6. Weekend Reads

Here's a few longer reads on economic, political and social issues from around the world for your weekend pleasure.

Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein has written this disturbing piece titled, ‘No comment’: The death of business reporting.' It's all about how many US companies now don't bother to talk to the media. I am seeing this more and more with Government PR departments here, and also with companies not listed on the stock market.

Many PR people now expect to go direct to their publics. Here's the key quote from the piece: “The prevailing attitude is now that everything is about data and social media and identifying the people they can reach by going over the heads of the established media,” one top public relations executive told me.

Sadly, there are two sides to the story.

Business staffs and business coverage have been cut way back, and business magazines are a shell of their former selves — what’s left focuses mainly on technology companies and consumer issues. When the media does come calling, it is too often inexperienced writers who know little about the company or the industry and are spread so thin that they have hours, not days, to report and write the story, Pearlstein writes.

It's another angle on the wider story of the death of trust in institutions that used to keep democracy safe.

We keep forgetting all the many and varied ways that Donald Trump's White House is blowing up the post-world rules-based order based on multi-lateral institutions. This one about how America blocked a WHO resolution in favour of breast feeding is just some kind of awful. It even threatened smaller countries in Latin America with trade sanctions if it did not support America's opposition to the resolution.

As the New York Times reported this week: "The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced."

Eventually, Russia (of all countries) stepped up to do the right thing.

Paul Mozur from New York Times has written this peice: Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras about the growing and endemic (and uncontrolled) use of facial recognition software in China.

This quote is chilling. “This is potentially a totally new way for the government to manage the economy and society,” said Martin Chorzempa, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The goal is algorithmic governance,” he added.

Sometimes we should celebrate the achievements of our Australian brothers and sisters. Peter FitzSimons, the former Wallaby lock and now a Sydney Morning Herald columnist, is an entertaining and often perceptive writer.

Here's his paen in the AFR to General John Monash, the first world war general with a few lessons on leadership.

Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin early next week is grabbing the imagination.

Jonathan Chait has written this in the New Yorker: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?

And this FT investigation by Tom Burgis titled 'Tower of secrets: the Russian money behind a Donald Trump skyscraper is both detailed and shocking. It's worth subscribing for.

Have a great weekend.