By Martin Arnold, Banking Editor, in Davos
The first of many debates about China at Davos this year made an unexpectedly hostile debut this morning as Zhang Xin, head of Beijing’s biggest property developer Soho, was put on the spot over the country’s crackdown on corruption.
“Your industry is one of the most corrupt in China,” said moderator Andrew Browne, China editor of the Wall Street Journal, as he asked Ms Zhang to share her views on the issue. Read more
By Toby Luckhurst
♦ Al-Qaeda: On the march Terror affiliates are active in more countries than ever, write Sam Jones, Borzou Daragahi and Simeon Kerr.
♦ The rise of a new US federalism. Edward Luce says with federal government largely paralysed, the future is being shaped in the cities.
♦ The Economist looks at the effect a new era of automation will have on jobs. Previous technological innovation has delivered more long-term employment, not less. But, it notes, things can change.
♦ The New York Times reveals how Iraq’s government is paying and arming tribal militias to fight as its proxies in the battle against militants.
♦ Rewriting the revolution. H.A. Hellyer in Al Arabiya News looks at the historical revisionism in play in Egypt.
♦ An infographic in the New York Times shows the cost per person of the US federal budget passed last week. Read more
Can Hollande get the French economy back on track?
By an unfortunate coincidence, President François Hollande’s efforts to relaunch his presidency with an announcement of bold economic reforms have coincided with the revelation that he appears to be having an affair with an actress. Meanwhile, the economy continues to struggle, and the government is engaged in an effort to block performances by the controversial comic Dieudonné. Gideon Rachman is joined by Hugh Carnegy, Paris Bureau chief, and Ben Hall, world news editor, to discuss whether France is in crisis, or whether it’s business as usual
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images
By Jonathan Soble
Sermons from the IMF tend to make Japanese leaders fidget nervously in their pews – all fire and brimstone about budget deficits and the need for austerity. But Christine Lagarde’s warning about the evils of deflation is more likely to elicit a full-throated “amen”.
Successive Japanese administrations have promised to end deflation – the “ogre”, in Ms Lagarde’s description, that has menaced the country’s economy since the late 1990s. But under Shinzo Abe, prime minister since December 2012, and his central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, deflation-fighting has become the overriding priority.
They have been getting results so far: prices of consumer goods excluding fresh food are rising nearly 1 per cent year-on-year, thanks to the Bank of Japan’s ultra-accommodative monetary policy and the related plunge in the value of the yen, which has pushed up the cost of imports. Read more
The turmoil in Turkey
Turkey is in political turmoil. In recent weeks a corruption scandal has gripped the government, resulting in a series of arrests, the moving of hundreds of senior police officers, a challenge to the power base of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a split between Mr Erdogan and his former backers in the Gulenist movement.
In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Daniel Dombey, Turkey correspondent and Tony Barber, Europe editor, to discuss how these developments threaten the political and economic stability of this large dynamic country that is vital to the geopolitics of both Europe and Asia.
Ronald Pofalla (Adam Berry/Getty Images)
By Stefan Wagstyl in Berlin
Controversial job-seekers have been making the headlines over the holidays in Germany. The debate over EU immigration, sparked by the lifting of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians, has been entirely predictable – and rather more civilised than, for example, in the UK.
More surprising have been reports of a possible new posting for Ronald Pofalla, chancellor Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff, who quit in December saying he wanted more time for his private life.
There was some sympathy then for the twice-divorced 54-year-old’s plans to start a family with his 32-year-old girlfriend and an understanding that he would, at some point, find work in industry – perhaps in the coal sector in his home region of North Rhine Westphalia. Read more
Judging from our list of the most-read stories of the year, it was a year of personalities, the taper, technology – and increasing turmoil in Syria and Egypt.
This interactive, compiled from the most read stories of the year, gives a picture of what the FT audience was interested in each month.
It’s broken down into four sections, overview, world, companies and markets so you can drill down into the most popular stories in each section. Read more
Protests continue in Ukraine
Mass protests continue in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. The government had refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union, apparently in favor of closer ties to Russia. Neil Buckley, east Europe editor, and Roman Olearchyk, Kiev correspondent, join Gideon Rachman to discuss the still-volatile situation.
China and Japan in the struggle of the century
Aerial posturing over disputed territories in the East China Sea has caused concern among the international community. After China declared an air identification zone over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the US despatched two B-52 bombers in an apparent show of defiance, but has instructed its civilian airlines to respect the zone. In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Jamil Anderlini, Beijing bureau chief, and Geoff Dyer, US foreign policy correspondent to shed light on the situation
By Luisa Frey
♦ Fears of an accidental conflict are growing following China’s creation of an air defence zone over the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands it claims as its territory, with the US seeing the move as a provocative step, writes the FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo. Read more
International reaction to the Iran nuclear deal
The United States and European Union are clearly delighted with the historic nuclear deal struck with Iran in Geneva last week, but some key US allies in the region, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia are not happy. John Reed, Jerusalem correspondent, James Blitz, defence and security editor and Siona Jenkins, Middle East news editor, join Gideon Rachman to discuss how the agreement will affect the balance of power in the region.
By Luisa Frey
♦ “Are the states of the Near East coming apart – especially along faultlines between Sunni and Shia Muslims that run from Beirut to Bagdad?” asks the FT’s David Gardner. The battle between the two groups is destroying the borders drawn up by European imperialists and creating boundaries based on ethnicity and religion.
♦ Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had no choice but to recognise the nation’s desperation for an end to isolation and is now keeping his options open with the nuclear deal, writes the FT’s Roula Khalaf.
♦ The New Yorker has a profile of British blogger Eliot Higgins, know as Brown Moses, who has never been to Syria, but has become “perhaps the foremost expert on the munitions used in the war”.
♦ In Brazil, one more corruption scandal has become public. Investigators claim that a group of tax inspectors allowed construction companies to evade more than $200m in taxes in exchange for bribes, writes the New York Times.
♦ In periods of uncertainty , Switzerland turns to national superhero William Tell. Like Tell, who refused to bow to an Austrian lord’s hat, the country feels put upon by foreign powers that have pressured it to change its ways in the wake of the financial crisis, writes the Wall Street Journal. Read more
By Luisa Frey
♦ Instead of euphoria, relief swept through Tehran after the reach of a historic deal over Iran’s nuclear programme. Although the agreement is an interim one, Iran now hopes for an end to its isolation and the revival of its economy. But the FT’s David Gardner comments that sceptics will want proof Iran is becoming ‘a player for peace’ – “given Tehran’s record, it could hardly be otherwise”. Read more
By Luisa Frey
♦ In India, prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi captures the attention of both bitter enemies and fanatical supporters. Even business leaders who admire him admit he could be a risky choice, write the FT’s Victor Mallet and Lionel Barber. Read more
By Luisa Frey
♦ Twenty-three years after German reunification, a report shows that east-west migration is fizzling out. As the socio-economic differences become smaller, investors are pumping capital into the ex-communist east, writes the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl.
♦ Slovenia – which cruised to the EU as the wealthiest of the 10 ex-communist members – is now struggling to avoid a eurozone bailout.
♦ In the US, inequality is moving to the front line of politics. The rich-poor gap has long been an issue, but in post-crisis times it seems more difficult to raise hopes of upward mobility.
♦ “Keeping China moving will keep its leaders busy,” comments the FT’s David Pilling. Xi Jinping – “the world’s most powerful leader” – has nine years left at the helm of an economy that could be the world’s biggest by 2020.
♦ In post-revolutionary times, Arab countries are dealing with the task of rewriting history and figuring out how to teach it. Egypt, Lybia and Tunisia are removing from school textbooks the praise they once heaped on former dictators, writes The Economist.
♦ A video report from the Wall Street Journal follows citizens whose lives were upended by the conflict across Syria’s northern border. “I always try to make my students forget what they saw in Syria”, says a teacher in a refugee camp in Turkey. Read more
The tug of war over the future of Ukraine
Ukraine finds itself caught between Russia and the EU ahead of a summit next week in Vilnius, where the country’s president Viktor Yanukovich will have the opportunity to sign a major free trade deal and political association agreement with the EU. Russia has intensified pressure on the country recently not to sign the deal in favour of joining a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Neil Buckley, Eastern Europe editor and Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief to explain how the situation is likely to develop.