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Jun 13, 2012
via Breakingviews

National breakups don’t work like corporate ones

By Martin Hutchinson

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

The recent attempt by Malian rebels to split their country is not wrong in principle. With good will and support from the rest of the world, some national partitions – not unlike corporate breakups – produce smaller, better-governed and more prosperous nations. But military force makes such results rare and disasters all too common.

Jun 11, 2012
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Citi looks too accident-prone to make it to 300

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Happy 200th birthday Citigroup – shame you are unlikely to make it to 300. At the very least, it’s hard to envision the accident-prone New York bank will make it to 2112. Founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, Citi’s first century was more successful than the second. By 1912 Citi was the largest U.S. bank with worldwide operations, a top-three underwriting business and one near-death experience, in 1837. Since then it’s had several costly expansions and four more near-fatalities.

Jun 11, 2012

BREAKINGVIEWS:Citi looks too accident-prone to make it to 300

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

By Martin Hutchinson

NEW YORK, June 11 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Happy 200th
birthday Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) – shame you are unlikely to make it to
300. At the very least, it’s hard to envision the accident-prone
New York bank will make it to 2112. Founded in 1812 as the City
Bank of New York, Citi’s first century was more successful than
the second. By 1912 Citi was the largest U.S. bank with
worldwide operations, a top-three underwriting business and one
near-death experience, in 1837. Since then it’s had several
costly expansions and four more near-fatalities.

Jun 6, 2012
via Breakingviews

Wisconsin puts proactive policies back on the map

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By Martin Hutchinson and Daniel Indiviglio
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin’s recall election has put proactive policies back on the map. The victory affirms his 2011 union-curbing budget reforms, suggesting that well-designed controversial policies are far from doomed. That’s good news for politicians of all hues battling Washington’s gridlock.

Jun 4, 2012

Pick-a-pay creator follows dodgy product to grave

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

By Martin Hutchinson

NEW YORK, June 4 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Marion Sandler
has died at the age of 81. She was already a rare female success
story on Wall Street when she bought Golden West Financial in
1963 with her husband Herb. The couple then built the thrift
into one of America’s most efficient mortgage lenders and sold
to Wachovia for $24 billion at the top of the market in 2006.
But it’s as the architects of the pick-a-pay loan that she and
her husband will be remembered.

May 17, 2012
via Breakingviews

US housing recovery shows subsidies need trimming

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

The U.S. housing recovery shows it’s time to trim subsidies. The market finally looks close to bottoming out. Prices are reasonable and rates for borrowing mortgages are ultra-low. Mortgage interest tax deductions, loan guarantees and even some foreclosure assistance are looking increasingly unnecessary.

Take, for example, the delinquency rate. It dropped to 7.4 percent in the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association. That’s almost a full percentage point below last year. The number of new homes being built is a third higher than this time last year, while sales of both new and existing homes are also on the up. And the National Association of Homebuilders index is 20 points above its nadir and now at its highest level since the end of 2007.

May 4, 2012
via Breakingviews

Obama’s job creation hopes look fragile

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

Barack Obama can at last say he has presided over increased employment in America’s private sector, if not in government, since he arrived in the White House in January 2009. But the slowing pace of job creation evident from Friday’s monthly report and declining labor force participation could make for a tough sell in November’s elections.

May 3, 2012

U.S. Treasury starts thinking like a company

By Daniel Indiviglio and Martin Hutchinson

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Kudos to the U.S. Treasury for starting to think about Uncle Sam’s funding needs like a major company would. The nation’s borrower is showing more interest in switching some of its funding to floating-rate debt. That’s a smart idea – it may be all it can sell as interest rates rise. But Treasury needs to tread carefully.

Like corporations before it, Treasury’s overreliance on short-term paper now leaves it having to refinance some $5 trillion – half its overall public indebtedness – over the next three years. An interest-rate shock could make rolling that over a painful process. Even if the global economy recovers in a more stable manner, investors willing to accept a little more risk for a little more yield could forgo Treasuries.

Apr 25, 2012
via Breakingviews

Fed’s rising growth, falling inflation are wishful

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

Ben Bernanke seems to be just hoping for the best. Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee statement talks about a pick-up in growth even as inflation declines from the current run-rate above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. These trends aren’t apparent from recent data, and the U.S. central bank needs contingency plans if things don’t pan out so conveniently.

Apr 23, 2012
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Cambodia must solve two big problems for takeoff

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Cambodia must solve two big problems to achieve the kind of rapid, sustained growth Asia’s tiger economies have delivered. Opening its stock exchange on April 18 is a good start – it shows the country is relatively friendly to foreign investors and markets. But meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population will be expensive, and Cambodia’s corruption is both dreadful and pervasive.

    • About Martin

      "Martin Hutchinson is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist and writes about emerging markets, particularly in Latin America, and monetary and macroeconomic issues. He is a former merchant/investment banker with 27 years of experience."
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