FirstFT: Biden faces investigation over handling of files

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The US attorney general has appointed a special counsel to investigate possible mishandling of government documents found in President Joe Biden’s garage in Delaware and his former private office in Washington.

Merrick Garland said Thursday that the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the discovery of the documents meant he had to appoint special counsel, Robert Hoare, a Washington-based attorney and former federal prosecutor, to the position.

Richard Sauber, Biden’s attorney, said in a statement that the president has cooperated with authorities in reviewing the matter and will continue to do so. He said, “We trust that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and that the President and his attorneys acted promptly upon discovery of this error.”

The discovery of the documents and questions about the speed with which the White House disclosed their existence are a major threat to Biden. The president and his fellow Democrats attacked his predecessor, Donald Trump, for mishandling sensitive government records at his Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida, even though Trump’s wealth was far greater than Biden’s, and the former president resisted turning over the documents for months.

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1. The CEO of Apple takes a pay cut The iPhone maker aims to cut more than 40 percent of Tim Cook’s salary package in 2023 at the CEO’s request after shareholder criticism. Apple’s compensation committee decided to award Cook total “target compensation” of $49 million, down from the $84 million target a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing yesterday.

2. Vodafone plans job cuts The UK telecoms group is planning its biggest round of job cuts in five years as it seeks to rein in costs and revive its flagging performance. Two people familiar with the discussions said the hundreds of jobs to be cut are mostly from its London headquarters. The company employs around 9,400 people in the UK.

3. WARNER BROS DISCOVERY WAINS SELLING THE MUSIC LIBRARY The entertainment giant is exploring selling its music library that could be valued at more than $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest step by CEO David Zaslav to reduce $50 billion in debt after merging WarnerMedia with his latest discovery. Public.

4. China acquires “golden shares” in the units of Alibaba and Tencent Even as it backs away from harsh crackdowns, Beijing is playing a bigger role in overseeing China’s powerful tech groups by snapping up small stakes in its domestic operations. Gold shares come with special rights over certain business decisions, allowing the state to exert influence over private companies.

5. High UK mortgage costs UK mortgage payments have risen to their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, hurting homeowners’ budgets and making it difficult for Britons to buy their first property, according to mortgage provider Nationwide. First-time buyer mortgage payments accounted for nearly 40 percent of wages taken in the fourth quarter of last year.

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Economic data The UK releases GDP, Trade Balance, Industrial Production and Industrial Production figures for November. Germany reports annual GDP numbers after its economy performed better than expected in the third quarter. Spain and France release final consumer price indices for December, and the European Union releases industrial production figures for November.

Kishida visits the White House Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets with US President Joe Biden today, capping a week of visits to five G7 countries to build consensus on the economic group’s annual summit that Japan will host in May.

Czech presidential election The Czech Republic begins its first two-day election to determine the country’s next head of state. Incumbent President Milos Zeman cannot run again after serving two five-year terms, but former Prime Minister Andrej Babis has confirmed his candidacy.

Trump Organization verdict A verdict is scheduled for the former US president’s real estate company after being convicted last month of tax fraud charges.

Corporate earnings BlackRock, which yesterday announced plans to cut its staff by 500, released its fourth-quarter results. Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey, Delta Airlines, DFS Furniture, United Health Group also report.

US bank profits Thanks to the price hike, analysts estimate that JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will report collective net interest income for the final three months of 2022 of about $60 billion when they file reports today. That’s a 30 percent year-over-year increase, according to analyst estimates.

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What else do we read?

South Korean women are facing the “boys club” at work For the 26th consecutive year, South Korea has the worst wage gap among OECD economies. The country also has one of the largest gender gaps in labor force participation. “From a corporate perspective, female employees are seen as giving up their careers after marriage and childbirth,” says Kim Nan-ju, a researcher at the Korea Women’s Development Institute.

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Fight for Disney A buzz of excitement erupted in Hollywood after Bob Iger returned to Walt Disney in late November. But behind the uproar, Iger’s halo showed signs of tarnishing, flaws that have now made activist Nelson Peltz the focus of one of the biggest US proxy battles in years.

The best Wall Street cop is training in cryptocurrency Damian Williams made history as the first black person to be sworn in as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His role in bringing a case against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried could boost his image as the country’s preeminent financial policeman.

Opinion: Taiwan should not suffer the same fate as Ukraine The democratic world has failed to deter a Russian attack on Ukraine — we must not make the same mistakes with China, wrote former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Here are the lessons we can learn from the war in Ukraine to prevent it from happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Opinion: Trillion dollar blind spot for asset managers Despite the ongoing push on ESG, companies continue to compete to act on behalf of authoritarian states with records of human rights abuses, wrote Toby Nagel, former global head of asset allocation at a fund manager.

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Take a break from the news

People have been dreaming of flying cars for decades, and entrepreneurs are still trying to build them. Some did fly but none were cheap, attractive or safe enough to reach the mass market. However, the dream never seems to die, and over the past few years, it has moved closer to reality.

People working on a Lilium aircraft

© Arnaud Blanche

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