Breakingviews

Bill Ackman’s plate-spinning act gets dangerous

August 13, 2013

The activist hedge fund boss is always ready for a fight – just maybe not so many at once. Ackman is embarking on a campaign at Air Products even amid high-profile tussles at P&G, Herbalife and beyond. Resigning from the J.C. Penney board is prudent for more reasons than one.

Is Ben Bernanke wrong, or is QE impotent?

June 25, 2013

Investors are upset, but why? They might just be “feral hogs”, trying to scare the Fed into abandoning plans to tighten money. They might fear tightening now will stop a weak recovery. Or maybe they think central banks don’t have “whatever it takes” to help the economy.

Bernanke should be international man of mystery

June 20, 2013

The Fed chairman has embraced a far more communicative approach than his predecessors. The benefits, however, aren’t obvious. Based on the latest reaction in the markets, investors are parsing his comments as much as they did Alan Greenspan’s. Maybe fewer words would say more.

New York watchdog protests too much over insurance

June 12, 2013

The state’s brash financial regulator rubbed fellow overseers the wrong way over Standard Chartered. Now he risks doing the same for insurers. His capital-inflation beefs are legitimate, but other U.S. regulators are on the case. What’s needed is coordination, not a vigilante.

Fed generates the wealth, but where’s the effect?

May 31, 2013

Americans’ private worth grew twice as fast as the U.S. economy last year, due largely to the rise in stocks and other financial assets. They can thank Ben Bernanke for that. Consumers aren’t, however, rushing to spend their gains. It’s another reason to question Fed policy.

GE Capital chief exit puts spotlight on Immelt

May 30, 2013

Michael Neal may be leaving after eight years running the erstwhile high-flying lending unit. He got GE Capital back in shape after the financial crisis, but it’s no longer the company’s key division. Neal’s departure raises the question of who will succeed GE boss Jeff Immelt.

Rumors of credit bubble only partially exaggerated

May 28, 2013

Some risky forms of debt have made a dramatic comeback, but few investors seem panicked that another credit crisis is about to erupt. Breakingviews offers its own bubble-meter for the credit market. The reading: frothy, but not yet in the danger zone.

Pyrrhic victory for Dimon is defeat for governance

May 21, 2013

JPMorgan chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon spent months focused on preserving a title when he should have been totally dedicated to running the largest U.S. bank. The episode perfectly illustrates the common sense behind separating the chairman and CEO roles.

Exchange-traded funds add to gold’s gyrations

April 16, 2013

The yellow metal’s swift decline has left investors breathless. Though it’s not clear what sparked the selloff, stock-like ETFs which helped inflate the gold bubble have added to the selling pressure. It’s a reminder there’s a dark side to making illiquid assets easier to trade.

U.S. auto sales put brakes on economy’s detractors

April 3, 2013

Americans are buying more cars. Cheap loans and pent-up demand are factors. But so is the housing recovery. That and other economic data suggest consumers are looking beyond slimmer paychecks. Federal spending cuts allowing, that means the U.S. engine may be about to purr.