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Angela Merkel’s decision to step down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union in December, and as German chancellor by 2021, was no shock to those who have been following recent political developments. Disappointing results in regional elections had followed an unprecedented revolt of Ms Merkel’s MPs against her choice of parliamentary leader, Volker Kauder.

Nevertheless, she departs leaving her country in a febrile state, writes Philip Stephens in his column. While, on paper, the situation seems rosy, with a strong economy supported by a whopping current account surplus, business leaders and voters have become ambivalent. The success is suffused with doubt, Philip notes. The question seems to be: are things too good to last?

This angst will live on after Ms Merkel is long gone, Philip predicts. And things could get a lot worse. As US president Donald Trump upsets the global order with his crude nationalism, who will guard Europe’s peace?

Gillian Tett explains how Halloween has become an unexpectedly sweet treat for consumer brands, with nearly $9bn thought to have been spent on costumes, pumpkins and confectionery in the US this year — and the festival growing in popularity around the world.

Hassan Rouhani calls on Europe to work with Iran to stand up to US unilateralism. The president of Iran believes the Trump administration is endangering global stability with its aggressive sanctions and rejection of the hard-won Iran nuclear deal.

Martin Wolf has revised his opinion about a second Brexit referendum. Having judged the idea too divisive, he now thinks there is one scenario in which another vote could be warranted: if “no deal” is the only option, then the people deserve to choose again. 

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, warns that air pollution is dragging down the continent’s GDP and harming its children. Cleaning up the air would pay for itself in economic gains.

Fred Studemann explains why Berliners rejected Google’s proposal to build a campus in the district of Kreuzberg, home to hipsters and creatives. It might seem strange, but there are powerful forces at play: a backlash against Big Tech and resistance to gentrification.

What you’ve been saying

Cryptocurrencies point to our collective insanity: letter from Finn Jackson, Blewbury, Oxon, UK

With reference to your report “UK to study possible ban on sale of cryptocurrency derivatives”: currencies are ideas that we collectively agree stand for something of real value — like an apple, a loaf of bread, or a journey from London to Paris. Cryptocurrencies are pretend currencies — they exist only in our imaginations. Derivatives are imagined future abilities to buy or sell an instrument. Cryptocurrency derivatives are thus three times removed from reality. We are collectively insane — detached from reality.

In response to “Lloyd’s of London needs a sound policy for its future” Peter Krijgsman says:

Lloyd's is remarkable for its longevity in this age of profound change. It might be more useful to examine what has enabled the institution to survive and thrive rather than why it needs to digitise the Lutine bell.

Next referendum will be on Scottish independence: letter from Robert Forrest, Munich, Germany

Another referendum might be in order, but not in England. In the quagmire of Brexit, mention of Scottish independence is conspicuous in its absence. Pending a faltering economy post-Brexit, the SNP will be mindful of the 62 per cent of Scots who voted Remain and call for another referendum. Pitching this during the transition period gives Scotland the chance to seize independence while effectively maintaining the status quo with the EU without the burden of reapplying for membership.

Today’s opinion

The cool kids of Berlin fend off Google
Search group’s dropped campus plan reflects Kreuzberg neighbourhood’s alternative vibe

Jamal Khashoggi killing resets US relations in the Middle East
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are competing to prove which of them is the least unreliable

Europe should work with Iran to counter US unilateralism
Iranian president warns that the Trump administration endangers world stability

A ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome would justify another referendum
In this game of chicken, the EU may wrongly expect the UK to swerve on ‘Irish backstop’

Cleaning up Africa’s air would pay for itself in economic gains
Pollution is dragging down the continent’s GDP and harming its children

Consumer brands do not miss a trick on Halloween spending
Adults treat themselves to children’s fun as age categories blur

Global Insight: US midterms set stage for mother of all White House battles
Vote is dress rehearsal for a hugely consequential presidential race in 2020

Angela Merkel’s departure will not salve Germany’s angst
Voters and business leaders betray a similar ambivalence about an uncertain future

FT View

The FT View: Britain faces a bumpy road ahead at the WTO
World trade governance is technically hard and coldly unsentimental

The FT View: Tech workers can help to police their employers
Silicon Valley workers are emerging as a powerful voice for good

The Big Read

The Big Read: US midterms: Democrats look to big data to beat Trump
The opposition is developing technologies to target voters more effectively online. But can voters’ privacy be respected?

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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