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Two years ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which launches once again this week, Chinese president Xi Jinping gave a speech positioning himself as the protector of globalisation. Not any more, writes Rana Foroohar. She believes Beijing does not get nearly enough grief for its role in upsetting the global system. The Chinese surveillance state will bring more repression than innovation, Rana writes, despite claims in Silicon Valley that US dominance of technology is under threat.

Rana also worries that Beijing’s backtracking on economic reforms and its return to favouring state-owned companies over the private sector will exacerbate China’s slowdown, to the detriment of the global economy.

Wolfgang Munchau writes about the self-fulfilling prophecy of a no-deal Brexit. The EU will not bend on the withdrawal deal, even though it too fears disruption.

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, argues that the UK can unlock the Brexit logjam by learning from other nations. Citizens assemblies in other democracies have, she writes, changed not only policies but also politics.

Gavyn Davies concludes that concerns about the US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet are (mostly) a red herring. Quantitative easing had significant economic and market impact but quantitative tightening will not be so important.

Steven Pearlstein urges policymakers to save US capitalism by liberating companies. The Washington Post columnist thinks politicians should make it easier for shareholders or worker groups to nominate board directors.

Nanjala Nyabola writes that the French footprint is still felt in Madagascar’s turmoil. The author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics thinks that behind the political theatre of the latest presidential election is the shadow of France’s continued involvement.

What you’ve been saying

More than one lyricist in the original ‘99 Problems’, letter from Brian Katz, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

As thrilled as I was to see Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ in ‘Life of a Song’ (January 12), credit for the line in question actually goes to Brother Marquis of 2 Live Crew, who appeared alongside Ice-T on the original track. 2 Live Crew were of course best known for their upholding of free speech and first amendment rights against obscenity charges in 1990, adding gravity to the Jay-Z lyric.

In response to, “ The Conservatives must stop their political game playing,” European_Observer says:

Westminster politics is no longer about logic and rational decision-making — it is more akin to a war of religion. Both the Tory Brexiters and Mr Corbyn’s clique are driven by ideology not pragmatism, The Tory Brexiters believe in going back to the 1950s, Mr Corbyn to the 1970s. Belief trumps rationality any day in the current House of Commons.

Like a butter knife through butter, letter from Edward Fowler-Wright, Little Hereford, UK.

Like a butter knife through butter. In his fine and appreciated article ‘Can we ever build a mind’ ( January 12) Henry Marsh quotes a friend: ‘You cannot cut butter with a knife made of butter’.You can. All that is necessary is for the butter to be cut to be warm enough, and the blade made from butter to be cold enough. Alternatively a small lump of butter travelling at sufficient speed will cut a hole in a sheet of butter.

Today’s opinion

Save capitalism by freeing companies to try new models
Politicians should make it easier to nominate board directors

French influence raises issue of decolonisation in Madagascar
Behind the political theatre is the shadow of France’s continued involvement

Small Talk: Companies — Aim not what it seems as more groups deliver profit
Junior market no longer dominated by risky debutantes with promise

Lex: Cineworld — the big picture
High debts mean transformation into global screen giant is not yet complete

The self-fulfilling prophecy of a no-deal Brexit
The EU will not bend on the withdrawal deal, even through fear of disruption

China’s Xi Jinping is no Davos man
Trump takes the heat but Beijing is hardly a champion of internationalism

The Fed’s balance sheet is (mostly) a red herring
QE had significant economic and market impact but QT will not be so important

The FT View: Beware the unintended impact of high pay rules
Orcel affair is a sign of how hard it is to get remuneration policy right

Silicon Valley has a problem saying thank you
Expressing gratitude is vastly under-rated, even if some see it as ‘desperate’

Advocates of an open economy face rough road
Much depends on the evolution of domestic politics in high income countries, especially the US

Unlock the Brexit logjam by learning from other nations
Citizens assemblies changed not only policies, but also politics

FT View

The FT View: Macedonian solution is a positive step for Europe
Greek parliament should ratify deal with its Balkan neighbour

The FT View: Beware the unintended impact of high pay rules
Orcel affair is a sign of how hard it is to get remuneration policy right

The Big Read

The Big Read: Investment banking — The battle for Barclays
The UK lender has wrangled for decades over whether to maintain its investment bank. Now an activist investor is trying to force the issue

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