This is a shortened version of a weekly email to FT journalists from Lionel Barber, the editor, highlighting his picks of the previous week’s output
Introduction: The credit crunch strikes the global supply chain and spreads deeper into the real economy; Britain suffers capital flight and sterling sinks further; China announces a faster-than-expected slowdown and a fiscal stimulus; Hank Paulson executes a U-turn on Tarp; and FT.com unveils an elegant redesign and revamp. If you had not been reading the Financial Times in print or online this past week, you would have missed….
1) China’s much-vaunted fiscal stimulus was in fact one quarter “new money”; the rest was either previously announced or left to local authorities to take up the slack. Geoff Dyer was a lone voice counselling caution when the package was first announced.
2) General Motors and Ford have received a vote of no confidence from three big European credit insurers, which have removed cover from their suppliers. Kiran Stacey and John Reed reporting on a big trend in the global supply chain. Jonathan Guthrie provided boots on the ground. And…
3) Woolworths is being forced to demand cash up front for millions of pounds of Christmas goods in a sign of how the credit crisis is spreading into the broader economy. Tom Braithwaite dug up the scoop on the day before our GM/Ford story.
4) Wall Street faces some 70,000 additional job cuts in the coming quarter as investment banks tailor their business to tougher times. Monday’s splash from Francesco Guerrrera and Aline Van Duyn was widely picked up.
5) Barclays faces a revolt from UK institutional shareholders furious about the favourable terms offered to deep-pocketed Gulf investors. Kate Burgess and Peter Thal Larsen stole a march on the competition.
6) The Mafia is stepping in to finance small businesses abandoned by the banks on terms that, er, you cannot refuse. Guy Dinmore and Giulia Segreti wrote a fascinating article.
7) A powerful member of Dubai’s political and business elite has been caught up in an official corruption probe. The case reflects the Emirate’s determination to crack down on crony capitalism as the froth comes off Dubai’s boom. Simeon Kerr dug up a highly sensitive story, assisted ably by Roula Khalaf. We wrote a timely leader.
8.) British ministers – under pressure from business – are considering moves to weaken pension protection. Norma Cohen revealed the pressure to water down Section 75, which compels any business winding up a pension scheme as part of a corporate restructuring or demerger to cover fully its liabilities.
9) Blackstone’s GSO Capital Partners and GoldenTree Asset Management, two of the biggest hedge fund investors in corporate loans, are seeking additional capital in the face of big markdowns on their holdings. Henny Sender produced the goods.
10) Moves to create a global set of accounting rules are being threatened by last-minute interference from the European Commission, according to Sir David Tweedie, chairman of The International Accounting Standards Board. Jennifer Hughes revealed Tweedie had considered resigning as a result of the infighting. Richard Milne also did a strong video interview with him.
And finally…..Delphine Strauss’s Global village column reported on the controversy caused by a new film depicting the revered Ataturk as a hard-drinking, hard-smoking womaniser plagued by doubt in his later years. A riveting on-the-ground piece of writing.
Quote of the week: A Maine lobsterman on Whole Foods’ ban on selling live lobster in their stores. “I think it’s a big crock – nothing but a marketing ploy to appeal to the green, organic-type yuppies. Lobsters don’t have feelings.” Thank you, Rebecca Knight from Boston.
Style watch: Peter Aspden’s wistful column on Robert De Niro was poetry-in-motion. John Lloyd deconstructing Sir David Hare in Person in the News was a close second. Alan Beattie’s Dear Ma’am column answering The Queen’s question on the credit crunch was waspishly witty. (Note to Alan’s friends: visiting hours in the Tower of London are between 4am and 6am on Sundays). Robert Shrimsley’s Notebook on the G20 summmit was a side-splitter.
Europe highlights: Peggy Hollinger’s Monday interview with Francois Chereque – a French trade union leader who thinks the socialists are cowards and admires Sarko. Catherine Belton’s reporting on Russian oligarch shenanigans. Bertrand Benoit’s punchy interview with Joschka Fischer criticising Germany for going awol in Europe during the financial crisis
Asia highlights: Michiyo Nakamoto’s report on Japan’s $106bn G20 gift to the IMF; Amy Kazmin’s scoop interview with Vijay Mallya, head of the booze-to-airlines Kingfisher conglomerate, in which he called for Indian FDI rules to be changed to allow foreign airlines to buy up to 25 per cent of Indian ones; The Ratan Tata email story, in which one of India’s biggest conglomerates braced its employees for belt-tightening, by James Lamont and Joe Leahy; Tom Mitchell’s piece on the Chinese government bailing out Citic HK, which made a huge losing bet on the Aussie dollar derivatives. This broke late and Tom, who has been on top of the story throughout, filed long after midnight.
US highlights: An eagle-eyed spot by Michael Mackenzie that led to a front-page scoop on Libor turning higher – and praise from a financial observer by the name of George Soros. A scoop from Francesco, Julie MacIntosh and Peter Thal Larsen on Vikram Pandit’s buying shares in Citi for the first time. Justin Baer’s online scoop on CIT’s plans to turn itself into a bank. Greg Farrell’s good work on how many of the Merrill’s “thundering herd” of brokers will end up joining Bank of America as well as his exclusive on John Thain’s observation that the current era reminds him of 1929. Rebecca Knight’s entertaining front-pager on the fall in lobster prices.