The FT’s deputy editor rounds up the best of the FT and ft.com
The big event was our launch of the Future of Capitalism series. It has got off to a cracking start, underlined by strong web traffic.
Martin Wolf‘s introductory analysis piece on day one was a brilliant tour de force and we also had the perfect day one front page story – an exclusive Ed Luce and Chrystia Freeland interview with Larry Summers in which he stirred up a transatlantic hornet’s nest by calling for a greater co-ordinated global stimulus.
The analysis pages throughout the week were of a very high standard and thought-provoking, so a big thanks to Gillian Tett and Krishna Guha, Chrystia Freeland and John Thornhill, Francesco Guerrera and Richard Milne – and to everyone who contributed ideas/profiles to the “50 most influential people” page. The expanded online, interactive version of the 50 influentials, by Steve Bernard and Jeremy Lemer, was a smart piece of work.
On the opinion page we had a stellar cast of guest writers, attracting a lot of online comments.
For his analysis piece, Francesco Guerrera secured an interview with Jack Welch. Mr Welch, the godfather of shareholder value, told Francesco it was “dumb” for corporate leaders to pay so much attention to quarterly results. The statement marked the end of an era.
Other outstanding scoops included: Peggy Hollinger on Paris trying to open Areva’s share capital to Middle East investment funds; an interview with Peter Mandelson in which he expressed admiration for French industrial policy; Brian Groom’s front page CBI warning that the G20 summit was in danger of focussing on red herrings; some other strong G20 interviews (Mure Dickie with the Japanese finance minister, Ralph Atkins and Ben Hall with Christian Noyer, Richard Lapper with Trevor Manuel) and a great online graphic on participating countries wishlists by Steve Bernard, Helen Warrell, Cynthia O’Murchu and Shyamantha Asokan.
Jenn Hughes revealed the long hand of US audit liability rules; Salamander Davoudi and Kate Burgess ITV taking rights issue soundings and Martin Arnold and Adrian Cox revealed the private equity house emerging from the Lehman wreckage.
Henny Sender and Javier Blas remained on our most-clicked list for days with their piece on how hedge funds that bet against big banks are now betting against central banks by buying gold. Greg Farrell delivered another scoop about Merrill Lynch on possible trading book markdowns and Deborah Brewster wrote a good story on companies suspending their contributions to defined contribution pension plans.
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson charted the spread of the recession to Sesame Street with a story that was among our most popular online. And in an online video scoop star fund manager Anthony Bolton told FTfm’s Pauline Skypala that this really was the bottom of the market. Well, maybe- according to Mike Mackenzie’s good Saturday equity rally round-up and Neil Hume’s London column.
George Parker revealed that the foreign office had divided G20 nations into first and second divisions, Andrea Felsted revealed why the FSA is looking at Resolution and Shari Daneshkhu had a good, early interview with the new boss of Carrefour. Jonathan Guthrie’s front pager on the disappearing Midlands ruby was a bizarre tale beautifully reported.
We also had some fine coverage of the continuing bank crisis: George Parker and Peter Thal Larsen had a strong UK front page story on the government and Barclays tussling over use of toxic waste insurance, and the same team produced details of the Lloyds rescue. Jo Chung and Brooke Masters provided strong curtain raising and on-the-day coverage of Madoff’s plea bargain, with a nice colour piece by John Gapper.
Jean Eaglesham provided a very good checklist of just what Tory policy is – or isn’t – while Ed Crooks explained the risk of a gas glut. Chris Giles and David Oakley gave strong coverage through the week of quantitative easing and its impact on the gilts markets. Brooke Masters, Anousha Sakoui and Kate Burgess explained the novel ways UK companies are using to raise money – useful, micro recession reporting - while Tom Burgis reported colourfully on how hard times are hitting the Botswana diamond mining industry.
Geoff Dyer was prolific and insightful from China. He produced excellent coverage of the economic slowdown, including a sharper-than-expected drop in exports and Wen Jiabao’s warning to Washington to keep its US Treasuries safe through responsible fiscal behaviour. He also travelled to Tibetan areas of China for the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s uprising, making a virtue of the fact he could not get access by writing a colourful and cogent analysis of how Beijing had blocked all roads to the region. He rounded off the week with a thoughtful Dalai Lama profile.
Alan Beattie wrote a wonderfully fluent and readable Saturday analysis piece on the US-European divide ahead of the G20. Nick Timmins explained the reinvention of the British teaching hospital. Peter Garnham did very well on the Swiss franc devaluation story.
Vanessa Friedman gave us stylish coverage of Paris fashion week, both in the paper and online, while Greg Farrell and Henny Sender provided a forensic account of the fall of John Thain at Merrill Lynch, John Lloyd wrote magisterially on Northern Ireland, David Pilling had an interesting lunch with writer David Peace and Robin Lane Fox wrote beautifully on Yves Saint Laurent’s Moroccan garden.