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Why is there such a resonance for Donald Trump's trade dispute with China, and a growing popular appetite for protectionism? Because globalised free trade has created losers, and there is now a desire to shield and actively protect them.

In this week's column, Rana Foroohar asks readers to consider what both Mr Trump and the Chinese have got right on trade: the US president's bluster, she writes, embeds a single visceral truth in a welter of falsehoods, and he understands that “many people simply don't believe in the system.”

As far as China goes, “cheating” the global system by ringfencing strategic industries has worked well — it was, writes Rana, the smart move.

What we need next, she argues, is an entirely revamped global trading system more suitable to the new realities — but in the short term, measures to increase economic diversity are necessary, together with measures to limit corporate concentration.

Wolfgang Munchau writes  that paying too much attention to Angela Merkel's waning authority has obscured a bigger story — the collapse of Germany's political centre.

Former Republican governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman pleads  with her party's senators to allow more time to deliberate on appointing Brett Kavanaugh as a US Supreme Court judge.

Maris Kucinskis, prime minister of Latvia, calls for a tough, EU-wide plan to disrupt and confront organised financial crime.

Gavin Davies explains that there are still hard questions to answer about any second referendum on Brexit.

Sebastian Payne examines the Conservatives lining up to replace Theresa May if and when she goes, and the dilemmas facing the UK's governing party.

What you've been saying

Letter from Robert Johnston — Engineers work to make scientists' ideas viable
Gillian Tett quite reasonably suggests we could use more scientists in politics but neglects to give engineers their due ( FT Magazine, September 22-23). They are the applied scientists who make things actually work, translating “pure science” into practical impact, no small feat. And it is practicality after all that is so desperately missing in politics. Engineers have built the world we live in and are creating the world we will live in for the next 50 years — think climate change mitigation and adaptation, infrastructure, IT, AI and so on. Engineers are trained in innovation, practicality and accountability, all in short supply in today’s political dialogue. And the US at least is blessed with a number of extremely qualified engineering schools — think Cal Tech, Carnegie-Mellon, even the Ivies and the campuses of the University of California, among many.”

Letter from Ted Gaffney — The Dude's taste abides, as does the Captain's
Robert Armstrong writes brilliantly on the 20th anniversary of the release of The Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (“ The Dude’s abiding style”, Life & Arts, September 22-23). I was immensely amused, as was my wife, both of us being longtime fans of the film. As an aside, when the Dude was in his living room — drinking White Russians — he was listening on the hi-fi to “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, written by Don Van Vliet (1972). For 1960s and 1970s style, Don Van Vliet had few peers; whether seen on the album covers of The Spotlight Kid or Trout Mask Replica. “The Captain” truly abides. And, anyway, the Dude always struck me as more of a Beefheart kind of guy and less of a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan.”

Today's opinion

Latvia’s action plan to stamp out financial crime
We need EU-wide solution to prevent illicit funds moving from one jurisdiction to next

The FT View: FBI probe into Brett Kavanaugh should be given time
The agency must not face limits on its investigation into sexual allegations

Revamp global trade to match our new reality
Policymakers in the rich world are beginning to see that the system creates losers

Hard questions on a second Brexit referendum
Labour has shifted its view on a ‘people’s vote’ but formidable obstacles remain

Nobody has a plan to lift the curse on centrist politics in Germany
Debate over Angela Merkel’s fate distracts from the shift towards extremist parties

The FT View: Italy’s political leaders are playing a dangerous game
Fiscal irresponsibility and defiance could deepen Rome’s troubles

FT View

The FT View: FBI probe into Brett Kavanaugh should be given time
The agency must not face limits on its investigation into sexual allegations

The FT View: Italy’s political leaders are playing a dangerous game
Fiscal irresponsibility and defiance could deepen Rome’s troubles

The Big Read

The Big Read: Sberbank: the bank trying to shape Russia’s future
The Kremlin’s largest lender is diversifying under Putin ally Herman Gref, but the threat of more sanctions makes investors nervous

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