Doubly dysfunctional press hinders China cleanup

November 11, 2013

Arrests of domestic reporters and heavy-handed treatment of foreign news organisations risk leaving China without an effective graft watchdog. Beijing may prefer top-down purges to chaotic exposés, but press curbs carry economic costs. Investors can’t tell fact from factionalism.

White male banker jabs at finance’s glass ceiling

November 11, 2013

HSBC chief Stuart Gulliver says the bank must rethink its culture to attract and retain more senior women. Though the insight is hardly new, it’s still unusual for male CEOs to publicly admit the problem. The next challenge is for HSBC to show it can live up to Gulliver’s ideal.

Suntech casts shadow over China capital raisings

November 8, 2013

The stricken solar panel maker is fighting bondholders who want to see it liquidated. Despite a vague offer of local government cash, its $270 mln enterprise value looks deluded. For investors piling into Chinese companies, it’s a lesson in what happens when things go wrong.

China’s Singles’ Day shows market power of one

November 7, 2013

Online shoppers may snap up over $4 billion of goods when prices halve on Nov. 11. But the best deal goes to Alibaba. Singles’ Day will further entrench the dominance of its platforms Tmall and Taobao. Faced with such market clout, sellers have little choice but to join in.

France won’t meet its deficit target. No problem

November 6, 2013

The European Commission’s latest forecasts show that France will not be able to shrink its budget deficit to the mandated 3 percent of GDP by 2015. But that isn’t bad news. Like the rest of the euro zone, the country will gain by breaking free from the austerity straitjacket.

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

November 6, 2013

Shareholders are snapping up Chinese technology stocks listing in the United States. It’s a contrast with recent years, when accounting and governance scandals led many to shun mainland shares. Though red flags remain, the lure of rapid revenue growth is trumping caution.

China enters era of enlightened numerology

November 5, 2013

Premier Li says GDP must grow at least 7.2 percent to create enough urban jobs. In reality, the quality of employment now matters more than quantity. The new minimum looks less of a fetish, and more a useful indicator of how China’s leaders will balance reform with stability.

Hong Kong’s new marketing ruse: business trusts

November 4, 2013

Injecting whole companies into special-purpose vehicles sounds innovative: even tycoon Li Ka-shing has embraced the idea for his Hong Kong utility. But for all the hype, business trusts offer no benefits over a regular IPO. They’re mostly a tool for luring yield-hungry investors.

China Index: Waiting for the Party to start

October 31, 2013

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.

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

October 30, 2013

Hopes are high for November’s huddle of top Communist Party officials. At previous meetings, leaders unveiled plans that jolted China’s economy. Specific reforms may not surprise, but there could still be big clues about whether anything has really changed under the new guard.