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US presidential hopefuls are set to make their final pitches to people in Iowa, where the first votes for party nominations take place. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are in striking distance of overturning the US political status quo, according to polls.
There is nothing whimsical about Mr Trump’s fan base, says the FT’s Ed Luce. Those who support him are sending a “calculated message of contempt for career politicians. The more Mr Trump offends their sensibilities — an hourly event — the more effective he is. ‘Even Trump is better than you,’ they are saying. ‘That’s the low regard we hold you in.’”
A more fired-up Hillary Clinton has started to look and sound more like Mr Sanders, who has energised legions of supporters with his platform to fight income inequality, crack down on Wall Street and improve the lives of ordinary, middle-class Americans.
Mr Sanders has branded himself a Democratic Socialist, a term that, to older generations, is viewed in a very negative light. But among young people polled by YouGov, 49 per cent between the ages of 18 to 29 had a favourable opinion of socialism, compared with just 23 per cent of those 65 and older. (NYT, FT, Huffington Post, MarketWatch)
In the news
$7.6bn China Ponzi scheme uncovered More than 20 people associated with a “Ponzi scheme” that allegedly took more than Rmb50bn ($7.6bn) from investors have been arrested, according to the official Xinhua news agency. It is the biggest scam to emerge from China’s largely unregulated peer-to-peer lending sector, part of the country’s shadow banking sector. Police had to use two excavators to uncover some 1,200 account books that had been buried deep below ground, according to Xinhua. (FT)
US levies record ‘dark pool’ fines Credit Suisse and Barclays have agreed to pay a record $154m to settle investigations by US regulators into their share trading venues known as “dark pools”. Barclays will pay $70m; Credit Suisse Securities will pay $60m. Dark pools, private trading venues designed to allow investors to trade large numbers of shares without moving the price against them, are under growing scrutiny by US regulators, with more than a third of daily US trading now executed away from public exchanges. (FT)
UK Brexit talks make progress David Cameron’s hopes of securing an EU deal for Britain are rising, in spite of warnings that Paris will block any attempt to secure a backdoor veto for the City of London over new financial rules. Downing Street said “much progress” had been made over the weekend and Donald Tusk, European Council president, indicated he would circulate a draft British deal to EU capitals on Tuesday. (FT)
UK permits human ‘gene editing’ Scientists at the UK’s Francis Crick Institute have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos. They aim to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development. The experiments will take place in the first seven days after fertilisation and could explain what goes wrong in miscarriage. It will be only the second such procedure in the world. Similar experiments in China last year provoked widespread outcry. (Telegraph, BBC)
‘World’s best chef’ dies Chef Benoit Violier, whose Swiss restaurant was named the best in the world in December, has been found dead at his home. His death comes six months after that of his mentor and predecessor at the Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville. (BBC)
Swiss wreck 1MDB containment efforts Malaysia’s leaders are battling the most severe international pressure yet over alleged large-scale corruption after Switzerland torpedoed efforts to contain the growing scandal around the 1MDB investment fund. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Alphabet’s ‘moonshot’ venture revelations Investors in the erstwhile Google have long fretted that the company was wasting money on wild-sounding initiatives such as driverless cars and a cure for ageing. But when Alphabet finally releases financial details of the projects on Monday, Wall Street will turn a blind eye to what are expected to be sizeable losses. (FT)
Food for thought
Sberbank’s modernising sanctions survivor An irony of the western sanctions against Russia is that Sberbank, one of their biggest corporate targets, is run by a pro-western reformer who for 15 years has been one of the leading liberals in president Vladimir Putin’s ruling circle. As economy minister, Herman Gref led efforts to bring Russia into the World Trade Organisation. That he still feels able to criticise the government’s record reflects, perhaps, his reputation as one of the few senior Russians able to stand up to Mr Putin. (FT)
Microsoft explores underwater computing Taking a page from Jules Verne, researchers at Microsoft believe the future of data centres may be under the sea. Microsoft has tested a prototype of a self-contained data centre that can operate hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean, eliminating one of the technology industry’s most expensive problems: the air-conditioning bill. (NYT)
The very best of Davos daftness If you thought this collection of quotes from world leaders at Davos was a spoof, you would be forgiven. The entries range from the moronic to the downright empty, writes the FT’s Lucy Kellaway. But it’s not that the speakers are fools: they just need something to say without giving away anything new or interesting. (FT)
Bolivia’s dreams of the sea The winner of the 2016 Bodley Head/FT essay contest explores the landlocked country’s battle to reclaim its lost coastline — and the extraordinary back-up plan taking shape 2,000km away from the ocean. (FT)
The people who never forget A handful of people can recall almost every day of their lives in enormous detail — and after years of research, neuroscientists are finally beginning to understand how they do it. (BBC)
Video of the day
Tech’s topsy turvy week Facebook profits from smartphone saturation while Apple suffers. The FT’s Tim Bradshaw and Tom Braithwaite discuss a huge week of earnings reports for Silicon Valley. (FT)