Themes of the Week: The US unveils fresh toxic asset clean-up plan, Mervyn King warns Gordon Brown against further deficit spending, a UK gilt auction fails for the first time in seven years, populist outrage against corporate bonuses spreads across Europe, the FT secures an exclusive interview with President Obama – and President Lula of Brazil blames white, blue-eyed people for the financial crisis.
A brief note on the G20 summit: thanks to our news coverage and ground-breaking Future of Capitalism series, the FT now occupies the high ground. The Obama scoop comes on top of other news-making exclusive interviews with Angela Merkel of Germany, Felipe Calderon of Mexico plus visits and interviews at the FT this week from many other world leaders. Now for the big test of covering the summit.
And if you had not been reading the FT or ft.com over the past seven days, you would have missed…
1) Swiss banking executives are operating a self-imposed ban on travel to the US, France and Germany out of fear that they might be arrested or subpoenaed in the ongoing investigation into tax evasion in these countries. Richard Milne, on assignment in Switzerland, nailed the story.
2) Barclays survived a fresh FSA “stress test” on its capital requirements. We broke the story ahead of our rivals and the news sent hard-hit Barclays’ shares sky-high. George Parker, Jane Croft and Peter Thal Larsen reported the big story.
3) Henny Sender gave readers an unmatched glimpse inside Cerberus, one of the world’s most important private equity firms, partly through a rare interview with Steve Feinberg, Cerberus’s founder.
4) UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon called for a $1 trillion stimulus package for developing countries ahead of the G20 summit. Harvey Morris secured the interview and story.
5) Alan Greenspan predicted that the Obama administration will need to to return to Congress for more funds to clean up and recapitalise the US banking system.
6) Richard Waters delivered the ultimate guide to cloud computing in a magisterial analysis page. Joe Menn, newly recruited to our San Francisco bureau, produced a scoop of interpretation on the growing success of open-source software providers.
7) James Carville, former hitman to President Clinton, was among the most read on ft.com with his “Daddy, what is a derivative?” opinion piece on Obama’s domestic troubles.
8) Chris Giles wrote a superb profile of Mervyn King for Person in the News in the Weekend FT. The piece was full of news nuggets which gave insight into Britain’s newly rehabilitated central banker.
9) Saskia Scholtes delivered a sophisticated second-front scoop detailing yet another perversity of the credit business. By cutting back customers’ credit card lines, she discovered, banks are unintentionally depressing the credit ratings of their borrowers, creating a vicious circle in the banking world.
10) Lucy Kellaway’s column on why the subject of work hardly ever appears in pop songs triggered more than 100 emails from readers – several of whom sent Lucy their own ditties. This is one more reminder, if we needed it, that our readers want a bit of cheer in these hard times.
Quote of the week: The anonymous private banker in Switzerland who compared the mood in Geneva to the “stages of grief” outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist. Right now, he says, the private banks are somewhere in between the first two stages: denial and anger. “Bargaining comes next and then acceptance,” he adds (helpfully omitting the intermediary stage of depression)
Special Reports watch: We had three outstanding magazines this week from Ravi Mattu’s team – Doing business in Emerging Markets, a pacey FT Wealth and our launch edition of Financial Times Health, with strong contributions from Clive Cookson, Andrew Jack, Nicholas Timmins and a terrific colour map packed with health information from around the world. Meanwhile the Watches and Jewellery report continued to sparkle in the gloom. Siona Jenkins, Robert Orr and Paul Solman have all worked extremely hard to help make it happen. Also, we have launched our first blog as part of the Health series, which has been ably put together by Ursula Milton.
Weekend FT watch: James Lamont wrote a gripping magazine story on the murder of the CEO of a foreign company based in Delhi by his own workforce. Peter Aspden’s Daria Zukhova, aka Ms Roman Abramovich, was elegant and interesting. The style piece on What to Wear to the G20 was an eye-catching idea, and James Ferguson provided a beautiful illustration for the Books Essay on politically aware teen fiction. Harry Eyres front on London’s first Slow Down festival was a terrific piece of prose.
House & Home had a fascinating front on repossessions at the very top of the market (and the Secret Agent finally sold the super-house), Anthony Bolton’s first exclusive book extract topped off another strong Money section. And John Lloyd wrote wonderfully on Rage Against the Bankers on the opinion page.
Leader watch: The leader on Bibi Netanyahu’s coalition deal with Ehud Barak was blistering but fair; the leader on Abu Dhabi buying into Daimler was also first-class. We had a Saturday beauty on the need to teach rather than twitter in Britain’s schools.