Breakingviews

 
There’s no reason to think the $3.2 trln pace of deals will slow in 2015, but the uproarious reception from shareholders is already showing signs of subsiding. As easy pickings of squeezing costs from overlapping operations evaporate, the laws of corporate finance will prevail.

First case against algorithm could reboot U.S. law

A market manipulation prosecution essentially turns on whether one program duped another. That makes proving criminal intent seem futuristic at best. Similar obstacles could trip up other cases where software is the de facto defendant. Judges will tackle the issue in 2015.

China-U.S. shift will end Cold War peace dividend

The PRC’s military outlays may match Uncle Sam’s in 15 years, while U.S. policy paired with Russian aggression could force up EU spending. Western defense firms face more competition, but added demand. Governments may have to choose between just rearming and an all-out arms race.

More than Slim odds America Movil buys T-Mobile

Carlos Slim’s telecoms empire needs to reduce its dependence on Mexico. The fourth U.S. wireless carrier is cheap, parent Deutsche Telekom doesn’t want it and there’s strategic logic to a deal. The increasingly frightful competition in U.S. telecoms may be a sticking point.

China will make 2015 year of missed opportunities

Foreign investors hope for a more open, balanced China. Its leaders have other ideas. They favour reforms that minimise financial instability, punish bad eggs, and nurture national champions. President Xi Jinping’s popularity quest will raise tensions with the rest of the world.

Goodbye tech conglomerates, hello "ecosystems"

Companies have been using that word to justify building internet-based empires out of a mish-mash of assets with hard-to-identify synergies. Asian players like China’s Alibaba and Japan’s Softbank are amongst biggest fans of this unhelpful jargon.

China needs history's biggest spring clean

Reforms targeting reckless lending, homebuilding and graft have stopped the mess getting worse. Behaviour won’t really change until China deals with its backlog of bad debts, empty houses and dirty secrets. This would be a good year to sweep the skeletons from the closet.