FT Big Read

FT Big Read

United Kingdom

An audio version of the best of the Financial Times's Big Reads — in-depth reporting from FT correspondents around the world. Listen to longform stories that explore and explain key themes in world news, science and business. Produced by Anna Dedhar.

Episodes

China: Brakes on railway diplomacy  

Beijing hopes that sharing its high speed rail technology will win allies and open markets as it pushes forward with the One Belt, One Road project. But cancelled schemes and poorer countries' struggles with the debt they can bring are hindering China's ambitions. This report by James Kynge, Michael Peel and Ben Bland is narrated by James

US healthcare: Crunch time for Republicans' Obamacare reform  

Millions of Americans could lose insurance cover if the bill passes but if it fails the uncertainty will undermine the system, says Edward Luce. Even Donald Trump doesn't want to lend his brand to the new measure

Brexit: Theresa May's struggle  

The UK prime minister's grip on power is fragile, says George Parker. Weakened by the election, vulnerable to rebellion at home and diminished in Europe, can she survive long enough to negotiate the withdrawal from the EU?

Hong Kong: Identity crisis  

Twenty years on the former British colony is deeply divided over its relations with China

Corporate leadership: The war for talent  

To buy or build the next boss? The changes of regime at General Electric and Uber highlight the shifts we are seeing in how companies choose their senior executives, says Andrew Hill. GE has always meticulously groomed its leaders in house and had John Flannery primed ready to take over when Jeff Immelt stood down. But that model is becoming rare

Medical science: Cancer challenge  

Can remarkable science be turned into mass-market products, asks David Crow. Cell therapies to treat blood cancers offer hope to patients who have exhausted all other possibilities and are likely to get regulatory approval this year. But they are expensive and production is time consuming, says David. The process needs to be streamlined and capacity matched to demand.

Real estate: The global luxury condo glut  

Has the party ended for high-end housing developers, asks Judith Evans. After a five-year boom, they are feeling the chill as apartments in their gleaming towers stand empty, with many failing to sell despite offered discounts and gifts

Is China heading for a Japanese-style bubble?  

Rising house prices and stock market values are fuelling fears of an implosion like the one that dogged Tokyo for decades and President Xi Jinping has urged China's leadership to safeguard their country's financial security, say Leo Lewis, Tom Mitchell and Yuan Yang.

Brazil: The poison of corruption  

President Michel Temer has been caught up in the latest bribery probe, centred on JBS, one of the country's biggest multinationals. A series of investigations since 2014 has exposed a system of patronage that is entrenched among the business and political elite but Joe Leahy and Andres Schipani say the culture is proving hard to change

Iranian presidential election: The blame game  

The run-up to Friday's polls has resounded with arguments over inequality and corruption in the deeply divided Islamic Republic, says Najmeh Bozorgmehr. And there is more at stake than who is to be president. The incumbent Hassan Rouhani or his hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi could become the next supreme leader, says Najmeh

Europe: a welcome reprieve from populism  

The solace that the European establishment is drawing from the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president should not disguise the fact that the political extremes are still gaining ground in Europe - and the centre is still fragmenting. But Gideon Rachman argues that for all the tension around slow eurozone growth, security and migration, European voters have nevertheless demonstrated more resilience and calm than many pundits and politicians anticipated

China trade: Wielding the boycott weapon  

Companies and countries that displease Beijing can find state-backed consumer campaigns marshalled against them. James Kynge, the FT's emerging markets editor, asks south China correspondent Ben Bland how effective such sanctions are. You can read the full report on China's 'boycott diplomacy' on www.ft.com/

Sport: Cricket eyes Olympic wicket  

The sport has only once been played in the summer Games but some now believe the wider exposure inclusion would give it is necessary for its survival, says Murad Ahmed. First, though, cricket modernisers must convince sceptics in India

Market risk: Gambling on volatility  

The Vix index is known as Wall Street's 'fear gauge' and was once just a measure of market movements. But volatility has itself become a tradable asset and financial engineers have used the index to create high-risk products and strategies that can act as siren calls to unwary investors, says Robin Wigglesworth

Switzerland: A new mould for chocolate  

Chocolate has been a Swiss national industry for almost 200 years but aggressive pricing and a shift to healthier snacks are forcing confectioners like Lindt and Nestlé to adapt, says Ralph Atkins. Focusing on premium brands and fighting the increasingly popular craft chocolatiers on their own territory are just two of the strategies the traditional groups are turning to, Ralph says

Agnelli dynasty: Grandson of Gianni bets on family fortune  

Since John Elkann inherited the Exor business six years ago he has changed its strategy, diversifying away from the car industry and from its Italian homeland, say Sarah Gordon and Rachel Sanderson. But the relocation of the group's HQ to the Netherlands and heavy investment by the owner of the Fiat and Ferrari brands in the US have been controversial

Squid catch: the search to replace vanishing fish  

Supplies of traditionally popular species have become so depleted through overfishing that commercial fleets — especially the Chinese — are trawling further from home, deeper and wider in the oceans, says Lucy Hornby. This has led to clashes as they impinge on local hunting grounds halfway across the world, Lucy says

Mexico: Optimism breaks through uncertainty  

Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, tax plans and threatened wall have battered the peso but hopes for an economic bounceback have grown as Mexicans adjust to the volatility, says Jude Webber. Confidence is rising south of the border despite the storm unleashed by the White House, Jude says

European Union: The integration project  

Marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome while Britain tussles with its exit highlights the fractures in unity on the Continent, says Philip Stephens. The global environment is very different now from that of 1957 — but national solutions are not the answer to the problems individual member states face

Vatican: The Pope and the populists  

The reformist Argentine Francis is encountering opposition from those who claim his zeal threatens Catholic Church unity, says James Politi. The Pope enjoys very high popularity, but his critics are becoming bolder

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