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.

Asian fight against capital flight helps dollar

October 8, 2014

The region’s central banks fear foreign capital will flee when U.S. rates start rising. They hope higher rates at home will stem the flow. But domestic investment dips when interest costs rise. The result: spare Asian savings go into safe dollar assets, pushing the greenback up.

Future financiers condemned to repeat sins of past

June 7, 2014

Some 150,000 wannabe investment advisers, bankers and analysts take the CFA exam this weekend. Success hinges on understanding WACC and ROE. Knowledge of the South Sea Bubble or the Great Crash is not required. Vast ignorance of financial history is an overlooked systemic risk.

Review: China gives Africa handy investment lesson

June 6, 2014

Howard French’s new book paints an unflattering picture of the PRC’s heavy involvement in Africa. But China’s presence is not all bad. At a minimum, it gives African governments and businesses a benchmark for other offers now that the continent is attracting Western interest too.

Fund managers could learn from hometown Red Sox

October 30, 2013

The team is a win away from being baseball’s champs. Its success hinges on the disposal of concentrated long-term bets in favor of liquidity, early-stage backing and steadier assets. Such diversification is a good reminder for the Boston-based investment industry and beyond.

Europe’s investors miss value cues, again

October 18, 2013

It’s a basic rule of asset management: buy what’s cheap, sell what’s expensive. The current crop of European money managers must have slept through that lesson. As the most recent cycle turned, they sold as stocks got cheaper. Now shares are more expensive, they are buying again.

Britain can gain from China’s empire builders

October 15, 2013

Tourists, banks, real estate investors - all are welcome, say London’s mayor and the UK chancellor. Such openness has economic logic, and it’s sensible to play down fears on sovereignty. Provided the UK chooses its partners with care, and the Chinese are tactful, both sides win.

Nobel endowment deserves prize for realism

June 12, 2012

Laureates will get 20 pct less this year - about $1.1 mln each - because the Nobel Foundation board wants to live within its long-term means. That’s a shame for the brainboxes. But governments, pension funds and individuals could all learn from this pragmatic approach.

Contemporary art becomes the gold of the new rich

May 11, 2012

This week’s big sales brought records for Rothko, Klein, Lichtenstein and others. Scarcity is part of the allure, as are taste and the spending power of the global plutocracy. One thing to please at least the financiers among them is that contemporary art has inked good returns, too.

Prestige and power fuel Qatar’s frantic shopping

April 3, 2012

The tiny Gulf state is racking up stakes in European big names. Since Qatar will generate around $50 bln of spare cash this year, this is likely to continue. There may be some apparent logic to the pick n’ mix of value and vanity investments. But it doesn’t look like a strategy.