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Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics to be considered for Leader columnsHere are the issues that dominated this week:

A geopolitical sweep ran through a number of pieces by the Editorial Board this week. It is time to call Vladimir Putin’s bluff, said our leader in the wake of the Russian premier’s phonecall with US president Joe Biden. Any further aggression by Russia towards Ukraine should trigger western sanctions “that would impose an intolerable cost on Russia”.

The Editorial Board opined, too, on a key aspect of policy change in Germany where the new coalition government has chosen to take a tougher foreign policy line not only on Russia, but also on China, a key axis for German exports. It should not be deterred, the leader argues. “Beijing is adept at dividing and weakening the EU, and Germany’s single-minded pursuit of its business interests has often assisted it.”

To come in the days ahead we are likely to look at two big China themes: China’s deglobalising attitude to local companies being allowed to list on western exchanges, pegged on news that ride-hailing operator Didi will be moving its listing from New York to Hong Kong; and the ramifications of Evergrande’s apparent slow-burn failure.
Fed chair Jay Powell shook markets when he signalled a more hawkish stance on inflation last week. But one question remains: what is the timetable for tapering and rate rises?

This week, in a poll of leading academic economists, more than half said it was “somewhat” or “very” likely the Fed would bring bond purchases to a stop by the end of March. And half of respondents predict a rate rise in the second quarter of 2022.

Even some officials at the ECB, which has so far remained accommodative, are beginning to have doubts about their commitment to extra stimulus. This has been driven by a surge in inflation in the eurozone, the Omicron variant and the Fed’s signalling on tapering.

That said, analysts expect the Bank of England will hold back from raising rates when the Monetary Policy Committee meets next week to give them more time to assess the implications of the new coronavirus variant.

But on Monday, Ben Broadbent, a BoE deputy governor, said that the “tight” labour market in the UK poses significant risks for future inflation, even if current price surges subside.

Elsewhere, most economists expect capital expenditure among UK businesses to grow at its fastest pace in years in 2022. But there is some caution: many predict that the super-deduction will only bring forward some investment, rather than create a lot of new spending.

There are headwinds too. Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said that new pandemic restrictions in the UK – including vaccine passports for larger venues and a work-from-home order – would be a “body blow” to the hospitality industry.

Indeed, the pound hit its lowest level in more than a year against the dollar on Wednesday as the prospect of new coronavirus restrictions hung over the economic outlook.

Meanwhile in corporate governance, following Jack Dorsey’s resignation from Twitter last week, activist investor Elliott Management continues to cause a stir.

Pete Redfern is stepping down as chief executive of housebuilder Taylor Wimpey after more than 14 years in the role. The news came just days after it emerged that Elliott Advisors had bought a stake in the company.

Elliott Management also launched an attack on SSE’s renewable energy strategy. It wants to split SSE’s electricity networks and renewables divisions into two companies, criticised the performance of chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies, and called for the appointment of two new independent directors with renewables experience.

Royal London Asset Management, a leading investor at SSE, dismissed calls for a split, saying the disruption would harm both shareholders and the UK’s path to net zero.

But it is clear that Elliott hopes adding new directors may tip the balance towards a break-up, argues UK business writer Cat Rutter Pooler. And SSE will find that force hard to resist indefinitely, she adds.

And finally climate disclosure – or non-disclosure – also came to light. Berkshire Hathaway, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Glencore were among the nearly 17,000 companies that failed to give any environmental data to CDP, a non-profit group that runs a global disclosure system.

They were graded “F”, while just 14 companies achieved a triple A score including Unilever, Danone and tobacco group Philip Morris.

Railway operator Deutsche Bahn did not “comprehensively inform” its auditor PwC of fraud allegations at Germany’s largest infrastructure project. ​​Experts say this fell short of German and international audit standards.

Elsewhere, Francine McKenna, editor of The Dig, took on alternative financial performance metrics. “Trillions are traded based on unaudited earnings press releases filled with never-to-be audited alternative numbers,” she writes, noting that she would like to see more discipline.

If you are looking at audits and accounts, there are a couple of recent reports from the Financial Reporting Council: a thematic review of alternative performance measures and What makes a good audit?

Don’t forget, there are plenty more resources on our online hub FT.com/Board.
UK economic outlook (Insights from PwC)
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