Breakingviews

Review: Putting a face on China’s vague ambition

July 11, 2014

Many books about China strive for a sweeping overview. Evan Osnos’ “Age of Ambition” adopts a refreshingly human perspective. Despite some inevitable gaps, his close-up portraits of people in the People’s Republic are as revealing as a torrent of statistical superlatives.

Spending hike is best part of low-key India budget

July 11, 2014

The maiden budget from Narendra Modi’s new government failed to live up to the reform hype. But a promise to do away with retrospective changes in the tax code is welcome. And while boosting spending on roads, ports and cities is a gamble, this could revive the investment cycle.

Portugal in race against time to sort out BES

July 10, 2014

Despite a recent successful rights issue, the Iberian lender is exposed to its troubled major shareholder and has a large exposure to dodgy Angolan loans. Its owners face a difficult refinancing this year. Authorities should demand full transparency and a quick restructuring.

Capital crisis making Italy SpA stronger

July 10, 2014

Italian capitalism is undergoing Darwinian selection. Companies can no longer rely on the state, age-old shareholder pacts or even Mediobanca for capital. Firms are being forced to adapt to the rules of global finance to avoid extinction. The next generation looks fit to prosper.

“Seller beware” when profiting from market calm

July 10, 2014

Volatility, gauged by indicators like VIX, is ultra-low. While it could be the calm before a storm, investors including Pimco have been selling insurance against price swings. It’s one way to make money amidst shrinking yields, but it’s also a risky bet against the unexpected.

Capital flight crackdown would hurt outside China

July 10, 2014

State television has accused Bank of China of helping clients move money abroad, prompting chatter of an official backlash. The mainland’s capital controls are famously porous. If Beijing decides to plug the leaks then overseas banks, casinos and real estate markets will suffer.

Close presidential race may slow Indonesia reforms

July 9, 2014

Popular Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo faces a tough challenge from ex-general Prabowo Subianto in the country’s presidential poll. While the latter’s nationalistic talk makes investors edgy, a slim win for the former could also dim hopes of strong leadership and lasting change.

Internet ads add up for China’s party mouthpiece

July 8, 2014

The online arm of state news agency Xinhua is planning an IPO with a near-$1 billion valuation. Booming advertising has brought it success that has eluded the Western media. Xinhuanet’s fortunes aren’t built on headlines or scoops, but a lucrative monopoly on the PRC’s PR.

Beijing Motor IPO lifts bonnet on China carmakers

July 7, 2014

The automaker hopes a Hong Kong listing will help it cash in on China’s yearning for luxury vehicles. But its own marques lose money. Earnings depend on joint ventures with foreign groups like Hyundai and part-owner Daimler. It’s a reminder that China’s car market has two speeds.

Hong Kong democracy debate puts business on spot

July 3, 2014

Thousands of citizens are pushing for fairer elections. The Big Four auditors and others have responded by warning of the dangers of disruption. Their clumsy interventions miss the point. The right to protest is a key part of the system that makes Hong Kong a magnet for commerce.