Themes of the Week: Gordon Brown produces a (slightly mangy) rabbit out of the hat at the G20 summit; Barack Obama charms his hosts in Britain, France and Germany, while turfing out Rick Wagoner at General Motors; mark-to-market accounting takes a blow; equity markets stage a bear rally; and Gillian Tett is voted Journalist of the Year in the British press awards (Sam Jones winning a highly commended citation for his ground-breaking Moody’s coverage).
And if you missed the FT or ft.com this week, you would have missed the following gems…
1) Exclusive interviews with the leaders of Canada, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea and the IMF (plus the earlier Obama scoop), all of which helped the FT set the news agenda for the G20 summit.
2) How much of Gordon Brown’s $1 trillion dollar rescue package for the world economy was new money? Chris Giles magisterial on-the-day analysis provided the most authoritative account, winning him a mention on Any Questions, the popular BBC talk show.
3) British bankers are imposing margin calls on wealthy investors in buy-to-let properties, a dramatic sign of weakness in the housing market. Sharlene Goff’s scoop led the Weekend FT in Britain.
4) Philip Stephens’ column on Mervyn King’s autocratic management style at the Bank of England was tough – and revealing. An influential piece of journalism.
5) Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and others are getting ready to game Tim Geithner’s toxic asset purchase plan. Francesco Guerrera broke the story and had a hand (or two hands) in five other top-notch scoops out of New York.
6) The SEC has such limited resources that it is looking to enlist auditors and other private sector actors in unearthing fraud. Joanna Chung dug out the story during an interview with the new SEC commissioner Mary Schapiro.
7) Nawaz Sharif revealing his unhappiness that President Obama is continuing drone attacks in Pakistan’s mutinous border areas. James Lamont and Farhan Bokhari secured that just in time to catch the attacks on poice cadets in Lahore. Meantime, Alec Russell wrote up the full interview in a beautifully crafted Breakfast with the FT for the Weekend FT.
8) The Bank of England’s Quantitative Easing and its impact on driving down interest rates are forcing companies to re-evaluate pension obligations. Norma Cohen identified a trend to watch.
9) Sara O’Connor’s news scene on part-time workers in the US and the likely “real” US employment rate of 14.8 per cent was a model of on-the-ground reporting and savvy analysis.
10) Jurek Martin wrote a compelling weekend obituary on John Hope Franklin, the African-American historian. Perhaps the finest piece of prose this week in the FT.
Headline of the Week: Coke’s teeth-rotting myth the real thing, says ad watchdog.
Technical breakthrough of the week: The G20 Twitter team, led by a bloodied Tim Bradshaw, covered the violent demonstrations in London with aplomb.
Graphics of the Week: The G20 graphics were exemplary, offering clarity and information (thanks to top-notch input from Jack Farchy, world desk researcher).
Gopher of the week: Andy Bounds for digging out Richard Lambert’s speech on the comeback of the state in Britain (one to watch, this.)
Stakhanovites of the week: Henny Sender filed a fascinating interview with Tom Barrack, a reclusive private equity investor who sees openings in the newly government-regulated financial sector – a man bites dog story. Geoff Dyer filed copy on Hu Jintao’s performance at the G20 summit. Both filed their stories while on vacation. We don’t need to make this a habit, but such efforts are a tribute to dedication and to the FT.
Markets Watch: David Oakley and Mike Mackenzie revealed that investors are making the inflation trade already. Javier Blas noted that record sales of gold scrap are turning traditional gold importing countries into net exporters.
Spot of the Week: Peter Smith on the bare-chested (and misleading) boasts of Coca Cola in Australia.
Saskia Scholtes, Francesco Guerrera and Joanna Chung unearthed a significant development in the new world of more heavily regulated banking. Two big US finance companies, GMAC and CIT, have yet to issue government-backed debt three months after they became bank holding companies in order to so do, suggesting they that a pecking order of sorts is developing.
Tom Braithwaite hung in long enough at a hearing featuring the new Tarp inspector general to learn that there are 12 criminal investigations involving Tarp fraud in the US. The result was a front-page scoop for the FT.
GE is preparing a massive marketing and sales campaign focused on its health care businesses. The company later announced a joint venture with Intel to produce sophisticated health monitors for home use. Justin Baer and Francesco reporting.
Julie MacIntosh unearthed great detail all week on the restructuring options for GM, keeping the FT ahead of the game in Detroit.
Asia watch: Mure Dickie and Michiyo Nakamoto got a good story from Japanese PM Taro Aso criticising Germany for its lukewarm stimulus package; James Lamont, Alec Russell and Amy Kazmin got a good line out of Manmohan Singh comparing India’s democracy favourably with China’s more fragile authoritarian system. Christian Oliver, Song Jung-a and David Pilling also had a strong interview with Lee Myung-bak, calling for a rollback of protectionism (a bit rich from South Korea) and revealing that the export picture had stabilised.
On the corporate side, Michiyo Nakamoto revealed that TCI was shorting Japanese stocks to the tune of $1bn after losing a bundle on betting on Japan. Lindsay Whipp also had a couple of good spots, including Mizuho skipping paying back a junior security and a continuing bout of share buybacks at cash-rich Japanese companies.
Weekend FT watch: We published the second exclusive extract from Anthony Bolton’s book on investing. Great picture with Robin Oakley’s front on Life & Arts on the Dubai World Cup, Richard Tomkins bowed out with a magazine piece on the weird world inhabited by sufferers of OCD, and it was good to have Joe Leahy’s road test of the Tata Nano. Finally, a special mention to the art desks for some good looking and well-illustrated sections this week.