U.S. Editor, Commentary
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May 11, 2012
via Breakingviews

Dimonfreude is irresistible, but may be dangerous

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By Rob Cox

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

It’s easy to sympathize with the collective glee that greeted JPMorgan’s shock revelation of some $2 billion of trading losses. The bank and its chief executive Jamie Dimon have received their long-awaited comeuppance. But this emotion – Dimonfreude, if you will – is dangerous. If one of the few big banks that managed to sidestep most of the credit crisis is proven fallible, confidence in the system itself will be shaken.

May 7, 2012
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When shareholder democracy trumps the real thing

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By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. This column appears in the May 14 issue of Newsweek.

It’s worrying to think that shareholder democracy is needed to rectify shortcomings of the real thing. Yet this week two of the nation’s biggest corporations will give their investors precisely that opportunity. Motions on the ballots at the annual meetings of Bank of America and 3M will effectively act as referendums on the U.S. Supreme Court’s flawed decision in the Citizens United case to effectively hand companies the same freedoms of speech accorded to people. Happily, supporting proposals to restrict the use of corporate money in politics isn’t just good for democracy, it is good business.

May 2, 2012
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Even Predators’ Ball saves a dance for 99 pct

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

It’s easy to spot vestiges of the old Predators’ Ball at this year’s Milken Institute Global Conference. The Ferraris and Bentleys jamming the Beverly Hilton driveway, for example, are evocative of the annual shindigs that Michael Milken put on for his Drexel Burnham Lambert clients in the go-go 1980s. Yet there’s a consensus emerging even among this elite demimonde that the rising disparity between the rich and the rest is a problem in need of attention. They disagree, however, on the solutions.

Apr 23, 2012
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Facebook infected by Google’s antitrust limbo

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

Facebook hasn’t even gone public yet. But it looks as though the social network is already being viewed with concern by acquisition targets. Instagram, the revenue-challenged, lightly staffed startup Facebook just agreed to acquire for $1 billion, has snagged a whopping 20 percent break fee if the sale isn’t consummated by December. That’s a wise safety measure given the life cycle of mobile apps. It could also be a comment on Facebook’s lurking antitrust risks.

Apr 23, 2012
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Wal-Mart scandal demands spirit of Sam Walton

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

S. Robson Walton, Wal-Mart’s multi-billionaire chairman, is about to prove money can’t buy happiness. He’ll need to channel his father’s spirit of integrity and initiate an independent probe into how top executives, possibly the chief and another director, participated in an alleged cover-up of widespread bribery and corruption at the company’s successful Mexican subsidiary. It won’t be fun for the son of Wal-Mart’s founder. But the $213 billion company can recover by doing the right thing.

Apr 11, 2012
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Kraftwerk bangs home note on tech obsolescence

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

There was no more coveted piece of New York City real estate on Tuesday night than standing room in the Museum of Modern Art’s Marron Atrium. And so it shall be for seven more evenings as Kraftwerk, the German electronic outfit from the 1970s, plays to a scant crowd of about 450 lucky souls. That this quartet, which includes just one of its original members, can command a showcase like the MOMA – and sell out in a drumbeat – provides a useful lesson in technology’s risk of obsolescence.

Apr 11, 2012
via MediaFile

Everything we know about tech we learned from Kraftwerk

At 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday there was no more coveted piece of New York City real estate than standing room in the Museum of Modern Art’s Marron Atrium. And so it shall be for the next seven nights as Kraftwerk, the German electronic outfit from the 1970s, plays to a scant crowd of about 450 lucky souls. That this quartet, which includes just one of its original members, can command a showcase like MoMA – and sell out in a drumbeat – provides a useful lesson into technology’s risk of obsolescence.

It would be easy to dismiss Kraftwerk as a relic from the dawn of the digital age and its ardent fans a weird cult in turtleneck sweaters and 3D glasses. But MoMA’s eight-night retrospective of the band helmed by Ralf Hutter provides surprising insight into why some innovations fade and others flourish. Ultimately, success in technology – as in art – is derived from the expression of big ideas, not simply a mastering of its circuitry. It is an example that businesses, too, can learn from.

Apr 9, 2012
via Breakingviews

World Bank wackiness explains odd U.S. choice

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By Rob Cox

This column appears in the April 9 issue of Newsweek. The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If the competition to become the World Bank’s next president were a normal process, Jim Yong Kim wouldn’t stand a chance. The Dartmouth College president lacks two of the traditional qualifications for running an international lending body: financial savvy and diplomatic experience. But the race to lead the World Bank is everything but ordinary – particularly this time.

Mar 28, 2012

Breakingviews: Goldman Sachs now treats shareholders like muppets

By Rob Cox

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

(Reuters Breakingviews) Say what you like about Goldman Sachs, but it sure is a clever negotiator. The Wall Street firm, which was publicly criticized a few weeks ago by one of its own for running roughshod over the interests of clients – dubbed “muppets” in internal speak – in the pursuit of profit, has now pulled off what looks like the trade of the year. But this one comes at the expense of its own shareholders.

Mar 28, 2012
via Breakingviews

Goldman Sachs now treats shareholders like muppets

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By Rob Cox 

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

Say what you like about Goldman Sachs, but it sure is a clever negotiator. The Wall Street firm, which was publicly criticized a few weeks ago by one of its own for running roughshod over the interests of clients – dubbed “muppets” in internal speak – in the pursuit of profit, has now pulled off what looks like the trade of the year. But this one comes at the expense of its own shareholders.

    • About Rob

      "Rob Cox helped establish Breakingviews in 2000 in London. From 2004 he spearheaded the firm's expansion in the United States and edited its American edition, including the daily Breakingviews columns in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Rob has worked as a financial journalist in London, Milan, New York, Washington, Chicago and Tokyo. Rob graduated from Columbia University’s Journalism School and the University of Vermont. Follow Rob on Twitter @rob1cox"
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