FT Big Read

The Vix index is known as Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ and was once just a measure of market movements. But volatility has itself become a tradable asset and financial engineers have used the index to create high-risk products and strategies that can act as siren calls to unwary investors, says Robin Wigglesworth

 

Chocolate has been a Swiss national industry for almost 200 years but aggressive pricing and a shift to healthier snacks are forcing confectioners like Lindt and Nestlé to adapt, says Ralph Atkins. Focusing on premium brands and fighting the increasingly popular craft chocolatiers on their own territory are just two of the strategies the traditional groups are turning to, Ralph says

 

Since John Elkann inherited the Exor business six years ago he has changed its strategy, diversifying away from the car industry and from its Italian homeland, say Sarah Gordon and Rachel Sanderson. But the relocation of the group’s HQ to the Netherlands and heavy investment by the owner of the Fiat and Ferrari brands in the US have been controversial

 

Supplies of traditionally popular species have become so depleted through overfishing that commercial fleets — especially the Chinese — are trawling further from home, deeper and wider in the oceans, says Lucy Hornby. This has led to clashes as they impinge on local hunting grounds halfway across the world, Lucy says

 

Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, tax plans and threatened wall have battered the peso but hopes for an economic bounceback have grown as Mexicans adjust to the volatility, says Jude Webber. Confidence is rising south of the border despite the storm unleashed by the White House, Jude says

 

Marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome while Britain tussles with its exit highlights the fractures in unity on the Continent, says Philip Stephens. The global environment is very different now from that of 1957 — but national solutions are not the answer to the problems individual member states face

 

The reformist Argentine Francis is encountering opposition from those who claim his zeal threatens Catholic Church unity, says James Politi. He continues to enjoy high popularity but his critics are becoming bolder

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken the opportunity provided by the failed coup in 2016 to further his societal engineering. And the forthcoming referendum in April could give him power beyond the scope of even the country’s founder Ataturk, says Mehul Srivastava

 

Warren Buffett and 3G were taken aback by the harsh rejection of the takeover offer they had backed but people close to the Anglo-Dutch group say the deal made no financial or strategic sense for them. Arash Massoudi and James Fontanella-Khan tell a tale of miscalculation and culture divide

 

The scale of remuneration for CEOs has caused anger and triggered debate about the effectiveness of how it’s structured and whether it’s time to rein in their huge increases, says Patrick Jenkins in his Big Read report for the FT’s Runaway Pay series. Here, Christopher Grimes talks to Patrick and John Gapper about how executive pay became so out of proportion to average wages and what changes we are likely to see