FirstFT: Today's Top News | Financial Times

FirstFT: Today's Top News | Financial Times

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Could the coronavirus pandemic have been averted? This is the question at the heart of the Financial Times' new six-part series.

Our reporters spoke to dozens of medical professionals, government officials and ordinary citizens in Wuhan to find out what went wrong in the first few weeks of the outbreak.

The individuals who spoke to the FT during the six month investigation were at great personal risk of themselves.

Tom Mitchell, Sun Yu, Xinning Liu, and Michael Peel begin the series by taking readers back to three weeks before Xi Jinping's government publicly recognized that a deadly new respiratory disease was spreading in one of China's largest cities.

They follow the guilt game as the virus spread beyond Wuhan to other countries in Asia and reveal the confusion at Wuhan Central Hospital, where doctors struggled to understand this deadly new disease.

Their reporting found that while doctors alerted city officials to patients with symptoms of novel viral pneumonia, they were repeatedly told to wait before bringing up the problem further up the chain of command. At this point, Wuhan was already ground zero. (FT)

Follow the series here and explore our interactive program showing the global data crisis.

How did you deal with the pandemic? What was done right or wrong? Do you work in a lockdown sector? Let us know about your experience at [email protected]

Coronavirus digest

In the news

Sino-American campaign for Trump on WeChat While most Chinese-Americans voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, four years later the loudest votes on WeChat are for Trump. These groups don't tend to be enthusiastic about either party, but a vocal, mobilized pro-Trump faction has shaped the app's discourse. (FT)

The ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan appears to have failed The Armenian Defense Ministry released video footage of Azerbaijani troops who "grossly" violated the ceasefire with artillery bombardments four minutes after the ceasefire came into force. (FT)

Azerbaijan said 13 people died and 50 were injured on Saturday when Armenian rocket strikes hit residential areas in Ganja, the country's second largest city. © Umit Bektas / Reuters

Iran celebrates "important day" A UN arms embargo on the country expired on Sunday, a blow to the Trump administration that failed in its attempts to extend it. The lifting of the embargo, part of the nuclear deal that Tehran signed with the world powers in 2015, is a symbolic victory for the Islamic Republic. (FT)

Double-dip recession The European economy is sliding towards a double-dip recession. Economists warn that rising coronavirus infections and new government restrictions on the movement of people are likely to shorten the region's recent recovery. (FT)

The line chart of the Eurozone purchasing managers' index of services (below 50 = decline in activity) with the September PMI report showed signs of a "double decline" in the economy

Hopes for an EU trade deal are falling UK Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove loses hope of a trade deal with the EU when business groups asked both sides to step back from the brink of an agreement. (FT)

An unprecedented number of UK companies are looking to cut rates Around 170,000 companies are trying to cut their business rates as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on main roads and offices will last far longer than expected. (FT)

Grim picture for US shopping malls The crisis in the movie business is spreading in US malls as movie theaters close to restaurants and other tenants, exacerbating financial problems for malls. AMC, the world's largest cinema chain, warned this week that there might be no more money available by the end of the year. (FT)


The day ahead

Democrats set 48-hour time limit Nancy Pelosi said a stimulus package would need to be agreed in the next two days if it is to be adopted before the election. The House Democratic Speaker will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday to resolve differences over proposed relief measures, which could run to around $ 2 billion. (FT)

Nancy Pelosi: "We have not yet reached an agreement on the language, but I am hopeful" © REUTERS

Economic data China's gross domestic figures for the third quarter are available on Monday when annual growth of 5.5 percent is expected, after 3.2 percent in the previous quarter. September retail sales data, also on Monday, will provide an update on consumer spending – a weak point in the recovery. (FT)

Stay up to date on major business, economic and political stories in the coming days with FT Ahead Week Ahead. Click here to login. Don't miss our FT News Briefing audio show – a brief daily overview of the world's leading stories.

What else are we reading?

Ant Group's ambitious plans for global expansion The fintech arm of Chinese internet giant Alibaba is struggling to realize its international ambitions and investments in markets from the UK to India and Southeast Asia have stalled. The company hopes its blockbuster IPO this month can get it back on track. (FT)

Like many Chinese corporations that have made it big in a huge home market with no international competition, Ant faces the challenge of replicating his success overseas. © FT montage

Why Sweden disagreed about Covid-19 As during the migration crisis in 2015, Sweden differed from its neighbors because of the coronavirus. Despite its size, the country regards itself as a rational “moral superpower”: it has not waged a war in more than two centuries. Janan Ganesh notes that the Covid-19 culture war did not take place. (FT)

Joe Biden needs a business team to support the workers The next president will need a very heterodox team to solve a very complex problem: How can the historical gap between the fate of US companies and workers be bridged, writes Rana Foroohar. (FT)

Mr Biden has said that if he were elected he would be an interim president who will act as a bridge to a younger generation of leaders. © Matt Kenyon

Deutsche Bank's whistleblower goes bankrupt Four years ago, Eric Ben-Artzi received $ 8.25 million from the SEC for detecting incorrect accounting at Deutsche Bank. Now, after seven years of litigation, the former risk manager is broke but he's on a new crusade, writes Tom Braithwaite. (FT)

Arsène Wenger on leadership and life after Arsenal For 22 years the French lived and breathed running the football club. "Sometimes I think what kind of person I could be because I was so obsessed and sacrificed everything – I wasn't completely normal," he tells Simon Kuper. (FT)

Celebrations in 1998. Arsenal won three English league titles in Wenger's first eight seasons, including two league-and-cup doubles © Colorsport / Shutterstock

"Flatten the traffic curve" Covid-19 has made changes to work patterns that were unimaginable a year ago, writes Anna Konig Jerlmyr. Using the same strategy to fight coronavirus could make rush hour traffic a thing of the past. (FT)

Good relief from much of what I thought was a normal life A colleague, returning to the office for the first time, said he found his desk still covered in newspapers before the building was emptied in mid-March, as well as a withered pret sandwich from the same period. "It's like Pompeii," he said to Pilita Clark.

Beware of the fierce devotion from K-pop fans Boy band supporters used to be docile – the stars sang, they passed out. Now they are biting, writes John Gapper, disrupting a Donald Trump campaign rally in July and forcing Samsung and Hyundai to distance themselves from South Korean superstars BTS in China. (FT)

Video of the day

Is QAnon a wrong game? Izabella Kaminska explains how QAnon came from the world of online gaming and Playboy magazine. It's not a conspiracy. It's a way to hack reality. (FT)

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to [email protected]