Solar upstarts and utilities head for uneasy truce

December 16, 2014

The soaring popularity of solar panels in the U.S. cuts carbon emissions but upsets utilities trying to make a return on grid investments. The industry’s attempts to slap fees on solar users sparked uproar in 2014. A new cost-sharing approach may take the heat out of the debate.

Review: “Forgotten Depression” worth remembering

December 12, 2014

James Grant’s new book on the U.S. government’s response to the 1921 crash is a timely reminder that our forebears knew of other, apparently more efficacious, remedies to cure financial hangovers than the hair of the dog.

Yellen should gird for activist investors

By Rob Cox
December 9, 2014

Uppity shareholders have so far avoided complex banks like Citi and JPMorgan. Regulatory pressure, middling performance and a dearth of large-cap options make them increasingly attractive for shakeup artists. That may put Fed Chair Janet Yellen in a new, uncomfortable position.

Cramer’s mad money: fair game for fellow blowhard

December 4, 2014

Acerbic activist Carlo Cannell wants the CNBC stockpicker and founder of TheStreet to sell his company or take a big pay cut and quit TV. Selling the online tipsheet firm may be wishful thinking. But Cramer’s take, at 14 pct of revenue, is as crazy as the name of his cable show.

Wall Street in grip of Geithner nostalgia

By Rob Cox
December 2, 2014

When the former U.S. Treasury boss made a surprise visit to a recent gathering of bank CEOs, the warm welcome he received could be misinterpreted as appreciation for an old softy. In fact, it was recognition that the current regime doesn’t have its heart in financial regulation.

India may boast world’s steepest rate cuts in 2015

December 2, 2014

The Reserve Bank resisted strong pressure from the government to start cutting interest rates from their current 8 percent. Governor Raghuram Rajan wants more proof of correction and disinflation. It may be a short wait. A weak economy urgently needs lower borrowing costs.

Review: The shirk ethic – a user’s guide

November 28, 2014

Work can be seen as a blessing or a curse. In “Empty Labor,” Roland Paulsen examines people who take mostly the latter view, asking how and why they shirk, and whether it’s always a bad thing. His study of idleness on the job is enlightening, amusing and sad.

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

Not long ago an overheating housing market was seen by many as the big UK danger. Now mortgage approvals are dropping and house inflation is easing – even though mortgages are getting cheaper. Tighter home-loan regulation is a factor. Workers’ low earnings are the main restraint.

American banking has its own Tea Party

By Rob Cox
November 25, 2014

Like the anti-establishment wing of the GOP, the Independent Community Bankers of America has emerged as a highly vocal opponent of all things Wall Street, including a Lazard banker’s nomination for a Treasury role. These are the plaintive cries of a dying breed of banker.

Brazil’s epic water crisis a global wake-up call

November 24, 2014

Sao Paulo, a city of 20 mln, is running out of H2O thanks to creaky infrastructure, political battles, a record drought and Amazon deforestation. The humanitarian and economic cost would be immense if supplies dried up. The fiasco should drive other metropolises to action.