FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times


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The president of the Tokyo Olympics has refused to resign after igniting a storm of criticism by saying that women do not belong on committees because they talk too much.

Yoshiro Mori, the 83-year-old former prime minister and president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, made the remarks at a meeting of the Japan Olympic Committee on Wednesday.

The sexism scandal marks another setback for Tokyo 2020, which was postponed by a year because of Covid-19 and is still under threat from the prevalence of the virus around the world.

Speaking at an online JOC meeting about proposals to increase the number of female directors, Mr Mori said that in his experience at the Japan Rugby Football Union, women made meetings last too long. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

  • Covax, the global initiative for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, has published its plan for the distribution of 337m vaccines.

  • Malaysia has imposed new Covid-19 measures ahead of the Chinese new year, restricting gatherings to people who live in the same house.

  • The Bank of England cut its short-term growth forecasts as a result of the latest UK lockdown and announced preparations for negative interest rates while stressing it was unlikely to need them.

  • Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing ahead with a $1.9tn economic relief plan without significant support from Republicans. US stocks hit new records as investors looked for signs of progress on the stimulus.

  • Denmark is to launch coronavirus passports by the end of the month to help business travel. (FT, Straits Times)

Simon Kuper makes the case to spend whatever it takes on wartime-style mobilisation to make, distribute and inject vaccines. Keep up with the latest Covid-19 news on our live blog.

In the news

McKinsey to settle opioid claims by US states McKinsey will have to pay almost $574m and has fired two partners as it announced a settlement of US states’ claims that its advice to pharmaceutical companies contributed to the deadly opioid crisis. (FT)

HK to impose ‘national security’ schools curriculum The territory’s education bureau released guidelines on for Hong Kong’s new national security education curriculum, which will force teachers to warn primary students as young as six years old against “subversion” and to throw out library books considered dangerous to the Chinese state. (FT)

School students hold signs during pro-democracy protests near their school in Hong Kong in June 2020 © Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Lawyers say Trump will not testify in impeachment trial Donald Trump’s lawyers have rejected House Democrats’ request for the former president to testify under oath in a Senate impeachment trial that will start in earnest next week. (FT)

US-China investment flows belie geopolitical tensions US institutional investors’ interest in Chinese companies is just one of many indications that former US president Donald Trump’s exhortation for “a complete decoupling from China” is falling short. Meanwhile, Chinese IPOs underpriced by up to $200bn due to valuation limits. (FT)

Myanmar blocks Facebook to quell dissent Myanmar’s junta has ordered all internet service providers to block access to Facebook in the country in an effort to quash public opposition to this week’s military coup. The UN Security Council voiced concern for Myanmar, but stopped short of condemning the coup. (FT, SCMP)

Merck chief executive to retire Kenneth Frazier, one of only a handful of African-American chief executives of Fortune 500 companies, will retire from his post as Merck chief executive this summer, and be replaced by the drugmaker’s executive vice-president Robert Davis. (FT)

Kenneth Frazier has been one of the most outspoken voices for racial justice in corporate America © Getty Images

UK and EU to probe Nvidia’s $40bn acquisition of Arm The EU and the UK are set to open in-depth competition investigations into Nvidia’s $40bn acquisition of the UK chip designer Arm, after rivals called for the deal to be blocked. (FT)

Inter Milan owner seeks $200m in emergency finance The Chinese owners of Inter Milan are rushing to raise at least $200m in emergency cash, after the Italian football club’s finances deteriorated as a result of the pandemic and heavy spending on top players. (FT)

The days ahead

India rate decision Policymakers are expected to keep the country’s interest rates at record lows when they announce their decision on Friday. (Reuters)

US Super Bowl The biggest American football game of the year takes place this coming Sunday, but the pandemic is taking the shine off the Super Bowl for some of the most prominent commercial advertisers. (FT)

Brands including Budweiser and Coca-Cola have opted out of running in-game ads this year © FT montage

What else we’re reading

How the renewable energy race is reshaping politics In a race to curb climate change, countries are rushing to cut fossil fuels, boost clean energy — and transform their economies. As climate concerns gain momentum, even the most unlikely quarters are getting behind the energy transition. What does it mean for the balance of power? Visit our Climate Capital hub for more stories. (FT)

As the energy system changes, so will energy politics
As the energy system changes, so will energy politics © David de las Heras

Lessons from China’s struggle to control stock bubble The GameStop trading frenzy has echoes of the 2015 boom and bust in Chinese shares, writes Josh Noble. Professionals can dismiss it as dumb money, but retail punters can simply overwhelm. A university student reflects on his $250 investment in GameStop. Meanwhile, women have been notably missing from the GameStop story. (FT, The Lily)

Bezos leaves a strong legacy Amazon has helped shape internet business history over the past 27 years. The lack of concern on Wall Street at the news founder Jeff Bezos is stepping aside from the day-to-day running of the ecommerce giant is a testament to what he leaves behind. (FT)

Bitcoin boom backstopped by easy-money policies A flood of central bank stimulus and widening interest among retail and institutional investors has sustained the rally in cryptocurrencies even as sceptics warn that the market is in the throes of a bubble. More investors are starting to take notice. This is part of the FT’s Runaway Markets series. (FT)

Line chart of Price of a coin in $ showing Bitcoin has held near January's record high

Who are we without our jobs? In December, nearly 4m Americans qualified as “long-term unemployed”. Whether or not workers are passionate about their job, employment provides a sense of purpose. When that’s gone, the sense of loss can be a hit to both the wallet and the psyche. (The Cut)

Breaking the silence around the menopause In most workplaces it remains an uncomfortable topic, but the co-founders of Gen M aim to change that with resources both for menopausal women and also those who want to know more and support a colleague, partner or parent. (FT)

Podcast of the day

Navalny’s crusade against the Kremlin Gideon Rachman talks to journalists Arkady Ostrovsky and Max Seddon about why Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny decided to return home after he was poisoned, and what his political movement can achieve if its leader is in jail. (FT)

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com



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