Breakingviews

 
Alibaba’s boss, like the U.S. group’s Jeff Bezos, has built online retail dominance. But there are downsides. Unpredictable earnings are Exhibit A. The Chinese group also has fickle regulators. It may not be the last time investors suffer nearly $40 bln of losses in two days.

Rob Cox: Podemos can improve Spanish capitalism

After Syriza's victory in Greece, investors are fretting that Spain's "We Can" party could derail reform plans and fiscal discipline. They needn't worry. The Podemos target is the demon of corruption. Even if the movement has already peaked, it has done the country a service.  

Alibaba gives crash course on government relations

The e-commerce group’s shares fell after a Chinese regulator lambasted its sales habits. Alibaba must convince investors it was blindsided, and prevent its beef with the watchdog escalating. It’s an insight into how contradictory and value-destructive the Chinese state can be.

Facebook investment largesse manageable - for now

Boss Mark Zuckerberg splashed out so much on new projects that his firm’s Q4 operating margin fell by a third. But the social network’s top line grew 49 pct thanks to more users and mobile income. That’s a reasonable dynamic, assuming Zuckerberg is picking the right ventures.

Mortgage freeze could hasten Greek bank reform

Before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gets any euro zone deal on Greece’s public debt, he could make good on his promise of a permanent mortgage moratorium. That would inflict pain on the country’s banks – but ultimately force them to restructure.

Currency market still scarred by Swiss trauma

Brutal swings seen just after the Swiss central bank suddenly abandoned its franc cap have faded. But price signals and perplexing moves suggest the extraordinary gyrations left their mark. Singapore’s surprise easing and continued Swiss official musings will add to the jitters.

China political investment bubble has new antihero

Newly merged brokerage Shenwan Hongyuan is worth $41 bln – more than Charles Schwab. Its peers trade at triple the valuations of most global securities houses. The mania is part excitement over China’s stock markets, and part misguided belief the state can keep things afloat.

New Greek debt deal will mean more brinkmanship

Markets are relaxed that the anti-bail out Syriza government can cut a new deal with creditors. But pressure points lie ahead, with 6.6 bln euros due in the middle of the year. Getting over the hump will need quick progress on tackling Greece’s big, long-term challenges.