Breakingviews

Hugo Dixon: Greeks choose between bad and terrible

By Hugo Dixon
July 2, 2015

Voting “Yes” in Sunday’s referendum would mean Greece suffers at least two years of recession. Voting “No” would bring financial havoc in the short run followed by the return of the drachma, hyperinflation and deep-seated economic depression. The right answer is “Yes”.

Hudson’s Bay wangles way back to Teutonic roots

June 15, 2015

The Canadian owner of U.S. store Saks – once an English company headed by a German – has the best of a $3 bln deal to buy Cologne-based retailer Kaufhof. Offloading real estate will help it finance the trade. It also gives Hudson’s Bay a cushion against old world risks.

Forget ethics, carbon divestment looks profitable

June 11, 2015

Norway’s state fund and insurer AXA are ditching carbon-rich companies. The rhetoric may be ideological, but the economic case against coal and legacy utilities is strong. They face tough challenges, even if political action against climate change remains lacklustre.

UK blithely signs up to Germany’s worst idea

June 10, 2015

Chancellor George Osborne is to enshrine budget surpluses in state legislation. For a nation with low interest rates and sagging productivity, aping German deficit-phobia is nuts. But plain thinking wins votes because the public has learned to mistrust the wisdom of economists.

Anshu Jain’s painful lessons for new Deutsche boss

June 8, 2015

The co-CEO’s departure has pleased investors irked by the bank’s lack of progress on cutting costs and boosting capital. Jain was slow to re-engineer what proved to be a flawed business model for the post-crisis era. New broom John Cryan can learn from his predecessor’s mistakes.

German job miracle keeps defying gloom-mongers

May 29, 2015

Most experts predicted that January’s imposition of a national minimum wage would lead to heavy job losses. But employment in Germany keeps rising and economists are confused. The fears may yet be vindicated, although it could take a recession to show they were right.

Bond turmoil signals new era of return-free risk

May 15, 2015

Forget the risk-free rate - investment safe havens are in short supply. Cash can be costly. Gold is a dollar proxy. And recent gyrations in the largest debt markets have undermined the concept of risk-free returns. When this last compass fails, investors are really at sea.

Deutsche Bank revamp puts capital ahead of returns

April 27, 2015

Exiting Postbank, and cutting 200 bln euros of investment bank assets and 3.5 bln euros of costs, is what the German lender needs. A 5 pct leverage ratio goal is also higher than expected, raising the bar for European rivals. But it means investors face a wait for decent returns.

Deutsche should limit retail selloff to Postbank

April 20, 2015

The German lender’s strategy review has narrowed down to selling part or all of its retail business. A wholesale-only Goldman Sachs equivalent would be more profitable, but less stable. Deutsche would be better off staying a universal bank - but cutting a lot more cost.

Hairy deals mean European animal spirits returning

April 15, 2015

Shell-BG and Nokia-Alcatel are complicated, long-mooted deals finally coming to fruition. Exor’s move is just plain ballsy. American firms powered last year’s $3.5 trln global M&A bonanza. With Old World boards and bosses becoming more daring, Europe looks set to catch up.