Jan 2, 2015 11:42 UTC
Edward Hadas

Review: Two centuries of trust, frauds and finance

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By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Financial fraud can be fascinating. There is something compelling about the way confidence men, from Thomas Cochrane to Bernard Madoff, take advantage of both the human willingness to believe and the weakness of greed. Madoff’s scam was exposed as markets crashed in 2007. For Cochrane, who made a fortune on a false rumour of Napoleon’s death in April 1814 in London, Ian Klaus’ new book – “Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds and the Rise of Modern Finance” – provides not only the facts but the economic context of that early example of market manipulation.

Jan 2, 2015 11:38 UTC

Europe returns to Franco-German axis of neurosis

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Europe’s economic stagnation has a lot to do with its political paralysis. In 2014, the emphasis was on what governments should have done – and could still do – to boost the continent’s potential after two years of EU economic contraction. In 2015, the crisis at the heart of Europe’s malaise, the breakdown of the French-German partnership, will take centre stage.

COMMENT

European Union increasingly became a bloc dominated by Germany and auxilliaries as the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and other rich nations. France looks has been increasingly pushed to sides. The enlargemenet of the Union became a unique opportunity for Germany and its smaller allies to drain enormous wealth from the new, weak, or uncompetitive members, and to check these countries under the political and economic influence of the wealthy elite from the West. For that reason, the Union allocates funds to these conutries to satisfy some of the folks in the stagnating countries, but actually suffocates their economies. Western governments also promote immigration of both skilled professionalists, and cheap labour force to sustain the domestic businesses, while adding insult to the injury of the weaker members. From the frequent appearences of Mrs Merkel on the political scene in every instance is a clear demonstration of that reality. And the constant “xenophobic” agenda keeps the newcomers in the West on check too: “if you don’t want to go back to your battered homeland, you should adopt our language and culture fast”

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Dec 31, 2014 14:25 UTC

Vienna offers a model for stable foreign policy

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By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

The 1815 Congress of Vienna, whose bicentenary occurs this winter, offers a useful historical lesson for crafting foreign policy strategies in an increasingly multipolar world. The summit ended the Napoleonic Wars, and its participants worked together over the next decade to prevent destabilizing regime change. This principle could have reversed many intervention decisions over the last 40 years. Adopting a variation of it now could bring stability.

Dec 30, 2014 15:11 UTC

Accounting fraud is ripe for fresh scrutiny

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By Reynolds Holding

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Dodgy numbers will replace insider trading as Wall Street watchdogs’ preferred prey in 2015. New auditing and analytics have already given the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a head start, even if the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley reforms make cases of accounting fraud harder to track down.

Dec 30, 2014 11:37 UTC

UK faces risk of cold-weather blackouts

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Britain is dicing with darkness. The electricity system is ageing and the mix of generating technology – including renewable sources like wind power – is changing. Both factors increase the danger of power cuts at peak times. New capacity can’t come soon enough.

Dec 29, 2014 15:17 UTC

Bad ideas catching up with Latin America in 2015

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By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Bad economic ideas will start to catch up with Latin America in 2015. For four years, the region has seen growth rates below the world average. The IMF predicts that won’t change any time soon. Yet while most Pacific-facing countries will shine, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela will suffer. With a couple of exceptions, misguided policies are finally coming home to roost.

COMMENT

What about Panama’s growth. It’s proyected to be one of the highest in the region for next year.

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Dec 29, 2014 11:00 UTC

Ukraine crisis forced into suspended animation for 2015

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Western economic sanctions against Russia were expected to have no effect. Yet they have caused much pain. They were also meant to have a clear goal. So far, they don’t.

COMMENT

European countries need to take a hard look at the benefits and also the bad effects of the sanctions. Please do NOT “go along to get along” with the US and what that government wants. What is good – or so our US government says is good – for the US may not be in the best interests of other countries.

Many of us realize that countries closer to Russia face a different set of problems with Putin than we in the US do. Plus, we do not seem to realize that the Russian people have been through much worse that these sanctions and they are tough, having to sacrifice much in the past.

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Dec 26, 2014 16:54 UTC

U.S. housing demand is building

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By Daniel Indiviglio

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The U.S. housing market is set for another leg up. Increasing household formation, job creation and easing credit look set to give the market a boost, despite rising interest rates and the headwind of sliding affordability.

Dec 26, 2014 16:49 UTC

Bitcoin’s defects will hasten its demise in 2015

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By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bitcoin’s defects will hasten its demise in 2015. The leading crypto-currency’s economies of scale in mining and its transaction system’s vulnerability to subversion by a dominant miner make it unsound. As seignorage declines it will become cost-uncompetitive for transactions. These flaws will cause its price to lose further altitude.

COMMENT

The bitcoin price depends on people’s demand for holding bitcoins. When that goes up the price will go up. You’re completely ignoring that component of price formation.

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Dec 26, 2014 16:44 UTC

Review: Fixing the CIA – a novel approach

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By Martin Langfield

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Could an outsider best reform the CIA in the wake of torture revelations? In David Ignatius’ novel “The Director,” a pro-privacy tech CEO tries to drag an agency that has lost its way into a new world of tighter rules, leaky secrets and mounting cyberthreats. It’s a good idea, with uneven results for both Ignatius and his hero.