Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Car manufactures such as General Motors are in trouble. Not because of tariffs, rising labour costs or the PR challenges of moving jobs abroad. As their products become more about software and less about hardware, a new technology-based ecosystem is emerging that risks doing to GM what Apple’s iPhone did to Nokia.

In her latest column Rana Foroohar points out that 90 per cent of the economic value of a car is presently in the hardware. But when autonomous vehicles become the norm, research suggests 40 per cent will be in hardware, 40 per cent from software and 20 per cent from the content that will stream in such vehicles.

Brand identity too risks disappearing in this new generation of automobiles. Carmakers are not standing still in the face of such disruption, with GM moving resources to improve the user experience in its future cars. But Rana thinks that the efforts to keep control of this closed industry will become increasingly tough.

Wolfgang Münchau thinks Europe will never be a top-tier geopolitical power — as its weak response to US president Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ campaign has proven.

Robert Zoellick pays tribute to George H W Bush’s presidency, which he thinks transformed global relations by promoting a new era of co-operation and respect.

Jonathan Derbyshire argues that the angry mobs in Paris are a real threat to Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, presenting opportunities for his opponents on the left and right.

Joseph Carson makes the case for adding house prices to inflation measures, as it would give central bankers more data to aid stability.

What you’ve been saying

The comforts of sogginess are much in demand but it doesn’t have to be this way— letter from Hector Tyser and Caspar Tyser:

Out of all the mayhem we might get a Churchillian leader (from either major party) to drive a proper, crunchy recovery and give us the economic advantage over Europe that we had in mind when we crunchily decided to leave. In this case, what former transport minister Jo Johnson has already described as a “failure of British statecraft on a scale not seen since Suez” would at least have led to positive change.

Comment from Peter M on Britain should have no fear in pursuing a WTO Brexit:

The price of a British pound, measured in euro, is 20 per cent lower today than the average price for the last 30 years. Only 6 per cent of the 370 months since 1988 the price has been lower. Why this weakness? The last 30 years the UK has experienced an unprecedented advantage as the gateway to the EU, in particular for US companies and very much so, for companies in the finance sector. The language, the culture and the legal system has made it the natural harbour. The inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) has been a growth engine.

Therefore, the pound has punched way above its weight. The people in the UK has benefitted. No so any longer. The gateway is on its way to be closed. The FDI’s will dry up and the currency market foresees this, dropping the pound to its more natural level against the euro, given the constantly higher UK inflation and the negative current account. The neat picture the Conservative MP Priti Patel describes, with an independent nation, striking its own deals, free from all restrictions, might come true. But it comes with a price

Other artefacts stoically await repatriation— letter from Dionysios Tsilioris:

The Aphrodite of Milos and the Nike of Samothrace should, under the same precept, let their eternal beauty shine once again over the place where they were masterfully created. All the same, it is highly doubtful that President Macron will indeed create the precedent that will allow governments to insist on the return of their natural treasures, and the caryatids in Athens to welcome their lone sister, removed to London by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, among their ranks.

Today’s opinion

Europe will never be a top-tier geopolitical power
‘America First’ hit the EU hard but its response has been weak

FT Alphaville: China has agreed only to import more of what it doesn’t want to make at home

Inside Business: The illusion of UK bank capital strength
Lenders say they are flush with capital but leverage ratios tell a different story

Trade truce provides time for Beijing to stabilise
As the US economy slows down, China will be pivotal for global growth in 2019

George HW Bush’s presidency transformed global relations
The 41st US president created an atmosphere of co-operation and respect

Inside Business: The Pensions Regulator is getting tougher but fines are still cheap
Trustee who considered spending retirement fund on new machinery received £400 fine

Instant Insight: Angry mobs in Paris represent a real threat to Emmanuel Macron
Political opponents on both left and right sense opportunity in the widespread anger

Tech companies tinker under the hood of the automobile industry
As the car becomes a smart device, there will be a shift in what consumers want

Inflation measures should add house prices to prevent bubbles
Central bankers need better data to help them preserve financial stability

Personal assistants are a delightful luxury few bosses need
The head of Norway’s $1tn oil fund has no need for a PA

FT View

The FT View: Whitehall’s revolving door means bad government
Theresa May has lost top ministers at twice the rate of predecessors

The FT View: Facebook must recognise it is more than a platform
If the company does not reform itself, lawmakers may force it to do so

The Big Read

The Big Read: Climate change — populism vs Paris
The rise of populist leaders threatens the climate deal struck in the French capital in 2015 and will make UN talks more fraught

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

Get alerts on Newsletter when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article