Breakingviews

Cox: The other European referendum to fret over

By Rob Cox
May 24, 2016

While the world obsesses over Brexit, another perilous plebiscite looms in October. Italy’s leader has dangerously staked the future of his leadership over a constitutional reform vote. Its failure would present huge risks to Europe’s economy and global capital markets.

RBS sale delays hit credibility more than finances

April 29, 2016

The part-state owned UK bank says it may miss an EU-mandated timeframe to dispose of 300 branches. Even if it takes another 12 months, RBS’s capital position should be OK. But for investors to believe the path to dividend reinstatement, it needs to avoid any missteps.

Malaysia is big loser from Abu Dhabi fight

April 19, 2016

Sovereign funds in the two countries have fallen out over a $4.5 bln rescue. That upsets Malaysia’s efforts to contain the financial fallout from scandal-hit 1MDB. It also undermines Prime Minister Najib Razak’s claim that the fund he championed managed to clean up after itself.

Panama Papers can only clean up so much

April 4, 2016

A leak of some 11 mln documents from a law firm in the Central American nation has kicked off a global offshore tax hunt. Iceland’s prime minister is already under fire and other world leaders could be damaged. The impact may be limited, however, in the least democratic regimes.

Being a UK bank boss is now just scary enough

March 7, 2016

Senior bankers now face censure for their own or subordinates’ misdeeds. Even where job titles don’t imply responsibility, regulators may be able to argue that institutional culture does. This fuzziness aside, the new regime should rein in brash boards, bosses and risk-takers.

Unruly markets could derail Abenomics

February 12, 2016

A weak yen and buoyant stocks were key to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fight against deflation. A flight from risk has reversed those gains and overwhelmed the Bank of Japan’s surprise shift to negative interest rates. The turmoil threatens Abe’s whole economic project.

Swiss 1MDB probe holds fat tail risks for Malaysia

February 1, 2016

Switzerland’s attorney general has indicated $4 bln was misappropriated from state firms, undermining Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to shrug off the mess involving the sovereign fund. Though he can manage the fallout at home, foreign investigations are a lingering threat.

Malaysia’s strongman faces a challenge to impress

January 21, 2016

Prime Minister Najib Razak has survived a political scandal over dubious payments he received. He has also managed to tame debt at the sovereign fund he championed. Though his position looks secure, low oil prices and racial divisions will test efforts to repair his legacy.

Malaysia scrubs out half its sovereign fund stain

December 31, 2015

A $1.7 bln land deal with a Malaysian-Chinese group brings the financial cleanup of the world’s most troubled SWF nearer completion. The overhaul of 1MDB by boss Arul Kanda is impressive. He could now move to redeem a controversial $3 bln bond sold by Goldman Sachs.

Dixon: EU could fall apart without flexibility

December 21, 2015

Brussels’ knee-jerk reaction to crises is to ask for more power. Its latest series of problems has fuelled right-wing populism, which feeds off the idea that the EU already has too much influence. Unless the bloc adopts more decentralised solutions, it could unravel.