Breakingviews

Pipeline rebuff could stir activist hornets’ nest

August 19, 2016

Williams, fresh off a failed merger with Energy Transfer, recently ignored larger rival Enterprise Products' approach about an $80 bln tie-up. The company's silence may prompt two pushy investors who joined a board exodus in June to lobby again to oust CEO Alan Armstrong.

Viewsroom: Wall St activism, Obamacare, Wealth gap

August 19, 2016

ValueAct is taking a softly-softly stance with its stake in Morgan Stanley – and is already doing better than its Amex flop. Private insurers are pulling out of Obamacare as the U.S. considers banning industry mergers. And millennials' relative poverty could be bad for democracy.

Viacom saga is Wall Street’s new hit show

August 19, 2016

Ousting CEO Philippe Dauman paves the way for owner Sumner Redstone to try to revive the ailing cable-TV business. That could include investing in content and even selling part or all of Viacom. Investment bankers will be lining up outside its Times Square HQ for a seat.

Saudi building bust may demolish prince’s reforms

August 19, 2016

Low oil prices have left thousands of foreign construction workers stranded without pay, and some building companies in financial trouble. Saudi is trying to diversify away from oil, make economic reforms and avoid disrupting the social order. It’s not easy to do all three.

Review: The limits of predicting China’s demise

August 19, 2016

The country's prospects are bleak, David Shambaugh argues in "China's Future". His critique of the Communist Party's political flaws goes far deeper than most forecasts of economic collapse. Yet foretelling doom at some indeterminate point in the future still has limited value.

Mongolia’s hangover needs more than IMF medicine

August 19, 2016

The nomad state hiked interest rates to 15 pct to defend a plunging currency. An IMF rescue seems likely, and the new government has shown it is willing to take the pain needed. Longer-term, the real cure for its economic ills will be to woo nervous foreign investors back.

Feds mete out justice on private prisons

August 18, 2016

U.S. jailers like Corrections Corp lost two-fifths of their value after the Justice Department said it would stop outsourcing incarceration to for-profit firms. Industries that attract enough questions to provoke divestment campaigns can pose financial, not just moral, dangers.

Uber steers self-driving to robots vs. jobs crash

August 18, 2016

The ride-hailing app is buying autonomous big-rig startup Otto and unleashing driverless taxis in Pittsburgh. Such technology would save lives but automate a task that employs millions of U.S. workers. The U.S. safety net is ill-prepared for such a job-destroying juggernaut.

Post-Brexit UK consumers are oddly rational

August 18, 2016

Flagging confidence didn’t stop Britons from spending a month after their vote to leave the EU. Consumers may be blind to the recession threat. Or they may be anticipating that a slumping pound will push up the price of imported goods, and pre-empting higher inflation.

Tencent is sturdiest rock inside China’s firewall

August 18, 2016

China's closed internet has allowed giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent to thrive. The fortunes of the trio are diverging, however. While Baidu has stumbled and Alibaba too often goes off track, Pony Ma's focus makes the $240 bln Tencent look like the best of the bunch.