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Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order directing the government to use funds to start construction on a US-Mexico border wall, one of several immigration and border security measures expected to be announced, as the president moves to implement his controversial anti-immigrant agenda.
According to people who have seen the orders Mr Trump is considering, they include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention programme, keep open the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.
Yesterday, Mr Trump ended his predecessor’s block on the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, two projects that have stirred years of controversy. Separately, leaked memos revealed that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture had been blocked from communicating with the public and the press. Some Twitter posts have already been quietly deleted.
Here is a quick summary of the orders made by the new president and what they mean. Finally, the FT’s Martin Wolf argues the rhetoric of “America First” reads like a declaration of economic warfare. (FT, NYT, Verge, Reuters, BBC)
In the news
Trump adviser’s ‘backup country’ New Zealand lawmakers are demanding to know how Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and Donald Trump donor, obtained citizenship in New Zealand — a fact uncovered through documents of a property purchase made under his name. The country has become a favoured refuge for wealthy Americans in the event of a cataclysm. (NZ Herald, Fortune, New Yorker)
#OscarsLessWhite After two years of all-white acting nominees, the Academy Awards came back with the most nominations for black artists and film-makers in a single year in its history. The record-tying performance of La La Land — a musical that has drawn some criticism for featuring no lead African-American characters despite being in part about jazz — is a big win for Lionsgate Entertainment, the independent studio. (Slate, Paste, FT)
French presidential frontrunner runs into controversy François Fillon has come under pressure to justify why he employed his Welsh wife as a parliamentary aide and specify what work she did for him. Mr Fillon, who won the centre-right presidential nomination in November on a vow to restore high moral standards in French politics, is facing claims from a weekly French satirical newspaper that his wife Penelope Fillon earned a total of €500,000 over eight years as an aide but did little work. (FT)
Brexit approval by mid-March Theresa May will fast-track Brexit legislation after Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that parliament must have a say in triggering the process of leaving the EU. The ruling may have dealt a blow to the government but the judges’ decision that ministers did not have to consult with devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before triggering Article 50 is a plus. Here is the FT’s David Allen Green on how the ruling shows that the constitution is working. (FT, BBC)
A Gulf bond boom The rush of first-time bond sales in a previously untapped region has created a new centre of gravity in capital markets — pushing total emerging market debt sales to a new high. Excluding China, borrowers in emerging markets issued bonds worth $482bn in 2016, up 46 per cent on the year before. With budget deficits in Gulf states still substantial, bankers say 2017 could break that record. (FT)
Japan’s home grown sumo champ In a boost to the traditional wrestling sport, Kisenosato, 30, has become the first Japanese-born wrestler to make grand champion since the late 1990s. Five wrestlers from American Samoa and Mongolia have made it in the interim. (NAR, BBC)
It’s a big day for
Nafta Mexico and the US kick off what promise to be tough negotiations on the two-decades old North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s economy secretary and foreign secretary travel to Washington on Wednesday for meetings with top Trump administration officials, ahead of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit at the end of the month. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
Private equity frets over tax reform The most consequential US tax reform in a generation is on the table. Some proposals in the Republican “blueprint”, such as cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 per cent, are favourable to business. But the deductibility of interest is also in the crosshairs. That could spell bad news for heavily leveraged companies, including many portfolio companies owned by private equity firms. (FT)
Somebody please think of the investors Larry Summers argues that it is time for business leaders to wake up: “Does the business community really want Nafta to be abrogated, Asian trade architecture turned over to the Chinese or a trade war launched with China? . . . For the sake of their shareholders, corporate leaders need to stop cheerleading and start insisting that policies have a modicum of logical coherence and factual support.” (FT)
India’s airport plan flies into trouble A lack of foreign investment in a new hub for Mumbai highlights the problems of delivering big projects on the subcontinent. What was meant to be a showcase for the New India will not be ready to claim that title for many years — at best. (FT)
A 100,000-year tomb From the US to the UK, Germany and Japan, countries have hit political roadblocks in finding a lasting fix to the world’s nuclear-waste problem. Not Finland, which has been quietly breaking ground. (WSJ)
Billionaire club’s call to arms William Doll identifies Syneidesis, his billionaire’s club for “conscientious investors”, as a possible vehicle for thwarting the dismantlement of the fabric of global economics and politics. His mission: to save the now-vilified construct known only by its abstract names, globalisation and the “liberal world order”. “I can’t just stay on the sidelines,” Mr Doll said. (Quartz)
Video of the day
Trump’s trades — Nafta and TPP US president Donald Trump has declared the country’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced his intention to renegotiate Nafta. The FT’s Martin Sandbu explains the likely ramifications of this protectionist approach. (FT)
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