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As an adolescent growing up on Long Island, Michael Cohen was in thrall to the legend of Donald Trump. So when as an adult and qualified attorney, he was invited to work for the New York real estate mogul, Mr Cohen jumped at the chance.

As Courtney Weaver writes in a profile, Mr Trump came to rely on his loyal fixer. And when he was elected president, Mr Cohen told friends he expected to be given a job in the White House.

Yet none ever materialised. And now Mr Cohen has cut his ties with his former boss, testifying in court that Mr Trump instructed him to buy the silence of two women before the 2016 election. The president has turned on Mr Cohen, confirming perhaps, as one old friend of his said, that he “knew too much”.

Merryn Somerset Webb argues that the 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith was very prescient about the harm done by overly concentrated markets and untrammelled corporate power.

Tim Harford says he learnt an important lesson on holiday this summer: that variety is an aid to creativity. This was something that figures as diverse as David Bowie and Charles Darwin understood very well.

Sarah Sands suggests that former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson would have done well to heed the advice of one of his predecessors, William Hague: that politicians make jokes in public at their peril.

Best of the week

Platform companies have to learn to shareRana Foroohar

Europe risks failure on migrationTony Barber

Computer scientists struggle to build robots who get the jokeJohn Thornhill

Brexit and Corbynism usher in paranoid politicsRobert Shrimsley

Diversity coaching from the Olympic dressage eventSarah O'Connor

The bitcoin bubble’s real losersKatie Martin

Donald Trump’s future will be settled by politics, not the lawJanan Ganesh

Competition is not the only problem for bankers at Jackson HoleRobin Harding

What you’ve been saying

London’s dirty air can’t be compared to New Delhi’s: letter from Murad Qureshi, London, UK

You don’t need to tell those of us living off the Marylebone Road that London is choking under air pollution, but it is far fetched to suggest it’s almost as dirty as New Delhi even if only by nitrogen dioxide. New Delhi is not only choking under air pollution from transport emission but its heavy urbanisation and industrialisation also mean the construction and manufacturing industries are contributing in a manner that we have no comprehension of, sitting pretty here in London.

In response to Cyril Ramaphosa’s “Land reform in South Africa is crucial for inclusive growth”, Steve Chandler says:

Twenty-five years is no time at all to unravel the complex matrix of inequalities that bedevil post-apartheid South Africa. Added to which a largely inexperienced bureaucracy is only now finding its feet. There were many wasted years but that was to be expected. But now CR’s government needs to begin to deliver. Especially in the areas of education and infrastructure. Land reform (even expropriation without compensation) is just but needs to be legally robust.

I look forward to my daily Brexit frisson — don’t let me down, FT: letter from Stephen Hazell-Smith, Penshurst, Kent, UK

Every day I open my copy of the Pink ’Un expecting the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up as I read the latest instalment from the FT House of Brexit Horrors, but imagine my surprise when I read yesterday’s headline “Goldman in £1.2bn property deal” […] with Goldman’s head of International operations quoted as saying: “The development of Plumtree Court and our signing of a long-term lease demonstrates our continued commitment to London.” […] Come on FT, don’t let me down. I need my daily fix of ghoulish excitement.

Today’s opinion

Uri Avnery, Israeli journalist and activist, 1923-2018
He argued for an independent Palestinian state for nearly half his life

Person in the News: Michael Cohen, the president’s fixer who knew too much
Trump’s personal lawyer severed the most important relationship of his career this week

How Adam Smith predicted the power of Big Tech
He understood the harm that overly concentrated markets cause

Weighing the value of a good joke is a political minefield
Boris Johnson grew resentful at being treated as a figure of fun by Theresa May

FT Alphaville: Wot is gravity

Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Bull Run
Trump warns of market crash if impeached

Undercover Economist: Holidays hold the secret to unleashing creativity
Those who enjoy the longest and most productive careers tend to shift focus regularly

Russia’s energy stranglehold threatens German influence
Why is Angela Merkel allowing her country to be cut off from its hinterland?

FT View

The FT View: In defence of Britain’s globalised gastronomics
Cultural appropriation has allowed London to become a culinary capital

The FT View: At a record high, the US market is still shrinking
Stock exchanges should not become the preserve of mature businesses

The Big Read

The Big Read: US politics: Donald Trump’s tribal advantage over Richard Nixon
The downfall of two former advisers piles pressure on a president who could face impeachment after November elections

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