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The British pound slid in value for a second day over lack of clarity over Brexit. The currency dropped to a three-month low on Tuesday — a day after it plunged 1.3 per cent against the dollar and the euro. Traders blamed the weakness on uncertainty over Prime Minister Theresa May’s post-Brexit plans. Mrs May has rounded on the media for inflaming fears Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal to stay in Europe’s common market. But some members of her own party say that she should reveal more about her position.
Confidence in the government’s plans was further undermined by FT research showing that the new international trade department’s announcement of £16bn of foreign direct investment since Brexit included projects unveiled years ago. On a more positive note, foreign secretary Boris Johnson says Britain is “first in line” for a trade deal with the US, after talks with Donald Trump’s senior advisers. (FT, Guardian, Telegraph)
1. June 24: Sterling falls more than 12 per cent to a 30-year low after UK votes to leave.
2. August 4: Bank of England launches big QE programme.
3. October 6: “Flash crash” — pound drops to $1.14 in a few minutes.
4. November 3: High Court’s Article 50 ruling against government boosts the pound.
5. January 9: Pound stumbles as Theresa May rules out the UK keeping “bits of” EU membership.
In the news
Iran’s kingmaker buried Huge crowds poured into the streets of Tehran to pay their respects to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The death of the pragmatic politician on Sunday has weakened moderates ahead of presidential elections later this year and raised fears that ties with the US could be under threat from empowered hardliners. (Jazeera, Al-Monitor).
Trump avoids the Senate The president-elect has officially appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner to serve as a White House senior adviser, which is almost certain to run into a federal anti-nepotism law even if it does not require Senate confirmation. Questions will focus on whether the White House counts as an agency. As a refresher amid the flurry of appointments, this is a playbook power list of the 30 most powerful people and groups in Trump’s Washington. (FT, NPR, Politico)
World Cup expands Fifa has voted to expand the World Cup to 48 teams in a move that could see a quarter of all nations participating in the tournament. Football’s governing body could secure $1bn more in revenues with the expansion, but it is expected to meet opposition from European clubs worried that the expansion will increase the workload for players. (FT)
UK HQ for Snapchat Snap, the company behind the popular messaging app has established its international headquarters in the UK, bucking the trend of US tech companies choosing to base themselves in European countries with low-tax regimes. All non-US sales will be booked in the UK, according to the Los Angeles-based start up, which plans to go public this year. The move is a post-Brexit win for the UK. (FT)
Thai king pushes back King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has returned Thailand’s new constitution to parliament, even though it was approved in a national referendum. The unusual move is expected to delay general elections scheduled for the end of 2017. (NAR)
It’s a big day for
Barack Obama The outgoing president will deliver his farewell address in his home town Chicago as his administration seeks to secure his legacy against an emboldened Republican party that has vowed to undo many of his policies. (CNN)
UK commuters The south-east of Britain is bracing for a second day of transport chaos with drivers on the Southern rail franchise preparing to walk out for two consecutive days, just a day after a 24-hour strike on the London Underground convulsed the capital. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
America First or America Alone? The present open global economic system may have been designed by the US, but Mr Trump’s insistence on making his own rules may push it towards isolationism. But the president may find his goals are out of reach for a superpower that goes it alone. (FT)
The rise of body cameras Increased scrutiny on police shootings in the US has led to a surge in demands for body cameras from the public, and buying by departments. This documentary series looks at how their increased use raises thorny questions about privacy, access and costs. (NYT)
Flatpacking a dinosaur The Diplodocus carnegii skeleton that has dominated London’s Natural History Museum for over a hundred years is going on a national tour. But moving a world famous 21.3 metre-long specimen like “Dippy” without inflicting damage is a complicated business. (The Conversation)
MasterCard wants to guess your weight The credit card company has filed a patent application for a system to estimate its customers’ size and weight based on their clothing and shoe purchases. It would in theory transmit this to airlines and other transportation providers but a look at the many novel airline patents suggests it will be hard to enact. (Economist)
Keeping new year’s resolutions The science of willpower may be opaque but psychology can offer insights into how to help those January resolutions stick. (FT)
Video of the day
Pound tumbles on hard Brexit gloom Sterling resumes its slide after UK prime minister Theresa May hints at a sharp divorce from the EU single market in an interview. The FTSE 100 enjoys a rally on the back of the weaker pound while US stocks remain upbeat. (FT)