May 30, 2013 07:59 UTC

Double arbitrage validates China’s pork purchase

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By John Foley

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

China has been rearing pigs for at least 6,000 years. Now its biggest pork producer is paying $4.7 billion to import them from the United States. What explains the reversal? It’s not just that richer consumers demand more meat, but that poor decisions by China’s planners have created a double arbitrage.

May 29, 2013 08:09 UTC

Global trade surplus: proof of alien life?

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Mankind has spent centuries looking for signs of alien life. Now a French graduate student appears to have found evidence in an unusual spot: the ledgers of the world’s customs offices.

May 28, 2013 09:03 UTC

Europe rightly throws shade on solar tariffs plan

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By John Foley

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

European opposition to tariffs on Chinese solar panels sounds like turkeys voting for Christmas. After all, China has used cheap state financing to lower the cost of making solar equipment – and European companies like Germany’s Solar World have borne the brunt. Yet the reluctance of most EU member states to back proposals for a punitive tariff is smart. In a world of cross-border supply chains, Europe has too much to lose by pushing the point.

May 27, 2013 08:06 UTC

HK art boom rests on sketchy foundations

By Katrina Hamlin

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

Hong Kong is already a global financial centre, but can it be a hub for art sales too? Last week’s Art Basel Hong Kong showed the city has what it takes to draw the crowds and the cash. But finance and fine arts are only fair-weather friends.

COMMENT

‘But some drivers of Hong Kong’s art boom look sketchy’??? Couldn’t we say the same of the London art boom? ‘Loose money coursing through t’he system’??? Are you referring to the London banking system? Really, this is a serious case of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

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May 27, 2013 03:21 UTC

How capital controls are prolonging Cypriots’ pain

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By George Hay

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

Cyprus has a liquidity problem. It has been barely two months since depositors of the two largest lenders of this small island state, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, learned they were to face losses of 60 to 100 percent on the part of their deposits exceeding 100,000 euros. Yet Nicosia’s streets haven’t been savaged by furious rioting, nor have the banks fallen victim to visible panic. The harm is more pernicious: capital controls are slowly smothering a domestic economy already hit by a heavy dose of austerity.

May 24, 2013 15:46 UTC

Frackers ignore German beer angst at their peril

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By Kevin Allison and Olaf Storbeck

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

Contemporary Germans tend to be open-minded and tolerant. Their permissiveness ends when it comes to beer. It must be eight degrees cold, with a decent head and brewed only with the purest water, barley, hops and yeast. Gas drillers eyeing potential shale opportunities in Europe ignore at their peril this centuries-old fastidiousness, which dates back to the famous Reinheitsgebot of 1516.

COMMENT

America’s recent energy boom is anything but that for the vast majority of car owners. Prices at the pump are still high, and America’s utilities are still burning coal throughout the most regions. The energy boom has only been for the CEOs of major fossil fuel extractors, not the consumer and certainly not the environment.

Germany is spot on in worrying about its water resource. Even in Colorado, a very dry region that survives only on dams and irrigation (government build and funded), fracking profits trump any concern about water resources. People forget that fracking, like most oil drilling, uses lots of water, which by the way is never again clean enough for human consumption.

So ask yourself, what can man live without? Water or Gas? Everywhere in the world, from China to the US mid-west, water is at an acute shortage. It isn’t some wacko greenie enviromentalists that are worried about fracking, it’s us humans that live on at leat 8 glasses of water a day.

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May 24, 2013 09:39 UTC

China-U.S. audit truce wisely avoids big issues

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By John Foley

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

Deng Xiaoping used to say that ideological disputes were best left for future generations to solve. Audit authorities in China and the United States are wisely following the former Chinese leader’s advice. Their compromise on inspecting the audits of Chinese companies listed overseas, a non-binding memorandum announced on May 24, leaves the biggest questions unanswered. That’s exactly as it should be.

May 23, 2013 03:08 UTC

Blame Japan’s debt on companies, not the state

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Japan’s government is up to its neck in debt. That, however, is not because the government has been overly profligate, but because Japanese companies have been deleveraging for a long time. If Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies revive private investment, the government’s track record suggests it will tighten its belt.

May 17, 2013 15:31 UTC

Hollande gets serious on Europe – at last

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By Pierre Briançon

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

François Hollande knows that the widening Franco-German divide lies at the heart of the euro zone crisis. In a press conference on Thursday, the French president showed that he wants to find a way to work with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take Europe forward. He suggested the creation of an “economic government” of the monetary union, while addressing a key German concern: Paris seems ready to accept sovereignty transfers of a sort that would make such a centralised body effective.

May 16, 2013 05:44 UTC

Rest of world wishes for Australia’s economic woes

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By Antony Currie

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

Listening to the Australians, you could be forgiven for thinking their economy is dead in the water – or about to be. The land Down Under has its problems, including a China-driven commodities downturn and an A$18 billion deficit ($17.9 billion) in this week’s budget announcement from Treasurer Wayne Swan, months after he projected a surplus. But the economy, now in its 22nd year of unbroken economic growth, still boasts the stability other countries only dream of.