Real estate rescue may not help China’s developers

October 16, 2014

Homebuyers will still spend if prices and financing are attractive. But property companies are selling more for less, which beats down their margins. If a pick-up comes at the expense of profitability, things will continue to get worse for Chinese housebuilders.

CICC loses a princeling, gains investment appeal

October 15, 2014

China’s first home-grown investment bank may lose some political stature without the son of ex-Premier Zhu Rongji at the helm. An IPO may have to wait. But things were already glum before Levin Zhu checked out. A new CEO may actually make CICC more appealing for outsiders.

Japan’s low unemployment masks overtime slump

October 14, 2014

The 3.5 percent jobless rate belies the severity of the sales tax increase in April. Blame it on Japan’s cuddly labour market: Employers facing a slump don’t let go of salarymen. Where their jitters do show up is in the market for overtime work, which is shrinking fast.

Commodity producer/trader boundary starts to blur

October 14, 2014

Glencore’s interest in a deal with Rio Tinto was about more than corporate ambition. Commodity traders are keen to buy hard assets to secure supply, while producers view logistics and marketing as a way of boosting returns. Expect more convergence, and shrinking trading margins.

Markets finally side with economy on bad news

October 13, 2014

For the past five years, an addiction to easy money explained most stock market moves. That era may be ending. Investors seem to be paying more attention to the surprisingly harsh economic environment. With policymakers running out of options, the gloom could worsen.

Bankers get painful and needed conflicts reminder

October 13, 2014

A $76 mln penalty against RBC for working both sides of a deal is the latest blow to skewed loyalties. Even with recent slaps at Goldman and Barclays, it isn’t clear the message is reaching Wall Street. Delaware courts seem up to the task of delivering it as loudly as it takes.

Hong Kong weathers Occupy’s financial disruption

October 10, 2014

Retailers and other companies have suffered, but the city’s financial system is unmoved. A prolonged standoff between pro-democracy students and the government matters less to the economy than China’s slowdown. Short of an escalation, fears of Occupy’s disturbance look overblown.

Twitter free-speech chirps carry overtone of risk

October 9, 2014

After its UK super-injunction tiff, the microblog is fighting to reveal secret U.S. demands for data. The two cases show that firms have power to resist being muzzled – or forced to speak. That’s a check on judicial and government overreach, but it could undermine regulation.

A creative NFL would lean in to Sheryl Sandberg as commissioner

October 8, 2014

Furors over domestic violence and concussion risks have made U.S. football and boss Roger Goodell vulnerable. An unconventional idea for a replacement is Facebook’s No. 2. Sandberg would bring the female presence the league needs. She, too, might have something to gain.

Russian central bank intervention is a dead end

October 8, 2014

The central bank of Russia is buying roubles on the market, but the exchange rate keeps sinking. The economy has deep structural flaws, worsened by Putin’s aggressive foreign policy. There are many reasons to take capital out of Russia. For the currency, the only way is down.