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Ever since Goldman Sachs launched the concept of the Brics nations in 2001, there were always sceptics who doubted that the group — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — had much in common. But, Gideon Rachman observes in his latest column, there is at least one thing they do share: endemic corruption. All five countries have ingrained graft problems. Not only are their populations furious about being perpetually swindled, but corruption in emerging markets has global implications.

In a connected world, it is much easier for corruption to spread and be disguised Gideon notes. That is why a scandal in Malaysia can have political reverberations in Switzerland or the US. But it is also possible that the growing economic power of countries such as China, India and Russia may be spreading corrupt practices rapidly. And while the sanctimonious west likes to pride itself on its sound institutions, westerners are just as willing to share in the proceeds of corruption.

Snake oil
Robert Shrimsley accuses Theresa May, the UK prime minister, of a total capitulation to cynicism after her claim that increased funding for the NHS will be paid for by a “Brexit dividend”, which does not exist.

Migration warning
Fergus Peace explains that the EU is on a slippery slope to adopting the kind of pitiless refugee policy that is already being practised in Australia.

Macron v Merkel
Judy Dempsey argues that the French and German leaders desperately need to present a united front at next week’s EU summit. But that is much easier said than done.

Doubtful drugmakers
Erik Nordkamp, the managing director of Pfizer UK, warns that the UK pharmaceuticals industry, which employs more than 140,000 people, urgently needs reform.

What you’ve been saying

Trump: the situation will not have changed fundamentally by 2020— Letter from Robert Denham:
There is little reason to expect that Donald Trump will leave office voluntarily unless he is overwhelmingly defeated, which is unlikely. Even then he will demand a full pardon and ironclad guarantees against future prosecution. In this respect, the situation will not be fundamentally different in two years’ time. The same 44 per cent who believe the Mueller investigation is a “political witch hunt” will believe the election was rigged, as Mr Trump will claim if he loses.

Comment by Felix Drost on Donald Trump’s trade tirades show his mastery of the message:
What we now learn is that the world has no vision if the US Presidency has no vision. We followed along with FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, Clinton and Bush et. al in their postwar course because we wanted to or had to: there was no alternative worthy of considering or competition. And now with Trump effectively disowning the US global leadership position, we don’t know what to do next.

The central bank payment system would survive any crisis— Letter from Nicholas Gruen:
High-risk debt would then be (properly) repriced — with a little more “due diligence” going on. Borrowers would substitute towards more equity funding and lower spending. There would still be the usual mistakes and herd behaviour, but it would be on a smaller scale and with lower leverage against collateral. And the central bank payments system would survive any crisis, just as we are told cockroaches will survive a nuclear winter. That removes one central driver of bailouts. So wouldn’t asset bubbles, and the crises to which they can lead, be rarer? And milder?

Today’s opinion

How Democracy Ends, by David Runciman
An intriguing book full of new lines of thought that sees Trump as merely a symptom

Do not expect the whole truth — entrepreneurs bluff all the time
Exaggerations, half-truths and white lies are rife — but do start-ups deserve leeway?

Australia’s pitiless migrant policy is no model for Europe
Italy’s refusal to let a migrant rescue ship dock feels alarmingly familiar to many

Macron and Merkel struggle to present a united front to Europe
The leaders will arrive at the EU summit with opposing visions for the future

Corruption thrives in a globalised world
Has corruption become more common? Or simply easier to expose

A bout of Brexit cynicism infects Theresa May’s healthcare plan
This may be the moment when the UK prime minister abandons hope of changing the debate

India’s north-south fissures deepen over national budgeting
Southerners feel penalised for progress as the political agenda is set by the north

Free Lunch: The Federal Reserve’s contradiction
US central bankers’ projections cannot all be realised together

FT View

FT View: The Turkish fighter jet deal is stalled, and so is UK defence
Britain needs to put on a better defence planning show

FT View: On the US border, Donald Trump cannot shift the blame
Using children’s lives for political leverage is patently un-American

The Big Read

The Big Read: Carillion’s troubles were shrouded in a fog of goodwill
The collapse of the outsourcing group is the latest case to raise questions about accounting standards in the UK and US

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