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How the powerful took the capital out of capitalism

The disappearance of P & O is a milestone in business organisation – it symbolises the arrival of capitalism without capital

A triumph of hope over experience

Merger Monday has proved that in the merger market, hope springs eternal. The wall of money chasing alternative investments in hope of the returns achieved in the heady 1990s, made it possible to take almost any company private.

Eurotunnel cannot thrive without well-defined ownership

The tunnel under the English Channel failed to fire public imagination. After years of debt refinancing and changes in management, the central problem remains that no one really owns the tunnel project. Now, the debt has wandered into the hands of hedge funds, whose principal interest is not close and efficient transport links between Britain and the rest of Europe.

Why a long-term approach is best for companies

Investors and companies have become closer in the past two decades, but in a dysfunctional way. This tends to lead to destructive short-termism, and there hardly is a more topical example of this than Marks and Spencer.

Rebellious investors are only doing their job

Because no rule or code can define the character of a non-executive, even boards compliant with every code and regulation will range from the effective to the useless. Shareholders should keep an eye on excessive remuneration and vainglorious acquisitions, and intervene in issues of management succession when it appears that non-executive directors have become too close to the company to do a proper job.

A message from Macbeth, and Adam Smith

The invisible hand is the most widely used metaphor in economics. What did Adam Smith (or William Shakespeare, who coined the phrase) really mean?

Vodafone triumphs, Britain picks up the bill

So farewell, Sir Chris. The imminent departure of Sir Christopher Gent calls for an examination of the rise of Vodafone.

Big egos inflate executive pay, not markets

When genuine market operations are absent executive pay is seen as a measure of value rather than just a financial reward

The real culprits in Europe’s pensions crisis

The problem of the European pension gap cannot be tackled by the kind of financial engineering proposed by the European Financial Services Round Table. This is not the moment in history to argue that private pension funding is necessarily superior to state provision.

Profits without honour

The bullish 1990's market lead companies like Enron and WorldCom to strive for unrealistic earnings growth - eventually by any means necessary. Their stories show that shareholder value should be an end, and not the aim of good businesses.