Weil's View on Finance, Afternoon Edition

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
Read More.
a | A

Good afternoon, Viewfinders. Here are links to some of what I've been reading today.

Investor confidence in Puerto Rico bonds could face test

Andrew Bary wrote an important story in Barron's about Puerto Rico's debt load. Bond investors should beware, he writes: "If the government's moves don't work, and its borrowing costs stay stubbornly high, Puerto Rico might well have to restructure its debt somewhere down the road, demurrals notwithstanding." While the situation isn't as bad as Detroit's, it isn't good.

Obama needs to end the Federal Reserve succession soap opera

He really should. Robert Samuelson explains why in his Washington Post column. The campaign by partisans for Larry Summers and Janet Yellen has gotten out of hand. "All this could have been avoided, or minimized, if the president had made his choice in early summer," Samuelson writes. "The result is that whoever wins — or perhaps a dark horse; for instance, ex-Fed vice chairman Donald Kohn — will need to overcome the doubts and ill will created by Obama's indecision."

What Microsoft' s new CEO must do, and why Ballmer failed

John Gapper of the Financial Times pretends to be a corporate consultant writing a memo to Steve Ballmer's successor and suggests: "You need to cure Microsoft's dysfunctional culture, focus on what it does best and bring back its self-belief that it's one of the world's most effective companies." At the New Yorker, Nicholas Thompson offers reasons why Ballmer failed: "He missed every trend in technology," and "his innovations alienated people."

Big Four accounting firms losing market share in China

Xinhua News, the Chinese's government house organ, says the Big Four U.S. accounting firms have lost their dominance over China's accounting industry, citing a ranking by the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants. They now have less than half the market. Once they were the country's four biggest accounting firms. KPMG has dropped to sixth, while Ruihua CPAs is the third-largest firm in China, ahead of Ernst & Young. You've got to think the epidemic of accounting-fraud scandals in China must have been a factor.

It wouldn't be Wall Street without shoeshines

It's a good thing Wall Street bankers still can find good shoeshine service. Joseph Kennedy, the Securities and Exchange Commission's first chairman, famously said he knew it was time to get out of the stock market when he got stock tips from a shoeshine boy. William Alden has a fun story in the New York Times about the state of the industry: "In-house shoeshine service has proved remarkably resilient, surviving the rise of technology and even the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis."

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net