Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Vietnam’s Capitalist Roaders

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A woman dressed in the traditional Vietnamese “ao dai”costume serves tea to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (front R) during the opening ceremony of the 11th Party Congress in Hanoi January 12, 2011

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Vietnam’s ruling communists  opened an eight-day party congress on Wednesday with a candid  admission the fast-growing economy had become unstable, as  delegates began the process of reshuffling leaders and  charting new policies. 
   As leaders sang the national anthem to begin the  five-yearly event, streets in the chilly capital Hanoi were  festooned with red and yellow banners, some bearing the iconic  hammer and sickle. Propaganda posters bore the smiling  likeness of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh or of proud,  uniformed workers. 
   The economic backdrop is less festive. Inflation surged to  a 22-month high in December, the government is struggling to  bring down a hefty fiscal deficit, the currency has been  depreciating for three years and the trade deficit remains  stubbornly high.  

A Reuters Special Report takes a close look at Vietnam’s new breed of captitalists, as the country of 90 million takes a page out of China’s Communist Party playbook and promotes a more consumption-led economy. This is a development path divergent from that of its East Asian neighbours, whose economies became Tigers or Dragons (as the case may be) on the back of exports not consumers.

In contrast to most emerging markets, Vietnam has been a sell — up until recently, anyway. The Vietnam stock index is down 59 percent from its March 2007 peak and lost more than 3 percent last year, compared to gains of more than 40 percent in Thailand and Indonesia.

Somebody’s been making money on Ford

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Here’s a line from our special report on Ford from Detroit today, by Bernie Woodall and Kevin Krolicki, who spent some quality time with Bill Ford earlier this week.

A $100,000 investment in the company’s stock at the bottom in late 2008 — when its cross-town rivals GM and Chrysler were nearing government bailouts — would be worth $1.8 million today.

Congratulations to Murray Waas

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WAASMurray Waas is picking up the prestigious Barlett & Steele award today in Phoenix for his special report on health insurers dropping patients after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Reynolds Center is holding a panel discussion with Murray and silver medal winner John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which will be streamed live here.

Solar energy vs wildlife

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Sarah McBride reports on brewing battles between environmentalists in her special report: “With solar power, it’s Green vs. Green.”

It turns out the perfect place to build a big solar plant is often also the perfect place for a tortoise or a fox to live. This means developers of large-scale solar plants are running into legal challenges from people who one would expect to be natural allies of alternative energy providers.

Let’s be ethical, economists say

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Last month’s special report “For some professors, disclosure is academic” has been making waves in the academic world, as this story shows:

Economists urge AEA to adopt ethics code: letter

By Kristina Cooke

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Almost three hundred economists have signed a letter to the American Economic Association “strongly” urging it to adopt a code of ethics requiring disclosure of potential conflicts of interests.

Jerry Brown is back

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The new year brings a new set of politicians into office, including California Governor Jerry Brown. As Nichola Groom reports, he has his work cut out for him.

As this graphic shows, politicians are in low regard and pessimism is high in the Golden State.

Coming to America, for a price

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Jim Kelleher and Karin Matz teamed up with Reuters reporters in South Korea and China for a special report on what has become a cottage industry profiting from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and citizenship.

Chinese and South Koreans are the biggest customers. But a Reuters investigation indicates there are widespread problems in the way the program is promoted and the immigrants’ chances of winning permanent U.S. residency are more of a coin toss than a slam dunk

Making money for taxpayers from AIG?

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The U.S. Treasury plans two large AIG stock sales in 2011 and is mulling ways to maximize its returns as it extricates itself from the unpopular bailout, we reported today in our special report “Inside AIG’s tortuous turnaround.”

Overall, a stock sale at more than around $30 per share would leave the Treasury with a hefty profit. Currently, AIG is trading above its book value of $48.24 per share as of Sept. 30. 

Full disclosure, or not

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USA/Our latest special report, “For some professors, disclosure is academic,” examines the question of academic independence in the world of economics.

Emily Flitter, Kristina Cooke and Pedro da Costa reviewed 96 testimonies given by 82 academics to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee between late 2008 and early 2010 — as lawmakers debated the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s — and found no clear standard for disclosure. 

Dumb money on Wall Street

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Jonathan Spicer’s special report on dumb money in the stock market shows how a few powerful financial institutions make money from retail investors, and why the system is coming under scrutiny.

If you’re wondering what “dumb money” is, it basically refers to most trades by amateur investors like you and me.