Breakingviews

Chancellor: Zero-coupon bonds are not a joke

August 26, 2016

On April Fools' 10 years ago Breakingviews suggested Washington fund itself with perpetual bonds paying no interest. The idea is now being seriously touted by some monetary policymakers. For households with cash and other assets that would evaporate, this is no laughing matter.

Apollo wagers $4.3 bln on Amazonian capitulation

August 26, 2016

Leon Black's private-equity firm is taking Rackspace private as the cloud-computing firm has struggled to compete against Amazon, Microsoft and other tech heavyweights. If Rackspace's strategic shift to sell services on these platforms succeeds, Apollo will have a nice payday.

Burkinis oust economics in French identity tussle

August 26, 2016

A ferocious debate over bans on full-body swimwear sounds like pre-election posturing, but is more than that. France is less and less able to hang its identity on a unique economic and social model. As a result, the battleground is shifting to its deep-seated secular tradition.

EU offers vitamin pill to dying media patient

August 26, 2016

Brussels wants to give media the right to seek compensation from search engines like Google that use online content. The intention is laudable - some publishers may be losing out. But the proposal has similarities with schemes in Germany and Spain - which haven’t worked.

China’s big banks enjoy calm before the storm

August 26, 2016

Net profits at CCB and BoCom are stable, as are bad-loan ratios: a pleasant surprise given the wider backdrop. This partly reflects a growing gulf in asset quality between large banks and their smaller peers. The giants are probably also putting off recognising bad debts.

New planet may help Silicon Valley live its cliché

August 25, 2016

Proxima b, the just-spotted Earth-like body in the star system nearest the sun, could be reached in 20 years by a super-fast spacecraft being financed by tech titan Yuri Milner. Making our world a better place is a startup bromide. Visiting another would deliver on the promise.

U.S. labor unions look increasingly white collar

August 25, 2016

A ruling that lets Ivy League graduate students organize will add to the growing share of cubicle-dwellers in the union movement. Education is one of the few sectors in which membership is increasing, albeit from a low base. The blue-collar stereotype is slowly fading away.

Mylan injects adrenaline into healthcare debate

August 25, 2016

The EpiPen maker bowed to political pressure by offering discounts for its allergy treatment. The complex and opaque U.S. healthcare system may encourage high prices, but also doesn't force the likes of Mylan to jack them up. This episode does more to expose flaws than fix them.

Iconoclasts needed to topple central bank targets

August 25, 2016

A reboot of global monetary policymaking is the best thing that could emerge from rate-setters’ annual Jackson Hole shindig. An overhaul is pressing as reality upends more and more economic orthodoxies. Ditching simplistic and discredited inflation targets would be a good start.

Hong Kong’s cornerstone problem goes postal

August 25, 2016

Postal Savings Bank of China may sell as much as 80 pct of its $8 bln share offering to cornerstone investors. One unlikely ally, a big state shipbuilder, is already down for $2 bln. This is fresh evidence, on an epic scale, of how Hong Kong's IPO crown is thoroughly undeserved.