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It’s that time again when much of Silicon Valley decamps to Burning Man, the annual Nevada festival that celebrates harmony, gift-giving and “radical self-reliance”. Elon Musk of Tesla is a regular attendee who personifies the festival's spirit. He also happens to be one of the new giants of the world economy.

In his latest column John Gapper argues that charismatic yet unruly entrepreneurs such as Mr Musk make for volatile business leaders. His short-lived plan to take Tesla private, for example, shows the limited scrutiny he faces from shareholders and board members over his actions. Yet this is how these business giants operate.

The danger of these new behemoths led by single-minded leaders, John argues, is that a small number of firms become dominant but also vulnerable to instability. These firms may be hard to compete with, but such a reliance on a willful genius can often end in self-destruction. 

Janan Ganesh argues that the recent rise of populism in America was not sparked by the 2008 financial crash. Much older events were crucial, he argues

Roula Khalaf says we need to talk about identity. Across different countries, every social, political and economic conversation centres on this issue.

David Pilling writes that Bobi Wine, a popular Ugandan singer, embodies the rise of African youth — challenging the country's aging leader through both his music and politics.

What you've been saying

Lend more, charge less — we’ve been here before: letter from Richard Ross, Edgware, Middlesex, UK
You report that banks are offering mortgage deals of up to 95 per cent of market value and charging less. […] You quote a senior bank executive as warning that everyone is chasing business and that great caution is needed or it could cost a lot. It is barely 10 years since we last experienced this scenario and presumably not long before 100 per cent (plus) loans are available. Last time, governments had the resources to bail out the biggest lenders at taxpayers’ expense. If lenders knew there would be no rescue this time, would it halt the march to the cliff edge?

In response to "What the Nordic mixed economy can teach today’s new left" , oblivia says
"The US left’s opposition to trade deals weakens any affiliation it may try to claim with the Nordic model."

Norway and Iceland still haven't joined the EU, and Sweden and Finland were the last of the wealthy European nations to join — holding out until 1995, a full decade after Spain and Portugal, and more than 20 years after the UK.

Writing a long speech took Wilson no time at all: letter from John O’Byrne, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, Ireland
With reference to Conor Magill’s letter: in 1919, US president Woodrow Wilson responded to a question about how long it took him to write speeches. He said: “That depends on the length of the speech. If it is a 10-minute speech, it takes me all of two weeks; if it is a half-hour speech, it takes me a week. If I can talk as long as I want to, it takes no preparation at all.”

Today's opinion

Populism was not sparked by the financial crisis
Although 2008 has been designated Year Zero, US politics owes more to much older events

We need to talk about identity in a toxic age
Across the world, every social, political and economic debate centres on the issue

Putin beware: Russians are changing their view of the west
The Kremlin dilemma is that either rapprochement or retrenchment will sap its legitimacy

Uganda’s Bobi Wine embodies the rise of African youth
Popular Kampala singer challenges his country’s ageing leader in song and parliament

Syrians must be given the truth about their missing loved ones
The regime’s published death lists should push the international community to act

FT View

The FT View: Despair leads France’s top eco-warrior to resign
Environmentalists, such as Nicolas Hulot, struggle to make waves in Paris and beyond

The FT View: Next ECB president needs same combination of attributes as Draghi
EU leaders should seek a central bank candidate who represents continuity

The Big Read

The Big Read: A return to prudence: how to restore faith in accounting
Auditing needs to recover the idea of providing a ‘true and fair’ picture of companies

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