Breakingviews

Review: The shirk ethic – a user’s guide

November 28, 2014

Work can be seen as a blessing or a curse. In “Empty Labor,” Roland Paulsen examines people who take mostly the latter view, asking how and why they shirk, and whether it’s always a bad thing. His study of idleness on the job is enlightening, amusing and sad.

Ecuador economic “miracle” meets maturity

September 11, 2014

President Rafael Correa’s experiments in modern socialism helped the country cut poverty, grow and prosper. But his investment-led model has run its course. Now he has to soften his defiance of international norms, from the bond market to the World Bank, to keep progress alive.

U.S. recovery now not jobless, only homeless

January 6, 2012

Despite the 200,000 new jobs last month and another drop in unemployment, job creation is still slower than in recent recoveries and looks a bit like the early 1960s. That’s partly because the weak housing market means few new construction jobs. Still, Obama can breathe easier.

Dollars everywhere – so where’s the inflation?

March 16, 2012

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.4 pct in February, but that was mostly gasoline. Year-on-year, inflation is above the Fed’s 2 pct target but not by much. But money supply is going through the roof. Either inflation is on the way, or Milton Friedman should lose his Nobel prize.

Dodger blue outshines gold after $2 bln deal

March 28, 2012

The sale of the Los Angeles baseball team represents almost a five-fold gain in value since 2004. Gold aside, returns on sports franchises blow away most other major asset classes, including stocks. The demand for such trophy investments from the ultra-rich is stoking prices.

U.S. housing poised to boost economy

July 19, 2012

The latest data point suggests not, but a recovery looks under way - even if homebuilders are running ahead of the market. After dragging on GDP for five years, housing should boost output and jobs in coming quarters. That will give lawmakers room to change distorting policies.

Uncle Sam still living well beyond his means

August 8, 2012

While June consumer credit just missed its 2008 peak, overall debt in the first quarter was 250 pct of GDP against 232 pct four years ago. While the consumer has deleveraged a bit, business debt is flat and government debt has soared. At some point, this has to end.

China “hard landing” talk abates, but not for long

November 1, 2012

A return to growth in the key PMI survey, and a pick-up in the Breakingviews Tea Leaf Index, suggests China is on track for above-7.5 percent growth in 2012. Credit growth has been sustained and a property slump avoided. But the fragilities that worry China bears are still there.

Surprisingly weak U.S. GDP has silver linings

January 30, 2013

A 0.1 pct Q4 fall defied expectations of a rise. Even so, less government spending accounted for much of the contraction while private consumption and income improved. Shrunken inventories, probably linked to the fiscal fears, also should reverse. There’s little cause for alarm.

G7 only adds to global currency confusion

By Edward Hadas
February 12, 2013

In a four-sentence statement, the finance ministers of the world’s leading powers have managed to ignore the problem of inadvertent competitive devaluations, contradict themselves and make an empty promise. Currencies still look like the global economy’s weak point.