Listen to this article
This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.
Martin Sorrell, the 73-year-old permatanned, micro-managing marketing chief, found himself unpleasantly in the media frame this week after word leaked that his board at WPP was investigating allegations of "personal misconduct" by him. He "unreservedly" denies wrongdoing.
Feisty to the core, Sir Martin never dodges a scrap, especially over his record pay packets, Andrew Hill notes in a profile. After spending more than 30 years building his company, the London native and Davos regular prefers to adopt a more statesmanlike posture, offering views on technology trends and geopolitics. But the probe comes at time when the media conglomerate Sir Martin built is under unprecedented pressure from the decision by many big brands to change the way they advertise.
Pleasurable pasta: Wendell Steavenson discovers, over a plate of spaghetti alla vongole, new research that suggests the Italian staple does not deserve its fattening reputation. But she notes that this and many other food studies, lumped into metadata analyses, and then boiled down into headlines, have made eating healthily deeply confusing. Reasonable portion sizes, it turns out, are the best solution.
Macron's moment: This week's French rail strike looks on the surface like a crucial test for President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to reform his country. But Laurence Boone argues that this analysis overstates the importance of Mr Macron's plan to change working conditions for employers of the state train operator, and underestimates the president's strategic nous. She predicts he will emerge victorious.
Gang crime: Teenage boys are paying a high price for society's failure to engage them, writes Harriet Sergeant, drawing on her experience of befriending a south London gang. Toxic social media has exacerbated the failures of schools and the criminal justice system, making many of them vulnerable to knife crime and other violence.
Best of the week
Donald Trump’s war on Jeff Bezos is more than just bluster by Edward Luce
Let gig workers control their data too by Sarah O'Connor
Anti-Semitism and the threat of identity politics by Gideon Rachman
The Chinese economy is rebalancing, at last by Martin Wolf
Columbus shows Trump how to thrive in the new world order by Rana Foroohar
Maladroit Theresa May’s remarkable survival by Janan Ganesh
Air travel in Pakistan is a journey to the 1950s by Kiran Stacey
Jeremy Corbyn and a true socialist, anti-slavery passover story by Robert Shrimsley
Customers should have come first in the GKN battle by Michael Skapinker
What you’ve been saying
Frequency has been part of airlines’ strategy— letter from John B Griffiths
Airlines have focused on building up their hubs by adding frequencies in markets already served and adding new cities to a hub’s schedule. (At the industry level, it includes additional airlines entering city-pair markets.) It is this focus on increasing frequency that has, to date, put downward pressure on average aircraft size per departure, particularly in intercontinental markets, and has marginalised the A380 and 747-800 aircraft programmes.
Comment from J. E. on Car trouble brings Elon Musk back to earth
How long will people keep calling electric vehicles (EVs) "low emission" cars? The total CO2 emission balance of an EV — even using renewable electricity — is matching the one of a small modern petrol hybrid. The EVs need raw materials that are energy intensive to extract and mine, and it is only getting worse because of the amount needed: producing one million EVs per year will use 100% of the lithium available in current production, and exhaust cobalt resources in 8 years. If EVs become mass market cars the need for lithium and cobalt will required new mines which will require more energy, cause more emissions.
Major scientific publishers still in control 20 years on— letter from Dr Dennis Jones
Back in the late 1990s I worked for ICL, the UK IT company (now Fujitsu), and was involved with a project looking at the likely disruptive effect of the internet on various areas of business. One was scientific publishing and I held meetings (at their request) with senior staff at Springer, Elsevier, Academic Press, Wiley, Blackwells and several others who were all expressing fear at the sustainability of the extremely profitable scientific journals business, especially as a number of academics were setting up sharing services to bypass them. It’s interesting that here we are, 20 years later, and the major publishers are still in control.
FT View: History holds little hope of a winnable trade war
China stands to lose more in economic terms, the US politically
José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema orchestra, 1939-2018
The conductor who started a musical revolution for Venezuelan youngsters
China-US trade war: can it be stopped?
Global markets tumble following duelling tariff announcements
What if Mark Zuckerberg was your Facebook friend?
Here is what would happen if the social network founder interacted with real users
Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Trade Wars
The US and China ratchet up trade threats
A home victory for Emmanuel Macron will resonate across Europe
The French president’s fight with the rail unions will be his toughest test so far
Person in the News: Martin Sorrell, WPP’s adman under fire
His grip on the group could be loosening amid allegations of personal misconduct
Opinion today: the end of the big idea
Defenders of the rules-based order in power are hard to find
Undercover Economist: Spending decisions that show our limitations
Everything has a cost, whether we are making a political choice or a purchase
Good news pasta lovers: it is not fattening after all (maybe)
In our desperation to be healthy, we are swayed by the latest fads and crazes
FT View: London’s violent crime wave can be beaten back
New York and Glasgow provide useful lessons for the UK capital
FT View: Lula’s prosecution shows nobody is above the law
Brazil’s anti-corruption purge should be celebrated, not decried
FT View: Russia’s misinformation is an exercise in distraction The UK should focus on its next response to the Skripal poisoning
FT View: History holds little hope of a winnable trade war China stands to lose more in economic terms, the US politically
The Big Read
The Big Read: Soyabean wars: China tries to hit Donald Trump where it hurts As the US and China threaten a trade war, soyabeans have become one of the main battles
Get alerts on Opinion when a new story is published