FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

Janet Yellen, the US Treasury secretary, has called on other countries to join Washington in setting a global minimum tax for corporations as she vowed to reassert America’s leadership in international economic policy.

“Together we can use a global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations, and spurs innovation, growth and prosperity,” Yellen said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Monday.

Yellen’s appeal on the eve of the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank came as the Biden administration put a crackdown on tax avoidance and tax shelters at the heart of its economic agenda.

Bar chart of  Expected impact on earnings per share (%) showing Potential US tax increases a double blow for Wall Street stocks

Under Biden’s plans, the US corporate tax rate would rise from 21 per cent to 28 per cent, a sharp reversal from the cuts during Donald Trump’s presidency. The proposal would also add a global minimum tax of 21 per cent, determined on a country-by-country basis, to target tax havens. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

  • Young people are predominantly driving rising numbers of Covid-19 infections in parts of the US, public health officials have warned, with the country now reporting about 64,000 new cases a day.

  • North Korea has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, dashing Seoul’s hopes of using the event to improve inter-Korean relations and revive nuclear talks.

  • Jacinda Ardern has announced that quarantine-free travel will recommence between New Zealand and Australia on April 19.

  • Boris Johnson confirmed that the lockdown would ease in England on April 12, when premises including outdoor pubs, non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor gyms will be able to reopen.

  • France will contribute up to €4bn to strengthen Air France-KLM’s balance sheet, potentially doubling its shareholding as it tries to steer the airline through the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • A US pharmaceutical plant that was producing ingredients for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines will switch to exclusively supply J&J after a mistake by workers spoilt millions of doses of the jab.

  • The likelihood of a co-ordinated global economic rebound has diminished as slower vaccination rollouts and a wave of infections in some countries result in “sharply divergent growth prospects”, the Brookings-FT tracking index showed. Here’s what to know about new IMF special drawing rights intended to boost emerging economies’ balance sheets.

Line chart of Composite index of the relative strength of a range of indicators, by type of economy showing Countries face extreme divergence in economic prospects

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In the news

Credit Suisse removes investment bank and risk chiefs Credit Suisse revealed a $4.7bn loss following the blow-up of family office Archegos Capital and jettisoned two senior executives, as the bank reels from the twin crises involving Archegos and supply-chain financing company Greensill Capital. (FT)

Lara Warner, Credit Suisse’s chief risk and compliance officer
Lara Warner, Credit Suisse’s chief risk and compliance officer, is leaving the bank © Reuters

Google’s US Supreme Court victory over Oracle Justices handed Google victory in a landmark case for the software industry, ruling that the search giant did not break the law when it copied software interfaces owned by Oracle for use in its Android smartphone operating system. (FT)

GameStop shares fall on stock sale GameStop shares fell sharply on Monday after the video game retailer announced it may sell up to $1bn of additional shares as it looks to take advantage of a Reddit-driven trading frenzy earlier this year. More broadly, US stocks reached new heights. (FT)

Week 2 of Derek Chauvin trial The Minneapolis police chief testified on Monday that former officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with the murder of George Floyd, violated department policy when he pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee and did not let up when Floyd stopped resisting. (AP)

Jordan ex-crown prince pledges loyalty The country’s former crown prince, who was accused of plotting to destabilise the kingdom, pledged his loyalty to King Abdullah II, according to the royal court, as the ruling family seeks to end an extraordinary internal dispute. The Jordanian intrigue points to outside meddling, says David Gardner. (FT)

Prince Hamzah, left, with his mother Queen Noor during his wedding ceremony in Amman in 2004 © AP
Prince Hamzah, left, with his mother Queen Noor during his wedding ceremony in Amman in 2004 © AP

Talks to pursue Modi-Khan meeting Pakistan’s army chief has launched back-channel negotiations with nemesis India to secure an eventual meeting between the neighbouring countries’ prime ministers Imran Khan of Pakistan and India’s Narendra Modi, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. (FT)

Steelmaker Posco urged to cut ties with Myanmar junta Investors are urging South Korean industrial group Posco to exit a steel joint venture with a Myanmar military-controlled conglomerate as pressure builds on multinationals to cut financial links with the country’s junta. (FT)

The day ahead

IMF global outlook report The global economy will grow quicker than previously expected in 2021, but the IMF — the world’s “lender of the last resort” — has been left assisting more countries than ever, the IMF will say in its global outlook report on Tuesday. (Politico)

US to rejoin Iran nuclear deal talks Representatives from the US will join international talks today in Vienna aimed at reviving the landmark Iranian nuclear agreement, abandoned three years ago by Donald Trump. (FT)

Israel’s new parliament A new Israeli Knesset will be sworn in for the fourth time in two years — with no resolution to the conflict over who will be prime minister. (Jerusalem Post)

What else we’re reading

Is New York turning on the wealthy? Business leaders and wealthy residents in New York have been feeling strangely unappreciated of late. Their angst is in part caused by plans for roughly $7bn in taxes that would fall upon their shoulders, prompting some to depart for Florida. (FT)

Participants seen spelling out #TaxTheRich at Times Square
Beyond the tax discussion, wealthy New Yorkers say the political climate is turning hostile and they have been unfairly vilified for fissures in an unequal city that were torn open by a historic pandemic © Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Reuters

One town spends to address the racial divide In Evanston, Illinois, the life expectancy at birth on one (mostly white) side of town is 86 years. On the mostly African-American side of town, it drops to 75.5 years. The town is hardly alone in this disparity, but it is seeking to bring about some justice with a reparations programme, explains Patti Waldmeir.

  • Further reading: At a time when global power is shifting, arguments about racial equity are also becoming part of the geopolitical struggle, writes Gideon Rachman. (FT)

China comics find authorities no longer get the joke There’s a sense of unease in the newly popular Chinese stand-up comedy scene. Its success has put stand-up in the spotlight for authorities and socially conservative commentators amid the highly charged undercurrent of nationalism being stoked by Beijing. (FT)

Chinese-American comic Joe Wong on stage.
Chinese-American comic Joe Wong returned to China and operates his own comedy club. Many local comics point to his performance at the White House correspondents’ dinner in 2010 as the start of the rise of the local stand-up scene © Joe’s Club

Supply-chain finance: a new spin on a prehistoric idea The collapse of Greensill Capital has put the spotlight on a form of financing that dates back to Bronze Age Mesopotamia. The trading of invoices by intermediaries helped finance medieval European commerce, the expansion of the British empire and the 20th century US textile industry. (FT)

Why ranking employees by performance backfires When Bill Michael, the former chair of KPMG, told staff to “stop moaning” in February, one of the issues they were complaining about was the “forced distribution” model used to assess their performance. This way of appraising people is a zombie idea that should be killed off, argues Sarah O’Connor. (FT)

Surviving the Xinjiang crackdown Anar Sabit grew up in China’s Kuytun, a small city west of the Gobi Desert, tucked between Kazakhstan, Siberia and Mongolia. As an adult, she lived half a world away in Canada. But a return home after her father’s death left her trapped in detention, caught up in the crackdown in Xinjiang. (New Yorker)

Podcast of the day

Will having a baby break my finances? Jenny and her partner are planning to have a baby, but beyond forking out for nappies and a pushchair, she has no idea how much becoming a parent will cost. Claer Barrett, consumer editor at the FT, talks to Tobi Asare, founder of parental finance blog My Bump Pay, and Maike Currie, FT columnist and investment director at Fidelity International, in the latest episode of Money Clinic. (FT)

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