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The international club of strongman leaders could soon have a new member: Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right populist candidate for the Brazilian presidency who won a handy victory in Sunday's first round of voting. If he wins the run-off on October 28, Mr Bolsonaro will take his place alongside other enemies of the norms of liberal democracy — Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orban, Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump.

In his column this week, Gideon Rachman argues that the election of Mr Bolsonaro would bring to an abrupt halt the transition to democracy which began in Brazil in the mid-1980s. Once the standard bearer for political and economic liberalisation in Latin America, the country could, Gideon argues, be about to enter a darker and more fearful phase.

Robert Shrimsley contends that the political costs of a second Brexit referendum on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU would be much higher than many Remainers suppose.

Lawrence Summers suggests that economists, normally content to refine their statistical models, would do well to visit the American heartland, which he did recently. There are important political and economic lessons to be learned there.

Helen Thompson, professor of political economy at the University of Cambridge, writes that whether oil prices rise or fall, there will always be losers — either consumers or producers.

What you’ve been saying

American identity had a strong racial component: letter from Eric Foner, New York, NY, US

I always enjoy reading Janan Ganesh’s cogent political analysis, but his recent column displays a shaky grasp of American history. Mr Ganesh identifies “civic rather than ethnic nationhood” and the principle of birthright citizenship as “founding American ideals”. In fact, for many decades American identity had a strong racial component. Beginning in 1790, the naturalisation laws limited the right of immigrants to become citizens to whites, thereby excluding a majority of the world’s population. [ . . .] The naturalisation laws were changed [in 1866] to allow black immigrants to become citizens, but not until the mid-20th century was this right extended to Asians. Like other countries, the US had to struggle towards a civic idea of citizenship; it was not born with one.

A no-tipping policy is better for staff and diners: letter from Ken Fox-Mills, Dublin, Ireland

Hear, hear, Sarah O’Connor ( “Customers’ tips leave workers waiting for fairer pay”). Several years ago Danny Meyer, owner of several fine New York restaurants, introduced a no-tipping policy and increased wages. Recently we lunched in the Union Square Cafe, one of his restaurants. The prices were not excessive and the pleasure of paying the bill without the doubts and mental arithmetic Ms O’Connor refers to added to the pleasure of an enjoyable meal.

In response to “How India can avoid the emerging market blues” Looking glass says:

The real issue is that the BJP lacks policy intellect and is mainly focusing its attention on winning state elections. [ . . .] The reality is that Modi is not a leader capable of building a nation. Besides the failure of reform, he and his party have alienated most fragile voters like farmers and Dalits. 2019 is no longer looking good for him and his party.

Today’s opinion

Whether oil prices rise or fall, there will always be a loser
Donald Trump has declared that Opec is ‘ripping off’ the rest of the world

Dodgy data makes it hard to judge Modi’s job promises
But anecdotal evidence suggests quality employment in India is still scarce

FT Alphaville: Untrustworthypilot (dot) con

A second Brexit poll is a bigger risk than leaving
Those campaigning for a People’s Vote should be careful what they wish for

FT Alphaville: Hosting a blockchain conference is now a “major coup”

I discovered the rest of America on my summer holiday
Driving across the US gave me a different perspective on the American economy

Stronger-for-longer American economy spooks bond investors
Nowcasts more robust than elsewhere as Powell talks of ‘indefinite’ expansion

Jair Bolsonaro and the return of strongman rule
Brazil threatens to become part of a global political turn away from liberalism

Free Lunch: What will make people invest after Britain leaves the EU?
Under-investment brought Brexit, but Brexit will not bring capital

Why cyber attack is the biggest risk for energy companies
The integrity of computer systems is more of a vulnerability than shortage of supply

A Massacre in Mexico, by Anabel Hernández
The 43 students who disappeared in 2014 still haunt a populace plagued by corruption

Prepare to tell long-serving bosses their time is up There comes a time when almost every leader starts to become complacent

Instant Insight: Brazilians seek a far-right saviour in Bolsonaro
Country’s deep problems call for coalition-building rather than confrontation

FT View

The FT View: Jair Bolsonaro rides wave of popular rage in Brazil
Rightwing former army captain is almost certain to win presidency

The FT View: The risks lurking in a benign global economy
Policymakers lack data and tools to combat a future financial crisis

The Big Read

The Big Read: IMF: the fight to woo a sceptical US over funding
Populism, a trade war and a cynical White House are making life hard for the fund as it seeks new capital

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