French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel both met with US president Donald Trump in Washington © AFP
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Like most western leaders, Angela Merkel is no big fan of Donald Trump and his America First policies. His efforts to undermine the west’s rules-based order stem from his relentless focus on narrow national interests. But do the German chancellor and US president actually have more in common than first appears?

Philip Stephens argues in his latest column that Ms Merkel is pursuing her own “Germany First” agenda. Whether on reforming the Eurozone or making a bigger contribution to European security, Germany seems reluctant to take an internationalist approach. Life is good in Germany at the moment, Philip points out, with strong growth and exports combined with low unemployment and low inflation. Ms Merkel’s parochialism reflects an unwillingness to disturb such good fortune.

The relationship between Germany and France in particular remains difficult. Emmanuel Macron is just the partner Berlin has claimed it wanted: a domestic reformer who has defied the far-right and is eager for EU reform. But Mr Macron’s proposals are seen as too ambitious in Berlin’s eyes. It is not too late for Ms Merkel to change her mind and take a more collaborative approach.

Global soulmates: Robert Shrimsley reflects on Emmanuel Macron’s visit to meet Donald Trump this week, imagining the pair on a bromantic date. One of the awkward moments for Macron: Every time I tried to talk about climate change, his eyes seemed to glaze over. He asked about my Twitter followers and then laughed and offered to give me some tips.

Boosting British growth: Chris Giles thinks Philip Hammond is betting on some Brexit clarity to boost the UK’s economic prospects. The chancellor might have a point in eyeing an improved outlook for 2019, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead.

Hope meets realism: Our FT View says a history of dashed hopes does not bode well for the upcoming North/South Korea summit. If Kim Jong Un makes any pledges, they will need independent verification if they are to be worth anything.

Best of the rest

The real lesson from the Toronto van attack isn’t about one hero cop — John Lorinc in the Washington Post

Macron’s Democratic Vision — William Galston in the Wall Street Journal

The ‘incel’ community and the dark side of the internet — Justin Ling and others in the Globe and Mail

Bush 41, Trump, and American Decline — Bret Stephens in the New York Times

Theresa May should fear a Brexiteer who feels betrayed — James Forsyth in the Spectator

What you’ve been saying

Policy rethink required on South Africa land reform — letter from Terence Corrigan

Policy changes over the past decade sought ‘redistribution’ from existing landowners to the state. Beneficiaries of many land reform initiatives are to be granted user rights and leases, not ownership. Virtually nothing has been done to grant title to the millions of black South Africans living on communal and state-owned land. These problems reflect choices made by the country’s policy makers. And they are depriving a vast number of South Africans of the chance to own property and to use it to participate in the wider economy.

Comment from Paul Munton’s Potimarron on CIA nominee’s insider history raises deep state fears

The situation is unspeakably grim. At the Nuremberg war trials it was made clear that following orders did not excuse soldiers or secret police from the moral obligations and the legal consequences of torture or mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians. Yet somehow nothing changes, even in the nation of which we should be most proud.

A co-operative approach to halting fugitive tycoons — letter from Ritha Khemani

A relatively small amount of money, like a couple of million dollars which is small change for a tycoon, is apparently enough to secure a right to residency under the guise of foreign investment and job creation. Quite apart from the moral question of whether residence and citizenship should be for sale, it would behove developed countries — including the US and UK — to investigate whether such policies deliver any economic benefit.

Today’s opinion

Trump administration picks the wrong time to ease up on banks
Loosening the rules on leveraged loans right now looks peculiar

Philip Hammond hopes clarity over Brexit will boost growth
This not an unreasonable expectation, but Britain is not out of the woods yet

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron: we go behind the bromance
Some awkward moments, kisses and an address to both houses of Congress

Free Lunch: US set for healthier inflation
The Fed will need to cautiously make its way to restrictive monetary policy

After Donald Trump’s America First, Angela Merkel’s Germany First
The chancellor still has a chance to show that national and mutual interest can merge

FT View

FT View: Fixing the eurozone roof as the clouds move in
A stuttering recovery will make reform of euro governance harder

FT View: At the North/South Korean summit, hope and realism meet
Any pledges produced by talks with Kim Jong Un will require verification

The Big Read

The Big Read: US housing: how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became rental powerhouses
Home loan agencies accused of using taxpayer support for commercial mortgage market

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