In investing, as in poker, following rules works best

AT THE annual World Series of Poker, which begins this week in Las Vegas, the main event is the no-limit Texas hold ’em tournament. In the course of two weeks of gruelling knock-out play, several thousand players are whittled down to just two, playing “heads-up” for one of the WSOP’s coveted bracelets. In last year’s final hand, both players had pushed all their chips in, with five shared cards yet to be dealt. Scott Blumstein, who held Ace-Deuce, was a big underdog against Daniel Ott, who held Ace-Eight. With one…

The number of new banks in America has fallen off a cliff

THE single-storey main branch of the Texas Hill Country Bank, in Kerrville, sits at the back of a tired shopping centre, in the shade of a six-storey Wells Fargo building. When Roy Thompson, the chief executive, was hired (from Wells) in 2012, three years after it opened, he ran a radio ad campaign to alert locals to its existence. It asked listeners to help a mother (his) to find her child (Roy himself), who had gone missing after joining a community bank. If Mr Thompson had shared the fate of…

American tech giants are making life tough for startups

IT IS a classic startup story, but with a twist. Three 20-somethings launched a firm out of a dorm room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, with the goal of using algorithms to predict the reply to an e-mail. In May they were fundraising for their startup, EasyEmail, when Google held its annual conference for software developers and announced a tool similar to EasyEmail’s. Filip Twarowski, its boss, sees Google’s incursion as “incredible confirmation” they are working on something worthwhile. But he also admits that it came as…

Turkey’s central bank has streamlined its fight against inflation

THE baroque era in Turkish architecture lasted deep into the 19th century, leaving behind lavish buildings, such as the Lily Mosque in Istanbul and waterside pavilions that seem to float on the Bosphorus. The baroque period in Turkish monetary policy will last until June 1st, when the central bank will simplify its equally ornate monetary-policy framework. It will henceforth rely on a single interest rate (the one-week repo rate), which it will raise to 16.5%. This will supersede a jumble of interest rates (see chart) that has left the Turkish…

There is madness, but perhaps also method, in America’s trade policies

DIVINING meaning in the Trump administration’s trade announcements is a thankless task. No sooner does a policy seem settled than it is thrown up in the air once more. On May 23rd, days before a scheduled meeting with the European Union and Japan on a joint trade strategy and in the middle of talks to revamp the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it began an investigation into whether car imports are a threat to America’s national security. On May 29th, days after tariffs on imports from China were supposedly put…

Shootings in India tarnish Vedanta’s reputation

AFTER 99 peaceful days of protests, the 100th brought carnage. On May 22nd in Tuticorin, a coastal town near the southern tip of India, police indiscriminately fired live rounds into a crowd of several thousand demonstrators who were opposing the planned expansion of a copper-smelting facility. Thirteen people died and scores more were injured. The fallout threatens to be a chronic headache both for the Indian authorities and Vedanta, the mining giant which owns the facility. Corporate public-relations consultants in London, where Vedanta’s main holding company is based, have depressingly…

Comcast and Disney battle over Rupert Murdoch’s empire

A YEAR ago, investors in 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment empire, could have been forgiven a bout of the blues. Shares were down by 30% from their peak in December 2014. Viewership of most of the company’s American networks was in decline, and millions had dropped expensive pay-TV packages, including its own, in favour of cheaper web-delivered video. On May 25th Fox’s shares reached a new all-time high, rising above $39 a share. The business has not turned around, but Fox’s value has, as a prize for other media…

HEYTEA wants to make tea-drinking cool again in China

TIPPED, not stirred, is how hip young things in China now take their tea. To be exact, at a 45-degree tilt. So advise the tea-ristas of HEYTEA, a budding, pricey tea chain, the better to blend the bitter tang of freshly brewed leaves with a salty cream-cheese “cap”. Naigai cha, or cheese-tea, has taken China’s rich eastern cities by storm. For months after HEYTEA shops appeared in Shanghai in February 2017, security guards had to manage queues with waiting times of up to three hours. Impatient customers hired queuers from…

A Hungarian startup could beat Ryanair at its own low-cost game

JUST a few hundred metres from Budapest airport’s runways, the wails of scorched airline passengers echo around an industrial estate. But no real people are being harmed. Here Wizz Air, a rapidly growing Hungarian carrier, trains cabin crew and pilots in evacuating its planes safely. Last year the airline recruited 1,000 new staff, twice as many as the year before. In February construction work started on a bigger training centre to teach an extra 1,400 cabin crew it will need next year. If anyone will be burned by this expansion…