Breakingviews

BYD’s electric dream is even racier than Tesla’s

May 29, 2015

The Chinese group is selling nearly $2 bln of new equity to make more batteries and design more cars. Like Elon Musk’s company, this is a bet on a bright electric future, with added China hype. Even with Warren Buffett on board, BYD looks a longer shot than its U.S. rival.

Hope yet for creditors in China property-bond saga

May 28, 2015

Defaulting developer Kaisa has lost white-knight bidder Sunac. That leaves foreign bondholders dealing with the company’s discredited chairman. However, China’s real estate market is recovering. The Shenzhen-based company may even be able to hammer together a better deal.

China’s margin trading boom nears its limits

May 27, 2015

Investors have pumped up mainland stock markets with more than $300 bln of borrowed money, prompting brokers to scramble for extra capital. But leverage is already high, while the number of eligible new customers is finite. Securities firms need more durable sources of income.

Japan lesson on China debt: extend, don’t pretend

May 26, 2015

Asking Chinese banks to roll over loans to local governments is reminiscent of 1990s Japan, where lenders choked good borrowers to keep zombies alive. The real mistake wasn’t extending losses into the future, but pretending banks could lend to everyone else without more capital.

HP’s China deal extracts harmony from awkwardness

May 22, 2015

Selling 51 pct of its Chinese networking unit for $2.3 bln to a state-owned company looks like a partial retreat from an unfriendly market. But the U.S. tech giant now has a powerful ally with deep ties to Beijing. Rivals from Cisco to Microsoft should consider similar matches.

Mystery sell-offs test Hong Kong at crucial point

May 21, 2015

Regulators are probing Hanergy, whose $40 bln value halved in a morning. Two once-hot stocks backed by Goldin Group have also plunged. Hong Kong wants to act as a gateway to China for global investors. So maintaining a transparent, orderly market is more important than ever.

China’s lodestar is not reform but avoiding chaos

May 18, 2015

The authorities want banks to show mercy to stressed local government-linked borrowers. The plan seems to be to avoid chaotic deleveraging. Though it’s a step back from reform and market forces, until a clear line has been drawn between good and bad, it’s the right thing to do.

HSBC in 2020: An imagined letter to shareholders

May 15, 2015

Moving its head office to Shanghai marks a new era for the bank, writes chairman Hank Paulson in a make-believe memo. However, despite escaping hostile regulators in the aftermath of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, HSBC faces many challenges, both familiar and new.

U.S. trade setback more diplomatic than economic

May 13, 2015

Senators denied President Obama authority to negotiate a new Pacific trade pact. The squabbling contrasts with China’s success in organising its infrastructure bank. But the benefits of both projects are uncertain. The world economy can shrug off the blow to America’s leadership.

China’s new monetary tool: quantitative teasing

May 11, 2015

Cutting interest rates, as the central bank just did, can ease pressure on some borrowers, but won’t do much more. Making money more abundant, rather than just cheaper, would be a more decisive move. For now the government is wisely keeping its powder dry.