The daily briefing “FirstFT” from the Financial Times.
The crisis may finally be loosening its grip on the financial sector. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, two of Wall Street’s largest banks, each recorded one of their strongest quarters since 2007. Earlier in the week JPMorgan Chase’s report of boosted trading revenues and profits sent its shares to a record high. (FT)
Debate has focused on whether depressed returns are a cyclical phenomenon – owing to weak economies and low volatility – or a structural one, with tougher regulation permanently damaging industry ability to make money. Goldman, which saw its best return on equity in 18 quarters, has always insisted that revenues and returns would improve even after the tide of regulation. (FT)
In the news
No mercy for Greece Athens had explored the possibility of a grace period for a EUR747m payment due to the IMF on May 12 but Christine Lagarde confirmed the fund’s policy ofrefusing requests for a delay. She said stability in the Greek economy “is not done by a political last-minute accord, it’s done by looking at measures, committing to reforms”. (FT)
Putin says the worst is over The Russian president devoted the majority of his annual marathon phone-in to domestic issues, reassuring Russians that the worst of the economic crisis had passed and that they would see a full recovery within two years. As he spoke,security forces raided the Moscow offices of Open Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s pro-democracy foundation. (FT)
US fast-tracks trade US lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to grant Barack Obama the authority he needs to wrap up a Pacific Rim trade deal with Japan and 10 other countries. Although trade is one of the few areas in which Republican leaders agree with the Obama administration, the bill faces stiff opposition from Democrats being lobbied heavily by trade unions. (FT)
Slack tightens up its fundraising The online worker collaboration tool raised a new round of capital that put a $2.8bn valuation on the company. This comes just six months after its valuation topped $1bn with an earlier investment round and less than two years since launch. (FT)
t’s a big day for
Ed Miliband The Labour leader is in Lincoln trying to attract younger voters. He will promise that a Labour government would ban companies from offering unpaid internships of longer than four weeks. Mr Miliband tried to present himself as prime minister in waiting at last night’sTV debate and had to fend off the offer of a post-election deal from the SNP. (FT)
Ukrainian banks The government plans to tell investors that it will allow state-owned Ukreximbank to default unless a deal with creditors can be agreed. Ukraine is taking a tougher approach to debt negotiations as it tries to save $15.3bn over the next four years in order to meet the terms of a multibillion-dollar bailout by the IMF. (FT)
Food for thought
Vatican nun investigation closes The Holy See has abruptly ended its oversight of the largest organisation of US Catholic nuns. It had been claimed that they had fallen under thesway of radical feminism and tensions between the nuns and church authorities had been simmering for decades as the sisters took on an increasingly independent and outspoken role in politics and social outreach. (FT)
Crowdsourcing close reading Annotation site Genius is gaining legitimacy, attracting $40m in venture capital funding and broadening its horizons from rap music to The Waste Land and Abraham Lincoln speeches. Katy Waldman explores the site and whether we all have a literary critic in us. (Slate)
What price for the United Kingdom? The SNP has no interest in my country’s success, says Martin Wolf. “It is interested only in what it can extract from us… If Scotland has permanently shifted its loyalty to the SNP, the best thing for the rest to say may be nothing more than a polite, albeit sad, goodbye.” (FT)
World bank stress test Shawn Donnan examines what lies ahead for the institution beset by criticism and facing competition from alternative lenders such as the Beijing-backed AIIB. (FT)
Video of the day
Super taper tantrum risks The IMF is warning that when the Federal Reserve finally raises rates it could repeat the bond rout of 2013. James Mackintosh looks back to 1994 and 2004 for history lessons. (FT)
This article is published in collaboration with The Financial Times. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: FirstFT is the Financial Times’ editors curated free daily email of the top global stories from the FT and the best of the rest of the web.
Image: A man walks past buildings at the central business district of Singapore. REUTERS/Nicky Loh.