Hello and welcome to our new intelligence briefing for boards.

Every week, we will put together a newsletter to help directors keep up to speed on the macro trends affecting businesses across the world, and corporate governance news.

We have rounded up some essential news stories, alongside a helpful reading list and useful resources to support your work in the boardroom.

We hope you enjoy it and, as always, you can email your suggestions for stories and resources to [email protected]. You can also find more news and resources on our online hub FT.com/Board.

Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics and issues to be considered for FT Leader columns. Here are some of the issues that have dominated this week:

Quote of the week goes to the IMF as it warned central bankers on Tuesday to be "very, very vigilant" about inflation risk. Reinforcing those concerns, US consumer price inflation numbers out on Wednesday pushed higher in September, hitting a monthly 0.4 per cent and an annual 5.4 per cent. Our leader looked at the extent to which the economic recovery would be hampered by a poor global rollout of vaccines.

Wall Street has continued to thrive regardless, with JPMorgan publishing forecast-beating results despite an inflationary impact on the cost base. Will the upbeat message continue across Wall Street and into European financial services company results?

Geopolitics has been big news again this week: key leader columns focused on the alarming escalation in China’s aggression towards Taiwan and a potential de-escalation of post-Brexit tensions.
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In his analysis of the IMF reports this week, chief economics commentator Martin Wolf argues that there needs to be a rebalancing of fiscal and monetary policy.

This would “help both the people and the economy, while weaning finance off the opiate of free money,” he writes – and in the US and UK, the time to act is now. 

Indeed, minutes from the September meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee show the US central bank is ready to start tapering as early as next month.

The logjam in ports has also dominated the news agenda – from Felixstowe in eastern England to Los Angeles on the US west coast. Across Europe, the trucker shortage is now deemed “extremely dangerous".

Elsewhere, volatile energy markets continue to wreak havoc. On Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin vehemently denied that state-run monopoly Gazprom was limiting gas supplies to Europe.

And while Putin offered no indication of action to relieve the tension, there was also cold comfort from the International Energy Agency.

Fatih Birol, the body’s executive director, warned that the risk of extreme volatility will continue unless investment in clean power is tripled in the next decade.

Closer to home, the EU responded to UK demands to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol by offering to scrap most checks on goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. But it is a last-chance saloon, warned European Commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic. “There will be no other package,” he said.

Elsewhere, the UK’s GDP was up 0.4 per cent in August from the previous month, according to initial estimates from the Office for National Statistics. That said, growth was slower than expected after the spread of the Delta variant stalled July’s recovery.

A senior partner at
KPMG advanced an “untruthful” defence at a disciplinary hearing into the firm’s misconduct in the sale of bedmaker Silentnight, a tribunal found. The FRC also claims the firm withheld evidence from the investigation. And the regulator’s chief executive Sir Jon Thompson said he has asked ministers to give him the power to cap the number of FTSE 350 companies that can be audited by a single firm to increase competition among auditors.

Finally, a lesson in how not to do it. THG lost a third of its value on Tuesday after an investor presentation backfired.

“Behind the gloss of Insta and influencers, the frenetic dealmaking and restructuring and the veritable forest of red flags from a governance perspective, there are plenty of fundamental questions for THG to answer,” writes business columnist Helen Thomas.

This week it was announced that Henry Kravis and George Roberts, co-founders and co-chief executives of US private equity firm KKR, are stepping down.

The pair will remain executive chairs of the board, allowing the firm’s co-presidents, Scott Nuttall and Joe Bae, to take the reins.

If this has got you thinking about talent pipelines, executive recruiter Spencer Stuart has an article about the new rules for chief executive succession planning.

Meanwhile, the former and current chairs of Mastercard discuss their experiences of chief executive transition in the Harvard Business Review.

As always, you can catch up with more resources on our online hub.

KPMG 2021 UK CEO Outlook (Research by KPMG)

Release strategy from the grip of a corporate priesthood (Opinion by the FT)

PwC’s 2021 annual corporate directors survey (Research by PwC) (Analysis by the FT) (Analysis by the FT)
Emerging sustainability regulation, the neglected risk? (Insights from the Risk Coalition)
The new global tax deal arrives - but expect bumps ahead (Insights from the LSE Business review) (Practical insights from the Harvard Business Review) (Briefing from Clifford Chance)

At our next event Net positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take, Paul Polman, co-founder and chair of IMAGINE discusses the challenges boards face in dealing with ESG and how business leaders can harness their power to deliver meaningful change in the world.

Join the conversation on Thursday 21 October 2021 at 17:00 BST. Register here
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