© Anastasia Beltyukova
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All is not well with the corporation, writes Martin Wolf in his column this week. In spite of a history at the root of unprecedented economic development ever since the middle of the 19th century, the public has come to view companies as “sociopathic” and indifferent to anything other than the share price. Personal rewards motivate their leaders, wages and productivity have been disappointing and competition has been eroded.

Martin argues that we should rethink the purpose of the corporation, dragging it away from Milton Friedman’s pure profit motivation (or today’s obligation to maximise shareholder value) because that gives control and benefits to those least committed to and least knowledgeable about it. The current model of corporate governance is just one of many possible ways of structuring corporations, Martin points out. We should be explicitly encouraging a thousand different corporate flowers to bloom — let’s see what works.

Professor Wendy Hall believes the internet is at risk of splintering into four quarters

Sarah O’Connor explains why women who go to university are winning

Frederick Studemann on why east Germany fears a loss of influence with the rise of AKK

Ben Hall writes that Macron’s measures in response to the gilets jaunes will hit his reformist credibility in Europe

Jitesh Gadhia argues that the RBI resignation reveals pressures on central bankers

What you’ve been saying

Nato members did not join for altruistic reasons: letter from Michael DiGiacomo, New York, US

Your editorial about Trump’s ‘belligerent unilateralism’ ignores an important contrary viewpoint. In his book ‘Diplomacy’, Henry Kissinger, discussing the balance-of-power system practised for many years in Europe and elsewhere, draws an analogy to Adam Smith’s economic invisible hand. Mr Kissinger is at pains to show this theory has not always worked in practice, but it does indicate that nations acting in self-interest do not necessarily harm global security or co-operation. Each country that has joined Nato, for example, has done so not out of altruism or to support a liberal international order but because joint defence was perceived to be in its national interest.

In response to “ Waymo’s driverless taxis are not free of labour costs”, MyCutiePie says:

My memory of suburbs in Phoenix was that there were no pedestrians because there were no sidewalks. The town was laid out in a grid system and was as flat as a pancake. So I’m not sure this is a very stringent test. Could this technology really cope with city centres, European country roads, and blind bends? The answer may be yes, eventually, but will it be worth all the expense and effort?

Spreading the annuity: letter from Bernard Casey, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany

Adrian Gore ( Letters, December 7) provides an ethical response to questions raised by John Gapper (‘ Life insurance should not get too personal’, December 6). But the market may offer one too. After all, those who have reduced their health insurance premia by engaging in monitored exercise will find themselves living longer. In the old days, an insurer might have reduced the value of an annuity paid to these people. And even if annuities are no longer in fashion, these healthy individuals will have to spread their assets longer. That’ll learn ’em.

Today’s opinion

Lex: Brexit/‘gilets jaunes’ — the omnishambles ratio
London and Paris are both experiencing chaos but one has the edge as a relocation choice

The FT View: A humbler Emmanuel Macron needs to relaunch his agenda
Crisis over the French president’s reforms is a concern for all of Europe

East Germany fears a loss of influence with the rise of AKK
New CDU leader was one of three contenders for the job from the country’s west

We must rethink the purpose of the corporation
The idea that businesses only pursue profits leads to dire outcomes

Lex: WPP — sketch show
Mark Read’s plans are good but lack some ambition

Lex: Italian bank debt/Elliott — ‘sofferenze’ frenzy
Banco BPM’s deal with hedge fund has its benefits but the break is not a clean one

The Art of Persuasion: When parody makes a powerful rhetorical point
Andy Serkis played the prime minister as Gollum, cooing over a ‘precioussss’ Brexit

Tail Risk: Finding a market narrative is no easy task
All too often analysts and their ilk look in the wrong places to explain wobbles

Why women who go to university are winning
The options for bright female non-graduates look worse than for comparably smart men

Instant Insight: Macron’s measures will hit his reformist credibility in Europe
Rome and Berlin will seize on widening deficit but the French president has no choice

RBI resignation reveals pressures on central bankers
Former governor Urjit Patel is not the only policymaker in the political doghouse

The FT View: New Delhi must affirm Indian central bank’s autonomy
The governor’s resignation puts the onus on Narendra Modi’s government

FT Alphaville: Further reading

fastFT: Opening Quote — Ashtead boss basks in US Sunbelt glow

FT View

The FT View: A humbler Emmanuel Macron needs to relaunch his agenda
Crisis over the French president’s reforms is a concern for all of Europe

The FT View: New Delhi must affirm Indian central bank’s autonomy
The governor’s resignation puts the onus on Narendra Modi’s government

The Big Read

The Big Read: Dirty air — how India became the most polluted country on earth
With the situation worse than in China, Modi’s government is struggling to combat the problem

© Anastasia Beltyukova

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