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For a year, American cities have been engaged in fervent competition to convince Amazon they are the perfect location for its much-vaunted second headquarters — HQ2 in company parlance. They’ve pledged billions in subsidies and tax incentives in an attempt to lure in thousands of skilled jobs. One small town even offered to change its name to Amazon.

They needn’t have bothered, writes John Gapper in his column. It was always obvious that the winner would be one the US’s major urban hubs. Indeed, the final shortlist was New York City, Washington DC’s metropolitan area, and Dallas, Texas. So much for rejuvenating the Rustbelt.

The truth, John notes, is that global tech companies like Amazon need to operate out of global cities, with top-class universities to churn out talent and amenities that highly-skilled workers will find attractive. The lesson for cities: infrastructure not incentives win the prize.

Janan Ganesh warns the Democratic party not to overplay its hand after the midterm elections handed back control of the US House of Representatives. Going too hard after Donald Trump is unlikely to be the best strategy to woo voters in 2020.

Megan Greene skewers the idea that the US dollar might be about to lose its supremacy as the world’s reserve currency to either China’s renminbi or to the euro. For all its weaknesses the dollar is not about to be dethroned.

David Pilling argues that despite Africa’s warp-speed revolution in health care, countries have missed a much more basic threat to heath and longevity. They must switch focus to sanitation and urban planning if they are to sustain their progress.

Leo Lewis goes behind the scenes at a Japanese “corpse hotel”. As the death rate rises because of an ageing population, specially designed hotels host dead bodies waiting for cremation.

What you’ve been saying

Clearing up after Volcker’s monetary contraction: letter from Michael Kuczynski, University of Cambridge, UK

Christopher Whalen ( Letters) swells the chorus of mostly well-earned praise for Paul Volcker with a swipe at his Federal Reserve successors Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. It may be time to remember that it took a major international debt crisis (1981-87), plus the savings and loan insolvencies that ushered in the woefully misguided US Depository Institutions Deregulation Act of 1980, to deal with the collateral damage of Mr Volcker’s vaunted foray into sharp monetary contraction between October 1979 and June 1981.

In response to “Goldman Sachs has serious questions to answer”, SpeakingUp says:

Interesting that many of the comments are focusing on Goldman defrauding 1MDB. To me it is potentially much, much worse than that. Maybe they didn’t rip their customer off, in the sense that both sides knew exactly what price they were getting. Maybe they were facilitating money laundering, corruption and embezzlement of funds?

The Swiss way of dealing with important questions: letter from Costa Vayenas, Zurich, Switzerland

Martin Wolf has explained why he has changed his mind about a second referendum. Numerous letters to the FT have argued for and against a second referendum. In Switzerland, the issue of whether or not another referendum should be held is too important to be left to the government, to parliament or even to an esteemed journalist. All it takes is for 100,000 citizens — about 2 per cent of registered voters — to table their question, which is then put before the country.

Today’s opinion

US midterm elections: Democrats must not overplay their hand
Activists want pressure on Mr Trump, but new voters might quail at two years of process

Lex: India’s banks: festival of frights
This may not be the country’s Lehman moment but there are still causes for concern

Africa’s warp-speed health revolution has an old threat
Poor countries must devote more resources to urban planning and improving sanitation

FT Alphaville: Yes that’s all very interesting, but now give us more money

Lex: Persimmon/Jeff Fairburn: his house blown down
No one believes it when chief executives say they have no responsibility for their own pay

Busting the myths of investment: Do equities outperform bonds?
Most stocks are doomed to disappoint — you need to find the few that don’t

Want to understand a place? Here’s a novel plan
Forget news of home, arrive at your destination fully immersed

Free Lunch: The west’s 20 years of policy self-harm
Leaders mishandled both the run-up and the aftermath to the financial crisis

The dollar can defend its global reserve role against EU and China
There is no alternative even if the US government grows tired of the downsides

Corpse hotels cater to Japan’s waiting dead
Crematoriums cannot keep pace with rising deaths in an ageing population

Instant Insight: Donald Trump now faces an almighty battle with Congress
Control of the House will empower the Democrats to investigate the president

Markets Insight: Congressional gridlock? Financial markets are fine with it
Traders can get back to focusing on what really worries them — the Fed and China

Amazon’s beauty parade was an elaborate charade
Big cities were always going to win the contest for its second head office

Inside Business: Japanese bosses queue up to look in the Black Holiday mirror
The demoralised world of corporate Japan is showing signs of change

Markets Insight: China can no longer be counted on for EM growth
A slowdown, a changing economic model and a trade war make it a bad long-term bet

Lombard: Lloyds channels inner David Brent in its digital banking drive
The bank’s ‘role reduction’ plan is worthy of Slough’s comedic workplace philosopher

FT View

The FT View: A good day for the US democratic system
Midterms offer an opportunity to change the tone of American politics

The FT View: Record share buybacks should be raising alarms
Billions are being spent on stock instead of long-term investments

The Big Read

The Big Read: Turkish Airlines: flying the flag for Erdogan
As Istanbul’s new airport nears completion, will political and economic pressures stall the carrier’s growth?

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