China’s road to West is paved with bold intention

April 20, 2015

President Xi Jinping is expected to sign off on a $46 billion corridor between Western China and Pakistan. The transport link may end up as a security nightmare. But the lure of bringing Europe closer and countering India’s clout in South Asia makes it a tempting idea.

China’s world bank has rickety foundations

March 20, 2015

The country’s patchy record of funding big projects at home and abroad hasn’t deterred Western countries from rushing to join its new Asian infrastructure bank. To lure private capital, the body will have to be commercial and transparent. Early signs suggest it will be neither.

Ecuador economic “miracle” meets maturity

September 11, 2014

President Rafael Correa’s experiments in modern socialism helped the country cut poverty, grow and prosper. But his investment-led model has run its course. Now he has to soften his defiance of international norms, from the bond market to the World Bank, to keep progress alive.

China’s subway splurge only half on right track

June 26, 2014

Building more tube lines is a good idea. Asking international investors to fund them is not. Beijing’s $190 mln subway bond may be an exception. But given the positive externalities, urban transport is one thing China needn’t be coy about funding from the public purse.

Carlyle descends into a public-private inferno

April 4, 2014

The mayor of a U.S. city once called Hellgate is using eminent domain to try and seize the local water utility the buyout firm acquired in 2011, a deal he backed. The clash shows why joint efforts between governments and investors to improve infrastructure don’t proliferate.

UK would gain from intelligent industrial policy

March 8, 2012

British politicians have long shied away from coherent long-term economic plans. But ad hoc decisions on technologies, infrastructure, immigration and banking are not good enough. Vince Cable, the business secretary, is right to call for a new vision.

Hot infrastructure auctions drive down returns

May 23, 2012

Investors want big, predictable assets in the less rickety bits of Europe. While debt is cheap, there isn’t much for sale. So auctions like E.ON’s 3.2 bln euro sale of gas grids run pretty hot. Even if the bets are less extravagant than in the credit boom, returns will suffer.

Infrastructural upgrade belongs in US fiscal talks

November 29, 2012

Before long, Democrats will want to throw economic stimulus into the budget discussions. And it’s not just a useful negotiating variable. Disgust over America’s crumbling roads, bridges and sea walls is bipartisan. The White House could build on this middle ground.

UK’s big build dreams still dogged by past binge

June 28, 2013

There is real austerity in some parts of the UK budget, but not enough to keep total spending from rising. A cap on welfare spending won’t reverse the huge previous rise. The government’s talk of 100 billion pounds in infrastructure projects sounds bigger than the pinched reality.

A better way to build British infrastructure

October 14, 2009

The World Economic Forum reckons that Britain’s infrastructure is almost as good as Saudi Arabia’s, and a good deal worse than that in, say, Namibia. If anything other than high taxes can drive away the foreigners who have helped the City of London become such a generator of wealth, it’s the sheer difficulty of getting about.