© Daniel Pudles

In the first year or so of his presidency, Emmanuel Macron rarely took a misstep: he passed much needed reforms to France’s labour market and prevailed in a confrontation with powerful rail unions.

But, argues Gideon Rachman in his column this week, all that early momentum has stalled and Mr Macron’s quinquennat has been derailed by the gilets jaunes protests. The consequences of this, moreover, are not merely domestic: Mr Macron’s ambitious vision for reform of the EU depended, in part at least, on Germany being persuaded that he would succeed at home.

Before taking office, Mr Macron rejected idea that France was unreformable. He appears to be learning a hard lesson about the limits of presidential power in the Fifth Republic.

Laurence Boone, chief economist at the OECD, writes that, with the global economy slowing, international co-operation on fiscal policy is not just desirable, it is necessary.

Robert Shrimsley concludes from Theresa May’s decision to postpone the vote on her EU withdrawal agreement that the campaign for a second referendum is gathering “escape velocity”.

Ashley Nunes, a research scientist at MIT, points out that driverless taxi services like the one being launched by Waymo in Arizona, face a problem: how to compete with ride-hailing apps such as Uber or Lyft while using pricier personnel (the software engineers who make the vehicles run).

Neil Munshi, writing from northeast Nigeria, examines the economic effects of the presence of NGOs in a region blighted by violence.

What you’ve been saying

US-China trade dispute is about national security: letter from Louis J Cutrona, Jr, Ridgewood, NJ, US

David Zweig, in characterising the US-China trade dispute as a ‘tussle for tech supremacy’ (December 6), misses a crucial issue. From a national security standpoint, the US should not allow itself to make use of Chinese-made technology because of the certainty that the Chinese government will ensure that such devices have a back-door capability to send all data to Chinese monitoring sites. Professor Zweig is correct that the US goal is to ‘end China’s state-directed industrial policy’, but this is a security not a tech supremacy problem.

In response to “Opec is not the power broker it once was”, Filip says:

An interesting article but shouldn’t the cost to produce a barrel be part of the equation? From what I understand the cost to produce a barrel is much higher for shale oil than for conventional oil. So how likely is it that the output growth in US will continue to rise if the prices per barrel goes below 50 USD?

Saudis’ aggression in Yemen dates from 1932: letter from Dr Niccolo Caldararo, San Francisco State University, US

Your report ‘Yemen factions start peace talks with prisoner swap deal’ (December 7) misses an important point and significant background. While the event takes place in the shadow of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it also illustrates the courage of the Yemeni negotiators in risking their lives to travel to the talks in Sweden. The important background your story leaves out is the fact that Saudi Arabia is the aggressor here, and that this is not the first time Saudi Arabia has invaded Yemen. The current war is simply an extension of Saudi aggression over the Arabian Peninsula since 1932.

Today’s opinion

Global co-operation on fiscal policy is possible and necessary
A joint stimulus would aid public finances by allowing governments to limit spending

beyondbrics: China must calibrate overseas lending towards Paris climate goals
Beijing’s Belt and Road projects are heavily dependent on fossil fuels

Lex: ISS Group — dust up
Cleaning group’s clear-out makes sense but some investors are unhappy

Lex: Taming ‘big tech’ — Standard procedure
Resolve required to break up the US oil refining giant a century ago is needed again

Lex: Just Group/equity release — the burden of roof
Shares leap 20% on welcome news from regulator but lender needs to diversify

Lex: BASF — hazardous material
Chemicals group’s stock will be more attractive in months to come

Article 50 ruling shows the UK remains sovereign
The immediate impact of the ECJ’s judgment will be political, not legal

Waymo’s driverless taxis are not free of labour costs
The need for engineers and support personnel raises questions about profitability

Markets Insight: Brexit is a test like no other for currency traders
Range of outcomes and permutations makes EU exit a unique challenge

Macron protests show that leading France seems like an impossible job
The French contradiction of a demand for lower taxes and better public services will stay unresolved

FT Alphaville: Chart crime as a measure of crypto-desperation

Pringles and pasta bring profit in crisis-hit northern Nigeria
A store that caters to aid workers thrives while the fight against Boko Haram continues

I always believed the UK could revoke Article 50
Now the ECJ’s judgment has vindicated that view and has kept the door to the EU open

Free Lunch: Britain’s belated rendezvous with Brexit reality
The time for seeking alternative approaches elapsed a long ago

fastFT: Opening Quote — Interserve shareholders’ unhappy new year

Inside Business: As the European banks regulator retires, six big challenges remain
Despite the SSM’s achievements, the eurozone banking sector looks far from healthy

Organisations must give more of a voice to their naysayers
The British rail timetabling fiasco shows overly optimistic teams can create failure

FTfm: US pension torment has lessons for British providers

Opec is not the power broker it once was
The old methods of controlling prices by restricting production no longer work

Head to Head: Should the US rein in share buybacks?
A business professor and an economist argue for and against the corporate spending spree

New year, new Federal Reserve
Forward markets now show only one rate hike in 2019

FT View

The FT View: May’s Brexit delay feeds growing uncertainty
Postponing the ‘meaningful’ parliamentary vote makes a chaotic no-deal exit more likely

The FT View: Deutsche Bank needs a bold and swift restructuring
Germany’s old national champion is looking systemically dangerous

The Big Read

The Big Read: The billion-dollar agritech startups transforming farming
Investors like Google and Tamasek pile into another sector disrupted by technology

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