Guest view: Hard to spell Colombia without o-i-l

January 15, 2015

The U.S. miner’s $138 mln check to resolve a lawsuit over conflicts-riddled deals sets a precedent that gives shareholders more clout. It should turn up the heat on Chairman James Moffett, whose cross-holdings factored in the case. Better governance would enhance the big payout.

Swiss give scary lesson on central banks’ limits

January 15, 2015

The monetary authorities are expected to control inflation, deflation, growth and the financial system. But the Swiss National Bank, an above-average institution, has managed to mess up badly by breaking its word. Others may not do much better.

MetLife’s Snoopy takes on the regulatory Red Baron

By Rob Cox
January 13, 2015

As JPMorgan showed, challenging Wall Street’s overseers can come back to haunt. Now MetLife boss Steve Kandarian is taking his insurer’s designation as a SIFI to a U.S. federal court. He may have a point, and the right to legal redress, but his stance carries risks of its own.

Oil price floor could be a long way down

January 13, 2015

Petro-economics are painfully simple for producers. Lower prices hardly push up demand. And it will take a price below $30 a barrel before supply falls enough to balance the market. Unless producers can regroup into an effective cartel, their suffering will continue.

Review: Trade can bring war

January 9, 2015

Intimate commercial relations do not bring international peace, as James Macdonald demonstrates in his discussion of WW1. Striving for autarky is worse. “When Globalization Fails” argues that a trusted global hegemon reduces conflicts. America’s relative decline looks ominous.

Response to Paris attacks caught between two risks

January 8, 2015

The killings at the Charlie Hebdo weekly put French and European authorities at the confluence of two dangers – individual acts of violence and excessive countermeasures. Fringe parties may benefit if the response is too weak. Media freedom might suffer if it is too strong.

Merkel subjects Greece to risky tough love

January 8, 2015

The German chancellor wishes to keep the euro zone intact – while playing up her indifference to the prospect of Greece leaving it. She just wants to make sure the next government in Athens will back reforms. That’s the only way to make a deal politically acceptable in Berlin.

Petrodollar drought is new risk for markets

January 6, 2015

Low oil prices are not only a blight for energy producers. They could hurt global financial markets too. After years of surplus petro-earnings gushing into a range of assets, notably fixed income, the flows are at risk of reversing. The sharp equity market fall may be a first sign.

Guest view: Banks need to lead on cultural change

January 6, 2015

While lenders have boosted capital, reduced leverage and added liquidity, they have not shown the same commitment to adjusting their core behaviors, including their risk cultures, argues former Citigroup executive and author William Rhodes.

A double-speak guide to modern markets

January 5, 2015

As the market perpetually shifts, so do the rhetorical stylings its players use to talk their way out of problems. The past year saw above-average creativity when it came to saying one thing and meaning another. Breakingviews offers up 10 euphemisms we’d like to see disappear.