Editor’s Picks

In this week's essential reading guide, Kohler tackles the great retirement rort, Gottliebsen analyses the future for building cartels and Bartholomeusz appraises Country Road.

The great retirement rort
Alan Kohler
Australians get ripped off while saving for retirement just to get scalped by retirement villages when they finally get there. Tackling this racket is the government's chance to redeem itself following its lacklustre performance over the CBA scandal.

A rich Country Road offer, but not overdressed
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Fresh details cast Woolworths' offer in a new light in relation Country Road's prospective earnings -- and will give pause to concerns of a ‘collateral benefit’ for Solomon Lew.

The housing ‘glass half full’ is leaking
Rob Burgess
Problems with employment patterns and terms of trade mean housing market fundamentals that heartened the CIS are unlikely to be so friendly in coming years.

The domino effect that will crush the building cartels
Robert Gottliebsen
After years of disgraceful cartel-style agreements between Australia's major builders and unions, suddenly there has been a dramatic breakthrough that will change everything.

The rise and fall of the Barings banking dynasty
Peter Cai
Barings Bank was one of the most prominent and oldest merchant banks in the world, with the family even earning the nickname 'the sixth great power'. Then it all came crashing down.

A confidence killer for Australian households
Callam Pickering
Declining consumer sentiment is no longer a hangover from the budget, but a sign that households will be poorly placed in the second half of 2014. A shift in the public's mood is unlikely unless the Senate blocks the budget's proposals.

A glimmer of hope for Alcoa
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Alcoa's prospects are starting to brighten as the fundamentals for the aluminium sector are moving towards a deficit of supply, while it also expands its exposure to high-value automotive and aerospace sectors.

The welfare state is enslaving Europe’s workers
Oliver Marc Hartwich
The redistributive state in Europe is creating a big wedge between gross and net incomes. It's unpleasant for taxpayers and highlights the enormous challenge facing policymakers in ageing societies.

Germany needs a Chinese Snowden
Fergus Ryan
Angela Merkel has been quick to criticise Washington over NSA snooping, but the risks of Chinese cyber espionage could be just as damaging to Germany's economy.

Abbott risks losing the middle class to Palmer
Robert Gottliebsen
Tony Abbott’s plan to extend fair contracts provisions to SMEs is exactly what Australia’s struggling middle class needs, but is it enough to beat the increasing popularity of Clive Palmer?

Australia is fast becoming a land of unequal opportunity
Callam Pickering
Domestic policies have a role to play in combating the rise in inequality. But as Joseph Stiglitz reminds us, the Coalition's pursuit of the American model for healthcare and higher education is sure to make matters worse.

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Why negative gearing is Australia's biggest policy failure
Callam Pickering
The original purpose of negative gearing was to boost the housing supply, but instead it has encouraged speculation and driven up prices. Yet politicians are too scared to tackle it.

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Abbott’s unpopularity is a matter of trust
Michael Gawenda
If only the government had done a better job at communicating the fiscal crisis; if only the ABC were more supportive. Alas, neither of these is Tony Abbott’s real problem.