Listen to this article
Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here
Seven days to go. A week today Americans will go to the polls and bring to an end the country’s most vicious electoral campaign in living memory.
In the meantime, the scandals keep coming. FBI director James Comey is under fire for announcing just eleven days ahead of the polls that the bureau was reviewing new emails relating to an earlier investigation into Hillary Clinton. Democrats have accused Mr Comey of “blatant double standards” for declining to make a statement accusing Russia of computer hacks “intended to interfere with the US election process” because it was too close to election day.
Republican candidate Donald Trump is once again the subject of claims that he has used “legally dubious” methods of tax avoidance. There are also questions about his relationship with Russia. An investigation by Slate Magazine yesterday alleged that a Trump email server was in private communication with a server belonging to Russia's Alfa-Bank. Both have denied wrongdoing but fears of Russian interference in the election are mounting. Mr Trump has played down his links to Russia but an FT investigation looks at questions over his relationships with a number of people who could have acted as intermediaries to build ties between Moscow. (FT, NYT, Slate)
Keep track of the 2016 presidential race with our daily US politics newsletter. Sign up here.
In the news
Saudi fires its finance minister Saudi Arabia’s long-serving finance minister, Ibrahim al-Assaf, has been replaced, removing the last remnant of the late King Abdullah’s economic management team. Mr Assaf is associated with an era of high government spending but the crash in oil prices has sharply cut state revenues. Mohammed al-Jadaan, chairman of the capital markets authority will replace him. (FT)
The month of the deal A trio of blockbuster deals — by General Electric, CenturyLink and Blackstone — lifted the total value of transactions attempted in October above $500bn, in what unexpectedly became one of the busiest months for global dealmaking on record. The surge signalled renewed corporate confidence in the outlook for the US economy, dealmakers said, even as the country’s highly charged presidential race concludes in about a week. (FT)
Iraqi army enters Mosul Military commanders in Iraq say they have made their first breach into the outer edge of the city that has been under Isis control since June 2014. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Isis fighters they must either “surrender or die”. (WaPo, BBC)
Carney extends, slightly Mark Carney will extend his period as governor of the Bank of England to June 2019, declining to serve a full eight-year term and instead standing down once Britain leaves the EU. In a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond, Mr Carney said he hoped his decision would “help contribute to securing an orderly transition to the UK’s new relationship with Europe”. (FT)
Japan exports its department stores With their domestic market shrinking, many Japanese department store operators are turning their attention to Southeast Asia, where the growing middle class presents a wealth of new opportunities. (NAR)
It’s a big day for
Japanese rates After capping the 10-year yield at 0 per cent and promising to overshoot its 2 per cent inflation target last month, the Bank of Japan kept interest rates on hold at 0.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Japanese forex traders are on tenterhooks ahead of the US election. (FT)
Myanmar The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is in Japan to woo investors and attract aid. (NAR)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
Last days for death row? California’s system of capital punishment has hit a serious snag: it does not kill people any more. In nearly 50 years, only 13 of the more than 1,000 people convicted of murder in California have been put to death. There have been no executions since 2006. Convicted murderers are more likely to die of natural causes. (FT)
Russian threat Andrew Parker, the head of Britain’s MI5 warns that the threat from Russia outstrips that posed by Islamist extremists or covert action from other countries. In the first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief, he warned that “Russia increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to the west”. (Guardian)
‘Checking in’ to Standing Rock By now, depending on your Facebook filter, you may have seen a Facebook friend ‘checking in’ to Standing Rock, North Dakota. The idea is spreading like a chain letter as a way to help protesters trying to block the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline by flooding a stream of potential intelligence for police with false information. So far, no one seems to know who started the idea. (WaPo, NYT)
The world’s worst communicators It was just one word in one email, but it triggered huge financial losses for a multinational company. When such misunderstandings happen, it is usually the native English speakers who are to blame. Ironically, they are worse at delivering their message than people who speak English as a second or third language. (BBC)
Taking the ‘media’ from “social media” Brands are belatedly working out that consumers don’t want to spend quality online time spreading messages about products — they prefer to watch their sister’s baby taking its first steps. (FT)
Video of the day
The strongman leader returns Gideon Rachman and Frederick Studemann discuss the recent revival of the strongman narrative in global politics as incarnated by Russian president Vladimir Putin and US presidential candidate Donald Trump. (FT)