Breakingviews

Sony’s lowball forecasts are oddly reassuring

May 25, 2016

Shares rallied despite a profit outlook that fell below expectations. Setting $1 bln of quake damage aside, the Japanese group is faring well. Consoles are humming along, handsets are stabilising, and a duff project has been nixed quickly. Sony’s turnaround is almost complete.

Abenomics has over-promised and under-delivered

May 17, 2016

Shinzo Abe has spent more than three years pushing for higher growth, faster inflation and a nimbler economy. But success eludes the Japanese prime minister, who has been too timid with the public purse. Keeping the project going calls for extra spending and even easier money.

Toshiba fluffs leadership overhaul

May 9, 2016

The scandal-hit Japanese group named two new bosses. Neither is ideal: the CEO is a clean pair of hands but hails from a now non-core business. The chairman is an insider who oversaw big writedowns at the U.S. energy unit. It’s a setback to an otherwise decent effort to clean up.

Mitsubishi Motors fiasco shows reforms lack oomph

May 5, 2016

The carmaker’s legacy of dodgy testing is astonishing. At best, management and directors were in the dark for 25 years. The firm badly needs a stronger board and better internal controls. For all the talk of improved corporate governance, much of Japan Inc is similarly lacking.

Bank of Japan goes from activist to bystander

April 28, 2016

The world’s most aggressive central bank has wrong-footed investors by holding policy steady even as the backdrop weakens. There are reasons to hold back: a previous push into negative rates is still bedding down, for example. But markets could have been let down more gently.

Mitsubishi Motors’ VW-style crash is justified

April 26, 2016

The Japanese carmaker’s value has dropped by $3.4 bln since it admitted fiddling test data. Though uncertainties abound, that reaction doesn’t look excessive. If its cash pile halves, EBITDA drops by a quarter and already-low valuation multiples shrink, the decline is deserved.

Bank of Japan’s boldness risks diminishing returns

April 25, 2016

Inflation and growth remain moribund despite epic bond-buying and subzero interest rates. One bold move would be for the central bank to step up purchases of exchange-traded funds. That would lift shares and maybe help confidence - but wouldn’t change corporate behaviour much.

Saudi’s sweet debt deal could rebound on banks

April 21, 2016

The kingdom is close to its first international debt deal in 25 years to plug a hole in its finances caused by weak oil prices. Vast oil reserves make Saudi debt enticing, but the price slump is changing the game in several ways. And Middle East states have defaulted before.

Japan Inc would gain by fixing M&A sights on home

April 20, 2016

Bosses have been busy buying abroad. But often it makes more sense to consolidate fragmented domestic industries. With Japanese firms under pressure to become better-run and more profitable, a recent string of tie-ups could signal the start of a more investor-friendly deal spree.

Deals can help Japan’s banks offset dollar drought

April 13, 2016

Mega-banks MUFG, SMFG and Mizuho are making new loans abroad faster than they can amass matching deposits. This headache has boosted the cost of swapping funds from yen to dollars, and made regulators in Tokyo wary. Buying smaller U.S. lenders would help reduce the mismatch.