FirstFT: Europe’s new migration crisis

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Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to block the transit of gas and goods to Europe if the EU imposes further sanctions on his regime over the migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border.

Thousands of migrants from countries including Iraq, Syria and Yemen have gathered on the Belarus-Poland border in recent days. The EU accuses close Russian ally Belarus of funnelling migrants to its borders with the bloc.

But in signs of a climbdown by Minsk on Friday, Belarus’s national airline said it would no longer allow citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen on to flights from Turkey to Belarus. In addition, the Kremlin said the Belarusian leader did not consult it before making threats to cut off oil supplies to the EU, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, there were reports overnight that Washington has warned its European allies of a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia. US intelligence services have been monitoring a build-up of Russian forces close to the Ukrainian border, Bloomberg reported.

The Kremlin reacted to the reports by saying there was no prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the Russian currency fell 0.4 per cent against the dollar and the Moscow stock market was down nearly 1 per cent.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Gordon

1. Toshiba board backs radical plan to split A radical plan to split Toshiba into three companies has set Japan’s oldest conglomerate on a new collision course with investors.

2. AQR hedge fund parts with five top managers Computer-powered hedge fund group AQR Capital Management, led by Clifford Asness, is to remove five partners from its ranks and trim its bond arm. Since assets peaked in 2018 many of the strategies used by the Greenwich, Connecticut-based fund have failed to generate sufficient returns.

3. Chinese Communist party clears way for Xi to tighten grip on power The CCP yesterday passed its first “historical resolution” in 40 years, in a development likely to pave the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in office until at least 2028.

4. Moderna rejects claim that US co-invented Covid jab tech A rift between Moderna and the US government deepened yesterday after the biotech group dismissed claims by the National Institutes of Health that three of its scientists should be recognised as co-inventors of a patent underpinning the company’s Covid-19 vaccine.

5. Uber chief flies into London amid driver shortage Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi spent 24 hours in London this week — his first international trip during the pandemic — as the ride-hailing giant faces a shortage of 20,000 drivers ahead of the peak Christmas season.

COP26 digest

Global negotiators were locked in eleventh hour wrangling over critical components of a climate agreement on the final day of COP26, with a call to phase out fossil fuel subsidies weakened but still on the table.

Payments by rich countries to developing countries to help them fund their adjustment to climate change is proving to be a major sticking point in the final hours of the UN climate conference.

Opinion: We should not be too quick to dismiss “blah, blah, blah” on climate, writes Gillian Tett.

Thanks to readers who shared thoughts about the progress — or lack thereof — at COP26. From reader John Bittleston in Singapore:

“Has enough meaningful progress been made at COP26? Obviously not but the spreading of co-operation plus the US-China agreement suggests that co-operation is now the buzzword. That is a big step forward”

The day ahead

Final day of COP26 It is crunch time for negotiators at the COP26 climate summit. Key issues on climate financing and carbon markets remain unresolved, according to the latest version of the latest working text. Here’s a reminder from our reporters in Glasgow of the five key issues to keep an eye on.

Brexit talks The UK must respond in kind to the EU’s “really constructive proposals” or risk “complete instability” in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland’s Europe minister warned ahead of talks between Brexit negotiators for the UK and EU today.

Libya conference French president Emmanuel Macron will co-host an international conference on Libya in Paris today. Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is also due to attend. (Reuters)

Argentine midterm elections Polls show the centre-right opposition alliance is about 10 percentage points ahead of the ruling Peronist party ahead of Sunday’s midterm congressional elections. An electoral setback risks turning the Alberto Fernández presidency into a lame duck administration ahead of the 2023 general election.

What else we’re reading and watching

Prime broking braces for new era European and US banks have long used prime broking, a business with steady if unspectacular returns, to forge more lucrative relationships with hedge funds. Credit Suisse’s decision to exit the business in the wake of the fallout from the collapse of Archegos Capital highlights how the industry is changing.

Bar chart of Based on funds serviced from inception as of 2021 showing Top prime brokers

The messy politics of Fed chair nominations The appointment of a Federal Reserve chair is rarely smooth but the decision on whether to reappoint Jay Powell is particularly fraught. Spiralling inflation and a trading scandal present an unedifying backdrop for the president who must decide soon on Powell’s fate. Here’s what some of Joe Biden’s predecessors in the Oval Office had to contend with.

Rivian and Tesla have inherited Thomas Edison’s power to thrill The founder of General Electric was a technical wizard and a showman but the company he founded became boring. His spirit lives on in Elon Musk, a master at mixing technology and celebrity. But how long will it last, asks John Gapper.

Hong Kong’s ‘new normal’ A heightened state of security since the 2019 pro-democracy protests has yet to loosen. And the widespread police presence feels especially strange in a city with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, writes Primrose Riordan.

Taylor Swift’s battle to shake off the suits The pop star has waged a bitter, scorched-earth war on a private equity fund that owns her masters. It looks like in this instance, the singer will emerge victorious in her battle with the suits, writes Anna Nicolaou.


Our shut-in days are over, and that means a return to old routines — and parties. As the spirit of socialising once again exerts its grip on New York and London, Alex Bilmes, editor in chief of Esquire, welcomes the change but asks what are the rules.

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