LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - What went wrong? Many books have attempted to tackle that question since 2016, when the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential victory threatened to upend the global economic order. Replies tend to fall into two broad categories. One is hand-wringing by anxious liberals, who lament the unravelling of a system that has brought so much peace and prosperity. The other is hand-waving by more conservative writers, who welcome electoral revolts as an overdue reassertion of national sovereignty.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Electric bikes are giving the market for two-wheeled transport a big jolt. The pandemic that has boosted demand for bicycles also looks set to accelerate the shift to battery-assisted pedalling. As in the automobile market, though, the change is disruptive. Established players will have to make room for new upstarts.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - As companies grapple with the pandemic’s fallout, consulting firm AlixPartners has a close-up view inside boardrooms. CEO Simon Freakley discusses priorities for troubled businesses, the long-term impact of Covid-19 and what he has learned running a global business by video call.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Wirecard is giving Europe’s fintech industry a timely stress test. The German group on Thursday announced it was filing for insolvency, a week after revealing that 1.9 billion euros of its cash was missing. Its collapse will test whether fast-growing and lightly regulated payments firms can fail without damaging customers or dragging down other institutions. For regulators, it’s an overdue wakeup call.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Pearson is a textbook case for activist investment after the pandemic. The education group has been a long-term laggard under departing Chief Executive John Fallon. Though any turnaround is likely to be painstaking, a patient but persistent shareholder can speed the process along. The arrival of Cevian Capital, which on Thursday disclosed a 5.4% stake in the company, looks well timed.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Unilever has bowed to the power of the FTSE 100 index. The consumer giant on Thursday unveiled a plan to unify its dual holding companies in London, less than two years after UK shareholders rejected an attempt to create a single Dutch parent. This attempt has a greater chance of success.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The wrath of regulators is shifting away from banks. Big lenders spent the past decade atoning for the 2008 financial crisis. The coronavirus-induced meltdown has tested the resilience of a reformed industry, while revealing the fragilities of financial markets. Banks will reap the benefits.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The coronavirus pandemic has upended conventional thinking about economics and finance. Previously radical ideas, such as governments paying private sector wages, have rapidly become mainstream. In the same way, the crisis looks set to push fringe tax proposals to the fore.
LONDON/MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - The coronavirus pandemic may be the euro zone’s best opportunity to break its common debt taboo. The health emergency is stretching sovereign finances across the single currency area. That’s a problem for countries like Italy, which has the highest Covid-19 death toll and whose government debt is already at 135% of gross domestic product.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Companies around the world are turning off the dividend taps. Carmaker Ford Motor, fashion retailer H&M and UniCredit, the Italian bank, are among those that have cancelled or suspended their payouts in the last few weeks. Government restrictions and the need to conserve liquidity mean more are likely to follow.