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Mar 31, 2011
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Woodstock of capitalism just turned into Altamont

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

By Rob Cox

The Woodstock of capitalism just turned into Altamont. Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha this year won’t just be a folksy affair, with Chairman Warren Buffett dispensing common sense aphorisms about financial morality between bites of his Dairy Queen Dilly Bar. Following the abrupt resignation of one of the prime contenders to succeed the billionaire investor, after he personally traded in shares of a company he persuaded Berkshire to buy, Buffett needs to assuage investors about succession, ethics and whether he’s lost his mojo.

Mar 28, 2011
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T-Mobile sale not the only telco worry for antitrust watchdogs

America’s antitrust and telecoms watchdogs have their hands full with AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile. So they may overlook what’s at stake in a seemingly esoteric spat between Google geeks and their Facebook cohorts. But the quarrel raises vexing questions about the search giant’s increasing dominance in the mobile handset market — and whether it can resist the temptation to abuse that power.

On its face, the kerfuffle is still something of a “he said, she said” among the engineering set. Google said it is making a “small change” to the way contacts from Facebook appear on its next-generation handset, the Nexus S. This modification essentially no longer allows customers to download their contacts from Facebook. The reason, Google insists, is that the Facebook data cannot be exported from the device, creating “a false sense of data portability.”

Mar 23, 2011
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U.S. bank watchdogs face leadership vacuum

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

SAN DIEGO — The hour is upon American banking regulators. They’ve been handed 2,000-plus pages of new law in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that must be transformed into workable rules and procedures, and then implemented to fulfill the legislation’s promise to make the financial system safer. But there’s a problem: Many of the watchdogs charged with the task face leadership vacuums. This could spell trouble.

Mar 18, 2011
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Booing bankers should be watchdogs’ badge of honor

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

Sheila Bair may unwittingly have discovered a simple litmus test for bank regulator effectiveness. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chairman this week faced catcalls from a mob of U.S. community bankers. She was taken aback by the booing. But in fact, watchdogs should bask in such disdain if it means they’re doing their jobs.

Mar 8, 2011
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Ultimate hedgie goal may be taking no outside cash

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

Carl Icahn was already a member of the multibillionaires club. Now the former corporate raider-cum-hedge fund manager is joining an even more elite group. Icahn will hand back the $1.8 billion or so of other people’s money that he has looked after for six years and focus solely on managing his own billions.

Feb 28, 2011

Buffett has it both ways with Goldman Sachs

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

By Rob Cox

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Warren Buffett once again used his annual letter to shareholders to rail against many of the Wall Street practices he has long despised, including hedge fund compensation, leverage and option-value pricing. What’s odd this time around is to see the Berkshire Hathaway chairman’s folksy criticisms set alongside a very public display of affection for one of the prime beneficiaries of these apparently wicked ways — Goldman Sachs.

Feb 25, 2011
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Mystery helps Apple’s sales but not its governance

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

By Rob Cox

The mystique that Apple cloaks itself in when launching snazzy gadgets has served its bottom line well. But that same opacity doesn’t translate well to corporate governance.

Feb 25, 2011
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Business world takes uncommon interest in Oscars

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

By Rob Cox

The broad business community normally takes little more than a passing interest in Hollywood’s annual celebration of itself. But this year’s upcoming Oscars ceremony has executives and investors from Houston to Wall Street to Silicon Valley uncharacteristically nervous. The awards could elevate the profile of some movies that turn the spotlight onto some controversial industry practices.

Feb 23, 2011
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FDIC offers hope for the anti-too big to fail crew

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

By Rob Cox

The biggest American financial institutions are still benefiting from the perception that the government will always come to their rescue. But a slight narrowing in the gap between what mega-banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America and others in the industry pay for deposits may suggest a hint of progress. That offers hope for those who would like to eradicate the notion that some banks are too big to fail.

Feb 17, 2011
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Concert ticket flap uncovers oddity of rocknomics

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

Rock stars normally hand out lessons about sex, drugs and trashing hotel rooms. But a battle between dance-rock outfit LCD Soundsystem and ticketing agents over the band’s “last” show offers a strange insight into the laws of supply and demand. On top of that, the kerfuffle also reveals the distortions underlying the U.S. music business.

    • 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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