China has not one property problem, but many

September 18, 2014

Rank the biggest cities by riskiness, and huge differences become apparent. Some places face heavy oversupply, others look unaffordable, while in most prices are sliding. A national correction is unlikely, but a conflagration of local ones could be pretty nasty.

China stealth stimulus may slip down back of sofa

September 17, 2014

A reported injection of $81 billion via big banks equates to less than a month of credit. It won’t restore rapid growth, but may help cash-strapped companies pay their bills for a while. High debt and low liquidity are forcing authorities into increasingly intricate manoeuvres.

Applying corporate finance to nations

By Rob Cox
September 16, 2014

Breakups and spinoffs generally make public companies run better, become more accountable and deliver greater value to their constituents. As Scotland prepares for a historic vote on independence, it’s worth considering whether the same logic might also be valid for governments.

Why buybacks should be banned

September 16, 2014

Some share repurchases get Warren Buffett’s seal of approval. But the great investor is on the wrong track. Buybacks are really dividends by another name. The price doesn’t matter. Besides, the practice is unfair to some shareholders and to governments. The world would be better without them.

Hedge-fund-free – the latest Californian fad?

September 16, 2014

Calpers, the $300 bln pension manager, is offloading its $4 bln of hedge funds. Too many in the 2-and-20 crowd look like stock pickers yet still present liquidity risks and, lately, low returns. Endowments are different, but for retirement funds Calpers could be setting a trend.

China data divides real and economic worlds

September 15, 2014

Industrial and investment data for August were poor. Yet job creation, wages and retail spending – which matter most for ordinary people – look solid. While that justifies inaction for now, it is naïve to think the two realms can remain separate. Real estate is the vital link.

Calculator: Does Scoxit = Brexit?

September 12, 2014

If Scotland votes for independence, one of the knock-on effects could be on Britain’s membership of the European Union. This calculator quantifies the political risks posed by the Scottish referendum for the UK in Europe.

Best defence against short-sellers is to buy stock

September 12, 2014

Several Chinese companies are under attack from anonymous research firms. Executives have tried to dispel doubts about their financial statements while railing against unnamed critics. But the most effective riposte to those betting on a lower stock price is to buy more shares.

Ecuador economic “miracle” meets maturity

By Rob Cox
September 11, 2014

President Rafael Correa’s experiments in modern socialism helped the country cut poverty, grow and prosper. But his investment-led model has run its course. Now he has to soften his defiance of international norms, from the bond market to the World Bank, to keep progress alive.

Likonomics: the China buzzword that wasn’t

September 11, 2014

A year ago, Premier Li Keqiang seemed to be driving forward economic reform. Now he looks more of a passenger. China’s agenda is dominated by fighting corruption and targeting perceived rent-seeking. Market reforms, and foreign investors, have moved down the pecking order.