Jun 18, 2013 08:53 UTC

Indonesia subsidy cut is right plan for wrong time

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Indonesia’s overhaul of energy subsidies is the right plan, but its timing is highly suspect. Hiking state-controlled diesel and gasoline prices by 22 and 44 percent, respectively, will lift prices when investors are already jumpy: $4.7 billion in financial capital left the country in the last quarter. To prevent higher inflation from spooking investors further, the central bank will have to raise interest rates. That means sacrificing GDP growth.

Jun 17, 2013 14:39 UTC

Iranians put hopes for change in pragmatic insider

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By Una Galani

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

Iranians have voted for an end to the conservative status quo. The surprise victory of Hassan Rohani, the sole moderate candidate, in the presidential race has shown the level of public discontent with the Islamic Republic’s hardliners, whose voices silenced others in the last few years. The high turnout also returns legitimacy to the electoral process after the rigged vote of 2009. Iran’s complex power structure means that radical shifts at home or abroad are unlikely. But the mood in Tehran has shifted.

Jun 17, 2013 07:57 UTC

Singapore’s creative bank penalty may be a one-off

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Singapore has come up with a creative way of penalising rate-rigging banks. Regulators are forcing lenders implicated in manipulating the city-state’s borrowing and currency rates to set aside up to S$12 billion ($9.6 billion) in extra central bank reserves. With rates low, however, the costs will be much lower than recent mega-fines.

Jun 13, 2013 09:31 UTC

Market jitters could crush Japan’s inflation drive

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Skittish markets are a threat to Japan’s anti-deflation drive. The rising yen, falling stocks and lower government bond yields suggest investors once again view Japan as a safe haven. The Bank of Japan may need to be bolder to prevent their expectations from becoming self-fulfilling.

Jun 11, 2013 09:16 UTC

SoftBank’s bump for Sprint isn’t a knock-out

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

SoftBank’s raised bid for Sprint Nextel is no knock-out blow. The Japanese group has tweaked its offer for a controlling stake in the U.S. telco to give the target’s shareholders more value. But Sprint shareholders would retain a stake in a Sprint that has more debt than first envisaged. That erodes SoftBank’s key advantage as it seeks to combat a rival bid from leveraged counterbidder Dish Network.

Jun 10, 2013 08:24 UTC

How Huawei can dial down the fear factor

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By John Foley

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

How scary is Huawei? The Chinese telecom equipment maker has met resistance from politicians who fear it could be used as a Trojan horse by the Chinese government. Most recently a group of UK parliamentarians complained the group supplied critical infrastructure without ministers’ knowledge; American and Australian politicians have already blocked Huawei from key contracts. The political tribulations will take years to resolve, but there are ways to dial down the fear.

Jun 7, 2013 02:58 UTC

Wine tariffs won’t end China’s thirst for Bordeaux

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Sorry, wine lovers: tariff threats won’t end China’s thirst for Bordeaux. Talk of restricting imports from Europe has raised hopes elsewhere that fine wines might become more affordable. But French chateaux have more to fear from China’s anti-corruption drive than from trade war.

Jun 6, 2013 19:56 UTC

U.S. defense on Big Data as murky as industry’s

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By Robert Cyran and Antony Currie

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

The Obama administration argues the National Security Agency’s secret collection of Verizon phone records doesn’t compromise privacy and is good for the country. Wall Street and Silicon Valley often make similar claims. History suggests it often ends up better for those controlling the data than for those supplying it.

Jun 6, 2013 02:58 UTC

Obama and Xi should consider Confucian diplomacy

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By John Foley

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

If the emperor fulfils his role by sitting and facing south, Confucius said, all else will fall into place. Presidents Obama and Xi should heed the ancient sage when they meet at a resort in the California desert on June 7. The United States and China have emotive issues to work out. In public, however, harmonious inaction is the best policy.

Jun 4, 2013 06:34 UTC

Bond jitters shouldn’t delay Japan pension reform

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

By reforming Japan’s public pension system, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking a calculated risk. Asking state funds to buy fewer government bonds may look like an own goal at a time when the central bank is struggling to control yields. But the payoff to both the government and Japan’s fast-ageing society could be worth it.