Sickly Lotte IPO reflects two faces of South Korea

June 13, 2016

Seoul may be Asia’s coolest destination right now, and Lotte Group’s flagship duty-free arm ought to profit handsomely. But raids have derailed the unit’s $4.5 bln listing and drawn attention to Korea’s uglier side: its powerful, opaque and poorly governed conglomerates.

Gold’s prospects are dull

January 25, 2016

The precious metal isn’t behaving like a safe haven should. The dollar’s rise is weighing on its price, Asian demand is dented, investors don’t need inflation hedges, and past price gyrations have tarnished its defensive allure. Grimmer news is needed to restore gold’s lustre.

Japan’s investor revolution is delayed, not dead

November 20, 2015

Shareholders are souring on the hope that Japan Inc. can become better-run and more profitable. That’s too gloomy. Last year’s returns on equity were humdrum and there have been big disappointments. But real change is underway and the pressure for more is huge.

China’s ailing stocks are now contagious

August 24, 2015

Mainland shares are tumbling again. Unlike in July, this sell-off is hurting currencies, commodities, and other Asian bourses. Two things have changed. There’s now the threat of devaluation. And bungled interventions cast doubt on China’s ability to manage markets.

Chinese stock markets need more than lip service

June 30, 2015

The selloff is dramatic but only affects the relatively few people who own equities. A wider risk is that a prolonged slump would slow reforms and undermine faith in China’s rulers. In the short run, overt state support may be the most effective way to avoid losing credibility.

China’s stock boom is not so different this time

June 17, 2015

Soaring share prices evoke memories of the market’s rapid rise and even swifter collapse between 2006 and 2008. Corporate reform hopes, hyperactive retail investors and faith in state support are recurring themes. The differences aren’t big enough to suggest a happier ending.

How to tell if Japan’s shareholder love-in is real

June 15, 2015

Japan Inc. faces unprecedented pressure to get leaner, better-run, and more profitable. Real success means higher returns on equity. First comes a tough AGM season that could embarrass the likes of Sony and Sharp. Then expect more buybacks, stake sales, activism and M&A.

MSCI lets fund managers ignore China a bit longer

June 10, 2015

The index compiler says China’s $10 trln stock markets aren’t quite ready for global benchmarks. That’s a relief for investors worried about inflated mainland valuations. But inclusion is only a matter of time. Being underweight will soon be a matter of choice, not inertia.

London’s FTSE can extend its record-breaking run

February 24, 2015

At long last, Europe’s big name equity index has entered new territory. Yet while the FTSE 100 is higher than ever, and is hardly risk-free, it is also attractive. It is cheaper than the leading U.S. and pan-European benchmarks and has alluring diversity.

StanChart equities closure is overdue but welcome

January 8, 2015

The emerging markets bank has pulled the plug on its share trading and underwriting arm, cutting 200 jobs. It’s a rational but still-rare step for a business that suffers from chronic overcapacity. Rivals will feel extra pressure to justify their decision to soldier on.