Spain’s infection rate is the highest in Europe. Chart showing 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000. Spain comes out on top with more than 250 cases per 100,000, nearly double France

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Micheál Martin has called on the UK to abandon moves to unravel the Brexit treaty, warning that London risks forfeiting the EU’s trust as time runs out on trade talks.

Ireland’s prime minister said a controversial new bill modifying parts of the EU withdrawal agreement related to Northern Ireland raised “justifiable doubts” about the UK’s commitment to concluding trade negotiations.

“I think the British government needs to move to restore trust,” Mr Martin told the Financial Times in Dublin.

The taoiseach joined a chorus of critics against Boris Johnson on Wednesday, as Brussels explored legal options against the “clear beach” of last year’s Brexit treaty. In the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned there was “absolutely no chance” of a bilateral trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement was undermined.

Here’s the FT’s assessment of the bill, which would give Britain sweeping powers to overwrite the Brexit treaty despite “inconsistency” with international law. The FT View is that the UK’s reputation for rule of law is in jeopardy. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

Why has Spain been hit so much harder than the rest of Europe? Follow our live coverage.

In the news

Wall Street pushes closer China ties Some of Wall Street’s most powerful financial institutions are stepping up deals in China as Beijing liberalises its vast but heavily protected capital markets. Meanwhile, ByteDance is in talks with Washington to avert a sale of TikTok’s US operations. (FT, WSJ)

BlackRock, Citigroup, Vanguard and JPMorgan Chase have struck a succession of deals © FT montage

LVMH-Tiffany takeover turmoil The world’s largest luxury group’s $16.6bn takeover of the US jeweller has become embroiled in trade tensions, with LVMH saying it had to withdraw after France intervened, while Tiffany hit back with a lawsuit alleging delay tactics to run out the clock on a deal. (FT)

SoftBank’s ‘whale’ trade Shareholders are pushing for clarity on SoftBank’s purchase of $4bn of US tech stock options after the revelation drove its share price down 10 per cent. But analysts say the impact of the group’s outsized bets was swamped by retail investors. Markets bounced back from a three-day rout. (FT)

Britain’s housing ‘boom’ House prices in August were up 3.7 per cent on a year earlier, defying dire predictions. The number of sales has also surged, but not for everyone: the less well-off are being increasingly shut out. One laggard in the mini-boom is London, as demand for gardens rises. (FT)

Bar chart of Share of total sales by price bracket (%) showing Pricier properties make up a larger share of total UK sales

EY posts record revenues The Big Four accounting firm said turnover rose 4 per cent to $37.2bn despite the pandemic’s pressure on professional services and a string of audit scandals that have threatened its reputation, including scrutiny related to Wirecard and NMC Health. (FT)

Trump fundraising trails Biden’s Donald Trump’s campaign and Republicans raised $210m in August, well behind the record-breaking $364.5m sum for Joe Biden and the Democrats. A Homeland Security whistleblower alleged he was instructed to downplay the threat of Russian electoral interference and white supremacists. (FT)

Where do Mr Trump and Mr Biden stand? Follow our poll tracker for the latest.

Animal population dwindles The world’s animal population has fallen by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new study of more than 4,000 mammal, fish, bird, reptile and amphibian species by the WWF. (FT)

The study found the greatest drops occurred in Latin American and the Caribbean, where animal populations declined by 94% © Seaphotoart /Alamy

Saudi Arabia keeps pumping Saudi Arabia plans to maintain oil production despite a fall in crude prices, fearing bigger output cuts would lead Opec rivals to increase supply. Sovereign wealth funds from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are exploring stakes in Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance empire. (FT)

Sign up here to Energy Source, our twice-weekly newsletter with essential news, forward-thinking analysis and insider intelligence. 

The day ahead

ECB meeting Policymakers meet on Thursday but are expected to hold back on expanding its asset purchases or cutting rates to weaken the rapidly rising euro. Industrial production numbers for Germany, France and Italy, as well as eurozone employment data, are out beforehand. (FT)

European policymakers must ask if the single currency’s strength is holding back the bloc’s economy © FT montage; Bloomberg; Getty Images

Senate vote on ‘skinny’ stimulus Republicans’ $300bn package, a scaled-back version of an earlier $1tn plan, is not expected to clear a first procedural hurdle on Thursday. (WSJ)

US data The producer price index is projected to climb 0.2 per cent in August from the previous month, but will remain below last year’s figure. Initial jobless claims will also attract interest after last week’s level was the lowest since lockdowns began. (FT)

How will markets react to a Covid-19 vaccine? Join FT’s Hannah Kuchler and Colby Smith as they discuss science, the economy and the race to recovery in a series exploring our new economic reality on September 15. Sign up here.

What else we’re reading

Statistics, lies and the virus Two contrasting visions of statistics emerged in 1954: one as a trick, one as a tool. Tim Harford outlines five lessons the pandemic can teach us about statistics — and vice versa — if we are willing to learn. (FT)

In an age of disinformation, the value of rigorous data has never been more evident.

What polio can teach us about Covid-19 Africa’s eradication of a different pandemic holds lessons about the role of public health and the politics of vaccines, and positions the continent to tackle coronavirus, David Pilling writes. (FT)

Post-Brexit Britain must respect the rule of law The author of Magna Carta and habeas corpus likes to style itself the mother of parliaments. But Boris Johnson has proven unimpressed by history when it gets in his way, Philip Stephens writes. (FT)

Boris Johnson’s plan to rewrite the EU withdrawal agreement destroys trust and undermines democracy © Ingram Pinn/Financial Times

Democracy works better when there is less of it Autocracy is not the only alternative, Janan Ganesh writes. Longer terms would incentivise far-sighted governance, while more powerful technocrats would depoliticise policy. Populists are spurning policy promises, Simon Kuper writes, but voters may not care. (FT)

Dividend drought hits investors Financial markets have bounced back from the pandemic, thanks largely to central banks’ aggressive efforts. But taxpayer largesse could spell the end of an era of shareholder-friendly payouts, as governments exact a price for their support for companies. (FT)

Ramshackle balance sheets have been no obstacle to rising stocks but stocks with strong balance sheets are doing better. Two charts showing relative performance of Goldman Sachs’s strong and weak balance sheet indices one rebased, Jan 1 2010 and the other rebased, Jan 1 2020

An impossible merger? The biggest recorded collision of two black holes, a cataclysmic event detected in May last year but revealed by scientists only last week, defies convention writes Anjana Ahuja. According to some, the stellar light-slurpers should not even exist. (FT)

Who benefits from philanthropy? There are more philanthropists than ever before, giving tens of billions per year to charitable causes. So why is inequality still rising? Australia is minting 25m $1 coins — but it hopes people won’t keep the change. The new coins are intended to boost charitable donations. (Guardian, Fast Company)

Would you support the introduction of a wealth tax in Britain? Give FT Money your views with our survey.

Podcast of the day

Benjamin Netanyahu’s political vindication Israel has taken a step towards conciliation with the Arab world without solving the Palestine question. Gideon Rachman talks to author Anshel Pfeffer about whether an agreement with the UAE is a triumph for the Israeli prime minister. (FT)

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