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Jun 6, 2012
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Britain’s monarchy-fest shows power of sentiment

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By Robert Cole

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

On Sunday, access to the banks of the river that runs through London had to be closed four or five hours before anything actually happened. Half a mile down the Thames, at a location boasting nothing better than a squinting view of some boats and no chance of seeing Britain’s queen, people lined up fifteen deep. It was cold. And very wet. Why were people there, in such huge numbers? And why, a distance away, did an 86-year-old woman and her 90-year-old husband stand shivering in the rain for what must have seemed like an eternity? Because people do not always make logical decisions.
 
The nineteenth-century Scottish writer Charles McKay observed that extraordinarily popular delusions can drive people to bouts of madness and markets to extreme bubbles. In fact, London’s jubilee crowds did not take leave of their senses completely. The celebrations were, for the most part, free at the point of receipt. And as any supermarket manager will attest, customers love a giveaway. Moreover the celebrations came with an extra holiday. It is logical, surely, for people to express appreciation for that if only in the hope the gesture is repeated. Britain’s royal family, among others, might also point to the importance of public service. They might have you believe that duty, rather than money, motivates them.

Jun 6, 2012
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Euro bonds will be hard for investors to swallow

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By Robert Cole

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

Euro bonds look like such a pleasant panacea. Overstretched sovereign borrowers in the periphery would love them, of course, but they might appeal to fixed income investors too – at least superficially. Nasty Greek and Greek-like risks might be diffused and yields might be more generous. Thomson Reuters data shows that today’s GDP-weighted amalgam yield on 10-year euro zone bonds is about 4 percent. That’s more than double the yield on UK gilts, U.S. Treasuries and German bunds.

Jun 1, 2012
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Market moves point to grown-up asset allocation

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By Robert Cole

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

When bonds go up, shares go down; and when shares go up, bonds go down. Right? Not recently. Recent moves in the price of assets in these key investment classes suggest that the traditional, binary analysis needs an update.

May 25, 2012
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Review: Fulfilling paper promises

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

Do you want to know how global financial system came to be and what it has become? Do you want to re-examine what you think you know? Paper Promises, by journalist Philip Coggan, is a good place to look for answers to those questions.

May 17, 2012
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Emerging markets hit by double troubles

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By Robert Cole and Jeff Glekin

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Emerging-market investors seem to get hit by trouble near and far. They suffer when euro zone troubles erode investment confidence generally. But they also have their own particular concerns about a slowing China and an intensification of resource nationalism.

May 15, 2012
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Euro stocks discount lion’s share of new fear

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By Robert Cole

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

It’s hard to be bullish about European equities. The economies look weak both inside and outside the euro zone and the single currency’s crisis only seems to get worse. But the share prices may be discounting even more bad news.

Mar 22, 2012
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UK’s post deal should have pension bosses drooling

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By Robert Cole

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

The deal struck between the UK government and its Royal Mail postal service should have other pension bosses drooling. What’s not to like about an arrangement that sees the state take on responsibility to pay ex-employees’ inflation-proofed retirement incomes far into the future?

Feb 21, 2012
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Happy stock highs belie bonds teetering on edge

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

Some nice round numbers have equity investors smiling. The Dow Jones industrial average crossed the 13,000 level for the first time since before the crisis and Britain’s FTSE 100 index is headed towards 6,000. Many in the market may be wondering if the run can be sustained. But the real danger may be lurking for bondholders.

Jan 20, 2012
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European markets’ cheer may well run out of puff

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By Robert Cole

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

Blue chip European stocks and well-rated bonds have started the new year in pretty fine fettle. And they’ve not turned turtle despite gloomy news from S&P, and the Greek debt restructuring drama.

Jan 13, 2012
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Review: Keynes, Hayek, and the power of small

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

Since the 1930s, one clash has defined both academic macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. On the left side are followers of John Maynard Keynes, who believe that government actions can and should smooth the destructive swings of business cycles. On the right are those who fear governments and believe in the self-correcting power of markets. They can be considered the friends of Friedrich von Hayek.

    • About Robert

      "Robert is Assistant Editor of Reuters Breakingviews, based in London. He has a special focus on investment, writing about it on a global basis. Robert worked for The Times, in London, in a variety of writing and editing capacities from 1998 to 2010. For nearly 10 years he edited the newspaper’s daily Tempus investment column. He was also deputy business editor, acting business editor, a leader writer, the chief obituaries writer and a news editor in the home affairs department. Prior to joining The Times, Robert worked on The Independent and the London Evening Standard. His most recent book is ..."
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