Dec 31, 2013 15:19 UTC
Breakingviews Columnists

Who packs the biggest power to surprise in 2014?


By Breakingviews columnists

The opinions expressed are the authors’ own.

Difficult jobs abound in the global economy, finance and business in the coming year. But so do incredibly low expectations. That means getting it right could mint legacies, and surprise investors in a good way.

Think of politicians like Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, who is about to host the world’s biggest sporting event of the year, the soccer World Cup; or John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, an institution with one of the worst public approval ratings in history. Equally, there are a few chief executives who could defy the current consensus, such as the bosses at Deutsche Bank, Barclays or Microsoft. Herewith, Breakingviews columnists compile a list of those who might surprise us.

Dec 31, 2013 07:48 UTC

Local audit highlights China’s debt dilemma


By Peter Thal Larsen 

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

China is being a bit more precise about its debt problem. A long-awaited audit of local government borrowing shows that provinces, towns and villages collectively owed 17.9 trillion yuan ($2.96 trillion) at the end of June, including contingent liabilities. The state will now have to decide which of those debts it wants to stand behind. Its approach will offer some hints about the importance of leverage for China’s economic growth.

Dec 31, 2013 03:47 UTC

China index: Slowdown looks home-grown


By Katrina Hamlin

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

China’s economy decelerated further in November, according to Breakingviews’ alternative index. Lower truck sales, steel output and rail freight volumes suggest sluggish demand. House prices and pollution were up, but their contribution is a sign that growth is far from healthy.

Dec 30, 2013 07:12 UTC

Beijing will block a big overseas deal in 2014


By Ethan Bilby

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

China will seek its own GE-Honeywell moment in 2014. European regulators asserted their growing power over global competition when they blocked the merger of the two U.S. industrial companies in 2001. Beijing’s antitrust watchdog is already giving increasing scrutiny to tie-ups even when both companies are foreign. The desire to show its economic might could see it block a deal outright.

Dec 27, 2013 10:58 UTC

Europe will court shutdown with new parliament


By Neil Unmack

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

The European Parliament that will be elected next year will be the most powerful and most fragile in the short history of the institution. It will be the first to use powers afforded by the Lisbon treaty: among other things, it will appoint the president of the European Commission. But support for its authority is waning. Europeans will neglect the polls and more votes will be captured by anti-euro, populist or far-right parties.

Dec 23, 2013 03:12 UTC

China’s bureaucrats play online war games


By Robyn Mak 

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

Who governs the internet? Authorities in China can’t decide. The Ministry of Culture, a relatively unknown agency, staked a claim by clamping down on online games on Dec. 13. China’s leaders say they want to foster an innovative economy, but the tussle between the young internet sector and an outdated bureaucracy raises questions about whether they really mean it.

Dec 20, 2013 03:26 UTC

China is moving closer to its “Dubai moment”


By Peter Thal Larsen

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

China’s reform drive is getting closer to its “Dubai moment”. The emirate’s 2009 refusal to bail out its flagship holding company shocked lenders who had assumed all debt carried an implicit state guarantee. As China introduces market forces to its financial system, it will also have to draw a clearer line between public and private lending.

Dec 19, 2013 12:33 UTC

The wrongs and rights of the euro banking union


By George Hay 

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

The euro zone banking union was always going to have a difficult birth. European governments finally agreed on Dec. 18 the second of three key milestones – a resolution directive establishing a common approach for dealing with struggling lenders. As with most EU compromises, it is an imperfect reform. It was criticized by European Central Bank officials, including president Mario Draghi, and doubts remain. But the euro zone at least has the beginning of a banking union.

Dec 16, 2013 14:06 UTC

New German government to take chances on growth


By Olaf Storbeck

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

The most obvious symbol of the continuity Angela Merkel has wanted to showcase with her third cabinet is Wolfgang Schaeuble, who will keep his job as Germany’s Finance Minister in the new ruling coalition. That clearly shows that Berlin’s European policies will remain unchanged. Other EU governments will welcome a German team committed to keeping the euro zone together – if anything even more so, considering the pro-European Social Democrats’ influence in the new government.

Dec 16, 2013 03:41 UTC

U.S. and China will set global growth pace in 2014


By Peter Thal Larsen and Robyn Mak 

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The United States and China will determine the pace of global growth in 2014. Though America accounts for a quarter of the world economy and China less than a tenth, the two countries will generate roughly half the expansion in overall GDP next year. With Europe in the doldrums, Japan still recovering and emerging markets subdued, the planet heavily depends on its twin engines.