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Musk would let Trump back on Twitter

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This is an audio transcript of the FT News Briefing podcast episode: Musk would let Trump back on Twitter

Marc Filippino
Good morning from the Financial Times. Today is Wednesday, May 11th, and this is your FT News Briefing.

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Elon Musk says he’d let Donald Trump back on Twitter.

Elon Musk
I would reverse the ban. Okay. I’m not I don’t own Twitter yet. So this is not like a thing that will definitely happen. Because what if I don’t own Twitter?

Marc Filippino
And global investment banks finally had themselves a good year in China. Plus, the Philippines just elected a new president. We’ll explain why the new guy might seem pretty familiar. I’m Marc Filippino. And here’s the news you need to start your day.

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Elon Musk was the starring guest at an FT live event yesterday called The Future of the Car. But the Tesla CEO broke more news talking about social media, specifically Twitter, the social media company he plans to buy. Musk said that Twitter’s move to ban Donald Trump last year was a mistake.

Elon Musk
I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.

Marc Filippino
And Musk said yesterday he would reverse that ban. To talk more about his comments, I’m joined by the FT’s west coast editor, Richard Waters. Hey, Richard.

Richard Waters
Hey, Marc. Nice to talk to you.

Marc Filippino
Okay. So just a reminder, Twitter banned Trump last year after the January 6th Capitol insurrection. What did you make of what Musk said about putting Trump back on Twitter?

Richard Waters
Yeah. I mean, you know, this question about Trump and the Trump ban has become, you know, this huge obstacle, I think that’s getting in the way of a serious discussion about how you monitor, moderate content and keep hate speech, misinformation off social networks. And, you know, I think at some point, Twitter is gonna have to say, you know, maybe even before Musk takes over, who knows, you know, this was a mistake. You know, getting past this Trump ban will be a good thing. I think if you know, if Musk says, look, let’s reverse that, let’s let Trump back on and then there’ll be a more serious discussion about how you control the rest of the discussion. And Musk himself said, look, I’m not averse to suspending people’s accounts. I’m not averse to limiting who can see their tweets if they’re saying bad things. So, you know, actually, in some ways, he’s going some way towards what Twitter’s already doing.

Marc Filippino
So while a lot of the headlines yesterday were about Twitter, a lot of the conversation was about cars, right? It’s the Future of the Car event and of course, Tesla. And as Musk was talking, I noticed that Tesla share price shot up, even though Musk said this.

Elon Musk
Even before there was world supply chain issues, Tesla demand exceeded production. Now, now it’s demand is exceeding production to a ridiculous degree. We’re actually probably gonna just stop taking orders for anything beyond a certain period of time, because some of that timing is like a year away. So…

Marc Filippino
“We’re going to have to probably stop taking orders”. You know, that doesn’t seem like a great thing. What did investors hear that they liked so much?

Richard Waters
Well, you know, the demand side of life, as we know, is, is through the roof. And, you know, there is no there’s no limit to the orders that are coming in at the moment. They can take as many as they want, but they’re only going to write them on a list because they can’t fulfil them. And we know that. But anyway, going back to the share price, you know, I think the real signal here was Musk saying, look, I’ve been talking to the government in China about the lockdown in Shanghai that’s causing problems in Tesla’s plant there. And this is Tesla’s biggest plant and it’s been shut down recently by the lockdowns and has caused some real unease. Musk didn’t say a lot, but he said, I’ve talked to the government. They’re telling me that, you know, they’re gonna to start to relieve the lockdowns. And I think in the coming weeks this won’t be a problem. And I think that was enough for people to think, you know, at least it doesn’t seem to be getting worse and maybe this will be past them soon.

Marc Filippino
Now supply chain issues prompted another question whether or not Tesla would buy a mining company, any mining company. You know, Tesla needs lithium to make its car batteries, but it’s been hard to secure supplies. And Musk didn’t rule out that possibility of buying a mining company.

Elon Musk
We would address whatever the limitations are on accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. It’s not that we rush to buy mining companies, but if that’s the only way to accelerate the transition, then we will do that.

Marc Filippino
This turned out to be big news. How come?

Richard Waters
We know that there’s a shortage of lithium. There isn’t a shortage of lithium in the ground. There just isn’t enough that’s been refined and produced and ready to put in batteries. And that is one of the big obstacles that he and other electric car makers face. It’s gonna get much worse in the next couple of years. And Musk has made various noises in the past. You know, he was asked whether he would actually just go out and buy a mining company. And, you know, he said, like, everything is on the table because we’re looking at this incredible kind of scaling up to possibly even 20mn cars a year by the end of the decade from a million now. And, you know, he knows that there just isn’t the capacity in these alternative energy supply chains to do anything like that. And so, you know, he really is I think, you know, everything is on the table and that is one possibility.

Marc Filippino
Richard Waters is the FT’s west coast editor. He covers all things tech. Thanks, Richard.

Richard Waters
Sure. Nice to talk, Marc.

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Marc Filippino
For the first time, global investment banks made a profit in China. This comes after years of losses or meagre returns. The FT looked at bank reports from 2021 and found that six of seven banks eked out profits. Morgan Stanley was the first Wall Street bank to create a partnership in mainland China way back in 1995. It finally made a profit last year of just four and a half million dollars. Others made similarly modest profits. Now, this comes after Beijing recently changed its rules to allow the global banks to take full control of their operations and expand in China. It’s still not 100% smooth sailing for these banks, but they’re hoping that the recent market opening might finally mean more consistent returns.

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The Philippines has a new president. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr is the son of the dictator who ruled the country from the 1960s to the 1980s. That Marcos is known for looting billions from state funds, being chased out of the country. But during this campaign, his son spun Marcos Sr’s presidency as a golden age of prosperity, and he won by a large margin.

John Reed
Many of the voters who ended up supporting him in the current election weren’t even born or if they were, weren’t of age during the dictatorship. So they have no memory of the reality of the Marcos years.

Marc Filippino
That’s the FT’s John Reed.

John Reed
There’s been generally kind of a shift in Filipino political opinion towards populism and towards more — I hesitate to use the word though — conservative, but more hardline policies. The desire for a strong leader and a bit of, you know, misplaced nostalgia for the dictatorship of the Marcos era.

Marc Filippino
Marcos Jr will replace populist strongman Rodrigo Duterte. John Reed says not to expect much change on foreign policy. The younger Marcos hasn’t been clear on his plans for the economy either.

John Reed
He actually did not take part in any, you know, debates and his promises in terms of policymaking have been very thin indeed. So we struggle to really understand what he’ll do. I think it’s a safe bet to say that he will probably pursue the same kinds of market-friendly policies that pretty much every government for the past 20 years has. Continuing market reforms, continuing pro-business policies. There may be a bent towards giving some favours out to specific constituencies and allies, which is a constant in the Philippines. But generally, the people I speak to think that it will be a pretty market-friendly government. It’s worth remembering that before the pandemic, the Philippines was one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. Current indicators is bound to continue that way.

Marc Filippino
John Reed covers south-east Asia for the FT.

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Before we go. Nintendo yesterday said it’s going ahead with a 10 to 1 stock split effective this fall. Investors will automatically get nine shares for every one. Of course, the stock’s price will be slashed accordingly, as the number of shares on the market multiplies. The split will make Nintendo shares more affordable for retail investors. The company behind Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda also projected a 29 per cent year on year decline in net profit for this fiscal year and warned that global chip shortages would continue weighing on production of its popular switch console.

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You can read more on all of these stories at FT.com. This has been your daily FT News Briefing. Make sure you check back tomorrow for the latest business news.

This transcript has been automatically generated. If by any chance there is an error please send the details for a correction to: typo@ft.com. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible.