Mar 31, 2014 06:04 UTC

Triple defence will shield Japan from tax burden

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

If history is a reliable guide, the Japanese economy will wilt when the country raises its sales tax on April 1. When Japan last increased the levy in 1997, consumer spending collapsed. But the three-pronged defence Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is putting in place makes a repeat doubtful.

Mar 28, 2014 18:26 UTC

Review: Moneyball flaws can be found in finance

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Moneyball flaws can be found in finance. “The Sabermetric Revolution,” a new book just in time for the start of the Major League Baseball season on March 30, debunks some of the numerical craze sweeping the sport. Two Smith College professors expose how many of the statistics rely on poor measurement, dodgy theory and over-extrapolating small data sets. Even good metrics tend to get arbitraged quickly. Just like on Wall Street.

Mar 28, 2014 04:39 UTC

China index: growth cannot cloud judgment on smog

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By Katrina Hamlin

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

Smog in China is losing its silver lining. Bad emissions were once associated with economic growth, since they meant power plants and factories were active. Citizens broadly accepted the trade-off. But the relationship may be changing. Breakingviews’ latest Tea Leaf Index reading shows growth prospects are the worst since July 2009 – even though the sub-index for pollution is at its second highest average level monthly in six years.

Mar 27, 2014 14:37 UTC

Ukraine bailout can work if politics are fixed

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The International Monetary Fund has just invented delayed shock therapy. Its bailout package for Ukraine will help the country deal with financial emergency. The Fund hasn’t given up on conditionality, but it has been clever enough to recognise that political turmoil and the transitional nature of the Kiev government don’t allow for the type of tough love that could backfire. Ukrainians won’t have a credible administration capable of making long-term pledges until they choose a president on May 25.

Mar 27, 2014 07:37 UTC

CITIC’s $41 bln mega-merger needs fancy footwork

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By Una Galani

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

CITIC’s $41 billion mega-merger will need some fancy footwork. The Chinese state-owned conglomerate wants to reverse most of its assets, which include stakes in banks, brokerages and resources, into Hong-Kong listed subsidiary CITIC Pacific. There’s something in it for both sides, but the deal will require creativity to ensure it looks good financially for both the Chinese state, and CITIC Pacific’s minority shareholders.

Mar 26, 2014 14:53 UTC

Roman corporate governance purge could backfire

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By Neil Unmack

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

Rome’s corporate governance purge could backfire. The Italian Treasury wants state-controlled companies to force anyone under criminal investigation for financial crimes off boards of directors. The intention is laudable, but the plan is ill-conceived.

Mar 26, 2014 06:10 UTC

Zuckerberg grabs at alternate financial reality

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By Richard Beales

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

Mark Zuckerberg is liking a lot of deals. Right after spending $19 billion on WhatsApp, the Facebook founder is splashing out $2 billion – and possibly more – in cash and stock on a virtual reality newcomer, Oculus VR. It’s arguably a riskier punt than the messaging app. Both deals also suggest a buy, not build, approach.

Mar 25, 2014 14:27 UTC

Berlin’s housing boom has lessons for London

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Berlin is becoming a bit more Londonesque. While the buses in Germany’s capital are still yellow, not red, and the locals remain grumpy, the behaviour of housing prices has a British accent. According to property website ImmoWelt.de, asking prices for one-bedroom flats have risen 53 percent in three years. The Bundesbank has warned that property prices are roughly a quarter higher than fundamentals justify. But Berlin’s boom is much less likely to last than London’s.

Mar 25, 2014 08:15 UTC

Rich world exports its way to trouble

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Rich nations are exporting their way to trouble. For eight straight quarters, advanced economies have exported more goods and services than they have imported, suggesting that as a group they are free-riding on world demand, most of which has come from emerging markets. But this growth strategy is both selfish and self-defeating.

Mar 24, 2014 04:42 UTC

Li Ka-shing de-risks with $6 bln Temasek sale

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing is de-risking. The Hong Kong tycoon has ditched plans to list his retail division AS Watson in favour of selling a 24.95 percent stake to Temasek for $5.7 billion. The deal crystallises a decent valuation for Li without the uncertainties of an initial public offering (IPO). For the Singaporean state fund, it’s a bold bet on consumer growth and private investments.