December 11, 2017
By Gillian Tett

The mysteries of bitcoin are turning heads yet again this week. At the start of the year, the digital token was worth $1,000; on Thursday, it breached $16,000. This is eye-popping, particularly given that so few investors actually understand how cryptocurrencies really work.But amid this frenzy, here is a more startling idea to ponder: what is happening with bitcoin is not actually the most head-spinning technological development in finance today. Far from it. Away from the public gaze, there are a host of other digital innovations emerging that have attracted little public attention, yet have more far-reaching implications.Consider the...


By Sebastian Payne

For the first time, Theresa May has something to celebrate about Brexit. The overnight breakthrough in securing tentative terms for an exit deal paves the way for phase one of the negotiations to be signed off at this week’s EU summit. The deadlock has been broken. Talks about the future UK-EU relationship will hopefully begin in earnest and all sides can breathe a sigh of relief. It has been anything but an easy week for the UK prime minister.She planned to announce this deal on Monday — only for the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists, her domestic governing partners, to scupper it and demand changes to enshrine the sanctity of the...


By Mehtab Haider.

Insight Pakistan is once again at the crossroads where it will have to stop the foreign currency reserves from eroding by at least around $5 billion over the next seven months to fend off another bailout package from International Monetary Fund . Country’s dollar reserves fell by around $3.5 billion in the first five months after current account deficit climbed to a whopping $5 billion. The foreign reserves depleted in the range of $900 million in the previous month’s last week alone. Pakistan’s economic wizards got a breather after favorable Standard & Poor’s report maintaining the country’s rating and subsequently...


By Richard Branson

ColumnQ: I’m from Transylvania, where I’m working on opening the first five-star boutique hotel in the region. I’ve invested my savings in the project and it’s nearly complete, but I don’t have enough funds to finish it. Do you think it’s wise to open the hotel as it stands now — with three out of four guest rooms ready to go — or should I wait and finish everything first?— Zsolt Székely, Romania A: Your problem is one that many entrepreneurs encounter when starting their businesses. The most important advice I can give you is this: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.Which means you might...


By Jan Khaskheli

AGRICULTURE Rice producers in Sindh, who have been associated with cultivation practices for a long time, are raising questions about the nutritional value and quality of new food crops being floated in the market. They consider rapidly changing technologies and unnecessary use of chemicals harmful, and reasons behind the deteriorating quality of products.Qamaruddin Mahesar, a farmer and rice trader from Larkana said sugdasi rice, a kind of local basmati variety was disappearing and not being cultivated by most farmers. “A very few growers are now harvesting this variety using indigenous practices for their own consumption,”...


By Jawwad Rizvi

INTERVIEW Aqueel Hassan Chairman of MCR Ltd which owns Pizza Hut, Burger King and TGI Fridays restaurants in Pakistan shared his opinions on the food chain industry of the country, and future plans of selling franchises. This is the first time in Pakistan that a local company has been given permission for master franchise. He explains the future plans of selling the sub-franchise and how they will manage the quality.Hassan serves on the Board of Habib Oil Mills Limited and Millenium Software Limited. He was also the Director of Alfalah GHP Investment Management Limited.Q. In the last couple of years, Pakistan has seen a rise...


By Sirajuddin Aziz

MANAGEMENT A situation, where an individual has competing interests or loyalties, is normally referred to as prone to ‘conflict of interest’. Different circumstances can create situations of conflict of interest. An office holder, either in public sector, or the private sector, if his “interests” clash with his/her official status, there is a clear case of conflict of interest. That is to say that if decision making gets clouded by the domineering self-interest, it is undoubtedly, conflict of interest. A person who has a position of authority in one organisation that conflicts with his/her interests in another organisation...


By Charles Grant

The talks on Britain’s separation from the EU are making progress on the outstanding issues — money, citizens’ rights and the Irish border. When the European Council meets on December 14, it may declare “sufficient progress” and thus allow talks on future relations and the transition to start early next year, as British prime minister Theresa May hopes. But her troubles would be far from over: the future relationship is likely to prove a tougher negotiation than the separation agreement, because the EU will reject what the UK asks for.The Brexit talks are turning out like accession talks in reverse. When a country joins the EU,...


By Steve Johnson

In November 2014, when China launched Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect, a pipeline designed to facilitate two-way flows between two hitherto largely sealed off equity markets, identical stocks listed on both exchanges were, on average, 2.1 per cent more expensive in Shanghai.After three years of operation, during which a net Rmb920bn has flowed through this conduit and a sister HK-Shenzhen channel opened a year ago, the typical premium that dual-listed stocks trade at on the mainland market has ballooned to 30 per cent, as the first chart shows.“At the beginning of the process I think the expectation was that the gap would be erased,...