Hillary Clinton

♦ The FT’s Henny Sender on how hedge funds are making big bucks shorting China’s banks in what looks a lot like the Chinese equivalent of the Big Short.
♦ Hillary Clinton has entered the lucrative world of paid speechmaking – and her political rivals are already keeping tabs on the schedule.
♦ Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistan schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, will mark her 16th birthday by delivering a speech at the UN headquarters. She will call on governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child. In her home country, however, the Taliban war against girls’ education continues unabated.
♦ Americans may be living longer, but not better.
♦ Sultan al-Qassemi, a Dubai-based analyst, argues that Al Jazeera has turned from the voice of Arab Freedom to a shill for Egypt’s Islamists.

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The best reads from today and the weekend to kick off your week…  Read more

Ready and waiting – the venue for tonight's second presidential debate. (Reuters)

Welcome to the US election round-up on the morning of the second presidential debate, with polls showing the closest race for the White House since the Bush/Gore election in 2000 that was finally decided in the Supreme Court.

The RCP rolling average of polls is constantly changing – hardly a surprise when 10 national surveys of voting intention are published every day – but after showing a tie late on Monday night, Tuesday dawned with Mitt Romney holding a 0.1 per cent lead over President Barack Obama. Read more

From ghost towns to rooftop farms, here are our picks for today:

Alan Beattie

If you can have remarks that are both pointed and veiled, Hillary Clinton managed it this week – her comments on the limitations of authoritarian capitalism clearly taking a swing at China without mentioning it by name.

The State Department has been trying to improve what Mrs Clinton calls America’s “economic statecraft”, appointing its first-ever chief economist and musing on ways to advance US influence in the global economy. It’s hard for the US to do so directly, especially with Congressional suspicion of bailing out foreigners – which has limited its role in the eurozone crisis – and of signing new trade deals. So noting that rich countries are generally democratic ones might be a way of extending American soft power. Read more

Neil Buckley

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/GettyImages)

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins / AFP/ GettyImages)

Visiting Latvia on Thursday, Hillary Clinton praised the Baltic state for taking “very difficult” austerity measures that would ensure a “stable, prosperous future”.

The US secretary of state is not the only high-profile figure praising Latvia’s economic record.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, dropped in this month and proclaimed its austerity programme an “inspiration” for heavily-indebted eurozone countries.

Latvia and its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Lithuania suffered the world’s steepest economic contractions in 2009 amid swingeing austerity measures. But now they find themselves in the frontline of the debate over austerity versus growth as the best way to tackle the eurozone’s debt problems. Read more