- Five more stories in the news
- The day ahead
- What else we’re reading
- Take a break from the news
- Recommended newsletters for you
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The US attorney-general has appointed a special counsel to investigate the potential mishandling of government documents that were found in President Joe Biden’s residential garage in Delaware and his former private office in Washington.
Merrick Garland on Thursday said the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the discovery of the documents meant he had to appoint a special counsel, Robert Hur, a Washington-based lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to the role.
Richard Sauber, a lawyer for Biden, said in a statement that the president had co-operated with the authorities reviewing the matter and would continue to do so. “We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the president and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake,” he said.
The discovery of the documents and questions over the speed at which the White House disclosed their existence represents a significant threat to Biden. The president and fellow Democrats have attacked his predecessor Donald Trump for mishandling sensitive government records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in south Florida, even though Trump’s trove was far bigger than Biden’s and the former president resisted handing over the documents for months.
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Five more stories in the news
1. Apple CEO takes pay cut The iPhone maker is targeting a more than 40 per cent cut to Tim Cook’s pay package in 2023 at the request of the chief executive following shareholder criticism. Apple’s compensation committee decided to award Cook total “target compensation” of $49mn, down from a target of $84mn a year before, according to a regulatory filing yesterday.
2. Vodafone plans job cuts The UK telecoms group is planning to make its biggest round of job cuts in five years as it seeks to rein in costs and revive its stuttering performance. The several hundred jobs to be shed are mostly from its London headquarters, according to two people briefed on the discussions. The company employs about 9,400 people in the UK.
3. Warner Bros Discovery weighs sale of music library The entertainment giant is exploring a sale of its music library that could be valued at more than $1bn, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest move by chief executive David Zaslav to reduce $50bn in debt after WarnerMedia combined with his Discovery last year.
4. China takes ‘golden shares’ in Alibaba and Tencent units Even as it backs away from heavy-handed crackdowns, Beijing is taking a greater role in overseeing China’s powerful tech groups by snapping up small equity stakes in their local operations. The “golden shares” come with special rights over certain business decisions, allowing the state to exert influence on private companies.
5. UK mortgage costs rise UK mortgage payments have risen to their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, hitting homeowners’ budgets and making it harder for Britons to buy a first property, according to the mortgage provider Nationwide. First-time buyer mortgage payments represented nearly 40 per cent of take-home pay in the final quarter of last year.
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The day ahead
Economic data The UK releases GDP, trade balance, industrial production and manufacturing production figures for November. Germany reports annual GDP figures after its economy performed better than expected in the third quarter. Spain and France release final consumer price indices for December, and the EU has industrial production figures for November.
Kishida visits White House Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida meets US president Joe Biden today, ending a week of visits to five G7 nations to build consensus for the economic group’s annual summit hosted by Japan in May.
Czech presidential elections The Czech Republic starts the first of a two-day election to decide the country’s next head of state. Incumbent president Miloš Zeman cannot run again having served two five-year terms, but former prime minister Andrej Babiš has confirmed his candidacy.
Trump Organization sentencing The former US president’s real estate company is due to be sentenced after it was convicted last month on tax fraud charges.
Corporate earnings BlackRock, which yesterday announced plans to cut 500 staff, releases fourth-quarter results. Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey, Delta Air Lines, DFS Furniture, UnitedHealth Group also report.
US bank earnings Thanks to rate rises, analysts estimate JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will report collective net interest income for the final three months of 2022 of almost $60bn when they report today. That’s up 30 per cent year on year, according to analysts’ estimates.
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What else we’re reading
South Korea’s women face ‘boys’ club’ at work For the 26th straight year, South Korea has recorded the worst gender pay gap among OECD economies. The country also has one of the largest gender gulfs in labour force participation. “From the companies’ perspective, female employees are considered to give up their career after marriage and childbirth,” says Kim Nan-joo, a researcher at the Korean Women’s Development Institute.
The fight for Disney A buzz of excitement shot through Hollywood after Bob Iger returned to Walt Disney in late November. But behind the fanfare, signs of tarnish had appeared on the Iger halo, blemishes that the activist Nelson Peltz is now making the centrepiece to one of the US’s biggest proxy battles in years.
Wall Street’s top cop trains sights on crypto Damian Williams made history as the first black person to be sworn in as the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. His role in bringing the case against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried could cement his image as the country’s pre-eminent financial cop.
Opinion: Taiwan must not suffer the same fate as Ukraine The democratic world failed to deter a Russian attack on Ukraine — we must not make the same mistakes with China, writes former Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Here are the lessons we can learn from the war in Ukraine to prevent one in the Taiwan Strait.
Opinion: A trillion-dollar blind spot for asset managers Despite the ongoing ESG push, firms continue to compete to work for authoritarian states with records of human rights abuses, writes Toby Nangle, former global head of asset allocation at a fund manager.
Take a break from the news
People have dreamt of flying cars for decades, and entrepreneurs keep trying to build them. Some have flown but none have been cheap, appealing or safe enough to reach the mass market. Still, the dream never seems to die and, over the past few years, has moved closer to reality.
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