Britain’s “Black Friday” better left on the shelf

November 27, 2015

The Thanksgiving shopping orgy, recently adopted by the UK, is unhelpful for all concerned. Consumer credit is spiralling, confidence falling and retail margins are under pressure. If shoppers and retailers take a rational view of low prices, the festival will snuff itself out.

Barclays money-laundering rap is oddly reassuring

November 26, 2015

The UK bank has been fined for cutting corners on a 1.9 bln stg deal for politically sensitive clients in 2011. The temptation for banks to bend the rules for VIPs is just as strong today. But more vigilant regulators are chipping away at the idea that this is business as usual.

Britain joins sovereign wealth party too late

November 26, 2015

Creating a 1 billion pound sovereign wealth fund to encourage shale gas drilling in the UK could fail on two fronts. It won’t sway opponents of fracking in the UK countryside, and a financial windfall is unlikely given a global gas glut and unattractive shale economics.

UK’s Osborne is less austere than he makes out

November 25, 2015

Finance minister George Osborne isn’t quite the budget zealot his Nov. 25 spending cuts suggest. The UK has run bigger deficits relative to GDP than France during his tenure. He has also executed tax and spending U-turns when required. It helps that gilt investors buy the hype.

Dixon: How the EU could woo the UK

By Hugo Dixon
November 23, 2015

The British prime minister wants to rework the UK’s relationship with Europe. Once complete, other EU leaders could launch a charm offensive to persuade Britain it is valued and influential, and to vote to stay in the union. Here’s what Merkel, Hollande, Renzi, et al could say.

UK shuts stable door after HBOS horse has bolted

By Breakingviews Columnists
November 19, 2015

Regulators are to look at whether those responsible for the bust lender’s demise should face censure. Judging by another report into why HBOS failed, the answer may well be yes. But the meaningful penalties remaining – pension clawbacks or big fines – look legally tricky.

Royal Mail is delivering in traditional style

November 19, 2015

Shares in the UK postal service rose 6 pct on Nov. 19. Half-year revenue was flat but Royal Mail is squeezing costs. Hats off to CEO Moya Greene. Through old-fashioned hard work, the business is looking more and more sustainable. Still, the headwinds are unrelenting.

UK fund fee crackdown a welcome detour from TBTF

November 18, 2015

Asset managers this year managed to avoid too-big-to-fail status. The FCA’s focus on whether they deliver a good service is a worthier target. As savers take more investment decisions themselves and banks expand in a capital-light sector, duff performance is a bigger problem.

EasyJet’s brio bodes ill for Lufthansa, Air France

November 17, 2015

On the back of an 18 pct jump in pre-tax profit in 2015, the UK budget carrier is ordering more planes to step up growth and expand into new routes. The confidence is merited. High-cost legacy carriers are too bogged down by labour unrest to fight more nimble low-cost rivals.

Glencore can’t delay with $2 bln agri-sale

November 17, 2015

The debt-laden commodities trader is slimming down in agriculture. But two months into the disposal process, one potential buyer says he thinks the business is “not really on the market”. With copper prices hitting a fresh six-year low, Glencore can’t afford to drag its feet.