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Europe is under strain. Whether it is Italy, now governed by populists, Hungary and Poland, ruled by authoritarians, or Britain, which is heading towards the exit door, the continent’s troubles are all too visible. What does this mean for Germany, which is working overtime to maintain some harmony?

Philip Stephens argues in his latest column that Europe’s challenges, plus the fracturing of the transatlantic alliance, represent an existential crisis for Berlin. It is losing America’s protection while facing the loss of economic cohesion closer to home. Successive votes have shown that the German public are no longer chiefly concerned with their own financial well being. So if Germany remains to protect the current order, Philip says it needs to embrace the movement to improve the rules and structures on which it depends.

Gillian Tett writes that we should be watching the Fed's balance sheet, not its signals on interest rates.

Leo Lewis says Japan’s emerging literary trend of loneliness depicts solitude as a noble state.

Chris Giles argues that frictionless trade with no-strings attached is another Brexit myth.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Hitachi, argues Donald Trump is wrong to obsess about America's trade deficit with Japan.

What you’ve been saying

Give an academic aptitude test to all young people— Letter from Sir Kenneth Olisa:

Despite some embarrassing disclosures about specific colleges, the recent data from Oxford and Cambridge show that their problem is demand, not supply.

For those of us working with talented young people from tough reality backgrounds, the evidence shows that those with little or no inherited knowledge of Oxbridge must overcome tremendous social barriers if they are to contemplate a place at one of our elite universities.

Comment from Peacenik on China eyes role as world’s power supplier:

Contrast this story with recent reports that the Trump administration is trying to force power companies to keep using coal for power generation, and one can see that the current administration is seriously imperiling the future of this country. At best they may try to block the plans of Three Gorges to become the majority owner of Portugal’s EDP through a CFIUS veto. Beyond that, one cannot fathom any forward thinking policies. A Sputnik moment? No chance with a president mostly preoccupied with his own fame. Maybe it will change if the ‘megawatt’ is renamed the ‘megatrump.’

Greece should not hound man who refused to falsify the figures— Letter from Ulrich Baumgartner, Eduard Brau, Warren Coats and others:

In a terrible irony, Mr Georgiou is the one accused of bringing harm to Greece and dereliction of duty by refusing to falsify the figures. For seven years he has been pursued relentlessly by lawsuit after lawsuit. Various Greek courts found him innocent, only for another prosecutor to start the game all over again. This vilification has been a personal tragedy for a highly competent and committed civil servant who has provided outstanding service to his country.

Today’s opinion

Watch the Fed’s balance sheet, not interest rates
The US bank’s unwinding has contributed to the current turmoil in emerging markets

Free Lunch: Learning by erring in the Brexit plans
By setting out what it wants, UK steps closer to realising what it cannot have

Japan’s literature of loneliness depicts solitude as a noble state
The emerging genre tries to make a virtue out of a growing societal problem

The US is wrong to obsess about its trade deficit with Japan
Creating more jobs should take precedence over simply making the numbers look better

FT Alphaville: Eight-dimensional chess with Elon Musk

Donald Trump, Italy and the threat to Germany
Until now, Berlin has imported stability from its neighbours and allies

The Big Read

The Big Read: China eyes role as world’s power supplier
Beijing promotes global electricity network to absorb huge power surpluses

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