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Sep 9, 2013
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Japan’s Olympic boost will be mostly psychological

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Japan’s Olympic boost will be mostly psychological rather than financial. Tokyo’s victory in the race to host the 2020 summer Games will help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to rebuild the country’s confidence. But expectations that an Olympian investment spree will lift Japan out of deflation are as misplaced as fears that it will trigger a debt crisis.

Sep 6, 2013
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Australia haunted by imaginary crises

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

“Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.” So said academic Donald Horne in his 1964 book, The Lucky Country. Yet you wouldn’t know it from the surly mood as Australians prepare to vote in a general election on Sept. 7. Despite the country’s enviable economic track record, citizens are haunted by past turmoil and apprehensive about the future. These enemies are more imagined than real.

Aug 26, 2013
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Asia sell-off will expose weak corporate defences

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Generals usually fight the last war, not the current one. Investors have a similar mindset. In Asia, a market sell-off has raised concerns about a re-run of the financial calamity of 1997-98. Though most of the region’s economies are in better shape this time, corporate leverage has risen quickly, and it looks like some companies have forgotten the lessons of history.

Aug 6, 2013
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StanChart shows not all emerging markets are equal

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Being labelled an emerging-markets bank can be a mixed blessing. Standard Chartered’s shares have drifted in recent months as investors fret about growth, particularly in Asia. Yet while the bank is feeling the pinch in Korea and Southeast Asia, other markets are picking up the slack. Shareholders probably need to get used to Standard Chartered delivering a more varied performance.

For investors who have grown used to regular double-digit expansion, StanChart’s income growth of 4 percent in the first half looks distinctly pedestrian. Operating profit was equally subdued – and that’s before counting a $1 billion goodwill writedown on the value of StanChart’s South Korean business. Though the charge doesn’t affect cashflow or capital, it’s a reminder of how the country’s financial prospects have dimmed since StanChart expanded into the country through its biggest acquisition in 2005. Government rules to help consumers offload their hefty debts have eaten into earnings: South Korean banks currently earn a return on equity of about 4 percent. In 2005, the industry’s ROE was about 18 percent.

Aug 6, 2013
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Sony brush-off won’t end Dan Loeb campaign

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

The tussle over Sony may be the most courteous shareholder battle ever. Back in May, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb respectfully suggested the company spin off a stake in its entertainment arm. Now the Japanese group’s board has politely rejected the idea. But the activist appears to be digging in for the long haul.

Aug 5, 2013
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Milk scare exposes New Zealand’s dairy dependency

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By Peter Thal Larsen 

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

New Zealand’s dairy scare has exposed its dependence on milk. A warning about contaminated products at Fonterra, the country’s largest producer, has triggered recalls and temporary import bans around the world. The immediate fallout may be limited. But it’s a reminder that, with milk generating a quarter of its exports, New Zealand remains vulnerable to food scares.

Aug 1, 2013
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Indonesia biggest loser from bank merger flop

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

There are no winners from DBS’s failed takeover of Indonesia’s Danamon. But the biggest loser is Indonesia’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.

Jul 31, 2013
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Mongolia’s economic fairytale faces reality check

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Mongolia’s fairytale economic boom is developing cracks. The failure of the country’s fifth-largest bank and delays to the development of its giant copper mine underscores fears that its growth potential is built on shaky foundations. Yet greater economic realism may ultimately be welcome.

Jul 10, 2013
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Rate reform will test China’s modernising mettle

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Freeing interest rates is more than a financial test for China. Lifting strict controls on the official cost of money is necessary for the development for the world’s second-largest economy. The question is whether China can avoid the financial problems that other liberalising countries suffered, and relax its grip on banks, companies, and citizens.

Jul 2, 2013
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Bitcoin ETF signals time to make market in cash

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By Peter Thal Larsen
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Exchange-traded funds are taking over the financial world. At last official count, there were nearly 1,200 of them at the end of 2012, compared to about 100 a decade ago, according to the Investment Company Institute trade group. With a new issue now linking to the virtual currency Bitcoin, the $1.3 trillion index tracker industry seems to cover nearly everything. And yet the most important asset class of all has been ignored. Breakingviews stands ready to remedy the situation.

    • 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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