web_Wells Fargo ride

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Once again, Wells Fargo is in trouble. Nearly two years after the US bank was laid low by a fake-accounts scandal, it transpires that because of a computer glitch that ran undiscovered for about five years more than 600 customers who might have qualified for easier terms on their mortgages did not get them. Many later lost their homes. The outrage on social media is palpable.

The message here, writes Ben McLannahan in his column, is that no matter how hard a business tries to reset its image, rebuilding public trust takes time. Since the 2016 debacle, Wells Fargo has got rid of top executives, reshuffled its board and scrapped the incentives that led its staff to bend the rules. It has even taken out ads in US newspapers, promising a vision of a bank transformed.

But changing a company’s culture is gruelling work, says Ben. In the end, only your customers can decide when a scandal is over.

Janan Ganesh observes that Democrats are re-discovering identity politics in the Trump era. The party’s assumption that the issue of race could be transcended has been blown apart by the US president’s travel bans, attacks on black athletes and response to far-right violence.

Diane Coyle argues that conventional ways of measuring global productivity could be posing the wrong questions. The figures included in GDP measures have omitted intangible investments, including in new ideas and ways of working.

Layla McCay, secretary of the Brexit Health Alliance, warns that when the UK leaves the EU there is a real danger of disruption to access to safe medicine for both sides. And a no-deal crash out of the bloc would threaten essential health services.

Jamie Smyth has become a permanent resident of Australia. But as the population passes 25m, he notices that not everyone in his adopted country is happy to call him — or his fellow new arrivals — neighbours.

What you’ve been saying

Gazprom’s ‘fugitive emissions’ are a problem for Europe: letter from Paul Bledsoe, Energy Fellow and Strategic Advisor, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, DC, US

Eugene Rumer conveniently neglects to mention the main reason nations want to import natural gas in the first place — to cut air pollution and especially the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Seen in this context, increasing Europe’s addiction to ultra-high methane-emitting Russian gas is a serious mistake, one that undermines both European climate promises and many of Dr Rumer’s arguments in favour of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

In response to “Elon Musk’s latest salvo raises more questions than it answers”, Fonz says:

Elon Musk is our creation. Until we stop idolising ‘entrepreneurs’ as society’s saviours, we will continue to enable this (bad/anti-social) behaviour and instil in them an air of invincibility and un-accountability.

Obit did not mention Naipaul’s best book: letter from John F May, Bethesda, MD, US

Your perceptive obituary of V S Naipaul should have mentioned ‘A Bend in the River’ (1979), which is probably the best book ever written by him. Focusing on the city of Kisangani in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, this fiction offers a vivid and unforgettable description of the political and social climate in post-colonial Central Africa.

Today’s opinion

US Democrats are re-discovering identity politics
Trump’s conduct in office has sapped the belief that race could be transcended

Wells Fargo’s apologies leave customers unmoved
There is a message here for companies trying to shrug off a hit to their reputation

Brexit threatens public health in the EU and the UK
To prepare for disruption, the medicines agency has already had to scale back operations

Conventional measures pose the wrong productivity question
Some economists — and the tech community — believe output is being mis-measured

FT Alphaville: The post-crisis generation game

Australia should celebrate not fear its immigrants
Recent arrivals to the ‘lucky country’ are unfairly blamed for social ills

FT View

The FT View: A missed chance to tackle Britain’s housing crisis
Government proposals fall far short of fundamental changes pledged

The FT View: France awaits the next wave of Macron reforms
The Benalla affair shows the president is meeting political headwinds

The Big Read

The Big Read: Colombia and corruption: the problem of extreme legalism
Once considered independent, the judicial system risks becoming politicised by graft scandals

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