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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: Trapped inside Big Tech’s “Uncanny Valley”

At least Alice got to leave Wonderland. Anna Wiener isn’t so lucky. In her memoir “Uncanny Valley,” she describes falling down a rabbit hole into Silicon Valley’s strange world of six-figure salaries, unbridled optimism and ersatz meritocracy. She attacks the technology industry’s godlike power to monitor and control consumers of its wares. But along the way Wiener remains stuck in one tech trap: treating most Bay Area denizens as a collection of consumer habit

Breakingviews - UK belatedly bares antitrust teeth over tech M&A

Critics will say that Britain’s antitrust boss Andrew Tyrie is tilting at windmills. The former Conservative politician, who now chairs the Competition and Markets Authority, is having a pop at food-delivery M&A, even though the deals in question bear none of the typical warning signs of monopolistic behaviour. Yet diligence is no bad thing, and makes a welcome change from the CMA’s past naivety. 

Breakingviews - Hadas: Davos-economics faces political puzzles

The core of Davos-economics is pretty simple. Most of the powerful people hanging around at the World Economic Forum’s Swiss confab this week would agree that some mix of feisty private sectors, competent but limited governments and ample international trade are crucial ingredients for durable and increasing prosperity. The politics these days are challenging that simple consensus. Consider three important global puzzles – China, the United Kingdom and Ethiopia.

Breakingviews - Wuhan virus will shape China’s smart city vision

An epidemic will shape China's vision of intelligent cities. The metropolis of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is under unprecedented quarantine as a deadly virus, believed to have originated there, spreads around the world ahead of the Lunar New Year when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel. Big investments in healthcare, artificial intelligence, and even surveillance could help curb future pandemics and cushion some institutional weaknesses.  

Breakingviews - Podcast deals put new spin on sorry old tale

Most podcasts are basically blogs with microphones. So media companies looking to invest in the relatively new medium – such as audio streaming company Spotify Technology – should consider the rocky history of blogging titans like Nick Denton and Arianna Huffington. Even blogging’s success stories have struggled to live up to expectations.

Breakingviews - Viewsroom: China’s latest viral threat

The outbreak of a contagious disease before the Lunar New Year holiday evokes memories of SARS’ human and economic toll in 2003. Beijing’s swift reaction this time, imposing travel bans on five cities as 18 died, is encouraging. Plus: the cost of the UK royal family’s new schism.

Breakingviews - Do-gooder one-upmanship fuels optimism at Davos

For once, society may tangibly benefit from the do-gooder optimism among global elites at Davos. Corporate chiefs are brimming with purpose. Enterprises ranging from Russian aluminium smelters to Dutch ice cream makers are high on stewardship and sustainability - themes of this year’s confab. But they’re also making pledges to which they can, and should, be held accountable.

Breakingviews - Italian banks will yield to M&A imperative

Italian banks are facing a renewed urge to merge. A decade after the euro zone crisis erupted, the country’s lenders have shed most of their bad loans, while doubling their capital ratios. The problem now is that they can’t earn decent returns. Ultra-low interest rates and attempts to limit their holdings of government bonds make the need to join forces with rivals all the more pressing.

Breakingviews - Flying cars are a cool solution to a tiny problem

Flying cars are almost a thing. Toyota Motor is investing close to $400 million in Joby Aviation, a startup that wants to cut commutes by floating over congestion. China’s Geely is backing rival Volocopter; Hyundai is collaborating with Uber Elevate. But an investment by a $232 billion automaker lends much cred to what was once a metaphor for the impossible. New technology has put air taxis within reach, and regulators are wrapping their heads around the idea.

Breakingviews - Banks feel the heat of global warming in Davos

Banks are feeling the heat of global warming in Davos. Climate change is the dominant topic at this year’s elite gathering in the Swiss mountain resort, and financial institutions are firmly in the spotlight. Fund management giant BlackRock’s pledge to vote against directors of companies that aren’t taking enough action may force some to make changes. But demands by regulators that banks manage the risks of a warmer planet will have more bite.