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In 2015, Sacha Romanovitch became the first female chief executive of a major British accounting firm. On Monday, she announced that she would be stepping down as CEO of Grant Thornton, a company she joined 24 years ago.
In a profile, Madison Marriage describes how Ms Romanovitch had raised eyebrows at Grant Thornton with her decision to cap her salary at 20 times that of the average employee. Some of her colleagues complained that she was pursuing a “socialist agenda”.
The firm's performance on Ms Romanovitch's watch has been mixed, but some observers wonder if a man attempting to reform the company at the speed she did would have encountered similar resistance.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes that the US must shed any illusions it harbours about Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the disappearance, and apparent murder, of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The literary critic and two-time Man Booker Prize judge John Sutherland suggests that the award of this year's prize to Anna Burns' Milkman, a somewhat recondite novel about the Northern Irish Troubles, reflects a tension between high-mindedness and readability that was baked into the contest's original design.
Frank Field, chair of the House of Commons work and pensions committee, argues that universal credit, the government's attempt to overhaul the UK benefits system, is pushing the low paid into destitution.
Tim Harford contends that the case for drip-feed investing is plausible, but costs more.
Best of the week
Obamacare’s recovery defies the Republican death wish— Janan Ganesh
The enduring myth of the young Arab reformer— Roula Khalaf
Trump's dangerous reliance on Saudi Arabia— Gideon Rachman
Workplace exhaustion is a vicious cycle in the UK— Sarah O'Connor
Sears: how a pioneering brand found itself left on the shelf— Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
Brexit's one certain outcome is uncertainty— Philip Stephens
Khashoggi case puts US business in a bind— Gillian Tett
Compassion or Hard Brexit: the choice facing Britain's Tories— Robert Shrimsley
Corporate elites are overlooking deglobalisation— Rana Foroohar
'Known unknowns' to help the UK budget for Brexit— Martin Wolf
What you've been saying
The border was already open. What if Merkel had closed it? : letter from Thomas Meaney, Berlin, Germany
The FT continues to cleave to the formulation that German chancellor Angela Merkel was responsible for “opening Germany’s borders to refugees” in September 2015 (“Germany’s voters turn right — and left”; “Germany’s political centre cannot hold”.) Almost all sophisticated liberal commentators agree that the German border with Austria, in accordance with Schengen rules, was already open. Your columnists are often quick to regret Ms Merkel’s decision and its political consequences, but seem remarkably less willing to imagine what would have happened had she decided to close the border, an act that may well have drawn even more legal scrutiny, and courted humanitarian disaster.
In response to "‘Known unknowns’ to help the UK budget for Brexit”, Paul A. Myers says:
A larger squeeze will be put on the UK over the coming half decade as world growth slows and the dynamic center of what global growth there is becomes more firmly rooted in the Far East and India. One suspects that the combined effect of Brexit and whatever the long-run impacts of the new Italian “exceptionalism” are will bifurcate Europe into a continent of relative winners versus relative losers. If a more cohesive Eurozone emerges (with Italy as some sort of colony similar to Greece), then the UK will have to climb over a much higher wall if it wants to get back into Europe in the future.
No more than a happy coincidence, surely? : letter from Elizabeth Balsom, London, UK
I trust that Norway’s decision in the 1970s not to join the European Community has no bearing on the fact that today Oslo’s citizens are happier than Helsinki’s? ( City Stats, House & Home, October 16.)
Lex: Provident Financial: door relations
Human contact is a refreshing feature in the age of apps
Universal credit is a Wonderland reform divorced from real lives
The government’s radical overhaul of benefits is pushing the low paid into destitution
Lex: Bank OZK: arrested development
Lender’s strains carry echoes of the last financial crisis
Lex: Chinese luxury spending: lux in flux
Crackdown on unofficial imports is not all bad news for sector
Lex: PayPal: cash out
Digital payments company’s stock needs a youthful kick
Lex: Michelin: circular logic
Cyclical sectors, such as tyres, offer cheap valuations for a reason
beyondbrics: African PE leads the way in ESG investment
Enduring role of development finance has made responsible investment a priority
The Top Line: Khashoggi case shows bankers have become our morality police
Big recipients of Saudi money and the regime’s armourers warrant more scrutiny
The unfashionable coldness of Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’
One small step for emotional reticence . . .
beyondbrics: China’s Belt and Road at 5: ‘one-to-many’ or ‘many-to-many’? Dollar constraint may lead to more multilateral approach in Beijing’s initiative
Inside London: Why Sainsbury and Asda can survive without merging Defensive tie-ups such as this one do not deal with basic issues of businesses under threat
FT Magazine: Jancis Robinson on the perfect wines for entertaining ‘Oxygen and a little warmth are the two most powerful variables for any host serving wine’
You tell us: how to maintain economic growth and save the planet Last week, Tim Harford called for innovation on climate change. FT readers respond
My quest for self-sufficiency via a giant handbag No need to juggle work and home if you lug both around wherever you go
Meet Shaunaugh, my imaginary friend An expat’s upheaval means that some friendships are sloughed off and others are invented
Parterre familiar: the gardens at Villa Silvio Pellico The structure set out by Russell Page in the 1950s has been largely preserved but with a few simplifications
Free Lunch: The devil is in the detail of Rome’s new budget
The worry should not be how much Italy’s government spends, but on what
Prepare for Philip Hammond’s ‘trick or treat’ Budget
Will the chancellor risk antagonising Tory voters and backbench MPs with tax changes?
Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Crime scene
Turkey investigates alleged Khashoggi killing
US must shed its illusions about Saudi Arabia’s crown prince
The fate of journalist Khashoggi will make it trickier to gain support to pressure Iran
Undercover Economist: The case for drip-feed investing is plausible, but costs more
Since markets rise more often than they fall, spending lump sums proves a better bet
City Insider: Sacha Romanovitch: a reactionary tale
Grant Thornton’s chief exits after trying to haul audit profession into 21st century
The FT View: City of London’s clean air plan is a model for others
Curbing pollution needs more people to change their behaviour
The FT View: Making sense of the Trumpian trade policy
America’s calm and intemperate sides were both on display this week
The Big Read
The Big Read: BlackRock: a vast money machine splutters
Shares in the company are down 30 per cent from their peak. Is this a warning of deeper problems in the market?
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