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Emmanuel Macron returned from his trip to the US last week with the approbation of American media and lawmakers ringing in his ears. The mantle of leadership of the free world has, it seems, passed from German chancellor Angela Merkel to the French president.

Yet, Gideon Rachman argues in his column this week, Mr Macron remains oddly isolated on the world stage, lacking close allies. And that’s a problem when you are the leader of middle-sized European power with limited room for manoeuvre.

For all the jocular bonhomie of his recent meetings with Donald Trump, he is no nearer persuading the US president to change his position on the Iran nuclear deal nor on climate change. Things look hardly more auspicious closer to home. The Germans remain sceptical about his grand vision for reform of the eurozone, while Brexit creates a natural division with France’s eternal frère ennemi, the UK. The danger for the liberal, internationalist Mr Macron, Gideon suggests, is that he is a leader out of tune with his times.

Data dilemmas
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25. It may, writes John Thornhill, be a badly designed piece of legisation (too sweeping and probably unenforceable), but it has at least served the purpose of getting us to think seriously about one of the most valuable assets of our age: data.

Crisis management
A strong premier with a clearly defined mission need not be knocked off course by the occasional ministerial resignation. But, argues Janan Ganesh, Theresa May lacks any overarching vision beyond midwifing Britain’s exit from the EU, and her own survival. That is why the departure from government of former home secretary Amber Rudd is such a grievous blow to the prime minister. With no sense of direction, Mrs May finds herself at the mercy of events.

Trading places
Conventional wisdom has it that a trade war between the US and China would be disastrous for both countries. Yet, Keyu Jin writes, Mr Trump’s efforts to force Beijing to open up to global trade, while painful in the short term, could benefit the Chinese economy in the long run. The moment for China to protect its industries has long passed, she argues. And the effects of opening up to serious foreign competition are likely to be positive — at least if they are accompanied by serious reform of the Chinese financial sector.

Best of the rest

Why we should bulldoze the business school — Martin Parker in The Guardian

Happy birthday, Karl Marx. You were right! — Jason Barker in The New York Times

How Michelle Wolf blasted open the fictions of journalism in the age of Trump — Masha Gessen in the New Yorker

Why we need globalisation — Koichi Hamada for Project Syndicate

Amber Rudd’s resignation enhances the stench of decay around Theresa May’s government — George Eaton in the New Statesman

What you’ve been saying

Swiss border provisions cannot apply to Ireland— letter from Denis MacShane

All main roads into Switzerland from EU neighbours have physical border and customs control buildings. These do not exist in Ireland following the Good Friday Agreement.The former Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, was in London recently talking about Swiss border and customs arrangements…I asked her if Switzerland was thinking of abolishing border posts in a manner similar to Northern Ireland since 1998. “Mais non,” she replied as if the idea was bizarre.

Comment from Arun on Asda deal frees Walmart to focus elsewhere

Walmart hasn’t had a great story in India so far. It will need to do something fundamentally different to use their funds efficiently there. Amazon showed the way by opening up it’s gigantic wallet. Walmart hasn’t provided either the focus or funds to make an impact.

Technology enriches us all but is ruinous in authoritarian hands— letter from Eric Tucker

While information technology can unleash huge social and economic value, authoritarian regimes use these same technologies for surveillance and suppression. There are questions on potential dual use of technologies for civilian and military purposes, and on whether authoritarian regimes that gain economic power via the acquisition of technology will use that power to threaten and bully neighbours and promote authoritarianism elsewhere.

Today’s opinion

Japan’s extreme manhunt reveals police have time on their hands
It was not exactly Bonnie and Clyde, yet the 22-day chase transfixed the nation

Apple sceptics are looking at the wrong metrics
Subscriptions not product sales will pave the way to future success

FT Collections: Juggling Brexit and the Irish border
Can Theresa May keep the frontier open, quit the customs union and still reach a deal?

Europe bets its data law will lead to tech supremacy
Companies need to be more vigilant in safeguarding users’ digital assets

Free Lunch: Bank of Japan’s monetary policy is all about inflation
The central bank has little reason to think about raising rates at the moment

The strange isolation of Emmanuel Macron
A European nation needs allies — but the French president is struggling to find them

Instant Insight: Replacing Rudd with Javid gives the UK a chance for a fresh start
The new home secretary and the prime minister will have to bridge their ideological gaps

FT Alphaville: Human capital and the jobs guarantee

The dangers of Iraq’s oil law
The measure creates an entity with sole responsibility for oil and gas development

It is unfair to gorillas to compare them to alpha men
Trump-Macron posturing wasn’t chimp-like, it was just weird

How Paris can catch London as Europe’s top corporate hub
The ‘Macron effect’ has boosted France’s corporate sector, but there is more work to be done

The Red Star & the Crescent — rigorous and thought-provoking
A collection of authors explain why Beijing is making moves in the Middle East

FT View

FT View: Eliminating competition in order to protect it
Dealmakers argue that only the huge can survive in today’s economy

FT View: Turmoil at the Home Office further saps Theresa May’s authority
The promotion of Sajid Javid should prompt a review on immigration

The Big Read

The Big Read: Why Japan Inc is gambling on M&A growth
The Takeda-Shire deal shows companies are buying overseas assets while they still can

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