Sunday, November 27, 2022

FirstFT: Democrats depend on turnout to avoid midterm election rout

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Good morning. Democrats raced to rally their voters yesterday in a bid to avoid sweeping defeats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, with Republicans holding a slim advantage in polling which should be sufficient for them to regain control of the House of Representatives after four years.

Early voting data pointed to high turnout across the country and massive spending on political advertising as both parties made their final pitches to Americans, who will cast their verdict on Biden’s agenda as well as the appeal of a Republican party that is still in thrall to former president Donald Trump.

The majority in the Senate remains in the balance and will come down to a handful of hotly contested races, including in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia. The party in power at the White House typically loses seats in Congress during its first midterm election. In addition, this year Biden and the Democrats are facing brutally negative ratings on issues ranging from inflation to crime and immigration.

During a series of rallies at the weekend, top Democrats including Biden and former president Barack Obama made appearances in states that voted for their party in the last presidential election, a sign of their political vulnerability. Biden campaigned on Saturday in Pennsylvania — the state where he grew up — after a visit to Illinois, then travelled to New York yesterday for an event with governor Kathy Hochul, who is facing an unexpectedly tough challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin.

“This election is about the Biden agenda. People don’t like high inflation, high crime, open borders, fentanyl, that’s what we’re talking about,” Rick Scott, the Florida senator and chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NBC. Scott was campaigning with Trump yesterday on behalf of Florida senator Marco Rubio.

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1. Beijing quashes market rumours of quicker end to zero-Covid policy China’s National Health Commission reiterated the country’s commitment to eliminating Covid-19 at a press conference on Saturday, setting up markets for further volitilaty as officials warn of a “severe and complex” winter flu season.

2. Sweden distances itself from Kurdish groups to win Turkey’s Nato support Many western countries have backed the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish militia which helped defeat the terror group Isis in Syria, but Sweden’s new centre-right government said it would distance itself from the group because Turkey views the militia as a direct threat.

3. Iran’s protests fuel ethnic tensions Mahsa Amini’s death in September after her alleged failure to observe the Islamic dress code triggered some of the biggest and longest-lasting anti-regime demonstrations in Iran. Now, Iran’s hardline politicians fear lengthy unrest makes the country vulnerable to threats from ethnic separatists and Islamist insurgents.

4. Japan to sign military pact with UK as allies eye China threat Japan and the UK plan to sign a major defence pact in December that will enable the countries to enhance co-operation with the US in the Indo-Pacific. The pact will make joint exercises and logistics co-operation between the nations easier. It will also set a legal framework to simplify cumbersome bureaucratic red tape for the entry of troops into each other’s countries.

5. US oil producers reap $200bn windfall from Ukraine war price surge Aggregate net income for publicly listed oil and gas companies operating in the US came to $200.24bn for the second and third quarters of the year. The figure marks the sector’s most profitable six months on record and puts it on course for an unprecedented year.

The day ahead

Earnings Ryanair reports H1 numbers today. Lyft also releases earnings today, after announcing significant job cuts at the end of last week.

Economic indicators China releases its trade balance figures for October today.

Finance in the EU Eurozone finance ministers meet today ahead of tomorrow’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) meeting of all EU finance ministers.

US Supreme Court America’s highest court will hear oral arguments in two important cases for regulators: Axon Enterprise vs Federal Trade Commission; and Securities and Exchange Commission vs Cochran. Should the court side with the plaintiffs over the FTC and SEC, it would become easier for parties to challenge enforcement actions in federal court before regulators have concluded internal proceedings.

What else we’re reading

COP27 shines spotlight on Egypt’s rights abuses With the UN Climate Change Conference now under way in Egypt, activists hope to use the event to shine an international spotlight on the country’s dire human rights record, and that western leaders will take the opportunity to put pressure on Cairo’s autocratic rulers.

Sanaa al-Seif, left, is joined by climate activists Greta Thunberg and Andreas Magnusson, and Mona Seif, sister of jailed blogger Abd El-Fattah
Sanaa al-Seif, left, is joined by climate activists Greta Thunberg and Andreas Magnusson, and Mona Seif, sister of jailed blogger Abd El-Fattah © Hollie Adams/Getty Images

How Elon Musk’s ‘war room’ of advisers are transforming Twitter In his first week as owner, the billionaire operated with a cast of trusted lieutenants from a secretive “war room” in the company’s San Francisco headquarters to axe management, begin mass job cuts and launch new products.

Corporations can no longer remain black boxes Opacity makes it difficult for regulators, investors, workers and customers to figure out important facts. Now, many new laws in the US are requiring companies to publish salary ranges in job listings. Regulation on pay transparency should force openness in other areas, too, writes Rana Foroohar.

  • Further reading: For more news on the latest trends in the world of work and careers, sign up here for the FT’s Working It newsletter.

How I saved energy and stopped worrying about light switches As energy conservation becomes a larger issue, life becomes more complicated. For those struggling with bills (as in much of Europe), or hit by blackouts (as in Ukraine), the energy crisis can be overwhelming. For those of us in more fortunate positions, it poses a question: we want to do our bit, writes Henry Mance, but how far will we go?

The cost of getting South Africa to stop using coal South Africa is among the world’s most coal-dependent nations — but is also among the most inefficient at turning fossil fuels into economic output. And although rich countries pledged $8.5bn to help the country shift away from dirty energy a year ago, negotiations are strained.

Television

Series 5 of The Crown is a long-awaited salacious portrayal of divorce, tell-all interviews and, er, toe-sucking. Although for many viewers it’s the crescendo that the show has been building to, it’s also already sparked a backlash, leading Netflix to add a disclaimer the series is indeed a “fictional dramatisation”.

Imelda Staunton, centre, brings a quiet dignity to her role as the Queen
Imelda Staunton, centre, brings a quiet dignity to her role as the Queen

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