Business And Finance

Not dead, just resting

IN 1990 hedge funds were still rare birds; 500-odd funds managed around $40 billion, mostly for rich individuals. Few people understood what they did or bothered to find out. By the end of 2015, the sector had mushroomed to include nearly 9,000 funds managing roughly $3 trillion. Along with private equity, the industry was classed as an “alternative asset”, attractive ...

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Another Doha merry-go-round

QATAR’S capital is an inauspicious place for dealmaking. The Doha round of world-trade talks meandered on for almost 15 years. An agreement there on February 16th between Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s biggest oil producers, to freeze production at January levels if others join in, may presage a similarly never-ending saga to shore up oil prices. That ...

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Nope to NIRP

Kuroda corrodes the banks UNTIL this month bond traders were the most voluble complainers about the Bank of Japan’s vast programme of quantitative easing (creating money to buy bonds). The central bank’s interventions had slashed trading volumes in their market. But their gripes had a tiny audience and, understandably, received scant sympathy. Things have changed with the central bank’s new ...

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A hard pounding

CATERPILLAR is one of the most renowned industrial brands. It makes the kind of heavy machinery—loaders, excavators and off-road trucks—that is used in the construction, mining and transport industries when things need to get dug out or shifted somewhere. But the firm’s latest results, released on January 28th, show that it is struggling to shift its own products. “This past ...

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Slight of hand

IS THE job of central bankers more like that of technicians, carefully turning knobs as they fine-tune the economy, or magicians, manipulating the audience into the suspension of disbelief? Most of the time it is the former. Monetary maestros nudge interest rates up and down with meticulous precision. Yet in extreme cases—such as when economies become trapped in a low-growth ...

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Do millennials save?

IN RECENT days there have been a few articles bemoaning the woeful finances of Britain’s millennials. For instance, this piece in the Financial Times talks about why millennials (supposedly) go on holiday instead of saving for a pension. Then this article, called “Generation spent”, makes a similar sort of argument. As the FT article puts it, “the concept of saving seems ...

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Legislation to make flying in America more comfortable has failed

LAST autumn, FlyersRights.org, a non-profit organisation representing air travellers, drafted a petition to the American Congress demanding new guidelines for the minimum distance between rows in planes. Tens of thousands of stiff-limbed flyers quickly signed their names to the entreaty. It worked, at least initially. Steve Cohen, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, introduced an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration ...

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Laser pens and planes: A pointed problem

LASER pointers can be handy. Backyard astronomers use them to point out constellations on the vault of the heavens; management consultants to highlight their wisdom on a whiteboard. They are less popular with pilots. On Sunday a Virgin Atlantic flight, “six or seven miles” into its journey from Heathrow to New York, was forced to turn back after one of ...

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