web_wealthy weddings
© Ingram Pinn

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

Last week's wedding of Isha Ambani, daugher of India's richest man, was rumoured to have cost $100m. The event marked the climax of the country's increasingly extravagant marriage season. It also told us something significant, writes John Gapper in his column this week, about changing patterns in the luxury market.

The Ambani wedding signalled a shift towards "experiential luxury", in which the super-rich covet experiences rather than goods. There is an echo in this phenomenon, John suggests, of "potlatch", the Native American tradition of public displays of largesse.

The wedding industry is big business these days, and the effects are not entirely benign. There is something to be said, John writes, for the rich making their consumption of experiences a little less conspicuous.

Megan Greene, global chief economist at Manulife Asset Management, argues that a synchronised global economic slowdown is on the cards in 2019. Fortunately, central banks seem to be making preparations for stormy weather ahead.

Janan Ganesh contends, pace Donald Trump, that America's future is Asian rather than Hispanic. 

Gideon Rachman defines "Thucydides's trap", the idea that the rivalry between an established power and a rising one often ends in war.

Roula Khalaf finds that Brexit Britain has imported the Middle Eastern virus of political dysfunction and division.

What you’ve been saying

Demand for space travel will be limited to a few thrill-seekers: letter from Nathaniel Norman, New York, NY, US

Although I admire the vision and perseverance of Sir Richard Branson I am sceptical that space travel it will hold wide appeal to the general population ( December 15). Passengers on commercial airlines already find that entire experience to be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Space planes will be sparser, darker and tougher on the body and would be physically gruelling for most. Sir Richard says he thinks the demand is massive. The excitement may be massive, but the demand will probably be limited to the thrill-seeking few.

In response to " A different UK regulator that promises long-overdue changes to auditing", JHN says:

The Big Four’s main advantage is global reach - this becomes a prerequisite for even moderately sized companies pretty quickly. Any single country-centric actions will make no impact on this fundamental advantage. They also tend to (not always but often) have better people.

No place in a democracy for unelected technicians: letter from G R Steele, Lancaster University Management School, UK

The interdependence of economic policy options, as identified by the IMF more than 50 years ago, is implicit in Lord Skidelsky’s observation on monetary policy (Letters, December 12). Democracy is traduced when the “unelected technicians” of a central bank determine the “choices of inflating or deflating, of favouring debtors or creditors, of selectively bailing out some and not others, of guaranteeing some private sector liabilities and not others, [and] of allowing or preventing banks to collude”. (Acknowledgment to Professor Axel Leijonhufvud, “Out of the corridor”, 2009).

Today’s opinion

Lex: Citigroup/hedge funds: prime target
Hong Kong loss fails to damp appetite for a dependable line of business

Lex: Ceconomy/Metro: wreckanomics
Investors hoping for a quick fix from financial wizardry will be disappointed

beyondbrics: Why China’s bond defaults are actually a good thing
A bond market with no defaults creates the wrong incentives for borrowers and investors

America’s future is Asian, not Hispanic
President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric distracts from demographic reality

FT Magazine: Space: the final frontier for finance
‘When it comes to space, entrepreneurs and investors are already getting on board’

Lex: Blue Apron: stove in
It’s time to change the menu

Lex: GSK/Pfizer: headache remedy
Deal leaves UK pharma group in the driving seat, without a cash acquisition cost

Prepare for a synchronised global economic slowdown in 2019
The US, European and Asian central banks are on the alert as the economy weakens

Brexit Britain has imported a political virus from the Middle East
The country that welcomed me 20 years ago was a paragon of stability — no longer

Free Lunch: The year in Free Lunch
Highlights from 2018 — and reality-testing some of our predictions

fastFT: Opening Quote: GSK — breaking up is not so hard to do

Year in a Word: Thucydides’s trap
The thesis that rivalry leads to war captures the attention of Washington and Beijing

Why I’m spending Christmas with my bank managers
‘Bomad’ loans are both deeply unfair on a societal level and deeply risky on a personal one

FT Magazine: The kids training teachers to code
In the digital age, coding is basic literacy, like maths or languages

Wedding excess has reached giddy new heights
Social media and globalisation are turning private celebrations into aspirational events

Global Insight: Katowice celebrations damped by reality of global warming
World is probably going to keep getting warmer despite the deal struck in Poland

Inside Business: India’s new central bank boss must resist calls to soften rules
Many in Mumbai’s financial sector were unhappy with the former governor’s approach

Lombard: Banks should cut complex tariffs and reward customers for prudence
FCA’s intervention in overdrafts is only half a revolution

Farewell to a bipartisan bromance from an earlier Washington era
Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons have a star-crossed friendship in hostile political times

Lex: UK retailers/short sellers: what a carrion
It has been a good year for betting on falling share prices in the high street

FT View

The FT View: UK border controls must reflect economic needs
Income threshold in immigration proposals risks skills shortages

The FT View: America’s exposure to Russian information warfare
US democracy remains inexcusably vulnerable to hijack

The Big Read

The Big Read: FT Person of the Year: George Soros
The philanthropist has become a standard bearer for liberal democracy, an idea under siege from populists

Get alerts on Newsletter when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article