Breakingviews

 
Foreign investors hope for a more open, balanced China. Its leaders have other ideas. They favour reforms that minimise financial instability, punish bad eggs, and nurture national champions. President Xi Jinping’s popularity quest will raise tensions with the rest of the world.

Goodbye tech conglomerates, hello "ecosystems"

Companies have been using that word to justify building internet-based empires out of a mish-mash of assets with hard-to-identify synergies. Asian players like China’s Alibaba and Japan’s Softbank are amongst biggest fans of this unhelpful jargon.

China needs history's biggest spring clean

Reforms targeting reckless lending, homebuilding and graft have stopped the mess getting worse. Behaviour won’t really change until China deals with its backlog of bad debts, empty houses and dirty secrets. This would be a good year to sweep the skeletons from the closet.

Dry powder may explode in buyout barons' faces

Everything is going up in private equity except deal volume. Acquisition multiples are at a record high, as is competition from corporate buyers. For big firms such as Apollo and Blackstone, $1.5 trln of purchasing power may be tough to deploy without cratering returns.

James Gorman can leave Brian Moynihan in slow lane

The Morgan Stanley and BofA CEOs each marks five years in charge in 2015. Neither has had an easy time of it. Gorman, though, ought to be able to lead his firm back above a 10 pct ROE – an important, if humdrum, ambition. Moynihan’s lending behemoth remains a ways off that.

Swiss give positive lesson in negative rate policy

A safe-haven currency can invite economic trouble. The Swiss central bank is up to the challenge. It started with market intervention and has now introduced a negative overnight rate. The Swiss realise that money is more of a policy tool than a store of value.

China's superlative growth looks hard to sustain

Assume the economy expands as briskly in the next 20 years as in the past decade. Its share of world GDP could top 35 percent, a Breakingviews calculator shows. A static workforce would have achieved heroic productivity gains. If it doesn’t, China’s slowdown has only just begun.

Avon exposes ugly side of doing business in China

The U.S. cosmetics company’s Chinese subsidiary gave officials handbags, holidays and cash to access a huge market. The rationale: muddy markets make dirty hands. Avon has learned its lesson with a $135 mln fine. Elsewhere in China, the belief that bribery pays remains engrained.