Breakingviews

Buffett Rule divides Berkshire Hathaway faithful

May 6, 2012

Ideological squabbling marred the annual Omaha love-fest this year. Ice-cream bars and newspaper tosses weren’t enough to distract shareholders angry about the politically charged tax plan with Warren Buffett’s name on it. It may even be an unplanned liability to Berkshire.

When shareholder democracy trumps the real thing

May 7, 2012

Motions on the ballots at BofA and 3M this week give investors an opportunity to rectify the Supreme Court’s flawed Citizens United decision. Moreover, voting to restrict the use of corporate money in political campaigns isn’t just morally right, it’s also good business.

A post-Chavez Venezuela is no investment bonanza

May 8, 2012

Despite breaking another long silence, the president has markets morbidly optimistic about his poor health. The country’s debt is soaring in value. But any new government will still struggle with backward Chavez policies. Unwinding years of economic mismanagement won’t be easy.

Dodd-Frank opponents return to the drawing board

May 14, 2012

JPMorgan’s prop-like $2 bln trading flub gives ammo to proponents of more stringent bank oversight. Yet Mitt Romney and many in the GOP have promised to gut Dodd-Frank and Volcker. One tactic may be to embrace Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher’s call to make banks smaller.

Chongqing won’t be allowed to fail with Bo

May 15, 2012

The Chinese city looks in line for a bailout after former leader Bo Xilai’s fall. A policy bank is ploughing in new funds, and state-owned firms are enlisted for help. Even though Chongqing’s debt-financed growth model is discredited, the need for stability prevails.

China has strongest hand in Philippine stand-off

May 15, 2012

Manila protests China’s claims on disputed islands, but its economic position is weak. China is a big export customer, and has the money and tourists Manila needs to dig mines and fill new casinos. Whoever owns the South China Sea’s energy riches, China will be the biggest buyer.

Hollande-Merkel agenda is more Greece than growth

By Pierre Briancon
May 16, 2012

The French president is flying to Berlin on his inauguration day to meet Angela Merkel. Hollande won’t just try to smooth things over with the German chancellor on fiscal discipline. The Greek crisis has forced the leaders of Europe’s two largest countries to brace for the worst.

Facebook tax witch hunt looks in wrong place

May 17, 2012

Two U.S. senators object to co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s tax “duck” on his stake in the social network now that he has given up U.S. citizenship. But becoming a non-American is expensive and complicated. Lawmakers might ask what they’re doing wrong for expats even to consider it.

Summit silence on Greece is best option for now

By Pierre Briancon
May 24, 2012

Euro zone leaders can’t yet soften their demands for Greek austerity, for fear of encouraging radicals in the next election. And while insisting they want to keep the country in the euro, they must prepare for a messy exit while pretending not to - since it would spook markets.

Saudi’s foreign aid bill piles up

May 28, 2012

Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen: the Arab Spring has increased the kingdom’s spending to prevent unrest and boost influence. At the current oil price, the Saudis can easily afford to be generous, but today’s emergency gifts could become tomorrow’s permanent liabilities.