George's Feed
May 6, 2014
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Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Barclays has shown why it needs to “do a UBS”. Both the UK bank and its Swiss peer had a rotten time in their fixed-income trading operations in the first quarter, numbers released on May 6 show. The difference is that Barclays is only just understanding a problem that UBS attacked 18 months ago.

Apr 14, 2014
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How China is stoking London’s housing bubble

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It takes a long trip on the London underground to get to the Aura housing development. From Waterloo Station, 42 minutes tick by until you pull into Edgware, the stop nearest to the half-completed apartment blocks being built on land formerly occupied by a now-bankrupt football club. Attempt the journey at the weekend, when large swathes of the tube are typically shut, and you must make a detour to nearby Canon’s Park station. From there, you face a 15-minute trek taking in a boarded-up pub, a Lidl supermarket and a municipal office block with smashed ground-floor windows. In every sense, you are a long way from what estate agents like to call “prime central London.”

Mar 7, 2014
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Review: Why all you know about money is wrong

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Everyone knows what money is. Whether denominated in paper, coins or something else entirely, transactions get paid for by a physical commodity that enables humans not to waste their time bartering with each other. Felix Martin’s book, published this week in the United States, convincingly argues this view is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Mar 7, 2014
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Review: Why all you know about money is wrong

Photo

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Everyone knows what money is. Whether denominated in paper, coins or something else entirely, transactions get paid for by a physical commodity that enables humans not to waste their time bartering with each other. Felix Martin’s book, published this week in the United States, convincingly argues this view is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Mar 3, 2014
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Ukraine crisis dents EU banks’ recovery plans

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Crisis in Ukraine is denting European banks’ recovery strategies. Barring Austria’s Raiffeisen, few Western groups have meaningful exposure to the country. But big lenders such as Societe Generale, Commerzbank, UniCredit and KBC were hoping lucrative, fast-growing markets in central and Eastern Europe would counter humdrum returns at home. With Russia squaring off against the West, the economic, currency, and political risks of this approach are all too apparent.

Mar 3, 2014
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Ukraine crisis dents EU banks’ recovery plans

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Crisis in Ukraine is denting European banks’ recovery strategies. Barring Austria’s Raiffeisen, few Western groups have meaningful exposure to the country. But big lenders such as Societe Generale, Commerzbank, UniCredit and KBC were hoping lucrative, fast-growing markets in central and Eastern Europe would counter humdrum returns at home. With Russia squaring off against the West, the economic, currency, and political risks of this approach are all too apparent.

Dec 19, 2013
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The wrongs and rights of the euro banking union

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By George Hay 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The euro zone banking union was always going to have a difficult birth. European governments finally agreed on Dec. 18 the second of three key milestones – a resolution directive establishing a common approach for dealing with struggling lenders. As with most EU compromises, it is an imperfect reform. It was criticized by European Central Bank officials, including president Mario Draghi, and doubts remain. But the euro zone at least has the beginning of a banking union.

Nov 29, 2013
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Review: A no-nonsense recipe for retail success

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Malcolm Walker has a no-nonsense recipe for retail success. While larger supermarkets have expanded upmarket, overseas, and away from food, he’s made a fortune selling cheap frozen dinners to hard-up Britons through his Iceland Foods chain. It’s all about meeting customer demand, controlling costs, and staying focused, his autobiography shows. Still, Walker’s travails down the years are a reminder how easily things can go wrong in the food business.

Nov 7, 2013
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Settling is hard to refuse in EU rates probes

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brussels has handed banks a tactical quandary. The European Commission’s antitrust arm is preparing to hand some 5 billion euros of fines to the industry for its now-infamous attempts to manipulate interbank lending rates like Euribor and yen Libor. But some banks aren’t willing to settle. They face a tricky choice: buy peace now, or risk the ire of a powerful regulator – and a possibly larger fine later.

Nov 1, 2013
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RBS thankfully bins bad-bank spinoff folly

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The UK government has taken four months to work out what almost everyone knew all along. Splitting off the toxic assets of Royal Bank of Scotland into a separate bad bank is a bad idea. The 81 percent taxpayer-held bank will now pursue an eminently more sensible plan to build capital by shrinking non-core assets more quickly.

    • About George

      "George Hay writes about the banking and property sectors. He joined from Thomson Financial News, where he was a companies correspondent. Before that he worked at United Business Media, where he was news editor of Building Magazine. He has a first in English Literature from Edinburgh University, and was nominated in two categories at the 2009 Business Journalist of the Year Awards."
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