Experimental feature

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00
Experimental feature

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

Donald Trump’s boast that he is a “very stable genius” turned some heads — not least because Rex Tillerson, his own secretary of state, is reported to have described the US president as a f***ing moron. Certainly, it is hard to think of Mr Trump as a genius in the traditional sense of the word. But might he have a claim to be considered a genius of a different sort?

Gideon Rachman argues in his column that Mr Trump might actually be a mixture of political genius, instinctive genius and evil genius. Too often, his opponents disregard any of the Trump administration's achievements due to moral outrage at the president's actions. But his success is hard to argue with; he managed to win the presidency as a complete outsider, against a tide of opposition from the Republican and media establishment.

Instinctively, Mr Trump seems to know what middle America is thinking and feeling, and what it is willing to accept. Those averse to the president forget that a lot of what he does is popular. And Gideon argues that his evil genius is evident in the way he stokes up tensions to foment culture wars that he believes will benefit him.

Although populism has emerged in other western countries, nowhere else has delivered a figure quite like Mr Trump. Maybe there are other Trumps to emerge. Or maybe he is some kind of genius after all.

© James Ferguson

Cancer breakthrough: Anjana Ahuja argues that the blood biopsy breakthrough does not equate to a cure for cancer. The danger of misdiagnosis remains, with high costs for both individuals and society.

Tories and the business: Janan Ganesh says that the British Conservatives should rekindle their relationship with business. Theresa May needs to rediscover and explain why capitalism matters.

Innovation in Singapore: John Thornhill thinks that in the face of technological upheaval, Singapore will be a test to see how we cope with robotics, autonomous vehicles and the other impending changes.

Best of the rest

Yes, Trump is weak. So is Congress — Yuval Levin in The New York Times

We’ve seen enough to know Theresa May can’t change. She must go — Juliet Samuel in The Telegraph

Democratising Europe could start with the ECB — Thomas Piketty and others in Le Monde

I founded Ukip. It’s a national joke now and should disappear — Alan Sked on The Guardian

A Tale of Two Shutdowns — Wall Street Journal editorial board

What you’ve been saying

The big flaw in economics is the absence of morality— from Yeomin Yoon, Seton Hall University, NJ, US

‘Sir, Neither Samuel Bowles ( “How to fix university economics courses”) nor Martin Weale ( Letters, January 18) tackles the fundamental flaw in economics being taught at universities — disappearance of morality from economics, which was originally a branch of moral science. The prevailing paradigm adopted by mainstream economics is homo economicus, which is “wrong reduction of a man”, according to Amitai Etzioni (see The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics). This gross reduction of human into a rational agent who maximises his/her utility subject to the given budget constraint has led into the alleys of mathematisation of economics slavishly implemented by those economists who suffer from an inferiority complex called “physics envy”. As aptly described by Tomas Sedlacek in his Economics of Good and Evil, today’s prevailing economic theory is “at its best, Hedonistic”.’

Comment by Luke Kelly on Penny Sparke’s op-ed, In defence of plastics

‘The current anti-plastic campaign is largely displacement activity from our failure to address global warming. Paper bags look nice but generate 5-10 times as much CO2 as an equivalent plastic bag and it’s the same for many of our uses of plastic. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to reduce plastic usage, but if the choice is between less plastic and less global warming we should choose the later every time.’

Subjective reality feeds Bank of England forecasts— letter from Mark Bogard, London, UK

‘Sir, Paul Marshall’s analysis of Bank of England forecasts (“The Bank of England’s anti-Brexit bias endangers its credibility”, Comment, January 18) is helpful but unnecessary. That most ancient of teachings, that “we see the world not as it is, but as we are”, is always a useful backdrop to assessing any expert’s forecast.’

Today’s opinion

FT View: Moscow holds sway in Syria’s proxy battles Turkey’s offensive on Afrin marks a new low in relations with the US

FT View: On the City of London and Brexit, silence is not golden The UK government needs to state its priorities for trade in services

Instant Insight: The party might at last be over for Ukip The populists have done their job and no longer have a role in British politics

The Tory party should rekindle its warmth for UK business Theresa May’s attitude to markets amounts to the intellectual self-disarmament of her party

Honduras sets a dangerous precedent for Latin America Protests look set to escalate in the run-up to the swearing in of Juan Orlando Hernández

Rana Foroohar: The power of the tech titans Our global business columnist on power, money and the Silicon Valley bubble

Singapore experiments with smart government Is the city-state innovative enough to engineer another reboot?

Donald Trump and the many meanings of genius The American president often wrongfoots opponents who underestimate him

FT Alphaville: Michele Wucker explains “Gray Rhinos”

FT Series: Privatisation revisited Over the past two years a debate has intensified in the UK about the merits of allowing private companies to run essential utilities that are natural monopolies

Scientists have yet to find the Holy Grail of cancer tests The latest blood biopsy breakthrough still involves the danger of misdiagnosis

Big Oil, climate change and the law The question is whether court action will have more effect than stunts at museums

Society of Fear, by Heinz Bude Economic anxiety, previously socialised, has become a private affair

The Big Read: Pioneering Britain has a rethink on privatisation Once a leader in selling off utilities, many in UK now think investors have run rings around regulators

FTfm: Making America’s asset managers great again Sweeping US tax reforms will boost the sector but there will be unforeseen effects

FT View

FT View: Moscow holds sway in Syria’s proxy battles Turkey’s offensive on Afrin marks a new low in relations with the US

FT View: On the City of London and Brexit, silence is not golden The UK government needs to state its priorities for trade in services

The Big Read

The Big Read: Pioneering Britain has a rethink on privatisation Once a leader in selling off utilities, many in UK now think investors have run rings around regulators

Be alerted on Opinion

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.