Listen to this article
Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here
Infighting and disarray are plaguing Donald Trump’s attempts to assemble his government-in-waiting. Mike Rogers and Eliot Cohen, both mainstream Republicans, are among the key figures who have been purged from the president-elect’s foreign policy team.
Questions are being raised about how the incoming US president will deal with his Russian counterpart. Nato chiefs are alarmed that the spectre of nuclear war is returning to international politics thanks to a sabre-rattling Russian leadership and a US leader who has asked why nuclear weapons exist if they cannot be used.
Meanwhile, Russia has launched its long-awaited offensive across Syria, with Syrian regime jets pounding rebel-held eastern Aleppo throughout the past 24 hours. A round-up of what a Trump presidency could mean for the rest of the Middle East has been produced by analysts at the Carnegie Endowment.
Asian equities and bonds took Wall Street’s lead and rallied on Wednesday on the so-called “Trumpflation trade” but the speed of the moves has slowed. Speaking in Athens, President Barack Obama blamed the rise of Mr Trump and Brexit on a backlash against globalisation — something hedge fund kingpin Ray Dalio is also warning about. (FT, WaPo, Guardian, Carnegie Endowment)
In the news
Saudi’s real reserves The world’s biggest crude exporter has promised to unveil one of the energy industry’s most closely guarded secrets: how much oil really lies beneath its sands. For decades, official figures have put the Kingdom’s reserves at 260bn barrels but there has been no independent verification. As it prepares to sell shares in Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, the government says it will produce independently audited numbers. The figures could move oil markets. (FT)
Macron stands France’s former economy minister Emmanuel Macron has confirmed he will stand in next year’s presidential election. The popular politician will enter an already crowded race as an independent but he could fragment the left and strengthen the chances of Marine Le Pen of reaching the second ballot. The leader of France’s far-right, anti-immigrant National Front, Ms Le Pen will inaugurate her presidential election campaign later on Wednesday. She has been bolstered by the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of Mr Trump. (FT)
Post-truth era ‘Post-truth’ is named international word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reaffirming what the Brexit vote and victory of Donald Trump have already shown the world. Editors said the term had increased by about 2,000 per cent in 2016. Other contenders were “alt-right” and “Brexiteer”. (Guardian)
Rio Tinto email scandal Lawyers for the Anglo-Australian group uncovered more than a year ago internal emails about a questionable $10.5m payment to a consultant, but the mining company did not alert law enforcement authorities and investors about the matter until last week. (FT)
BBC in North Korea The BBC World Service is to start broadcasting a daily radio programme into North Korea as part of its biggest global expansion in more than 70 years. The Korean service, to be launched in the spring, will be transmitted in short wave to try to evade the communist government’s censors. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Energy The International Energy Agency publishes its annual World Energy Outlook. It says that world demand for oil will not peak before 2040, despite the Paris Climate Change Agreement. (Reuters)
Berlin President Obama touches down in the German capital for his final official visit. Ahead of his farewell tour, Mr Obama called German chancellor Angela Merkel his “ closest international partner these past eight years”. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
Trump’s false promises Some people will benefit from the president-elect’s policies, writes Martin Wolf. But his white working-class supporters will not be among them. (FT)
The Great Mentioner The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Russell Baker is credited with coining the phrase “The Great Mentioner” — the amalgam of unnamed officials, political operatives and pundits in Washington whose mention of potential nominees for higher office put them on every wag’s tongue. Here is the FT’s version on the Trump administration. (FT)
China’s cursed unicorns In ancient mythology, Chinese unicorns are lucky, rare creatures. Today, the country’s tech unicorns — private companies valued at $1bn or more — are commonplace and look increasingly cursed. And there’s growing scepticism within China about how valid some of the sky-high valuations are. (Bloomberg)
Coconuts in danger Just as the world is discovering the many uses of coconuts, they are in danger of being wiped out in the Caribbean and parts of Africa because of a bacteria that is destroying trees. The disease threatens coconut diversity and could threaten crops in Indonesia, the Philippines and India — the world’s biggest coconut producers. (Atlantic)
Murder in Burundi The brutal killing of three nuns put Burundi’s most determined human rights campaigner on a collision course with one of the country’s most powerful generals and into exile. (Guardian)
Video of the day
High-tech greenhouses Shortages of agricultural land and water are prompting companies to explore innovative ways to grow crops. An Australian project using solar power, desalination and evaporative cooling may provide part of the answer to feeding a growing population. (FT)