Sep 20, 2013 15:32 UTC

Review: Merkel’s hidden European agenda

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Angela Merkel is usually described as an utterly pragmatic politician, lacking either strong convictions or a grand political vision. Stefan Kornelius, foreign editor of Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, takes issue with this view. In his biography of the German chancellor, published in English on the eve of the Sept. 22 German elections, he claims that Merkel has a bold blueprint of Europe’s future. She just stays mum about it in public.

Sep 6, 2013 03:16 UTC

Review: Will the real Mao please stand up?

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By Katrina Hamlin

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

The portrait of Mao Zedong watches over Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, but it’s still impossible to know the man behind the myth. Nearly four decades after his death, China’s modern leaders invoke his name at their own risk. Consider two of the most popular English-language biographers of the Great Helmsman.

Aug 2, 2013 15:36 UTC

Review: Venezuela’s revolutionary leaves chaos behind

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By Ian Campbell

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

“Comandante” sounds like the title of a wide-eyed hagiography. But the book by Rory Carroll, the Guardian’s Venezuela correspondent, is something far more welcome: a clear-eyed account of the whims, machinations and follies of Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan leader. It leaves the reader wondering just how the country can find a way forward. The book’s weakness is that the account is far from atmospheric and its structure might have been dreamed up by Chavez’s planning ministry.

Jul 19, 2013 03:24 UTC

Review: The rise and fall of an Asian tycoon

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By Katrina Hamlin

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

Mohsin Hamid understands corruption. His new novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, is as insightful fictional portrait of a crooked yet oddly sympathetic tycoon. Hamid doesn’t condone skullduggery, but this detailed profile is an instructive guide to a darker side of rising Asia.

Jul 12, 2013 18:46 UTC

Review: “Balance” missing from analysis of decline

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Some books cannot be judged by their titles. “Balance – The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America” is one. Glenn Hubbard, former Council of Economic Advisers chairman and adviser to Mitt Romney, and Tim Kane of the Hudson Institute think-tank are anything but balanced in their effort to draw lessons for the United States from the fate of past great powers.

Jun 28, 2013 06:19 UTC

Review: Tales from China’s wild lending frontier

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Joe Zhang has impeccable timing. The former investment banker’s book about running a small Chinese microcredit firm, “Inside China’s Shadow Banking”, has hit shelves just as concerns about the country’s runaway credit boom are capturing global headlines. Yet despite the title, it’s China’s state-owned banking system that emerges as the tale’s dysfunctional villain.

Jun 7, 2013 17:21 UTC

Review: Hollywood blinds itself to Google’s faults

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

Rarely has a cinematic depiction of a business delivered as wet a kiss as “The Internship,” a new buddy film. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play second fiddle to the real star: a silver screen version of Google’s corporate culture. The movie makes the Internet firm – unofficial motto: “Don’t be evil” – look less evil than is remotely plausible.

Apr 19, 2013 16:15 UTC

Review: Walking cure for cash-strapped U.S. cities

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

Many American cities, from Detroit to San Bernardino, are under financial pressure. Jeff Speck, an urban planner, has a suggestion: make them more pedestrian-friendly. His book “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” makes the case. Provide it, and they will come.

Apr 12, 2013 14:33 UTC

Review: Stockman polemic gloomily convincing

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

David Stockman is a polemicist. “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America”, the new book by the former adviser to President Ronald Reagan and private equity magnate, is a tirade, arguing over more than 700 pages that crony capitalism and central planning have increasingly corrupted U.S. policy since the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

Apr 5, 2013 18:44 UTC

Review: The Robespierres of central banking

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By Dominic Elliott

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

The most lasting inheritance of the 2008 financial crisis may be a change in the purpose of central banks. From the 1980s until 2007, most believed that monetary authorities should primarily use a policy interest rate to combat inflation. Interventions in the markets or in the financial system were outside the remit, or so the orthodox view went. Neil Irwin’s “The Alchemists” shows how that thinking has been turned on its head.