Breakingviews

Sports Direct scandal debunks UK employment glory

July 22, 2016

UK lawmakers have issued a damning report on the retailer and say working conditions hark back to Victorian times. Founder Mike Ashley has big problems to fix. But there’s a wider economic malaise if workers put up with such poor treatment even when the jobless rate is very low.

EasyJet is post-Brexit bet for the brave

July 21, 2016

The UK airline says it doesn’t know what security scares, currency turmoil and Britain’s exit from Europe will do to earnings. The shares have fallen around 30 pct in less than a month. Yet in past downturns easyJet has snatched market share. There’s no reason it can’t again.

The realist’s approach to Brexit

July 20, 2016

It's easy to think of things Britain might want to keep if it leaves the European Union. But an alternative approach is to work out what aspects it most wants to cast off. That leads to a difficult conclusion: what the UK really wants is what it already has.

The City will survive Britain’s big rift

July 19, 2016

The UK's Brexit vote threatens London's financial hub-ness, but it would be wrong to think in simple binary terms. Even at worst, the costs to a global bank of staying on in the UK are likely to be counterbalanced by the costs of leaving. And really, it's clients who will decide.

SoftBank’s $32 bln ARM bet gives investors a shock

July 18, 2016

The Japanese tech group has reportedly agreed to buy the UK chip designer. It's a pricey punt on connected devices, and an unwelcome surprise for those who thought SoftBank was focused on reducing debt. Shareholders remain at the mercy of Chairman Masayoshi Son's "crazy ideas".

Assault on UK privilege has many possible targets

July 14, 2016

Theresa May wants to focus on more than the "privileged few". If Britain's new prime minister is serious, the most glaring disparities are in pensions, savings, housing and infrastructure. Action in these areas would go some way to healing north/south and young/old rifts.

Workers on boards only small step in UK governance

July 11, 2016

Theresa May, perhaps Britain's next prime minister, wants employees among company directors. Germany's 40-year-old union-heavy "Mitbestimmung" model - which goes further than the UK would - hasn't been the disaster predicted by industry, but it also has its downsides.

British retail sleepwalks into Amazon-ageddon

July 8, 2016

Real-world stores are burdened with poor demand, too much property and thinning profit. The U.S. tech giant, meanwhile, is hiring 1,000 UK staff and pushing into fashion and groceries. The UK's economic problems could be a decisive moment in the online land grab.

UK upstart banks lack too-big-to-fail airbag

July 6, 2016

Britain's challenger banks have grown thanks to their bigger peers' dire customer service. Most look well capitalised. But a Brexit-induced recession and commercial property downturn may expose shoddy underwriting. Their tiny size means regulators won't mind if they go under.

UK’s tax cut goal: calm business, scare Brussels

July 4, 2016

George Osborne has plans to cut the UK's already-low corporate tax rate to near-Irish 15 pct levels. It might stop domestic business jumping ship post-Brexit. But the prospect of a tax haven UK also acts as a bargaining chip to use in forthcoming exit negotiations.