John's Feed
Jan 23, 2014
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Audit spat pokes hole in China’s financial edifice

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By John Foley

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

China’s legal grey areas have been a source of enormous wealth for investors. Now a U.S. judge is threatening to poke a hole in the entire edifice. The Chinese units of the world’s biggest four auditors face a six-month suspension from auditing U.S.-listed companies after the judge decided they wilfully refused to hand over documents on Chinese clients to U.S. regulators. It’s hard to fault his logic, but upholding the rules could bring a huge cost.

Jan 21, 2014
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China’s growth slower but no more believable

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By John Foley

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

China’s GDP growth may be getting more sustainable, but it’s no more believable. The country’s 31 provinces are on course to report aggregate nominal GDP far in excess of the total central figure for 2013 – and not for the first time. Big numbers are getting less reliable, which strengthens the case for new ones.

Jan 17, 2014
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China trust default is least painful option

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By John Foley

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

Much about China’s financial system is fuzzy, particularly when it comes to so-called trust companies. But when push comes to shove the case for letting an investment product fail is pretty clear.

Jan 14, 2014
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Coal typifies China’s reform: it’s hard and dirty

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By John Foley 

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

Coal is much like China’s reform challenge: hard and dirty. Even as politicians fret about the country’s chronic smog, they approved 100 million tonnes of new mining capacity in 2013, six times the amount for the previous year. That will add to the 300 million tonnes or so already due to come on stream in 2014. The habit is proving difficult to kick.

Jan 9, 2014
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Difficult second coming pays off for Chinese IPOs

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By John Foley 

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

Free money, anyone? China’s equity markets have just reopened after a fourteen-month hiatus, starting with a batch of eight companies planning initial public offerings in the week ending Jan. 10. With so much pent-up demand, and rules in place to protect investors from losses, exuberance is inevitable. But better to have frothy IPOs than none at all.

Jan 8, 2014
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China conducts monetary policy in the shadows

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By John Foley 

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

China is engaging in a shadowy version of monetary policy. Recent tinkering by the People’s Bank of China, which has pushed up rates, looks targeted at parts of the “shadow banking” sector. This kind of variegated tightening might just work, simply because China’s financial system is so dysfunctional.

Dec 27, 2013
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China’s banks are coming – this time for real

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By John Foley 

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

China’s banks are racking up foreign assets, driven by trade flows, and the country’s corporate diaspora. Even at the current slow pace, what today looks like “following the client” could soon become “following everyone’s clients”.

Nov 29, 2013
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Australia too mealy-mouthed on protectionism

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By John Foley

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

Australia is being mealy mouthed about protectionism. Treasurer Joe Hockey blocked the A$3.4 billion ($3.1 billion) takeover of agricultural trader GrainCorp by U.S. rival ADM on Nov. 29, on the grounds that Australia’s grain market is only just getting used to competition, five years after the national wheat monopoly was disbanded. For Australia’s foreign investment prospects, the decision itself is less bad than the ambiguity over why it was made.

Nov 28, 2013
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Giant Interactive’s $2.9 bln buyout hard to resist

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By Una Galani

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

Giant Interactive’s $2.9 billion buyout is hard to resist. Chairman Shi Yuzhu is leading a consortium with Baring Private Equity Asia to take the U.S-listed Chinese computer gaming group private. At almost 13 times this year’s earnings, the group’s offer to buy the 53 percent that it doesn’t already own is a chunky premium to peers. Besides, independent investors have few alternatives.

Nov 27, 2013
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How Cinda squares China’s debt triangles

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By John Foley

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

China Cinda has spotted a clever arbitrage. The Chinese “bad bank”, which is revving up for a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), has recently been doing brisk business by borrowing cheaply from other banks and using those funds to buy up companies’ short-term loans to each other. In doing so, it has found a way to square China’s dreaded “debt triangles”.