Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Rio Tinto bought a coal mine in Mozambique in 2011 for too much money. U.S. and UK regulators now say it came clean about the real, diminished value of the mine too late. The second type of problem is less likely to recur. Rio has settled one case already and, in any event, the accounting rules for writing down badly priced acquisitions are relatively clear. If only there were similar safeguards against mining bosses getting carried away with deals in the first place.
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Goldman Sachs pipped Morgan Stanley on style in the third quarter, but not on substance. Lloyd Blankfein’s firm cranked out $2 billion of earnings in the three months to the end of September, at an annualized return on equity of 10.9 percent. That bested the 9.6 percent showing of Goldman’s main Wall Street rival – the first time this year that it has come out ahead. Morgan Stanley boss James Gorman, though, has crafted a more attractive-looking business for the longer term.
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Owners of Wall Street banks are being taken for a Washington ride. The S&P 500 Bank Index has surged 12 percent since Sept. 8. That is not justified by the trajectory of earnings, as JPMorgan and Citigroup showed on Thursday with results that were no better than steady. Tax cuts would support higher stocks, but they're at best some way off. In the meantime, banks have other concerns.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Goldman Sachs is trying to extricate itself from a box by thinking outside it. The Wall Street firm has set up a small team in what’s known internally as the Innovation Lab, to cook up supposedly clever ideas for big clients. The resulting acquisitions may end up destroying value for the shareholders of the companies involved, but Goldman’s own investors should be pleased the investment bank is trying new things.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Painkillers and pile cream: these are either the recipe for a terrible night in, or a potentially good corporate deal. Pfizer, the $215 billion U.S. drugmaker, has tasked investment banks with looking into a spinoff or sale of its consumer-goods division, which makes Advil and Preparation H. New GlaxoSmithKline boss Emma Walmsley would be well placed to offer a home.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - There’s no such thing as a founder who goes quietly. Weinstein Co, the film studio that ousted one of its two eponymous brothers amid sexual-harassment allegations, now joins other companies like Fox News and Uber that parted company with influential bosses who misbehaved, or stood idly by while others did. There’s dual risk, both from what the departing founder takes away and what they leave behind.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Britain’s vote to leave the Europe Union took just one day – but the divorce process is dragging on. In October, talks between the two sides are supposed to shift from the terms of exit to the terms of re-engagement. There’s little chance of that happening. Despite the positioning papers published and legislation initiated, progress is being slowed up by bickering – within the UK government and between London and Brussels – as well as technicalities and economic fog. Nonetheless, five clear lessons stand out.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The so-called vampire squid of global finance will soon have a new tentacle: UK retail banking. Goldman Sachs plans to start taking British consumers’ deposits next summer, using the Marcus brand already launched in the United States. A lack of historical baggage, paired with the economies of scale that come from being a global financial giant, could be a distinct advantage. Given the limp returns currently on offer in investment banking, it’s certainly worth a shot.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The investor who snoozes, loses. But maybe not in Germany. The takeover of drugmaker Stada by buyout firms Bain and Cinven is playing out in a way that suggests sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. That sets an unfortunate precedent in corporate dealmaking.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - British banks argue that a deadline for consumers to claim for mis-sold loan insurance policies is a good thing. In narrow financial terms, that’s not quite true. The country’s financial watchdog has set an ultimatum of August 2019, backed by a TV ad campaign funded by the banks themselves. That is likely to provoke a rush of new claims which could make existing provisions look insufficient – and may not be the end of the saga anyway.