Nov 7, 2013 07:35 UTC

China’s Singles’ Day shows market power of one

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By John Foley

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

China’s retail sector is about to be plunged into collective madness. On Nov. 11, online shoppers are likely to snap up over $4 billion of goods when prices halve in celebration of “Singles’ Day”. Billed as a celebration of unmarried people, the event is actually a cue for massive online discounting. Consumers benefit, but the best deal goes to Alibaba, which reinforces the dominance of its Tmall and Taobao online marketplaces while leaving sellers to do the heavy lifting.

Nov 6, 2013 09:37 UTC

France won’t meet its deficit target. No problem

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The French government will not meet its target of shrinking the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2015, according to the European Commission’s latest forecasts. Some voices will again call for the Commission to show some nerve, and dare to discipline one of the EU’s big powers for once. This won’t happen, for political reasons. But it shouldn’t – for economic ones. The only sensible response to the projected higher deficit should be: “so what?”

Nov 6, 2013 06:20 UTC

U.S. investors’ love of tech defeats fear of China

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

For U.S. investors, love of technology has conquered a fear of China. Shareholders are snapping up shares of Chinese internet companies going public stateside. It’s a striking contrast with the recent past, when accounting scams and poor governance prompted many to shun mainland stocks.

Nov 5, 2013 08:15 UTC

China enters era of enlightened numerology

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By John Foley 

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

China has revealed the symbolic number that drives its economic policy: 7.2 percent. That’s the minimum growth rate Premier Li Keqiang says is needed to ensure a stable job market. Fetishising numbers sounds unhealthy for a country raised on central planning, but for China it may be a useful indication of how leaders will balance reform with stability.

Nov 4, 2013 08:38 UTC

Hong Kong’s new marketing ruse: business trusts

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By Una Galani

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

Business trusts are a new marketing ruse for Hong Kong bankers. Injecting whole companies into special-purpose vehicles sounds innovative: even tycoon Li Ka-shing has embraced the idea for the listing of his electricity assets in the territory which could raise $5 billion. But for all the hype, business trusts offer no benefits over a regular initial public offering. They’re mostly a tool for luring in yield-hungry investors.

Oct 31, 2013 01:47 UTC

China Index: Waiting for the Party to start

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By Katrina Hamlin

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

The economy held more or less level in September, despite an unexpected drop-off in exports, according to Breakingviews’ alternative growth index. With new leaders set to reveal plans for the next decade at the “third plenum” later this month, the inertia could be short-lived.

Oct 30, 2013 02:05 UTC

Three questions to ask of China’s ‘third plenum’

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By John Foley

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

Is reform a watchword for China’s new leaders, or just a cliché? The mysterious leadership conclave beginning on Nov. 9, known as the “third plenum”, should give a clue. A similar meeting in 1978 kicked off China’s opening up to foreign trade; at another in 1993 the socialist market economy was born. A senior Communist Party official said on Oct. 27 that this time round, under party chief Xi Jinping, there would be “unprecedented” economic and social reforms. For China-watchers, this raises three questions.

Oct 29, 2013 06:08 UTC

Mud sticks for China’s warring heavy industries

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By John Foley

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

In China, the stodgy world of construction equipment has become a hotbed of fraud accusations, espionage and attempted kidnapping. It shows what happens when fierce competition comes without clear rules.

Oct 25, 2013 05:38 UTC

HK anti-foreigner property tax hits wrong target

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s assault on foreign property speculators has hit the wrong target. It’s a year since the territory took aim at non-resident apartment buyers by forcing them to pay an extra 15 percent stamp duty. The drastic move has cooled demand for luxury flats and prompted investors from mainland China to look elsewhere. But the smaller flats that Hong Kong citizens care about most are still getting more expensive.

Oct 23, 2013 04:13 UTC

Li Ka-shing still has what investors want

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing may be an octogenarian but he still knows when to buy and sell. An analysis of 16 listed parts of the Hong Kong tycoon’s telecoms-to-energy empire, with a combined market capitalization of more than $170 billion, shows a mixed record of delivering shareholder returns. Yet Li’s flagship holding companies have matched or beaten the market over the past two and five years. For investors, it pays to invest as close as possible to the man himself.