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Adam Neumann has split investor opinion since WeWork, his office leasing company, had only one building, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson writes in a profile. “People were sceptical . . . but once you get in a room with him [and] listen to his vision, you get attracted,” one banker said. Even Mr Neumann’s future wife, Rebekah, told him he was “full of shit” on their first date, before changing her mind and marrying him. 

Now the company — which rebranded this week to The We Company — is worth up to $42bn, and Mr Neumann is talking about diversifying into schools and apartment buildings as part of a larger mission “to elevate the world’s consciousness”. Though some critics believe the company has an unworkable cost structure and complain that it lacks enough proprietary technology to support its valuation, former Goldman Sach chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, a WeWork investor, tells Andrew that he is sold. “He’s getting huge financing from people who don’t give ice in the winter.”

Gideon Rachman explores the surprising revival of enthusiasm for Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt. Liberalism’s most brilliant enemy is back in vogue, because his theories appeal to opponents of democracy and the rule of law.

Sarah Gordon urges the UK to solve the aristocracy’s Downton Abbey problem. Five daughters of hereditary peers are demanding the right to be elected to the House of Lords.

Tim Harford writes about the art of political brinkmanship. Donald Trump, Theresa May and other elected politicians are threatening harm to their own countries as a bargaining tactic, he points out.

Izabella Kaminska contends that the recent drone sightings that shut down London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports show that we need an air traffic control system for drones. The UK is well placed to forge a national, if not global standard.

Viv Groskup takes the occasion of the opening of the new film about Laurel and Hardy, Stan and Ollie, to write about the curious dynamic of comedy duos and their widespread appeal.

Camilla Cavendish argues that an integrated vision for the UK National Health Service is long overdue. The complexity of the system creates perverse incentives and does patients a disservice.

Best of the week

Why the world economy feels so fragile— Martin Wolf

The ‘China shock’ is not as bad as Trump thinks— Gillian Tett

Nancy Pelosi, America’s true dealmaker in chief, returns— Courtney Weaver

Japan’s cash addiction has no easy cure— Leo Lewis

How Apple’s iPhone lost its lustre— John Gapper

Tuna bond scandal may spell more trouble for Credit Suisse— Brooke Masters

Populism faces its darkest hour— Gideon Rachman

Brexit is the certain route to a divided Britain— Philip Stephens

What to call The Company Formerly Known As WeWork— Henry Mance

Trump weighs on history more than his flailing implies— Janan Ganesh

What you've been saying

Elizabeth Warren for next secretary of state, letter from Michael J Bond, WA, US

You know it’s a topsy turvy world when Elizabeth Warren channels Donald Trump, and only Anne-Marie Slaughter could credibly make the case ( January 9). What a breath of fresh air when the left argues for bringing troops home to protect America’s interests first and foremost, and “the US should lead by the force of its example by what it can achieve for its people at home”. Please, President Trump, appoint Senator Warren to be your secretary of state.

In response to The ‘China shock’ has not been as bad as Donald Trump thinks, observer says: 

Alas as with almost all aspects of progress up the value curve, the losses are concentrated and the gains are distributed widely. The US consumer benefits greatly from cheaper goods, it has allowed lower wage workers to afford much more than they would have in the absence of trade. Politically, however, the minority badly affected have a disproportionate impact on electoral results as the winners from trade take the gains for granted.

Ackoff’s dictum offers apt lesson for the Commons, letter from Martin Westlake, Brussels, Belgium

With the House of Commons seeking to oblige the prime minister to present an alternative plan ( January 9), I am reminded of an observations by the late systems theorist, Russell Ackoff: “The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right.” Which, I wonder, do the various actors think they are doing?

Today's opinion

Lex: US earnings/corporate tax: sweet but short
Donald Trump’s reform means that new rates are not sustainable for some companies

Inside Business: Tech industry searches for Next Big Thing at CES 2019
Data-hungry AI gadgets are key to next wave of technology, but consumers will need convincing

Redesign patient care to treat the ills of the health system
Defuse the politics and leave doctors and managers to bridge divides in the medical service

On Wall Street: Sears collapse shines spotlight on the cost of going bust
Lawyers and bankers revel in a system that can rack up $33,000 in fees for photocopying

‘Stan and Ollie’ reminds us of the allure of the comedy duo
Perhaps they are part of a subconscious fantasy that everyone has a perfect other half

How a viral tattoo put the semicolon in the spotlight
People have had it inked on ankles, forearms, backs, bellies, under their ears and on their wrists

beyondbrics: The west should not miss the Africa opportunity
Preconceived ideas and inadequate analysis prevent investment into the continent

Turning the tables on gambling tech
To make treatment work, technology paradoxically needs to be befriended and used to achieve sophisticated stimulus control

Fear of Brave New Worlds is as old as time
From Voltaire to Houellebecq — art’s pessimists will always find a captive audience

Liberalism’s most brilliant enemy is back in vogue
Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt appeals to opponents of democracy and the rule of law

The British aristocracy must solve its Downton Abbey problem
Five daughters of peers are demanding the right to be elected to the House of Lords

Chip shop fight rubs salt into the wound of leaving London
I will always need London, but I do not need her to wait for me

FT Magazine: The truth about sex and screen time
We spend an average of 1,600 hours a year on our phones. What else could we do with this time?

FT Magazine: The business of wine, Bordeaux style
Jancis Robinson talks to Ariane Khaida of Duclot — and picks out some bargains

Free Lunch: The euro already has a safe asset
Let the ECB issue time deposits to satisfy demand for riskless security

FT Alphaville: When the public relations industry does PR for itself

Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Taking back control
Parliament digs in its heels

Change your habits — and use science to make them last
If you have already broken your new year’s resolution, don’t despair

Why now is the worst time to start a divorce
Jeff Bezos be grateful, in the UK capital gains tax charges can add insult to injury

Undercover Economist: Trump, May and the art of political brinkmanship
Elected politicians are threatening harm to their own country as a bargaining tactic

The Top Line: US execs should worry about travel to China if trade war worsens
Big dilemma for companies such as GM and Texas Instruments that have their biggest markets there

FT Alphaville: Emerging markets can't escape the Fed's balance sheet unwind

Inside London: Wealth-destroying projects explain pedestrian UK growth
Hinkley Point and HS2 have defied all attempts to justify their economics

City Insider: The ferry rum tale of Seaborne Freight
The UK’s answer to Brexit travel chaos just needs some ships and all will be well

Markets Insight: Shareholder activists zoom in on target-rich Japan
Fund managers lured by lazy balance sheets, idle executives and low stock prices

Lombard: M&S investors should know one turkey does not make a turnround
Pundits savoured talk of ‘steady performance’ but sales figures leave bad smell

How the UK can finance the rising burden of public spending
Taxes will have to rise, but a politically palatable source of extra revenue is hard to find

What to call The Company Formerly Known As WeWork?
The We Company might want to consider ‘WeYourself’ as part of its ambitious rebrand

FT View

The FT View: Eurozone blip threatens to become a downturn
Evidence is building up of broad-based European economic weakness

The FT View: Now parliament must produce a Brexit plan
Taking back control demands more responsibility from MPs

The Big Read

The Big Read: Why Jim Yong Kim’s move has shaken up the World Bank
The departure of the bank’s head raises questions about its future amid Trump administration suspicions of international institutions

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