Aggressive M&A puts focus on Thai tycoon’s empire

August 27, 2014

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is eyeing more deals on top of the $3.3 bln his drinks-to-property group has spent this year. Investors have given a poor reception to his recent transformative acquisitions. A pick ‘n’ mix approach to public markets may explain some of the doubts.

France’s housing slump is sign of deeper woes

August 26, 2014

House prices are falling and Paris is a buyer’s market. Hollande’s clumsy policies and lower interest rates should have the opposite effect. But the seriousness of the slowdown incites households and companies to hoard cash. Only shock therapy can end the death spiral.

Court order adds urgency to India’s coal crunch

August 26, 2014

The Supreme Court has ruled the practice of allocating coal mines to metal and power companies to be illegal. In the long run, transparent auctions will be better. But the verdict will force the government to find a timely solution to an acute coal shortage that may now worsen.

Asia’s top-down corporate reforms vary in promise

August 25, 2014

Newish leaders across the region are pushing to change the way companies work. Although the mechanisms and targets vary between countries, increasing efficiency appears to be a common theme. But investors eyeing improved returns will find not all reforms are equal.

Review: Paul Ryan changes delivery but not direction

August 22, 2014

“The Way Forward,” by the U.S. congressman and former VP candidate, is more campaign manifesto than memoir. Ryan’s rhetoric has softened but his harsh policy proposals haven’t. The title is accurate in at least one way. His austerity ideas probably will guide Republican strategy.

ECB deserves to lose market’s inflation confidence

August 22, 2014

Euro zone inflation is moribund. Investors are increasingly doubting Mario Draghi’s ability to boost it, according to normally quiescent market signals. That’s quite right, given how ineffectively monetary policymakers are addressing the problem.

Asia’s reform spotlight swings to Indonesia

August 22, 2014

The election of a charismatic leader raises hopes for overdue change. Joko Widodo’s rise invites comparisons with India’s Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe in Japan. In some ways, Indonesia’s new president faces the more daunting challenge. But the rewards for faster reform are large.

China Mobile’s foreign foray risks meagre returns

August 21, 2014

The dominant Chinese operator is using its $73 bln cash pile to hunt for growth overseas. The strategy has failed to create value for other telcos. Expansion may help to push Chinese technology, but rival governments may be wary about allowing China Mobile to take control.

U.S. farm credit looks safer than houses

August 20, 2014

Washington’s $200 billion-plus subsidized agricultural lending complex includes Farmer Mac, a rural copy of ill-fated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Despite a hot farmland market, though, the system looks ruggedly capitalized enough to avoid the bailout fate of the home-loan behemoths.

Fed adds urgency to Indonesia’s fuel reform test

August 20, 2014

President-elect Joko Widodo’s first big challenge will be to rethink the country’s $30 billion energy subsidy. Though higher fuel prices will be unpopular, the handout boosts the trade deficit. That makes Indonesia extra vulnerable to capital flight when U.S. interest rates rise.