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Imagine you are an investor faced with two competing pitches. One is for a new cancer drug which, despite the hype, you know to be a dud — no more than a placebo. The other is for a proven, well-researched technique to capture carbon from industrial processes. One product works and the other doesn’t. Which should you invest in?

The answer, explains Robin Harding in his column, is, of course, the dud pill. The reason is that there is a distinct possibility that even a useless drug will pass clinical trials and, if it does, it is likely to make the vast amounts of money. By contrast, companies have no incentive to buy into carbon capture technology, not being obliged by law to use it.

What this means at a wider level, Robin concludes, is that investment is often not directed at finding new ideas in any meaningful sense. That should change. After all, we only get the kind of innovation we ask for.

Eric Schmidt, former chief executive and chairman of Google, argues that our narrow view of what entrepreneurship means we risk squandering the talent of a whole new generation.

Sarah O’Connor warns the British government not to equate low-paid workers with low-skilled people who are of little worth to the UK’s economy post Brexit.

Brendan Greely predicts that US president Donald Trump may come to regret cheap oil.Lower prices discourage US companies from drilling new wells in West Texas shale.

Nicholas Boles believes that only the ‘Norway Plus’ plan can save Brexit now. The Conservative MP writes that if parliament blocks UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, the European Economic Area offers an alternative.

Fred Studemann observes the strange phenomenon of an existential crisis among think-tanks, which are starting to wonder what they are really for.

What you’ve been saying

We asked FT readers their views on whether British business should accept Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Baybars said: The deal on offer is undoubtedly inferior to simply remaining in the EU. My understanding is that this viewpoint unites the leading pro-Brexit and pro-remain figures. While I had thought otherwise initially, the more I consider the situation, the clearer it is to me that we need a chance to pause and rethink.

G20 should focus on reducing global trade imbalances: letter from Desmond Lachman, Washington, DC, US

It is to be regretted that your editorial on trade wars makes no mention of the widening US trade deficit and the forces giving rise to that widening …The forthcoming Argentine G20 meeting should focus its efforts on seeking a way to promote better macroeconomic policy co-ordination with a view to reducing global external imbalances. If those imbalances are not reduced, we should brace ourselves for an intensification of trade protectionism that could very well derail the global economic recovery.

In response to “Do not assume the UK will avoid crashing out”, Phil born in UK, now Brexit refugee in France says:

Who can be reassured? No majority for ‘no deal’, no majority for the deal on offer …ironically there exists a potential majority for staying put but instead of offering a second referendum Mrs May is trying to tell the country what to think.

Today’s opinion

Think-tanks are having an existential crisis
The brain trusts are starting to wonder what they are really for

Cancer or climate change: which cure would you invest in?
Chances of making money with a sugar pill are greater than a carbon capture plan

Tail Risk: Political tensions spill over into global debt markets
Nations and investors that stoke global rivalries are playing a dangerous game

Britain should recognise the value of low-paid workers
The Brexit debate assumes that only highly skilled job vacancies need to be filled

Global Insight: López Obrador is bigger threat to liberal democracy than Bolsonaro
Mexico’s new president will be unconstrained by institutions, unlike his Brazilian counterpart

Donald Trump may come to regret cheap oil
Lower prices discourage US companies from drilling new wells in West Texas shale

FT Wealth: We need to do more to address the giving gap among the wealthy
The seriously rich seem not to be the best givers to charity

Funders start assessing their own performance
To understand what a charity is achieving, you must understand what good research looks like

Only the ‘Norway Plus’ plan can save Brexit
If parliament blocks May’s deal, the European Economic Area offers an alternative

The skilled/unskilled jobs divide is just snobbery
Universities receive all the attention in the UK, while vocational teaching languishes

Lombard: Hostile bid for Faroe does not translate well from Norwegian
DNO will need to bid higher if it hopes to win over UK group’s shareholders

FT View

The FT View: The French pick up their pitchforks against President Macron
The ‘gilets jaunes’ protest against fuel prices rattles the government

The FT View: UK student debt sales make little economic sense
Offloading assets to private investors for an illusory short-term gain stores up trouble

The Big Read

The Big Read: Poland’s fight with Brussels backfires
Warsaw has pulled back from plans to reshape the supreme court after pressure from the EU

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