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Washington’s $200 billion-plus subsidized agricultural lending complex includes Farmer Mac, a rural copy of ill-fated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Despite a hot farmland market, though, the system looks ruggedly capitalized enough to avoid the bailout fate of the home-loan behemoths.

Latest blunder hits StanChart where it most hurts

New York regulators have fined the emerging markets bank another $300 mln for compliance lapses. StanChart’s biggest problem is still its misfiring strategy. But such avoidable missteps reinforce a disturbing impression that senior managers are too detached from daily operations.

Fed adds urgency to Indonesia's fuel reform test

President-elect Joko Widodo’s first big challenge will be to rethink the country’s $30 billion energy subsidy. Though higher fuel prices will be unpopular, the handout boosts the trade deficit. That makes Indonesia extra vulnerable to capital flight when U.S. interest rates rise.

BHP spin-off won't appeal to commodity players

The mining giant plans to hive off some assets into a new company. The prices of nickel and aluminium, two of its key products, are rising. Investors could use the new firm to follow the trends. But they probably won’t. There are purer plays and better-diversified producers.

Sinopec petrol sale attracts a motley bunch

The Chinese oil giant is seeking investors for its vast network of filling stations. Retail, energy, technology and private equity groups are keen. With a price tag of $16 bln for a minority stake, they will have to club together. That will make it harder to exert influence.

Dollar store bid battle leaves value on the table

Dollar General’s $9.7 bln offer for rival U.S. discount retailer Family Dollar tops an earlier bid from Dollar Tree. The new suitor is also offering all cash instead of part shares and may be a better fit. But there’s room for either to lob in a few more singles to clinch a deal.

German yield curve is the safest one to play

The spread between short- and long-dated bond yields keeps shrinking in the UK, United States and Germany. Stronger economic activity explains the Anglo-Saxon moves, economic weakness drives the Teutonic trend. The trade that relies on euro zone frailty looks the least risky.