Dec 12, 2014 15:52 UTC
Guest Contributor

Review: “Forgotten Depression” worth remembering

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By Edward Chancellor

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

“The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more lending and more spending.” This post-crisis advice from Larry Summers – a former U.S. Treasury secretary, presidential economic advisor and president of Harvard – represents the conventional wisdom of the economic policymaking elite. This is the same elite, you may recall, that failed to see the global meltdown coming in the first place. Could it be that they’ve got things wrong yet again?

Nov 28, 2014 16:34 UTC

Review: The shirk ethic – a user’s guide

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By Martin Langfield

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

Work can be seen as a blessing or a curse. In his book “Empty Labor: Idleness and Workplace Resistance,” Swedish sociologist Roland Paulsen examines people who take mostly the latter view, asking how and why they shirk, and whether it’s always a bad thing. His study of idleness on the job is enlightening, amusing and sad.

COMMENT

No mention of many people who are often or regularly on standby for some busy or peak work period? To me, unrealistic to expect 100% daily time focused on “billable” hours, to various jobs, and how is this addressed? Those bathroom or other breaks, and indeed even the web surfing or cross-functional talk with other team members can be good for the company too, right?

Posted by HMArcher | Report as abusive
Nov 21, 2014 19:32 UTC
kateduguid

Review: Congo’s problems run deeper than oil

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By Kate Duguid

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

Save the gorillas and save the Democratic Republic of Congo, urges “Virunga,” a new documentary from Netflix and enviro-mensches Leonardo DiCaprio and Howard Buffett. The film chronicles the machinations of British oil firm Soco International’s exploratory venture in Congo’s Virunga National Park, while park rangers struggle to thwart them.

Nov 14, 2014 15:44 UTC

Review: Through a distorting mirror, darkly

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By Martin Langfield

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

William Gibson’s new novel “The Peripheral” paints future worlds that are built of present fears writ large. Trading algorithms not only roil financial markets, they hunt in packs and travel in time. Nanotech eats people. Money corrupts and spies surveil even more than now. Human decency, though, has at least a fighting chance.

Nov 7, 2014 15:58 UTC
Guest Contributor

Review: The secret cause of economic crises

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By Edward Chancellor

The author is a guest columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

What is the glue which holds an economy together? Disciples of Adam Smith would argue that self-interest serves as the organising principle. The problem with this way of thinking is that it overlooks the fact that man is not an island unto himself. He is a social animal, who must have constant dealings with other people. Besides, according to John Maynard Keynes, it is impossible to pursue our self-interest rationally, because we don’t have enough information to make probabilistic judgments about the future. Instead, we must rely on irrational animal spirits as a spur to action.

Trust, as Geoffrey Hosking points out in his engaging book, “Trust: A History” (OUP), provides a substitute for prescience. The unchecked pursuit of self-interest can undermine trust. The financial crisis which followed the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers reminds us that when trust evaporates, the financial system ceases to function and the economic activity shrinks.

COMMENT

There seems to be an unsatisfying tautology embedded in the proposition. The argument seems to be unlimited self-interest leads to breakdown in trust, breakdown in trust leads to financial disruption. But why not vice versa – financial disruption leads to increase in self-interest? I am not persuaded that the order of causation is correct or that the ultimate causal factor is broached by Hosking’s hypothesis.

Posted by TomTherramus | Report as abusive
Oct 31, 2014 14:00 UTC
kateduguid

Review: No bets on Berkshire after Warren Buffett

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By Kate Duguid

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

The question facing Berkshire Hathaway is life after Warren Buffett. And it’s a quandary worth $330 billion, Berkshire’s market value.

Oct 24, 2014 16:32 UTC

Review: World needs agreed ground rules for peace

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Henry Kissinger argues in “World Order” that the world needs agreed ground rules as a precondition for achieving peace. The prevailing approach in the West, derived from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, of nation states with limited conflicts isn’t reflected in the traditions of emerging nations like China or India. However the 1814 Vienna Congress’s innovation of allowing intervention of great powers only to protect stability might work better.

Oct 17, 2014 19:54 UTC
Guest Contributor

Review: The worst of both Mao and markets

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By Edward Chancellor

The author is a financial historian, journalist and investment strategist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Has the impetus for economic reform in China ground to a halt? Many China-watchers think so, citing state banks’ favouritism of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the continuing monopoly power of state-owned “national champions,” and the effects of the massive fiscal and credit stimulus launched after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. Nicholas Lardy will have none of this.

Sep 22, 2014 21:32 UTC

How Big Oil could grease invisible hand

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By Stephanie Rogan

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

The U.S. energy problem is very much due to a breakdown of the free market, contends the new documentary, “Pump.” Married co-directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell show how Big Oil’s monopoly on transportation fuels hurts Americans more than they realize. If drivers had options when filling up their tanks, both country and consumers would benefit.

Sep 19, 2014 14:52 UTC

VC bigwigs reveal Valley’s contradictions

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By Richard Beales

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

A venture capitalist who can co-opt the opening lines of “Anna Karenina” to make a business point deserves attention. In Peter Thiel’s case, he also started PayPal and Palantir Technologies and invested early on in Facebook. His new book, “Zero to One,” describes possible features of the next peerless, world-changing startup – another Google, say.