Breakingviews

MetLife CEO should revel in his anonymity

July 29, 2014

That almost no one knows ol’ so-and-so is good for shareholders. How he handles the mega-insurer’s likely designation as a systemic threat could change that. A Jamie Dimon-style fight would be foolish. Better to speak softly and keep the name Steve Kandarian out of headlines.

China online funds’ yield hunt piles on risk

July 29, 2014

Money market funds like the one linked to Alibaba are buying longer-term assets to bolster yields. That could create a crunch if savers realise their assets aren’t as safe as cash. Freeing up bank deposit rates would remove the distortion that fueled the boom in the first place.

Memo to Wall Street: more Ace Greenberg please

July 25, 2014

The onetime Bear Stearns boss, famed for his pithy missives to staff, has died at 86. Though he was no longer in charge, the firm’s 2008 collapse is a notable blemish on an otherwise illustrious career. The industry could use more of Greenberg’s scrappy PSD: poor, smart, driven.

Qualcomm turns from predator to prey in China

July 25, 2014

Beijing has branded the US chipmaker a monopolist, even as its dominance, which rests on smartphone chips and 3G patents, may be sliding. If that weren’t enough, some Chinese customers aren’t paying their dues. As friction over US-China spying persists, things may only get worse.

StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

July 24, 2014

The bank has issued a knee-jerk statement attempting to quell noise about the future of its chairman and CEO. The effect is to make the board look rattled. StanChart lacks a big enough pool of realistic alternatives to repeat HSBC’s dual change in similar circumstances in 2010.

“New Deutsche” just got pushed back again

July 23, 2014

The German investment bank is under fire from U.S. regulators for poor-quality financial reporting. In recent months Deutsche Bank has raised capital and revamped strategy – but that’s the easy part. Making investors believe culture has genuinely changed will take much longer.

Goldman chums return John Thain to semi-importance

July 22, 2014

Merrill Lynch’s last boss has been doing penance running lending minnow CIT for four years. Now he’s spending $3.4 bln to buy OneWest, the remains of a bust bank revived by fellow Goldman alums. It’s a smart deal that restores Thain’s membership in the SIFI club, if only just.

Apple winds up earnings hope for new gadgets

July 23, 2014

The iPhone maker racked up another quarter of so-so growth – and astonishing cash flow. CEO Tim Cook has paid out more than $40 bln over 12 months but added nearly $20 bln to the kitty. The lower share count may fuel a stock run-up if Apple soon unveils another must-have device.

Credit Suisse cost cuts mask uneven performance

July 22, 2014

The Swiss bank’s fixed income arm offset private bank weakness in the second quarter – the opposite of the first. Credit Suisse’s cost savings helped it shrug off a big U.S. fine, and exiting commodities makes sense. But at some point top-line strength needs to replace tinkering.

Listen to Murdoch’s muzzled minorities

July 22, 2014

Most Fox believers are relegated to owning non-voting stock, the same second-tier paper on offer to Time Warner shareholders. While there’s broad investor overlap in the two companies, the record shows a clear distaste for the imperialistic ways of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.