In this week's essential reading guide Gottliebsen paints a dire picture for Australian mining chiefs, Bartholomeusz dissects Rio Tinto's Alcan strikeout, Kohler discovers Google is watching and Kirby chews over Vodafone's lesson in crazy.

Rio spills first blood in a mining revolution
Robert Gottliebsen
Rio Tinto's massive writedown underscores just how ignorant Australian mining has been in recent years. Tom Albanese is the first chief executive to face the chopping block but he won't be the last.

Albanese crashes on a $30bn blunder
Stephen Bartholomeusz
With writedowns totalling near $30 billion, Rio Tinto's Alcan deal will go down as one of the worst acquisitions in corporate history. But Sam Walsh's appointment will help the group sidestep the worst instability it could have caused.

Big Google is watching you
Alan Kohler
As people do more and more on their phones, mobile companies are watching every move. It's all about big data – and you can forget privacy.

The crazy business at Crazy John's
James Kirby
The takeover and downfall of John Ilhan's telco follows a familiar storyline, where corporations with incompetent acquisition strategies rapidly suffocate entrepreneurial zeal.

Budget dramas are all theatrics
Stephen Koukoulas
At just 10 per cent of GDP and falling, Australia's net government debt is low enough to trigger concerns about future bond market liquidity. Calls to cut debt faster hold no water.

A plague on Aussie housing
Philip Soos
As aggregate net rental returns run negative, and price to rent ratios indicate severe overvaluation, Australian residential property may be seeing its largest bubble on record.

Beyond the myth of Asian exploitation
Rob Burgess
A wave of job cuts this week reminds us how uncompetitive Australia is with its neighbours. Yet even Canberra's Asian century debate misses the need to develop fluid, creative corporate identities.

The Guardian's audacious Aussie gamble
Stephen Bartholomeusz
In terms of making an incursion into the Australian media market, now is a good time. But in terms of The Guardian's ability to be considering a costly expansion, now is a bad time. This should be interesting.

Abbott shrugs off Labor's small business squeeze
Robert Gottliebsen
Labor's decision to insist company tax be paid monthly is hurting Australia's vital SME sector, but the leader of the Opposition doesn't seem too concerned.

Drab and dull Merkel will spark German mania
Oliver Marc Hartwich
Angela Merkel's personal style is the antithesis of charisma: it suits Europe's can-kicking, buck-passing and sleep-walking perfectly. And it fascinates German voters, who are certain to elect her for another four years.

Swan's lost surplus was more than a fetish
Rob Burgess
Labor's surplus backpeddling underscores a lack of gumption in both parties as they fail to protect budget revenue from the risks that lie ahead.

Blame it on bad weathermen
Steve Keen
Inflation and interest rates cannot be forecast successfully without accounting for economic instability, just as the weather can't be predicted by assuming consistent temperatures.

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