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Philip Hammond delivered Britain’s annual Budget on Monday and it was far from a normal fiscal event. The era of austerity is drawing to a close, the chancellor announced, but the spectre of Brexit hangs over the UK’s economy. His ability to plan and predict what will happen to growth and tax receipts after next March has limited his room for manoeuvre. Yet there were plenty of spending giveaways — notably on the National Health Service and welfare — and a new digital services tax. Our commentary:

Martin Wolf says Mr Hammond has been given a fiscal gift that is being handed straight back to the electorate. This represents the UK’s largest discretionary fiscal loosening since the OBR was founded in 2010.

Robert Shrimsley concludes that this is a Budget with menaces. Mr Hammond is hoping that MPs will be persuaded that the good times will arrive again once they vote through a Brexit deal.

Ruth Lea thinks Project Fear has returned and Hammond unwisely wheeled out the frighteners about the impact of a no-deal exit from the EU.

Rupert Harrison thinks that public services are putting pressure on fiscal prudence. He notes that the UK’s debt burden remains dangerously high.

I’ve argued that the Budget treads a delicate line between Hammond’s aversion to tax rises and his colleague’s desire for spending. But the lack of boldness is disappointing.

The FT editorial board concludes that the chancellor is throwing the dice to try to secure a soft Brexit.

And in our non-Budget-related content:

Gideon Rachman makes the case for why globalism is good for you, noting that the likes of US president Donald Trump do not seem to have learnt the lessons of the 1930s.

Constanze Stelzenmüller says that the collapse of Germany’s centre ground brings the era of Angela Merkel to a close.

James Woolsey argues that America must act to protect its power grid, as electrical infrastructure is vulnerable to both extreme weather and cyber attack.

Nick Butler writes that science can succeed on climate change where politics fails.

What you’ve been saying

Natural climate solutions backed by solid science are available today: letter from Peter Wheeler, London, UK

While Martin Wolf’s analysis of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is admirable in its overarching message, one crucial element is notable by its absence. Changes to agriculture will indeed be important if we are to have any chance of meeting the terms of the Paris agreement, as potentially will technological innovations such as carbon capture. But it’s even more important to recognise the power of reforestation, smarter forestry practices and better conservation of associated carbon-storing ecosystems, including peatlands, wetlands and mangroves. Together, it’s estimated that these “natural climate solutions” are capable of delivering 37 per cent of the emissions reductions over the critical 2020-30 period.

In response to “Italy is setting itself up for a monumental fiscal failure”, Eib says:

As much as Italy needs reform and I don’t think the current government is able to do that, the European Commission and Germany are very wrong here. Italy desperately needs fiscal stimulus. The 3 per cent deficit rule hinders that and means Italy’s balance sheet recession will continue to damage the economy. It’s political and economic dogma and it’s wrong.

Apprenticeships in service sector matter in Germany: letter from Bernard H Casey, London, UK and Frankfurt, Germany

Further to “Germans show how to tackle the puzzle of productivity”: there are good apprenticeship systems in the leading edges of UK manufacturing — as good as anything Germany does. No one contests this. The problem is in a long tail of manufacturing companies that do nothing, or do it badly. Germany focuses on service sector apprenticeships too, and it places as much weight on them as it does on manufacturing apprenticeships.

Today’s opinion

Halloween Hammond offers money with menaces
In hinting at horrors of a no-deal Brexit, chancellor was speaking as much to colleagues as the country

Philip Hammond grants business the main item on its wish list
UK chancellor provides rescue package following months of high-street pain

Fiscal Phil’s Budget routine may leave joke on Brexiters
Chancellor plays adult among political children by staying serious on austerity

Philip Hammond applies the no-deal Brexit frighteners
Outside the EU, UK prosperity depends on global opportunities and fiscal restraint

Lombard: Instincts of Superdry’s Dunkerton are marvellous but misguided
Investors should hesitate before endorsing co-founder’s return

Public services put pressure on fiscal prudence
The UK’s deficit has stabilised but the debt burden remains dangerously high

A Budget with a general election in mind
Pensions taxation was not even mentioned — we might not be so lucky next time

The Art of Persuasion: A confident and surprisingly jolly speech
Chancellor’s words evoked generosity, while leaving plenty of wriggle room

The FT View: Germany needs to keep strong for Europe’s sake
Angela Merkel’s diminishing power will test Berlin’s steady hand

Instant Insight: Hammond’s steady Budget strikes a delicate balance before Brexit
The UK chancellor offers a bit more public spending but little vision

German centre’s collapse brings Merkel era to a close
The chancellor’s Christian Democrats and coalition partners are on the wane

Why globalism is good for you
Donald Trump’s nationalist ideology fails to heed lessons of the 1930s

Instant Insight: Looking beyond the era of Angela Merkel
Germany is heading for a period of introversion and instability

Lebanon’s electricity supply solution is a slow-burner
Siemens and the government have overcome their differences to fix hobbled infrastructure

From visionary to old hat: how Benetton fell out of fashion
The Italian apparel brand was once an innovative precursor to fast-fashion groups

Science can succeed on climate change where politics fails
And if someone makes money from finding a solution, who cares?

FT View

The FT View: Philip Hammond throws the dice to secure a soft Brexit
The UK chancellor opts for an Augustinian stance: let me be virtuous but not quite yet

The FT View: Germany needs to keep strong for Europe’s sake
Angela Merkel’s diminishing power will test Berlin’s steady hand

The FT View: Brazil’s election of Bolsonaro is a political sea-change
Investors hope rightwinger will be a catalyst for economic reform

The Big Read

The Big Read: Business education: have we reached peak MBA?
Competition from online courses and rising costs have seen applications in the US fall even as demand grows in Asia and Europe

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