Daily briefing: Slow-motion agony of US healthcare reform bid, Fed holds, looting of Congo

Votes form early steps in a tortuous process of legislative amendments

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A Republican gamble on overhauling Obamacare turned into a public display of internal divisions after seven dissident Republicans voted down a plan to repeal Obamacare and find a replacement later. Less than 24 hours earlier, senators had rejected an alternative bill to abolish Obamacare and put a new system in place immediately.

The votes are the early steps in a tortuous process of legislative amendments that party leaders hope will lead them to consensus on reform. But analysts say the process is equally likely to turn into a slow-motion failure, capping six months of agony on healthcare for Republicans who campaigned for seven years to scrap Obamacare, which helped 20m people gain health insurance. What happens next? (FT, Slate, NYT)

In the news

Dollar slides as Fed holds steady on rates
The dollar slid to a 14-month low and Wall Street stocks hit new highs after a dovish tone from the Federal Reserve allowed investors to push back rate-rise bets and extend the recent risk-taking mood. Markets brushed aside the Fed’s signal that it would begin shrinking its balance sheet as soon as its next meeting in September and chose to dwell instead on the Fed’s tacit acknowledgment that inflation remained softer than it had expected. (FT)

Facebook market cap nears $500bn
The world’s largest social network reported results for the second quarter, beating expectations once again. The social media company’s sheer size and advertising muscle have helped it fend off competition from Snap, sending earnings and revenue soaring. (FT)

Trump claims credit for Foxconn investment
The Taiwanese electronics supplier is to invest $10bn in a new LCD production facility in Wisconsin, creating an initial 3,000 jobs, in the “first of many” investments the Apple supplier plans to make across the US. Taking the podium alongside Foxconn’s chief executive, Terry Gou, at the White House, Donald Trump said it was a “great day” for “everyone who believes in Made in the USA” and claimed personal credit for Mr Gou’s investment. “If I didn’t get elected, he definitely would not be spending $10bn,” Mr Trump said.

UK breaks silence on post-Brexit migration
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, has promised UK business she will not close the door to European workers after Brexit, in a significant softening of the government’s tone on EU migration. Employers will have up to three years of transition to adjust their recruitment practices once Britain has left the bloc in 2019, she said. “We must keep attracting the brightest and best migrants from around the world.” (FT)

Don’t finish your drugs
Experts from bodies including Public Health England and the University of Oxford are now advising patients to continue taking medication only until they feel better. They fear current guidance to finish an entire course of antibiotics is driving antimicrobial resistance. (Telegraph)

Future of A380 superjumbo in doubt
The future of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger jet, is in doubt after Airbus slashed the rate of production of the superjumbo for the second time in a year and signalled it was not optimistic about winning new orders in the short term. (FT)

North Korea hackers find new target
North Korea’s cyber army has splintered into multiple groups and is unleashing orchestrated attacks increasingly focused on funnelling stolen funds to the secretive nation, according to a government-backed South Korean report released on Thursday. The emphasis on finances represents a significant shift from Pyongyang’s previous patterns of attack seeking to obtain military information, destabilise networks or intimidate. (WSJ)

The day ahead

Spacecraft due to blast off
A Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft is due to blast off to transport three members of the Expedition 52 crew to the International Space Station. To get to the space station takes two days. The station flies at an altitude of 220 miles but is travelling at a breakneck 17,500mph, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day. (America Space)

Bank earnings
Deutsche Bank is set to show scars from the fixed income slump, while investors will be looking at Barclays and Lloyds to gauge how the UK banking system is faring amid uncertainty over Brexit.

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

Cobalt and Congo
Behind every clean electric car there is cobalt. And behind cobalt is the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the country’s cobalt bonanza looks set to benefit only elites and mining companies, says the FT’s David Pilling. Wittingly or unwittingly the big miners operating in Congo have helped fund institutionalised looting. “Behind their claims of corporate responsibility, world-class mines, verified supply chains and environmental care lies a different reality: poverty, violence and toxic pollution.” (FT)

The cynisicm of Trump’s transgender ban
The US president likes to declare what a “disaster” the military is, how deeply it has fallen into disrepair and how he will be its salvation, writes David Remnick. But his outrageous ban on transgender people serving in the military reflects yet another layer of his political cynicism, and his willingness to use any tactical means available to try to emerge whole from his current predicament. (New Yorker)

California’s Big Sur isolated
After a series of biblically proportioned natural disasters — fires, floods and mudslides — a 35-mile stretch of California’s Highway One has been largely cut off since February, and is now accessible mainly by foot. It restores one of the attributes that once defined Big Sur — isolation. And many people like it that way. (FT)

Oil and the battle for Norway’s soul
For a country priding itself on climate action, $60bn worth of petroleum beneath the Lofoten archipelago poses an existential dilemma. It is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Norway and what kind of country it wants to be. (FT)

Britain’s imperial follies
Mihir Sharma on the empire and its apologists — chief among them historian Niall Ferguson, who recently sent out an imperialism-boosting tweet that “reveals the depths and danger of the myths Britain has built up around its past”. (Bloomberg)

Video of the day

Brexit: product of a benign period Theresa May's Conservative government is increasingly coming to the view that an extended transition period will be needed for Britain’s departure from the EU. The FT’s political columnist Janan Ganesh tells FT editor Lionel Barber that Brexit is the child of complacency, not pain. (FT)

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