The chief executive’s statement that accompanies a listed company's annual results is often so laced with corporate spin and disingenuousness that it's as good as useless. The document is increasingly being used to puff (embellish) the past year's performance, to present a distinctly rose-tinted vision of the future, and of course to shy away from telling investors anything about the true risks and challenges the business and its sector face.
Enmeshed as he is in present and pending court cases, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi probably doesn’t have that much time to reflect on whether or not his jolly relationship with Colonel Gaddafi – now admittedly soured beyond salvation - was ever altogether wise. What is certain is that the very substantial bet that Italy placed on Libya is in the process of coming spectacularly unglued at a point in time where the Italian economy really does not need further shocks.
One of the biggest financial scandals of recent weeks involves the alleged "rigging" of Libor rates by a group of the world's largest banks. The story first surfaced on March 15, when Brooke Masters, a journalist at the Financial Times, spotted the following on page 318 of UBS's 2010.
Much of the major pensions-related reforms within this Budget was trailed early, notably the introduction of a flat state pension and the recommendations made by the Hutton report. Still, it is a significant budget in terms of its ramifications for pensions in the UK and there was one notable detail, namely the aim to index the state pension to longevity going forward in some way.
In one of the most high powered mini events it has ever orchestrated, the IMF recently brought together four top economists, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, for a two day “group think” session (my term, not theirs). The format was a conference in Washington, entitled “Macro and Growth Policies in the Wake of the Crisis”.
John Mauldin’s blog "Thoughts from the Frontline" is one of the best financial and economic commentaries around, not least because Mauldin is an avid and skilled collector and presenter of good analysis culled from wherever he can find it, with credit always duly bestowed. His latest book Endgame: The End of the Debt SuperCycle and How It Changes Everything, written with Jonathan Tepper, is an absolute must read.
Can investors be relied upon to police corporate behavior (governance) and guide the companies in which they invest to take decisions likely to create enduring value, and bring wider benefits over and above short-term profitability gains?
The latest Chinese five-year plan recognises that the way the Chinese economy has developed so far, with a massive emphasis on exports, is unsustainable and that things need to change. In a report on China just before the new plan was revealed in mid-March, Deutsche Bank Research restated the point that many western economists have been making, namely that revaluation of the yuan, higher minimum wages and state investment in the healthcare system would be very beneficial in reshaping the Chinese economy.
At a recent speech to delegates at a conference on Risk and Return in South Africa, José Manuel González-Páramo, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, talked about the lessons learned from the crisis as far as risk management is concerned, and about the way thinking about risk management has changed. The ECB, he told his audience, has always placed a great importance on the design, development and implementation of sound risk management policies.
US President Barak Obama’s most ambitious legislative venture, the reform of the US healthcare system, is facing legal action from 22 states and from several private individuals or organizations. The Healthcare Bill was passed a year ago, as the Affordable Care Act, on March 23 2010. It introduces a nationwide, universal system of health care.