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After keeping a lower profile as its economy contracted, the actual sick man of Europe struck “la bella figura” at the WEF annual meeting. The youthful Renzi government’s disruptive style put a spring in the step of Italy’s business leaders. Real reform, however, is only beginning.

Putin, Piketty and Draghi hit Davos in spirit only

Political and financial leaders attending the World Economic Forum’s 45th annual meeting are buzzing about rampant inequality, the ECB’s quantitative easing and Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. All that’s missing from the Alpine retreat are the three provocateurs of the debates.

Review: The Mad Men are watching you

A lot happens in a split second online, much of it good for the ad industry but worrying for privacy advocates. Instant auctions to push tailored ads to individuals are growing fast, says “Targeted” author Mike Smith. The ad men will need ever more personal data to fuel them.

ECB bazooka a water pistol for emerging markets

Between Mario Draghi’s bond-buying plan and the Bank of Japan’s ongoing splurge, central banks are pumping out $1.5 trillion a year in cheap money. The surprise should boost emerging markets wary of rising rates. But fading growth and falling prices will overwhelm the stimulus.

Fudge on loss-sharing weakens ECB's massive attack

At 1 trln euros or more, the European Central Bank’s long-expected bond-buying programme is powerful enough to impress markets and push down the euro. But partial nationalisation of any losses amounts to policy fragmentation. It risks undermining the euro zone’s foundations.

RBC's foray south a pricey bet that two's a charm

The Canadian bank is paying $5.4 bln for U.S. lender City National, a 26 pct premium that planned cost cuts don’t justify. The so-called banker to Hollywood stars is growing well. But RBC’s last venture into American retail banking was a mess. It needs to prove it can do better.

China's "new normal" masks old anxieties

The latest meme, as heard in Davos, has caught on fast. As well as lower growth, it might mean an end to bad habits, a return to global greatness, or the start of a painful correction. Mostly it just disguises the fact that China’s economy is still far from normal.