May 26, 2014 07:16 UTC

U.S. firms get caught in China spying crossfire

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By Ethan Bilby

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

It’s almost a year since U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a cordial “shirt-sleeves summit”. When it comes to the two countries’ internet rivalry, however, bare knuckles have replaced bare forearms. Last week’s indictment by the United States of five Chinese army officers as alleged cyber spies has prompted a backlash against American companies. China’s weapon is shutting them out from future growth.

May 23, 2014 06:21 UTC

Unavoidable coup is awful for Thai economy

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Thailand’s latest military coup was probably unavoidable. But that doesn’t make it any more likely that an army takeover will heal the country’s deep-seated divisions. The increased risk of violent conflict leaves the economy, which contracted by 2.1 per cent in the first quarter, further adrift.

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May 22, 2014 06:37 UTC

JD.com wins rich price despite poor governance

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By Robyn Mak 

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

JD.com has achieved a rich price despite poor governance. China’s second largest e-commerce group priced its shares above the expected range on May 21, raising $1.8 billion. Investors in the initial public offering seem unfazed that the company just disclosed a 5.3 billion yuan ($849 million) loss in the first quarter of 2014, caused by a gift of stock to the company’s chief executive officer. Such a large and unexplained act of generosity should raise red flags.

May 21, 2014 18:43 UTC

Russia puts gas-hungry China in a bear hug

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

Russia has signed a long-awaited gas pipeline deal with China, and it leaves the People’s Republic in a bear hug. Russia gets a new market outside the increasingly frosty European Union. Oil major PetroChina gets to balance out some losses from low regulated prices at home. But the optics of the deal shred Beijing’s pretensions to political neutrality.

May 21, 2014 06:50 UTC

Chinese real estate is in real trouble

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By John Foley

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

China’s property market is built on a vicious triangle. There are three ways the pressures building in the real estate industry could show: shrinking investment, disappearing funding for developers, and lower prices. Though they’re all related, the effects and remedies are different.

May 20, 2014 06:08 UTC

Alibaba tries out role of the noble monopolist

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Alibaba is trying out a new role: the noble monopolist. With an apparent 84 percent share of online consumer goods spending, it effectively owns the country’s Internet shoppers. Its payment affiliate is the biggest game in town. Both are attractions for its upcoming initial public offering. Alibaba’s long-term challenge is to keep showing that dominance helps the market rather than restricts it.

May 16, 2014 05:56 UTC

Asia can give the West a bubble-popping lecture

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

It’s time for Asian regulators to give the West a lecture on popping financial bubbles. Policymakers in the United States and Europe have spent the past few years earnestly debating new methods to smooth out the ups and downs in economic cycles. They should pay more attention to Asia’s experience.

May 15, 2014 13:39 UTC

Good German growth covers up bad economic policies

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Germany’s pleasant growth surprise comes with a hidden cost. The stronger-than-expected upswing allows Angela Merkel, the chancellor, to carry on with some misguided policies.

May 15, 2014 05:53 UTC

CITIC goes slowly on reform with $5.1 bln placing

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By Una Galani 

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

CITIC Pacific is going slow on reform with its $5.1 billion placing. The Chinese group’s Hong Kong subsidiary will sell new shares to 15 investors as part of a union with its state-owned conglomerate parent. The placing allows CITIC Pacific to keep its stock market listing. Yet most of the money is coming from buyers also backed by the Chinese government. A deeper overhaul of state firms looks a way off.

May 14, 2014 20:30 UTC

What Lagarde should’ve told Smith College’s grads

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By Christopher Swann and Rob Cox
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde wimped out of speaking at Smith College’s commencement after a student petition accused the fund of supporting “patriarchal systems.” The fund has made many mistakes over the years. But that critique is mostly old hat. The IMF, particularly under Lagarde, has fostered social spending and championed female rights. Here’s what she ought to have told the 672 women graduating from the university in Northampton, Massachusetts on May 18.