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Elon Musk, Tesla and the industrial cold war

The latest subscriber-only columns from Roe McDermott, Corinna Hardgrave, Cliff Taylor and more

Welcome to this week’s IT Sunday, a selection of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

What can the travails of Elon Musk and Tesla tell us about relations between the US and China? Quite a lot, according to David McWilliams’s latest column.

Tesla shares have been under pressure all year, and its headaches stem from China, where it has lost market share to the local rival BYD. In essence, McWilliams writes, the situation displays how China is “gobbling up” the world by stealing intellectual property and improving it. “Economic history is the history of theft, so there’s nothing new here except that the Tesla story might be a cautionary lesson for other companies that have taken or might take big bets on China,” he writes.

McWilliams concludes: “The economic battle between America and China, like the economic war between Germany and Britain before the first World War, will play out across a variety of platforms, technological, financial and industrial. America will continue to celebrate the unique genius-like Musk, while China will promote the notion of the great communal national effort, but when you strip it all away, it’s a battle for global power. In this showdown, the trials of Musk may be chicken feed in comparison with what is to come.”


Closer to home, it looks like the European Central Bank is going to cut interests rates at its meeting in early June. In his column this weekend, Cliff Taylor explores the implications of such a cut, which is poised to be good news for mortgage holders, “but while borrowers may need an interest-rate cut, the Irish property market doesn’t. And rising prices and rents are leaving many younger homebuyers caught in a bind – whichever way they turn.”

In the Weekend Review, Colm Keena is writing about the return of Paddy Cosgrave as Web Summit’s chief executive officer six months after standing down following comments he made about the Israel-Hamas conflict. Keena speaks to Bobby Healy, whose drone business, Manna, is backed by a fund established by Cosgrave and the other Web Summit shareholders.

“I think Web Summit is an amazing thing, and largely down to Paddy,” says Healy. “I think the business needs a leader and Paddy knows how to lead it. Paddy can definitely do the job.” But if the companies and venture capitalists that Cosgrave offended last year don’t return to the Web Summit conferences, then the decision to come back as chief executive will be a mistake, says Healy. Hence his description of the move as “high-risk”.

Over in the Food section, Corinna Hardgrave this week wrote about the Yew Tree for her latest restaurant review – a very positive four-star write-up about an under-the-radar neighbourhood spot: “What they are doing in Yew Tree goes against everything you hear about the vagaries of the restaurant industry, and I’m not quite sure how they pull it off. But I am glad it is in my neighbourhood because it is so well priced for such good food.” Read the full review here.

In Health, Roe McDermott is this weekend responding to a woman who says her boyfriend is kind, thoughtful and funny - the pair want to get married, but there is one thing holding the reader back: when they argue, it’s horrible. “Fights can go on for days because neither of us can manage to find the right way to start a conversation that doesn’t make it worse.”

In her advice column during the week, Trish Murphy hears from a reader in their early 60s who is married to a woman who is now 42. They have one child together, and the reader’s wife wants another: “I will be in my 80s when the next one goes to college and I am not sure if I have the energy or enthusiasm for this. I have not told her this as I know she will feel misled by me as she has always been clear about wanting a family – I just did not really think this through and I feel trapped now.”

Leinster, meanwhile, ended La Rochelle’s quest for three Champions Cup titles in a row yesterday when they ruthlessly dethroned the defending champions at a feverish Aviva Stadium. The victory earns Leinster a ‘home’ semi-final at Croke Park in three weeks’ time. See how the players rated here.

In this week’s On the Money newsletter, Dominic Coyle looks at how to access a low cost loan to retrofit your home. Sign up here to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox every Friday.

As always, there is much more on, including rundowns of all the latest movies in our film reviews, tips for the best restaurants in our food section and all the latest in sport, including subscriber-only reports and analysis from the Masters. There are plenty more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

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