FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

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Thailand declared a state of emergency in Bangkok as police and soldiers dispersed demonstrators on Thursday, marking the start of a crackdown on a student-led protest movement. 

In an announcement published on Thailand’s Royal Gazette website, the government said it took the measure because of “an action that had an impact on a royal motorcade” carrying members of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s family, as well as national security and economic considerations.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared the state of emergency after about 10,000 anti-government protesters marched to the seat of the Thai government. They broke through police barricades and surrounded the building, pressing their demand for the resignation of Mr Prayuth’s administration.

Protesters also jeered and taunted Queen Suthida, an unheard of affront in a country where the monarchy is shielded from public criticism by strict defamation and other laws. They raised their movement’s three-fingered salute and shouted “Our tax money” as she passed within metres of demonstrators on her way to visiting two Buddhist temples. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

Financial Times research shows that Covid-19 has turned financial centres into ghost towns — with New York and London hit hardest. Follow our live coverage.

In the news

Johnson’s no-deal ultimatum Boris Johnson is on Friday expected to try to force Brexit trade talks to a moment of crisis, amid claims in London that Brussels is dragging its feet by insisting that future concessions must come from the British side. In other EU news, the bloc has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. (FT)

China calls on Taiwanese spies to switch allegiance As part of a campaign in which Beijing claims to have uncovered hundreds of cases of spying by Taipei on the mainland, China has called on Taiwanese spies to switch sides. The comments come as military tensions between the two countries reach levels not seen for years. (FT)

Biden breaks fundraising record Joe Biden and Democrats set a new monthly fundraising record in September with a $383m haul. Vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris cancelled travel plans after three people linked with the campaign tested positive for coronavirus. (FT)


Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris waves to a television crew as she arrived on Capitol Hill earlier this week. © AP

Morgan Stanley profits jump 25% The bank closed out Wall Street’s earnings season on a high, with booming markets driving a 25 per cent increase in third-quarter earnings and fuelling the bank’s calls to be allowed to resume share buybacks. Elsewhere in US banking, Wells Fargo terminated employees it says fraudulently tried to get pandemic relief funds. (FT, NYT)

Record US demand for Beijing bond offer Beijing sold dollar debt directly to US buyers for the first time, with a $6bn offering drawing record demand on the back of China’s economic recovery from coronavirus and despite tensions with Washington. (FT)

Big Hit in IPOs Shares in Big Hit Entertainment, the music agency behind K-pop superstars BTS, more than doubled on its debut, pushing its valuation to about $8.3bn. But critics have pointed to mounting risks in South Korea’s scandal-ridden entertainment industry. (FT)


Bang Si-hyuk (fourth from left) founder of Big Hit Entertainment Co, and other attendees at the company’s initial public offering ceremony at the Korea Exchange (KRX) © Korea Exchange via Getty Images

Japan’s labour market faces shake-up Companies in the country must pay contract workers the same allowances as salaried staff but need not give the same pensions and bonuses, according to a series of landmark Supreme Court rulings that will reshape the labour market. (FT)

Kyrgyzstan firebrand assumes power Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist firebrand and convicted criminal, said he had “taken over as head of state” in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, hours after President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned. (FT)

YouTube cracks down on QAnon The Google-owned video site tightened its policies around the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, but stopped short of a full ban. Meanwhile, low-quality, partisan news sites that researchers call “pink slime” are growing. Can Twitter and Facebook slow the flood of misinformation? asks FT’s Richard Waters. (FT)

The days ahead

Weekend elections New Zealand will go to the polls on Saturday for the country’s general election, postponed from September because of a Covid-19 outbreak. Bolivians will also cast their vote Sunday after multiple delays. The second round, if required, will be on November 29. (FT)


Polls suggest Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party is on track to win re-election in October © AP

US retail data On Friday, investors will find out whether figures for September show a continued upswing. The data is an important gauge for the strength of the American consumer. Globally, people have returned to spending venues, but with large variations between countries. (FT)

What else we’re reading

‘Society has to find a new equilibrium’ Raghuram Rajan, India’s former central banker, speaks with Rana Foroohar about why the solution to economic adversity is strengthening local communities, in the first of a new “Economists Exchange” series featuring conversations between FT commentators and leading economists. (FT)


© FT montage

Portraits of a forgotten China A trove of lost photographs, taken by a junior teacher more than 30 years ago, revisits a country on the brink of social change and a landscape near eclipsed from history. (How to Spend It)

What Leavers and Remainers really think now What do Britons think about Brexit, as trade talks between the UK and EU approach a climax? Simon Kuper watched focus groups from around the country — and concludes that most are still underestimating Brexit’s impact. (FT)


© Harry Haysom

Will America tear itself apart? The prospect of a Supreme Court packed with Trump nominees ruling on a contested presidential election could trigger a full-blown constitutional crisis. Edward Luce goes inside the looming threat to US democracy. (FT)

Tokyo’s Internet Jesus Masatoshi Kumagai has an unusual approach to management. A private creed he calls GMO-ism keeps the 101 chief executives of his internet conglomerate unified. “It’s like a religion,” he said. “The heads of each business are the priests. And in that example, I guess I’m Jesus Christ.” (Bloomberg)

Nigeria’s youth in revolt President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to disband the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a plainclothes division long accused of gross human rights abuses including murder, extortion and torture, after a video allegedly showing one of its officers killing a man sparked protests this month. (FT)


Demonstrators took to the streets across Nigeria in protest against police brutality after a video allegedly showing an officer from a notorious unit killing a man went viral © Temilade Adelaja/Reuters

Pilots swap cockpit for markets Flying an aircraft requires the same discipline and decisiveness as betting on financial markets — or so thinks a London firm, which gave five underemployed pilots intense markets training to see if their cockpit cool translated into higher returns. (FT)

How to hack your circadian rhythm As we prepare for the clocks to “fall back” next weekend, a single hour’s shift should be a walk in the park in the year that a global pandemic turned our daily routines upside down. Shouldn’t it? Apparently not. Moving external time by just 60 minutes can wreak all kinds of havoc on our internal body clocks. (How to Spend It)

Podcast of the day

Rachman Review: Why humans wage wars Gideon Rachman talks to historian Margaret MacMillan about her study of warfare through the ages and why she fears that, while the manner in which we wage war has changed, our propensity to stumble into conflict remains the same.

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