FirstFT: Colombia ushers in the most leftwing government in its history

The new president of Colombia is expected to usher in the most leftwing government in the country’s history. Gustavo Petro, a former urban guerrilla who once spent time in jail for his political beliefs, took 50.5 per cent of the vote in yesterday’s election. His rival, 77-year-old populist businessman Rodolfo Hernández, took 47.3 per cent, according to provisional official results. Petro’s tally of 11.3mn votes was the highest in Colombian electoral history.

The result, writes Gideon Long in Bogotá, represents a “sea change for the South American nation”, which for decades has been ruled by moderate and conservative politicians, mostly from the established elite.

Petro was a member of the M-19 guerrilla group in the 1980s, and had twice failed to win the presidency. His victory also means that Latin America’s third most populous nation, home to 50mn people, will have its first black vice-president, Francia Márquez.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here’s the rest of the day’s news

1. US lawmakers push for more money to counter China in Indo-Pacific The US House of Representatives will introduce the “Indo-Pacific Engagement Act” to spur the White House to funnel more money to the Indo-Pacific region. Lawmakers are aiming to narrow the gap between the rhetoric about Asia being the priority region and funding levels.

2. Emmanuel Macron loses majority in French assembly The French President lost his majority after a strong showing by a left-green opposition alliance and a late surge from the extreme right. The resulting hung parliament means that Macron will need to strike deals with other parties in the assembly to pass legislation over the next five years.

  • Opinion: The next five years now look very different for the president who was positioned to be the EU’s most powerful leader, writes Ben Hall.

3. Crypto industry braced for fallout after weekend meltdown Crypto investors and executives braced themselves for further pain after bitcoin fell as low as $17,628 on Saturday before rebounding, as an escalating credit crunch in the digital asset industry threatens to engulf many of its biggest actors.

4. US recession risks are growing, says Fed’s Mester Loretta Mester, president of the Cleveland Fed, warned yesterday that it would take “a couple of years” for inflation to return to the US Federal Reserve’s target of 2 per cent, and particularly to get the supply side “to come back into better balance”.

5. Paramount Global looks for hit to boost to streaming expansion The stock prices of Paramount and its rivals in entertainment have dropped in recent months, but the company is looking to convince investors that it can succeed without merging with a larger rival. As it prepares to expand its flagship streaming service to the UK, South Korea, Germany and other territories, it is keen to score its own international hit à la Netflix’s Squid Game, and expects to reach 75mn subscribers by the end of the year. But can it succeed?

The day ahead

Juneteenth The US observes a federal holiday today to commemorate the end of the legal enslavement of black Americans. US markets are closed.

Belgium to return Patrice Lumumba’s remains Belgium will return the relic remains of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first prime minister, who was assassinated in 1961, at an official ceremony today in Brussels.

Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo
A Belgian court has cleared the way for Patrice Lumumba’s tooth, his only remains, to be returned to his family © AP

World Air Transport Summit The International Air Transport Association releases its annual report at its 78th annual meeting in Qatar, attended by chief executives of leading airlines.

What else we’re reading

When trying to predict inflation in the US, remember the wild cards There are useful comparisons to be made with the era of high inflation in the 1970s and early 1980s, writes Rana Foroohar. But there are also many factors that are unique to today. She reveals three inflation “wild cards”.

The deafening silence over Brexit’s economic fallout As the sixth anniversary of the UK vote to leave the EU approaches, economists are starting to quantify the damage caused by Britain’s creation of trade barriers with its biggest market, separating the “Brexit effect” from the damage caused by Covid-19. Their conclusion? The damage is not over yet.

Central banks and markets share a secular awakening As nice words about battling inflation gave way to meaningful policy actions, there was first a realisation that we were transitioning to more challenging financial conditions — and then a second one that there would be no hiding for policymakers, households, companies and markets, writes Mohamed El-Erian.

Citi’s $900mn error complicates Revlon bankruptcy As the US cosmetics group negotiates its restructuring after filing for bankruptcy last week, it still does not know the identity of its main creditors, the consequence of a bizarre mistake in which Citigroup mistakenly used its own money to repay a term loan it administered on behalf of Revlon. Here’s what happened.

Why pay rises for your company’s ‘flight risks’ can backfire Bosses are doing their best to throw money and promotions at would-be resigners to convince them to stay, but the Great Resignation has complicated this practice of counter-offering.

Martin Wolf’s best mid-year economic reads Find out the top picks from our chief economics commentator. Do yours align?

A personal guide to Miami

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Jeremy Ford shares his favourite spots for food, golf, spearfishing and park life in Miami, his home for the last 15 years. You can add your suggestions in the comments.

A cyclist rides along Biscayne Bay at Matheson Hammock Park, Miami
Biscayne Bay at Matheson Hammock Park, Miami © AP