Breakingviews

Microfinance leaves India’s banks in the dust

August 23, 2016

After the near-collapse of the industry six years ago, small lenders to the poor are back and growing fast. A tight regulatory leash, low bad loan ratios, and high returns make microfinance a more attractive investment proposition than the country’s ailing state banks.

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.

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.

Shenzhen-HK stock link tees up “Bubble Connect”

August 17, 2016

Investors in the two cities will soon get access to each other's bourses. The addition to the Shanghai Stock Connect further opens mainland markets. The prospect of China's get-rich-quick punters exporting their investing tactics into Hong Kong small-caps is less heartening.

Evergrande share raid cements love-or-hate status

August 5, 2016

The Chinese developer has waded into the power struggle at rival Vanke, grabbing a 4.7 pct stake for $1.4 bln. The motive is unclear, and the group's leverage and sprawl should worry investors. Yet Evergrande's aggressive stance still appears to have plenty of fans.

Hong Kong’s special status is in need of renewal

August 4, 2016

The former colony has mostly thrived in the 19 years since China took charge with a promise to leave it alone until 2047. But society is divided and the rule of law under strain. Without reassurances about its long-term future, Hong Kong faces an exodus of citizens and companies.

Tax overhaul boosts Modi’s reform credentials

August 3, 2016

India is set to pass a bill paving a path to a long-awaited goods and services tax. Exemptions will dilute the potential boost to growth. But the bill is evidence that the prime minister can compromise to get things done. That bodes well for a long wish list of other reforms.

Regions will shore up China’s smaller banks

August 2, 2016

Risk is mounting at midsized lenders, and capital buffers are eroding. Beijing wants to rein the upstarts in, but provinces need regional financial champions to keep lending. As Industrial Bank raises nearly $4bln from backers in Fujian, expect others to follow suit.

Chinese investors up the ante in online games

August 1, 2016

Gaming outfit Shanghai Giant, Alibaba boss Jack Ma, and partners are buying Israel's Playtika for $4.4 bln. This looks pricier than Tencent's recent purchase of the firm behind Clash of Clans. Plus, casino-style games are even more at risk of being overtaken by the latest hit.