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Breakingviews

Reuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time. Sign up for a free trial of our full service at http://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Breakingviews - Review: Blaming big data is political diversion

Big data is the latest bogeyman of Western politics. A new documentary, “The Great Hack”, shows how the consultancy Cambridge Analytica targeted undecided voters in the Brexit referendum and 2016 U.S. election, partly by using Facebook. It’s a chilling tale but ignores the deeper economic and other forces that helped determine the outcome of those polls.

Breakingviews - AB InBev’s deal machine goes into smart reverse

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s deal machine is going into a smart reverse. The Belgian brewer’s sale of its Australian business to Asahi for $11.3 billion will cut debt. The Japanese company is paying a lower valuation for the maker of Victoria Bitter than AB InBev wanted from an initial public offering of its Asia business, shelved last week, but probably higher than the multiple investors ascribed to the unit. It keeps the door open for boss Carlos Brito to try agai

Breakingviews - Hong Kong demonstrators risk muddling the message

Hong Kong’s tycoons know scale can come at the cost of coherence. Protests in the city initially focused on the need to stop extraditions to the mainland; but the movement has broadened, and recent rallies have turned violent. That raises risks for investors and businesses, already suffering collateral damage. What happens next is harder to predict too.

Breakingviews - Aging app kerfuffle shows fun trumps privacy

A new app kerfuffle shows that fun still trumps privacy concerns. Consumers love FaceApp’s filter for making selfies look older or sexier, but its Russian ownership has suddenly sparked worries about potential data misuse. Yet the app isn’t new, and people have been posting their images on social media for years. It’s past time for regulators to set some boundaries.

Breakingviews - Viewsroom: AB InBev’s stubborn financial beer gut

The $150 bln brewer of suds like Budweiser and Stella has scrapped its Asia unit’s Hong Kong float. CEO Carlos Brito now needs new ways to reduce the company’s debt. And as the second pulled IPO in weeks amid civil unrest, it puts the city’s financial hub under a spotlight.

Breakingviews - Stalling Didi scrabbles to rev its China engine

China's Didi Chuxing is revving up its sputtering engine. The ride-hailing app is trying to raise up to $2 billion in fresh funds, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Even with a dominant share in its home market, money-losing Didi is struggling with regulatory demands and a plethora of small rivals. There’s reason for investors to be cautious.

Breakingviews - Hadas: Peaceful trade theory ominously unravels

“The spirit of conquest and the spirit of commerce are mutually exclusive in a nation”. So wrote the French intellectual Jean-François Melon in 1734. Over the subsequent centuries, his idea has been frequently repeated by commentators, and periodically undermined by history. U.S. President Donald Trump, for example, uses trade in a very aggressive spirit.

Breakingviews - New UK banknote just about passes Turing test

Alan Turing is to feature on the UK’s new 50-pound note. Among many achievements, the mathematician and wartime code-breaker proposed a test for whether a machine can be described as intelligent. The smartest thing might be to scrap high-denomination banknotes rather than renewing them. But the Bank of England’s revamp of the highest value bill in public circulation just about passes its own Turing test.

Breakingviews - Auto pessimism could be over-revved in China

China’s auto pessimism could be over-revved. A grim start to the year saw sales slump by more than 10 percent compared with the first half of 2018. Chaos reigned amidst new rules, while Beijing remained reluctant to offer stimulus. But policy pressure is uneven, and the worst could be past. 

Breakingviews - Amazon’s data deal invites D.C. scrutiny

Amazon.com’s data deal is inviting D.C. scrutiny. As its executives appeared at an antitrust hearing in Congress alongside those of other tech firms, the e-commerce giant offered customers $10 to track their web browsing. It’s a smart way to grab business from rivals, and the price low-balls the value of user data. That’s a demonstration of how dominance works.