Breakingviews

Chancellor: Zero-coupon bonds are not a joke

August 26, 2016

On April Fools' 10 years ago Breakingviews suggested Washington fund itself with perpetual bonds paying no interest. The idea is now being seriously touted by some monetary policymakers. For households with cash and other assets that would evaporate, this is no laughing matter.

Apollo wagers $4.3 bln on Amazonian capitulation

August 26, 2016

Leon Black's private-equity firm is taking Rackspace private as the cloud-computing firm has struggled to compete against Amazon, Microsoft and other tech heavyweights. If Rackspace's strategic shift to sell services on these platforms succeeds, Apollo will have a nice payday.

New planet may help Silicon Valley live its cliché

August 25, 2016

Proxima b, the just-spotted Earth-like body in the star system nearest the sun, could be reached in 20 years by a super-fast spacecraft being financed by tech titan Yuri Milner. Making our world a better place is a startup bromide. Visiting another would deliver on the promise.

U.S. labor unions look increasingly white collar

August 25, 2016

A ruling that lets Ivy League graduate students organize will add to the growing share of cubicle-dwellers in the union movement. Education is one of the few sectors in which membership is increasing, albeit from a low base. The blue-collar stereotype is slowly fading away.

Williams gets the board fight it deserves

August 23, 2016

A pushy investor who just quit as a director at the $21 bln U.S. pipeline operator is back with a whole new slate. Because of a deadline, however, the nominees are stand-ins until real candidates can be found. The year of M&A helter-skelter makes this new madness somehow fitting.

Pfizer bets $14 bln it knows better than market

August 22, 2016

The drug giant is paying a 120 pct premium for Medivation. It's a good fit and the biotech's cancer blockbuster is a rare gem. The whopping premium suggests Pfizer sees something others missed. But a heated auction and back-of-the-envelope math hint that the buyer is overpaying.

Feds mete out justice on private prisons

August 18, 2016

U.S. jailers like Corrections Corp lost two-fifths of their value after the Justice Department said it would stop outsourcing incarceration to for-profit firms. Industries that attract enough questions to provoke divestment campaigns can pose financial, not just moral, dangers.

Uber steers self-driving to robots vs. jobs crash

August 18, 2016

The ride-hailing app is buying autonomous big-rig startup Otto and unleashing driverless taxis in Pittsburgh. Such technology would save lives but automate a task that employs millions of U.S. workers. The U.S. safety net is ill-prepared for such a job-destroying juggernaut.

Lyft’s off-ramp leads to General Motors

August 15, 2016

The No. 2 U.S. ride-hailing service recently rebuffed takeover interest from its 9 pct owner. There are good reasons for Lyft to steer clear of Detroit, despite a shared vision for autonomous cars. But cash-flush rivals could yet force the Silicon Valley upstart into GM's lane.

Disney deal finally puts ESPN on offense

August 10, 2016

A year after sparking concerns about its sports network losing subscribers, the media conglomerate is buying a one-third stake in Major League Baseball's streaming technology firm for $1 bln. That will take ESPN direct to consumers and give Disney a valuable step into the future.