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Feb 25, 2013
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Asia’s property taxes are covert capital controls

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Asia’s city-states are experimenting with a new form of capital controls: property taxes. In its latest effort to cool the market, Hong Kong has hiked stamp duty for real-estate transactions, apart from those that involve local first-time buyers. Discriminating against foreign speculators may distort the market and have limited success in constraining prices. Yet its popular appeal is clear.

Feb 19, 2013
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Singapore kicks off necessary benchmark rate cull

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Singapore is kicking off a necessary cull of benchmark interest rates. The city-state is expected to kill off the U.S. dollar Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) in order to focus on the weightier local-currency version. With alternatives on tap, the switch should be manageable. It will also be a useful test for London’s planned interest rate bonfire.

Feb 15, 2013
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Review: The real story of Bo Xilai’s ruin

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Sometime in the next few months, Bo Xilai is expected to stand trial in the most high-profile political prosecution in China for over three decades. The former Chongqing party chief, once a contender to join the inner core of China’s leadership, stands accused of corruption, abuse of power and – more prosaically – “improper sexual relations” with women.

Feb 11, 2013
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Asia’s city-states grapple with slowing growth

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Singapore and Hong Kong are being forced to come to terms with slowing growth. For decades, the city-states have been among Asia’s economic hotspots. But continued expansion will be restrained by popular discontent about crowding and rising property costs. A more pedestrian future awaits.

Feb 5, 2013
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Soccer’s betting scam has echoes of Libor scandal

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Soccer has been whacked with its version of the Libor scandal. The revelation that 680 European and World Cup matches may have been rigged invites comparison with bankers’ manipulation of benchmark interest rates before and during the financial crisis. Both require collusion, are hard to detect, and were partly orchestrated in Singapore. Both also undermine confidence. Sadly, soccer’s flaws are less easily solved.

Feb 4, 2013
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Weak yen makes Japanese electronics firms giddy

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Japan’s assault on the yen has produced some clear winners: investors in the country’s beaten-up consumer electronics industry. Shares in Panasonic jumped 17 percent on Feb. 4 after the group reported a less-severe-than-expected quarterly loss. The hope is that stronger exports and recent cost-cutting will transform earnings. But with revenue still shrinking, the recent rally is largely based on hope.

Jan 28, 2013
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China FX swap may blur Bank of England mandate

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

The Bank of England is discovering the downside of being the City of London’s chief watchdog. The central bank is under pressure from financial institutions to set up a currency swap with the People’s Bank of China. Such a move would help to boost London as a centre for trading offshore renminbi. However, worrying about the City’s competitiveness also risks blurring the BOE’s main objective of preserving financial stability.

Jan 9, 2013
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Ping An flop could leave HSBC red-faced but richer

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

A failed Ping An sale could leave HSBC red-faced, but richer. If regulators veto the UK bank’s $9.4 billion plan to offload its near-16 percent stake in the Chinese insurer, HSBC’s reputation will take a knock. But it could still end up financially better off.

Nov 30, 2012
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HK exchange plays it safe with equity finance

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s stock exchange is playing it safe. The bourse’s $1 billion share placing will allow it to repay more than half the debt it took on to buy the London Metals Exchange earlier this year. Ultra-low yields might make bonds look tempting. But a recent share rebound, and HKEx’s hefty dividend payout, justifies its cautious approach.

Nov 19, 2012
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HSBC needs to put numbers on China ambition

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

HSBC’s global strategy overhaul has reached China: the emerging market lender is in talks about offloading its 16 percent stake in Ping An, the Chinese insurer. Chief executive Stuart Gulliver could go further, by putting some numbers on his ambitions for the bank’s other Chinese assets – particularly its even-larger shareholding in Bank of Communications.

    • About Peter

      "Peter is Assistant Editor of Reuters Breakingviews, based in London. He oversees coverage of financial services and regulation. Prior to joining Reuters, Peter spent 10 years at the Financial Times. From 2004 to 2009 he was the FT’s banking editor, leading the paper’s award-winning coverage of global banking during the credit crunch. Between 2000 and 2004 Peter reported for the FT from New York. He played a leading role in the paper’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. A Dutch national, Peter has degrees from Bristol University and the London School of Economics."
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