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Archived Since:June 19, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Big banks’ stranglehold on UK loosened by a finger

British lenders give customers poor service, but a two-year competition probe has offered few remedies. Caps on overdraft charges could cost the largest banks 1.2 bln pounds a year. But trustbusters have done little to improve all-important small business lending.

U.S. bank deal provides a timely reminder on M&A

Giant pension fund TIAA is snapping up EverBank for $2.5 bln. Even this non-traditional buyer should be able to slash enough costs to justify the price tag. Earnings-strapped lenders may find acquisitions increasingly necessary. Cash is also becoming an integral component.

Trumponomics favors pin-stripes over blue collars

The GOP presidential nominee is calling for corporate tax cuts and a halt on regulations to boost U.S. growth. Billionaire investors on his new economic team helped craft the plan. For a candidate supposedly championing the working class, Trump has a soft spot for the 1 pct.

Viewsroom: U.S. election, European banks, Uber-Didi

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle over infrastructure needs, while Trump faces growing opposition from fellow billionaires. Also: the ups and downs of Europe's lenders after a stress test with no fail grade, and why Uber is ceding to Didi the ride-sharing crown in China.

Cheap wind energy can deal final blow to Hinkley

Electricity from offshore wind farms costs a third less than in 2013. It now undercuts power costs at the two new nuclear reactors planned in the UK. With prices falling further and low project risk, the case for pulling the plug on the Hinkley Point plant is building.

Bristol-Myers suffers $21 bln self-inflicted wound

That's how much value investors wiped off the pharma firm after its trial to broaden the use of a cancer drug failed. It was an unnecessarily risky move for Bristol, whose immunotherapy has been outselling Merck's. The stumble will allow its more cautious rival to clean up.

Review: Big Data’s all-too-human failings

An ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: "Weapons of Math Destruction."

Egypt’s IMF cure poses health risk for Middle East

The most populous Arab state wants a $12 bln IMF deal, but not the harsh austerity sometimes attached. Funding would boost the economy, but reforms could also stoke unrest. In a country at the centre of uprisings that swept across the region six years ago, that's no small risk.

Evergrande share raid cements love-or-hate status

The Chinese developer has waded into the power struggle at rival Vanke, grabbing a 4.7 pct stake for $1.4 bln. The motive is unclear, and the group's leverage and sprawl should worry investors. Yet Evergrande's aggressive stance still appears to have plenty of fans.

Wal-Mart has long unicorn ride in Amazon chase

The $220 bln retail titan is reportedly in talks to buy Jet, a fledgling online-shopping site. Wal-Mart has been accelerating acquisitions of tech startups in a bid to beef up digital efforts. Amazon, however, keeps moving ahead with efforts like one-day shipping and groceries.

Renzi’s MPS gamble works win or lose

The Italian premier chose not to haircut the bank's debt for fear of losing a crucial referendum. The alternative - raising over six times MPS' market cap - is hard, but not impossible. If the rights issue fails, Matteo Renzi still wins: it parks the issue until after the vote.

Hong Kong’s special status is in need of renewal

The former colony has mostly thrived in the 19 years since China took charge with a promise to leave it alone until 2047. But society is divided and the rule of law under strain. Without reassurances about its long-term future, Hong Kong faces an exodus of citizens and companies.

Note to D.C.: Jack-hammer away on infrastructure

With interest rates at record lows, there's growing support on the campaign trail for rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges. Donald Trump called for at least doubling the $275 bln in spending proposed by Hillary Clinton. To grow jobs, wages and GDP, it's a policy deserving of a deal.

Time Warner as sous-chef may enhance Hulu broth

The media conglomerate bought a 10 pct stake in the digital-TV service at a $5.8 bln valuation. Hulu gets Time Warner programs but not another board member at a table crowded by rivals Disney, Fox and Comcast. This sort of arrangement may give the JV a better shot at success.

Rio Tinto’s best is not yet good enough

The Anglo-Australian miner has slashed debt but can't take its eye off the ball after posting its worst earnings in 12 years. No wonder Rio is trading at a discount to peers. New boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques is paying out dividends, but has his work cut out to win over investors.

Tax overhaul boosts Modi’s reform credentials

India is set to pass a bill paving a path to a long-awaited goods and services tax. Exemptions will dilute the potential boost to growth. But the bill is evidence that the prime minister can compromise to get things done. That bodes well for a long wish list of other reforms.

Shave Club syndrome nicks P&G makeover

New CEO David Taylor has spruced up the $230 bln Tide-to-Pampers behemoth, but it's struggling to boost sales. Now internet-savvy upstarts like Dollar Shave Club, recently bought by Unilever, threaten to steal customers and take a razor to margins in P&G's better-looking units.

Cox: Trump’s taxes underscore bizarre campaign

The GOP candidate is being goaded reality-TV style by Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban to disclose his IRS returns. At stake isn't just whether he paid enough as with Mitt Romney. Rather, Trump's billionaire bona fides are in question despite an election pegged on income inequality.

Commerz lays bare market over-optimism on EU banks

The German bank says negative rates will further weigh on revenues. Investors are already braced for low returns: Commerzbank trades at 0.3 times book. Still, with analysts' earnings forecasts almost twice those assumed in the EU stress test, even more caution is warranted.

Regions will shore up China’s smaller banks

Risk is mounting at midsized lenders, and capital buffers are eroding. Beijing wants to rein the upstarts in, but provinces need regional financial champions to keep lending. As Industrial Bank raises nearly $4bln from backers in Fujian, expect others to follow suit.

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