FirstFT: Double blow for Trump

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Raphael Warnock has won the run-off for the Georgia Senate seat, in a second blow for former president Donald Trump in less than 24 hours.

The defeat for Herschel Walker, a political novice and former American football star who was backed by Trump, expands the Democrats majority in the upper chamber of Congress to 51 seats versus 49 for the Republicans.

The Georgia result was declared just hours after Trump’s businesses were found guilty of running a tax fraud scheme by a jury in New York. The verdict is a significant victory for prosecutors in Manhattan and a blow to the former president who last month launched his third bid for the White House.

The Manhattan case is the third legal defeat for Trump in as many weeks after the US Supreme Court ordered his tax records to be handed to a congressional committee and an appeals court rejected the former president’s request for a special master to review documents gathered in an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.

The Trump Organization faces a fine of up to $1.6mn and sentencing for Allen Weisselberg, the business’s former chief financial officer and a key witness for the prosecution, has been set for January 13. A lawyer for the Trump Organization said it planned to appeal.

1. China in further retreat from zero-Covid policies China’s State Council or cabinet has announced sweeping changes to its Covid restrictions that will allow people to quarantine in their homes for the first time. The further relaxation of the rules follows nationwide demonstrations against the draconian restrictions and increasing evidence of their detrimental impact on the country’s economy.

2. Warnings about the US economy The Federal Reserve’s efforts to stamp out high inflation will push up the US unemployment rate to at least 5.5 per cent and tip the country into recession, according to a majority of leading academic economists polled by the Financial Times. The survey, conducted by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in partnership with the FT, follows warnings from the leaders of Wall Street’s biggest banks yesterday about the deteriorating outlook for the US economy.

3. Conditions for peace in Ukraine ‘not there now’ Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has called on Ukraine’s allies to continue supplying Kyiv with weapons as he said the conditions for peace were “not there now”. The comments were made earlier today at the FT’s Global Boardroom event and follow recent successes for Ukraine’s military deep inside Russian territory.

4. BlackRock chief Larry Fink under pressure to resign A UK activist investor with a history of taking on big companies has called on BlackRock founder Larry Fink to resign as chief executive over the asset manager’s use of environmental, social and governance investment factors. Bluebell Capital Partners yesterday made public a letter it sent to Fink last month in which it wrote “the contradictions and apparent hypocrisy of BlackRock’s actions have . . . politicised the ESG debate”.

5. German police arrest 25 suspected of plotting rightwing coup German police have arrested 25 alleged rightwing radicals suspected of planning to overthrow the state in a violent coup, in a plot that shows the spread of QAnon-style conspiracy theories in big western democracies. The DPA news agency said that investigators were also targeting a soldier who serves in the KSK, Germany’s special forces unit.

For the very latest news go to our live blog.

The day ahead

Monetary policy A slight majority of economists expects Canada’s central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate 0.50 percentage points to 4.25 per cent at today’s policy meeting. The Reserve Bank of Australia became the latest central bank to raise rates yesterday to a decade high of 3.1 per cent.

Economic data The Federal Reserve is expected to show US consumer credit probably increased by $28.30bn in October, after rising by $24.98bn in September.

Company earnings Investors in GameStop will be interested to hear how the video game retailer has managed weakening demand as consumers pull back discretionary spending amid persistent inflation, and more on its foray into cryptocurrencies following its partnership with FTX. Campbell Soup also reports results.

Theranos sentencing Former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani will be sentenced after he was convicted in July on all 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection to his role at the defunct blood testing start-up.

COP15 biodiversity conference The UN secretary-general warned that humanity was “treating nature like a toilet” ahead of the COP15 biodiversity summit which begins in Montreal today.

Xi starts 3-day trip to Saudi Arabia China’s president will attend the inaugural China-Arab States Summit as part of a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia that will showcase the deepening ties between Riyadh and Beijing.

FT Global Boardroom Join the FT’s top journalists in conversation with leaders in business and government at our Global Boardroom event from today to Friday. Register here for your free digital pass.

What else we’re reading and listening to

It is the west’s duty to help Ukraine win this war While it is painful to suffer the energy shock from this conflict, it is the west’s duty to cope, writes Martin Wolf. It is Ukraine and Ukrainians who bear the brunt of the conflict. We in the comfortable west must give them the resources they need.

Explainer: How the G7’s oil price cap blocked the Bosphorus The disruption to shipping in Turkish waters is the first sign of unintended consequences of the G7’s plan to keep Russian crude flowing while denting Moscow’s revenues. Here we explain in detail the problem while also considering what Turkey wants and who is affected.

Lessons from one woman’s ascent to CEO in Japan At first glance Makiko Ono appears to have gone through a career track that seems grimly familiar but her ascent to the top of Japanese drinks group Suntory is extremely rare in a country that has a tendency to evaluate employees based on the number of hours they work instead of their actual output.

Is Johnson really the emissary that blockchain needs right now? With FTX in tatters, bitcoin in abeyance and the entire fundament of crypto finance in doubt, blockchain is badly in need of an image boost. But are the rhetorical skills of Boris Johnson, who gave a keynote speech at the International Symposium on Blockchain Advancements in Singapore, really what the sector needs, asks Mercedes Ruehl.

What employees say about a 4-day work week A number of UK companies have signed up to trial a four-day week, with no loss in pay for employees. In the second episode of this four-part podcast series about the trial, host Isabel Berwick and Emma Jacobs hear from employees involved, reporting on their concerns about maintaining productivity and time management.

Would you be in favour of a four-day working week? Tell us in our poll.

Visual arts

A startling and immaculate new show at the Whitney Museum of American Art shows how Edward Hopper stripped away the New York-iness from his New York, writes Ariella Budick.

‘Early Sunday Morning’ (1930) by Edward Hopper © Heirs of Josephine N Hopper/licensed by ARS

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Read More:FirstFT: Double blow for Trump

2022-12-07 11:30:57

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