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
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Chinese airlines are ready to rumble. Having freed local carriers to hike fees at home, Beijing will now let them compete on long-hauls to overseas destinations. A price war to serve popular destinations is in the offing, as the Big Three - China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air China - fight it out. That will come at foreign rivals' expense.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - The Trump administration’s decision to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese telecom giant is seriously hurting the company's business. And there’s no easy plan B for ZTE. Also: China has a new way to measure unemployment. Should investors take it seriously?
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Renowned social scientist Robert Putnam was so horrified by his research results that he almost binned them. His vast, meticulous survey, which ended in 2000, found that Americans living in ethnically diverse communities became less trustful than their peers in homogenous neighbourhoods. They not only became sceptical of people from other races, but of their own ethnic group too. Placed in proximity with those from different backgrounds, humans did not become more tolerant, but voted less, volunteered less, distrusted their neighbours and suspected their leaders. The survey contradicted a core assumption of multiculturalism: that integration delivers social cohesion.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - China’s campaign to cut bad debt is at risk of losing resolve. GDP growth in the first quarter held steady at 6.8 percent, but more substantive indicators like industrial activity and inflation suggest some cooling. The central bank’s hard line on sloppy lending already shows signs of softening.
Hong Kong (Reuters Breakingviews) - A volley of words threatens a trade war between PRC leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump. Developing China has much at risk in fighting with the world’s largest economy. But American businesses are vulnerable too. Plus: Meituan goes all-in with local services.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - China's latest financial opening promises go in one direction. Central bank governor Yi Gang on Wednesday pledged to lower ownership barriers for foreign financiers by the end of the year, and added that a stock trading link with London could open in the same timeframe. Meanwhile China’s securities regulator quadrupled the daily stock trading quota with Hong Kong, clearing the way for foreign funds to buy more mainland equities. In keeping with long-standing Chinese practice, the reforms will enable more foreign money to flow into China, but not the other way around.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - HSBC is catering to China's soft power push, creating a job title sure to charm Beijing: Head of Belt and Road Initiative. The Asia-focused lender has staffed the role with senior banker Mukhtar Hussain, currently chief of HSBC Malaysia. Putting a heavy hitter in charge of coordinating efforts to tap the $1 trillion overseas infrastructure programme makes sense; rivals have employees playing similar roles without so exalted a title. Don't be surprised to see other global banks copy HSBC.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - North Korean despot Kim Jong Un is suddenly playing nice. Having thawed relations with Seoul during the winter Olympics, this week he kowtowed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. He's open to reopening negotiations with the United States and talking “de-nuclearization”. This could be a cheap ploy to get sanctions lifted, after which Kim will go straight back to extortion. But the young leader might actually be ready to start putting his country on a more normal development path.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Chinese banks look healthy enough to handle more debt medicine. Stable real estate and solid corporate profits helped boost big lenders’ earnings and margins in 2017, while manic asset growth slowed and risk buffers thickened. That clears space for newly empowered regulators to force more defaults, and address flaws in China’s debt-for-equity swap programme.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Yi Gang has experience working in America. Once considered a liability, that background now may be one of his greatest assets. And the mainland is courting companies to list shares locally, while China’s version of Hulu plans an IPO - in New York.