Aug 20, 2014 14:26 UTC

U.S. farm credit looks safer than houses

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By Daniel Indiviglio and Kevin Allison

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. 

The $200 billion-plus U.S. farm credit system looks safer than houses. Washington’s implicitly backstopped agricultural lending complex resembles its ill-fated housing finance counterpart in some ways, complete with a rural equivalent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That’s cause enough to scrutinize Washington’s little-known farm lending apparatus. But despite a hot land market, the system looks ruggedly capitalized enough to avoid a similar fate.

Aug 20, 2014 05:44 UTC

Fed adds urgency to Indonesia’s fuel reform test

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By Andy Mukherjee 

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

The U.S. Federal Reserve is adding urgency to Indonesian President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first big test: Rethinking the country’s massive energy subsidies.

Aug 19, 2014 06:18 UTC

Sinopec petrol sale attracts a motley bunch

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Sinopec’s petrol station stake sale could drum up a mixed bunch. The Chinese oil giant is seeking investors to help develop Sinopec Sales, which operates its vast network of filling stations. Prospective buyers from food retail, energy, technology and private equity have been shortlisted, according to Reuters. But the price tag of around $16 billion for a 30 percent stake could force them to club together.

Aug 18, 2014 10:54 UTC

German yield curve is the safest one to play

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By Swaha Pattanaik

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

 Bull flattening may sound like an exotic, and rather cruel, sport, but for today’s bond investor, it describes an investment opportunity. Some juicy bear flattening is also available, although it comes with somewhat more risk.

Aug 18, 2014 06:02 UTC

Fear is key to Ebola’s economic contagion

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By Una Galani

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

Fear is key to the economic contagion of Ebola. The gruesome disease that has claimed 1,145 lives in parts of Africa has yet to travel beyond that region’s borders. But Asia’s crisis with severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 showed what might happen if it does. Changes to behaviour hurt growth and productivity more than the actual disease.

Aug 15, 2014 06:28 UTC

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

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By John Foley 

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

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

Aug 14, 2014 10:47 UTC

Holiday email embargo a must-have, not an opt-in

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By George Hay

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

Daimler wants to stop email ruining the holidays of its 275,000 employees. So the German carmaker is giving them the right to have all messages received during vacation automatically re-routed, with the sender warned to try again later. In this case, choice may not be the best policy.

Aug 14, 2014 07:20 UTC

China data puts economists to the Rorschach test

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By John Foley 

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

Is China’s economy stable or stuttering? Swings in credit and investment reflected in data released on Aug. 13 support conflicting views. Broadly, things look on track. But uncertainty can be damaging if it undermines the confidence of the people who matter most: consumers and depositors.

Aug 13, 2014 07:19 UTC

Japan’s GDP sacrifice is price well paid

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By Andy Mukherjee 

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

Japan’s GDP sacrifice is a fair price for much-needed fiscal correction.

The country’s output plunged an annualized 6.8 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, according to the Cabinet Office’s preliminary reading. The decline, which stock market investors had expected and therefore largely ignored, was a direct consequence of the April 1 hike in Japan’s sales tax, the first since 1997. Raising the levy by 3 percentage points prompted households to curb spending by a massive 19 percent.

Aug 12, 2014 13:47 UTC

German stocks price in sanctions tail-risk

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

The German economic mini-miracle is on hold. Thursday’s announcement of second quarter GDP, which was not affected by Russian trade hostilities, will probably show a decline from the weather-boosted beginning of the year. Investors are looking for worse. The 8.7 percent drop in the DAX stock index since July 3 puts it among the worst performers of major European stock markets.