Rakuten’s $1bln U.S. buy stretches loyalty logic

September 10, 2014

Buying U.S. cash-back site Ebates will more than double overseas transaction volumes at Japan’s largest e-commerce firm. It underscores Rakuten’s plan to use its loyalty scheme to distinguish itself from rivals. Yet, as with past deals, it’s unclear how the parts fit together.

China smartphones set to pick off global giants

September 9, 2014

Home-grown manufacturers dominate in the People's Republic, shipping three in four phones in the quarter ending June. In the rest of the world, their share is less than 20 percent. Yet low costs are helping them dial in new emerging market customers. Global rivals face a fight. Read the view

Double-digit oil promises lubrication not seizure

September 9, 2014

Brent fell below the $100 a barrel threshold on Monday. The decline is mostly an adjustment to less money-printing, a firmer dollar and shale supply, not a sign of impending deflationary doom. Oil could fall further. That will be good for consumer spending and global recovery.

Aussie privatisation push makes for buyer’s market

September 8, 2014

State governments are being encouraged to sell off infrastructure assets. The estimated value of the pipeline is equal to almost three-quarters of the total M&A activity in the country over the past two years. A lack of coordination could leave laggards with lousy valuations.

Sterling fall shows rational alarm over Scotland

September 8, 2014

The poll lead for Scottish independence may be unreliable, but the decline of the pound – now down 6 pct since July – prices in the realistic risk of trouble. A UK breakup would be fraught, the fiscal and economic damage significant, and the loss of European status definitive.

Euro has further to fall

September 5, 2014

The single currency has dropped sharply since the ECB eased policy this week. The central bank now openly hankers for a weaker euro to boost inflation, and is doing all it can to bring this about. Traders sometimes fight central bankers. This time they look happy to go along.

South Korea repeats Sweden’s monetary mistake

September 5, 2014

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan warns the country is entering “an early stage of deflation”. That’s a swipe at the Bank of Korea, which has kept borrowing costs unsuitably high. The central bank’s strategy, similar to the Swedish Riksbank’s now-abandoned approach, has backfired.

Scottish secessionists in bind over North Sea oil

September 4, 2014

Both sides of the independence debate are arguing over how many barrels are left. Oil revenue is key for an independent Scotland to manage its finances. But the need to raise funds could undermine an equally vital imperative: tax breaks to incentivise flagging exploration.

China’s consumers show early signs of a debt wish

September 4, 2014

It’s time to retire the idea that Chinese shoppers don’t borrow. Companies have racked up most of the country’s debt mountain. But credit card debt, which delivers generous fees for banks, is rising fast. Though the numbers are small, bad incentives could store up future trouble.

Home Depot hack scarier than Hollywood breach

September 3, 2014

Maybe Apple et al can make the cloud more secure, but celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence also probably need to be extra careful. Violations that expose millions of people to financial loss are in a different league. Investors should punish companies that skimp on security.