Hello and welcome to our weekly intelligence briefing for boards, where we help directors keep up to speed on the macro trends affecting businesses across the world, and corporate governance news.

This week is a bumper edition as we will be taking a three-week break over the holiday period.

We hope you enjoy it and, as always, email your suggestions for stories and resources to boarddirector @FT.com.

I wish you all happy holidays and a restful break.

Each week FT Leader writers meet to discuss the topics and issues to be considered for future FT Leader columnsHere are the issues that dominated this week:

The bonanza of Chinese companies heading to Wall Street as a natural listing location is over. Our leader bemoaned signs, evident with news on Didi's delisting and the US blacklisting of SenseTime, that decoupling is accelerating, and urged Beijing to remember that "the extraordinary success of the last four decades was built, to a large degree, on an 'open door' policy with the outside world.”

We took a more upbeat line on the US administration's determination to tackle money laundering and corruption, calling for teeth to be given to a set of new rules. 


And we will be opining on the biggest political story of the week - the rebellion of backbench Tories against an increasingly wobbly Boris Johnson over a fresh Covid crackdown - once the (potentially disastrous) result of the North Shropshire by-election is known.


All eyes are on central banks this week.

There were no surprises when the Fed sealed its hawkish “pivot” on inflation yesterday. Government bond purchases are set to end in March, while officials predict they will raise rates three times in 2022.

The ECB also faces a crunch moment when it meets today. The central bank has been more dovish some of its peers, but it is also facing increasing pressure to begin scaling back its huge stimulus programme..

In the UK, news that UK inflation
improved economic forecasts – with prices rising by 5.1 per cent in November – was enough to persuade the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee, which meets today which met today, to raise base rates to 0.25 per cent.

Most economists had expected members to hold fire on a rate rise as the Omicron coronavirus variant sweeps the UK. But earlier this week, the IMF urged BoE officials to increase interest ratesforecasting that UK inflation will “peak at about 5.5 per cent in the spring of 2022”.

Overall, while sudden demand surges during the pandemic have tested capitalist globalisation, the system has passed with flying colours, argues European economics commentator Martin Sandbu. Indeed, “the pandemic’s lesson for global supply chain policy is to leave well alone,” he writes.

But supply chains may face further upheavals as Omicron bites. Experts have warned that the US is “exposed” as it faces up to the variant due to relatively low vaccination rates, inadequate testing and inconsistent mitigation rules such as mask wearing.

Indeed, there were 78,610 coronavirus cases in the UK yesterday – the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.. Retail, travel, manufacturing and healthcare companies have warned that they face staff shortages as workers call in sick..

And as Omicron sweeps across the UK and Denmark, epidemiologists say the two countries should be an early warning signal for Europe on how infections and hospital admissions could peak, as well as the need for booster programmes.

On to corporate governance, and cyber security has featured in the news this week. Hackers exploited a flaw in a piece of open-source software called Log4J to launch more than 1.2m cyber attacks on companies across the world, researchers said.

Meanwhile, the new British cyber strategy predicted a “clash of values’’ between world powers such as Russia and China. This will “put pressure on the free and open internet”, it warned.

Elsewhere, Unilever veteran Leena Nair has been appointed as the new global chief executive of Chanel. S
he will assume the role at the end of January.

But as Nair steps up, other executives are stepping back – a trend the TV show Succession has so far missed.
“While real billionaires turn their backs to board meetings and the race of managing shareholders’ expectations, so will fictional ones,” writes Fani Papageorgiou.

Yet those who remain in the top jobs face handsome rewards, despite pressure on companies to show restraint. Last year chief executive pay at S&P 500 companies increased by 7 per cent to an average $15.3m, nearly 300 times that of the median worker.
The week started off well for board diversity as a study by executive recruiter Spencer Stuart indicated that, for the first time, women account for the majority for non-executive directors at the UK’s largest listed companies.

But the UK government also vetoed the reappointment of two Channel 4 directors – Althea Efunshile and Tom Hooper. The move leaves the broadcaster, which is required by law to represent diverse communities, How to best use data to meet DE&I goals – at least for the moment.

If this has you thinking about diversity and inclusion, there are some useful tips on how boards can improve their diversity in this blog from PwC.

The gender proportionality principle – and how it can help companies improve equity at all levels – is also explored in this Harvard Business Review feature.

Don’t forget, there are plenty more resources on our online hub FT.com/Board.
On the board agenda 2022 (Report from Deloitte)
On the 2022 audit committee agenda (Insights from KPMG)
Creating positive culture: opportunities and challenges (Report from the Financial Reporting Council
Risk in focus 2022 (Report from the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors)
The mundane organisational flaws that can lead to tragedy  (Opinion from the FT)
Winning the right game with Ron Adner (Podcast from the BCG Henderson Institute)
2022 geostrategic outlook (Report from EY)
The state of AI in 2021 (Report from McKinsey)

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