Oil price slide complicates life for central banks

August 4, 2015

Brent is back down at $50 a barrel. Bond prices show this is eroding investor confidence that inflation will pick up. Central banks usually ignore the temporary impact of commodity price swings, but can’t afford to be complacent with inflation and policy rates already so low.

China hits the brakes on financial disruption

August 4, 2015

The central bank is cracking down on the $2 trln online payments market. Proposed transaction limits and stricter security rules would help traditional banks at the expense of online players Alibaba and Tencent. It’s a reminder that, even in China, tech innovation has its limits.

Singapore could use a fresh approach to water

August 3, 2015

The city-state built its economic success partly on carefully managing scarce H2O and reducing reliance on foreign sources. Now Singapore wants to be self-sufficient. But with the population set to double, the quest for water independence risks becoming a distracting pipe dream.

Malaysian crisis could do lasting financial damage

July 30, 2015

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s sacking of his deputy opens the door to a protracted power struggle. The economy can ill-afford it. Fading consumer and investor confidence and a slumping currency could mean a long period of high interest rates, anaemic growth and soured loans.

Edward Hadas: Nikkei joins demographic denial cult

By Edward Hadas
July 29, 2015

Nikkei is the latest Japanese company to look for growth outside the shrinking domestic market. Its Financial Times purchase may work out, but the approach is flawed. Few companies can profitably escape their demographic destiny. It may be better to accept steady decline.

Why it’s a bad idea for China to prop up its stock market

July 28, 2015

Regulators say they will keep supporting stocks. That unwise pledge is the high price of being a financial free rider. Like many governments, China’s authorities found the easy gains from a rising market irresistible, and have ended up its slaves.

China worries start now for Visa and MasterCard

July 27, 2015

The People’s Republic will open its $7 trln bank card payment market to outsiders. Yet Visa and MasterCard, whose shares have risen since the decision, face an entrenched incumbent and online rivals like Alibaba. The hype from getting market access looks premature.

Rob Cox: FT is to Nikkei as Jim Beam is to Suntory

July 24, 2015

Outside Japan, the $1.3 bln purchase of the salmon-hued newspaper is hard to fathom. The finances may never stack up. From a Japanese perspective, the calculus is different. In a shrinking market, without a product that travels internationally, deals like this are existential.

South Korea might need stronger medicine than QE

July 23, 2015

The slowest quarterly GDP growth in six years points to a malaise deeper than a virus outbreak. A weaker currency can help with faltering exports, but it won’t free households from a debt trap. A bold cocktail of tax breaks, rebates and money-printing might be more effective.

China fatigued by debt as flexible yuan turns 10

July 21, 2015

The world’s economic growth engine abandoned the dollar peg a decade ago. Beijing may have given up on a cheap yuan, but its pro-market resolve is in doubt. And while the People’s Republic’s debt-creating trade surplus has shrunk, domestic leverage is rising at a worrying pace.