabes face long march

May 5, 2015

Haitong Securities plans to hire hundreds of international bankers. Citic is touting its Asian network. Cross-border capital flows and pumped-up valuations help the push. But even if Chinese firms avoid previous upstarts’ mistakes, the challenges are big and the rewards distant.

Mylan may have found cure for the common conflict

May 4, 2015

The drugmaker sued its former lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis for advising Teva on its $40 bln hostile bid to buy the company. The attorneys say Mylan agreed, but a court may finally rule such waivers unethical. Even better would be if the case emboldens clients to stop signing them.

Buffett makes golden case for Teflon force field

May 4, 2015

At a 50th anniversary Woodstock for Capitalism celebration, the Oracle of Omaha easily parried queries and concerns about Coke, IBM, NetJets and more. While Berkshire Hathaway will one day miss Buffett’s investing nous, his human shield powers may be his most undervalued quality.

UK politics is failing the trust test

By Hugo Dixon
May 4, 2015

In the run-up to the May 7 election, the public has lambasted leaders of the established parties for breaking promises and lack of candour. While the critique is healthy, Britain has yet to give birth to leaders who score high on integrity. This is needed, not just in the UK.

India’s aborted central bank plan has few mourners

May 4, 2015

The government has withdrawn a proposal to curb the Reserve Bank of India’s sway over the bond market. It’s a welcome retreat. Retrospective taxes on foreign investors have already dented confidence. Clipping the wings of a well-functioning regulator would have caused more alarm.

Elon Musk plugs Tesla valuation into the grid

May 1, 2015

The Silicon Valley billionaire’s new home battery system is, like his electric cars, too pricey for many. But if costs keep falling, Tesla’s Gigafactory runs smoothly and the solar market expands, shareholders may find there’s more spark in batteries than vehicles.

Review: Hank Paulson’s kiss-and-don’t-tell China guide

May 1, 2015

The former U.S. Treasury secretary paints a world where noble Chinese officials beg straight-talking American bankers to help get their finances in order. Some things have changed. What hasn’t is that contacts are everything, and that killer details are always left unspoken.