Breakingviews

Heathrow offers quaint lessons in infrastructure

July 1, 2015

After at least six years of heated debate, a British government-appointed panel has backed the idea of a third runway for London’s largest airport. China has built 44 new airports in that time. The UK’s deliberative approach has advantages, but now it’s time to start building.

Subject financial fiefs to modern Magna Carta

June 15, 2015

Companies in the 21st century can learn from 13th century England. Overmighty, overpaid CEOs are the new King Johns. They are held to account, sort of, by the barons of fund management. What’s needed is more respect for finance’s neglected yeomanry: ordinary savers.

UK blithely signs up to Germany’s worst idea

June 10, 2015

Chancellor George Osborne is to enshrine budget surpluses in state legislation. For a nation with low interest rates and sagging productivity, aping German deficit-phobia is nuts. But plain thinking wins votes because the public has learned to mistrust the wisdom of economists.

HSBC continues to wind back the clock

June 9, 2015

Four years since he started pruning the bank, CEO Stuart Gulliver is cutting risk-weighted assets by a quarter and shedding 50,000 employees. HSBC is returning to its roots as an Asia-focussed trade lender, though investors will have to wait almost three years to feel the effect.

Tesco’s South Korean unit stacks up for a buyout

June 9, 2015

A disposal for around $6 bln would do much to fix the British grocer’s strained balance sheet. Tesco might not miss the Korean earnings that much either. It’s hard to see trade buyers bidding up the price. But it presents a rare opportunity for private equity in Asia.

UK taxpayers hurt more by EU split than HSBC exit

May 19, 2015

Deutsche Bank and its rivals could move operations out of London if Britons vote to leave the EU. That would dent the main source of UK tax from the financial sector - income tax on bankers. It’s a bigger loss than reduced bank levy receipts from HSBC moving its head office.

Cameron has work cut out to sustain relief rally

May 8, 2015

UK stocks and bonds, and the pound, have jumped on the Conservatives’ surprise election success. That’s to be expected given fears of a messy outcome. But the result leaves open questions on EU membership and Scotland. Such uncertainties could hold back investment and growth.

BP and Total find downstream respite

April 28, 2015

Strong results in refining and marketing limited the profit fall at the two European majors. With the oil price down, the gains are especially welcome. But downstream overcapacity will bite in the medium term, while upstream businesses remain hostage to the oil market.

Review: The politics of anti-inequality

By Edward Hadas
April 24, 2015

Anthony Atkinson's "Inequality" is a UK-centric manifesto to help the poor and restrain the rich. The Oxford academic's specific proposals are mostly sensible, but they dodge serious questions about the role of the welfare state and the balance of national and global justice.

Labour to gain from “follow the money” UK voting

April 24, 2015

People vote with their wallets. The governing Conservative coalition may earn credit for presiding over five years of low interest rates and a strongish pound. But a Breakingviews calculator suggests a weaker record on growth, house prices and stocks could swing votes to Labour.