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Ever since its launch in 2007, Apple’s signature smartphone has been on a winning streak: iPhone users couldn’t wait to get their hands on the latest model, rushing to replace their devices every two years even though the old ones still worked perfectly well.

The remarkable thing was that nobody judged Apple for constantly upgrading its product, writes John Gapper in his column. In effect, the company was reaping all the benefits of planned obsolescence with none of the taint usually attached to manufacturers of goods with short shelf-lives. The reason was that technology has evolved so quickly that the upgrades seemed quite necessary.

Until now. The news that Chinese consumer appetites are slowing is a sign that the golden age of sales is over, John notes. Apple will have to diversity if it wants to relive the glories of the past decade.

Janan Ganesh warns that it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of Donald Trump. The US president may not be able to secure funding for his border wall, but that does not lessen his administration’s immense impact.

Meghan Greene argues that those hunting down the culprit for the liquidity squeeze have collared the wrong suspect in the US Federal Reserve and quantitative tightening. The more likely culprit in pushing up rates is the US Treasury department.

David Pilling urges the Democratic Republic of Congo’s African neighbours to stick up for Congolese voters as they await the results of its presidential election. It is time to show president Joseph Kabila the door.

Leo Lewis investigates the curious phenomenon of Japan’s addiction to using cash. The state’s vision of a cashless society has come up against a visceral mistrust of surveillance among ordinary people.

Ahmed Sule points out that a push to improve board diversity in UK companies has left out women of colour, and black women in particular. White women must acknowledge that they have received gender diversity dividends that ethnic minorities have not shared.

What you’ve been saying

Consider revocation and resubmission of Article 50, letter from Andrew Macdonald, London, UK

Rather than request an extension to Article 50 ( January 3), there are major tactical advantages to the UK in unilaterally executing a process of revoking and then resubmitting the notification, as the European Court of Justice has confirmed we can do. This approach seems to improve all the future options on offer. This approach provides time for better no-deal planning, while retaining full EU voting rights and opportunities to engage with other countries in support of a better deal. I am surprised by the lack of attention to these tactical considerations.

In response to “ Why the world economy feels so fragile”, baileathacliath1 says:

The late Stephen Hawking remarked that planet earth has about fifty years left before it ceases to be habitable, reading the highly informative report by Mr Wolf it may have even less time than Professor Hawking envisaged.

Turning a ‘science fiction’ health plan into fact, letter from Nick Bosanquet, Imperial College London, UK

The UK’s NHS needs a 10-month plan before a 10-year plan ( January 8). It has a great resource in the time of committed people: but there are not going to be any more experienced staff in the next 10 years. How to raise their confidence and effectiveness? It must deliver on the plan for a basic patient record linking all services, restore a service based on personal responsibility and free up health teams to redesign services to meet local needs. But first it has to show how it can win back the confidence of staff. Without this, the 10-year plan is science fiction made in Whitehall.

Today’s opinion

FT Magazine: Peak financial scandal? History says not
If you’re looking for the most scandal-plagued period, the 19th century beats the present hands down

beyondbrics: Nigeria faces rising violence in 2019
Government, private sector and donors must unite to promote development

FT Alphaville: What happened when Vancouver residents built new homes in their backyards

Congo’s voters have earned the world’s support
The country’s neighbours should direct President Joseph Kabila to the exit

Japan’s cash addiction will not be easily broken
The state’s vision of a cashless society must overcome a visceral mistrust of surveillance

Lex: Swiss National Bank: Alpcoin
Weirdly the central bank’s share price has mirrored those of bitcoin, another purely speculative play

Donald Trump’s stamp on history is greater than his flailing implies
The furore over the border wall distracts from the president’s effectiveness elsewhere

Inside Business: For EU business, normality has rarely looked so challenging
Four years of QE are coming to an end and interest rates look likely to start rising

FT Alphaville: Scrutinising the Draghi tie indicator

Board diversity push leaves out women of colour
More work is needed to bring nonwhite directors to corporate boardrooms

Markets Insight: China puts the squeeze on high rollers in Macau
Geopolitical threats mount in the world’s biggest gambling centre

Traders track down the wrong suspect for the liquidity squeeze
The Fed’s decision to unwind quantitative easing is not the culprit here

Free Lunch: Eurozone: a safe asset is not the same as a safe liability
Why it is economically and politically important to distinguish two separate concepts

FT Magazine: Silicon Valley start-ups: how to get ahead of the IPO
‘The biggest unicorns in the stable are saddling up to ride the public markets’

FTfm: Absentee investor landlords ignore stewardship at their peril

FT View

The FT View: A new president and new role for the World Bank
The bank’s head should be appointed on merit, not nationality

The Big Read

The Big Read: Volatility: how ‘algos’ changed the rhythm of the market
Critics say high-frequency trading makes markets too fickle amid rising anxiety over the global economy

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