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) - Nestlé is parting ways with LaffyTaffy and Runts. The Swiss food group agreed on Tuesday to sell its U.S. candy brands to Italy’s Ferrero for a sweet $2.8 billion to invest in products with better growth prospects than junk food. But high valuations for alternatives like vitamin pills limit new boss Mark Schneider’s opportunities to make Nestlé a clean-living champion.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Marks & Spencer is looking a bit dowdy. The high street retailer’s food and clothing arms met quarterly forecasts, but both have strategic issues. This wouldn’t matter if M&S was seeing 25 percent growth in online sales, like jazzier rival Boohoo. But a 5 percent share dip on Jan. 11 can partly be attributed to the fact it isn’t.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Foodies saved Christmas at Sainsbury’s. The supermarket’s grocery business had a better festive season than its clothing and general merchandise. UK consumers, stung by high inflation, are spending less on non-essential items, but still need to eat. That means grocers are better able to pass on rising prices to shoppers.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Britain’s shopaholics are an increasingly shaky economic backstop. Spending on Visa cards in 2017 was the weakest in five years, while profit warnings from retailers Mothercare and Debenhams add to the gloomy outlook. Despite easing cost inflation and a tighter job market, customers who have kept the UK economy moving are becoming less reliable.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - A merry runup to Christmas may delay Next’s much-needed style overhaul. The British clothing retailer is more upbeat about the outlook for full-year profit. But healthier sales and diminishing price pressures may allow Chief Executive Simon Wolfson to dodge tough decisions, such as much-needed store closures.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Activists could stir things up in the business of luxury. Family control allows high-end fashion brands to hoard cash and live with second-rate governance. But assertive investors are becoming more willing to take them on, while some companies, like Prada, are more vulnerable than they appear.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Obfuscation offers the only hope of a breakthrough in deadlocked Brexit talks. A plan for Northern Ireland to comply with some European Union rules after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc has met with opposition in Belfast and demands for similar treatment elsewhere. Prime Minister Theresa May’s best hope is to fudge tough decisions, and use the threat of a chaotic exit – or another election – to quash dissent.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Over-the-counter drugs could pose health risks for investors in consumer groups. Germany’s Merck has invited bids for its Seven Seas vitamins unit, while Pfizer is selling its more consumer-focused business. Nestlé and rivals see opportunities to apply their sharper marketing skills. But pumped-up valuations suggest the health drive will be expensive.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Robert Mugabe will cast a long shadow over Zimbabwe. The 93-year-old ruler, who is refusing to step down after the military seized power five days ago, is likely to be impeached after nearly four decades in power. He bequeaths an economy in dire need of reforms. The most important – luring back foreign investment and restoring trust in a dysfunctional currency system – will happen over years, not weeks.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Northern Ireland has become Brexit’s Gordian knot. Avoiding a hard border in the region is an aim of all sides in negotiations over Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. The least-worst fix is for Europe to treat Northern Ireland the way it does Norway. That’s only possible if pro-UK politicians in Belfast can be made to see the economic necessity.