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Whoever wins France's upcoming presidential election will have to implement new austerity measures immediately after taking office to avoid falling foul of the EU’s budget rules, according to the European Commission's winter economic forecasts. Successive French governments have failed to stick to the deficit targets and the question of whether Paris should seek to stick to EU budget rules or fight to revamp them has become one of the major faultlines in the country’s presidential race.
Meanwhile, there are fears that Russia could be interfering in the campaign of frontrunner Emmanuel Macron. His campaign manager has warned that Russian state-owned media outlets have launched series of verbal attacks on Mr Macron. US intelligence agencies accused Russia of interfering in the US presidential election last year, carrying out attacks on the Democratic party’s computers. The Kremlin dismissed the claims as a “witch-hunt”. (FT, Politico)
In the news
Abenomics is working Japan’s economy is back on track after a wobble last summer, reinforcing the political popularity of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In 2016, the economy grew by 1 per cent, well above the country’s long-run growth potential of about 0.5 per cent. (FT)
Oil and gas discoveries dry up Companies are putting a brake on exploration and large fields have become harder to find — resulting in discoveries dropping to a 60-year low. But there are signs of a tentative upturn, with some companies planning to step up drilling activity. (FT)
Leave or be dammed Some 200,000 people living below the tallest dam in the US have been asked to evacuate as a spillway appeared to be close to collapse after heavy rain. The authorities say crumbling emergency spillway on the Lake Oroville Dam in northern California could give way and unleash raging floodwaters on to a string of rural communities along the Feather River. Roads out of towns affected by the order were gridlocked as residents tried to leave the area. (Jazeera, BBC)
No refugees here Japan accepted just 28 refugees in 2016 — one more than the previous year — with an ultra-strict approach to asylum that is becoming a model for nations increasingly reluctant to take in people fleeing war or persecution. (FT)
London’s tome thieves Antiquarian books worth more than £2m have been stolen by a gang who avoided a security system by abseiling into a west London warehouse. Among the books stolen were early works by Galileo, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci and a 1569 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. “There must be a collector behind it,” one official said. (Guardian)
It's a big day for
US-Canada relations Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Washington to seek common ground on Nafta with Donald Trump — who could not be more different to him in style, temperament and policy. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
Food for thought
America’s monetiser-in-chief The Trump family’s ability to benefit personally from his office will do “incalculable” damage to American democracy and its global standing. “Mr Trump’s insistence that conflict of interest laws do not apply to him robs America of its standing to accuse other countries of bending the rule of law,” writes the FT’s Ed Luce. (FT)
Peace through strength North Korea’s test of a ballistic missile is also a test of the new US administration and President Donald Trump’s advocacy of “peace through strength.” But can strength can be asserted against Pyongyang without risk to Washington’s allies in the region? A handy graphic shows their vulnerability to North Korean missiles. (NAR, Jazeera)
The herbal tea party A new liberal resistance against Donald Trump is forming — can it last without turning against the Democrats? (WaPo)
The horrors of Aleppo New evidence shows the scale of brutality in the battle for Syria's former commercial hub, where Russian and Syrian regime forces repeatedly bombed hospitals, and used cluster bombs and incendiaries as well as chemical weapons. This was accompanied by a "pernicious" misinformation campaign — “nothing less than a war on objective facts by the regime, Russian officials, and media”. (The Atlantic)
Sexy and super-bland The FT’s Lucy Kellaway on the rise of the office uniform: “There is an unwritten dress code that everyone has to follow and which goes like this: 1. There is no such thing as too expensive; 2. There is no such thing as too toned; 3. There is no such thing as too bland.” (FT)
Video of the day
A look at the week ahead Vanessa Kortekaas highlights the key stories to watch for in the week ahead, including a meeting of Nato defence ministers, the release of US economic indicators and annual results from Rolls-Royce. (FT)