Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

America waits

Written by Iain Gibson, associate partner
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
4 November 2020

Good morning,

Preparing yourself for the certainty that something is likely to be delayed does nothing to alleviate the sheer frustration and anxiety experienced in the moment of enduring the wait. Yet here we are, early morning, knowing full well that, in an age where we crave instant information and gratification, we are probably still a day away from a declared winner in the US presidential election. 

Regardless of the fact that votes are still being counted in multiple states, the jostling and posturing began early and Joe Biden was smart to get out ahead of Trump, reminding people that it was neither for him nor his opponent to call the election until all votes were in. This was swiftly followed by an inflammatory tweet from the president, prematurely calling a victory and accusing the Democrats of trying to steal the election – a tweet so hasty that he referred to the “Poles” being closed, and so questionable that it was quickly marked by Twitter as disputed and potentially misleading.

That move was followed at around 7.30am UK time by a White House speech in which the president, to use the lingo, doubled-down on that strategy to call into question the validity of any outcome that does not now deliver a Trump victory, decrying “fraud” and suggesting he would head to the Supreme Court to ensure they stop counting (legitimate) votes. The repercussions of this incendiary speech will only be realised over the days and weeks to come. 

If Trump secures four more years, he is likely to follow Barack Obama as the only two post-war presidents to be re-elected with less of the electoral college than they won first time round. Exit polls suggest the US economy has been by far the biggest issue in influencing voters’ decisions, with the Covid pandemic ranking surprisingly low as a factor at the polls.  

At the time of writing, only one state looks to have changed hands from 2016 – Arizona. This shift, if indeed it is confirmed as it has not yet declared, is potentially very significant, as it dents Trump’s attempts at this stage to portray an air of inevitability about the result. The president held on in the swing ground of Florida and Ohio, the much-anticipated Democratic surge in Texas did not materialise, and he failed to overturn Minnesota, one of the few rust belt states he did not carry four years ago. It will be the other midwest territories, namely Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that decide this contest.

Republican and Democrat legal teams unprecedented in their size are already poring over the votes. It’s entirely possible that this episode will not end with a declared winner. For the Democrats, this is incredibly disappointing: it is not the landslide predicted by some polls, it is not even close. Even if they do take back the White House, and potentially the Senate, the narrow nature of any victory robs Biden of the chance to say that he is taking the whole country with him. Recriminations and resentment will be long-lasting, whoever prevails. 

With that in mind, thank heavens for Arizona. If we were waking up this morning with no state in the union having seemingly switched sides, Trump’s unsubstantiated argument that dark forces are at work might have been easier to stand up. As it is, we will all have to endure another painful wait, as the legal recriminations from this most messy of elections look likely to endure for some time. 

News

Republican Donald Trump has said, “Frankly we did win the election” over Democrat Joe Biden and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court. At this stage in the race, Trump has 213 electoral votes while Biden has 225. Trump would need 270 electoral votes to win. Several key states are too early to call, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan. 

Protesters were arrested in Minneapolis after marching down city streets, spray painting local buildings, and shooting off fireworks, including some allegedly directed at police. Thirteen women and one man were arrested for “probable cause riot,” and one of the women was also charged with fourth degree assault. At the same time, more than 300 protestors marched through Portland. 

Following a 90-minute debate on the new national measures today afternoon, the House of Commons will vote on whether to give a second lockdown the go-ahead. If approved, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will close across England on Thursday and stay shut until 2 December. 

Following Monday night’s shooting in Vienna in which four people died, the UK’s terrorism threat level has been upgraded from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’. The move means security chiefs believe that an attack is highly likely but there is no specific intelligence of an imminent incident.  Home Secretary Priti Patel said the British people should be “alert but not alarmed”. 

Business and economy

The number of people in the UK paid below the minimum wage has increased more than fivefold to 2 million since the start of the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics has confirmed. According to their latest figures, in April 2020, 2,043,000 jobs where employees aged 16 or over were paid below the legal minimum which more than four times compared a year earlier. 

Marks and Spencer swung to a loss for the first time in its 94 years as a public company as it warned of “significant uncertainty” ahead due to the pandemic and Brexit. The struggling retailer posted a £87.6m pre-tax loss for the six months to Sept 26, compared to a £159m profit for the same period last year. Revenue fell almost 16pc to £4.09bn.

More than a third of staff are worried about catching Covid-19 on the job, with those least paid being particularly concerned, a research by the Resolution Foundation think tank has found. Along with younger workers, they are least likely to raise a complaint, the think tank said.

EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is set to report today that 13 days of Brexit talks have brought progress in reaching an EU-UK trade deal but there are no breakthroughs on the main sticking points. Crucially, both sides still need to agree on the question of EU fishing rights in British waters and on rules limiting state aid to companies. (£) 

Columns of note

In his bestselling book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that fashion trends, teenage crazes, publishing sensations and even crime waves are like epidemics. Emotion is contagion and dramatic changes follow from apparently small events. Often, there is a tipping point when everything changes all at once. With the UK government having lost control of the coronavirus, of the political narrative and of the Conservative Party, Rachel Sylvester argues in The Times that Boris Johnson – locked in a downward spiral – has now passed his political tipping point. 

As a result of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, global average temperatures are already about 1C above pre-industrial levels. On present trends, this could reach around 1.5C in a decade and 2C half a decade later. At that point, dangerous and irreversible tipping points in the climate are likely to be passed, scientists have warned. In Financial Times, Martin Wolf asserts that irreversible climate change can still be averted – but it depends the cooperation of international leaders. 

Cartoon source: New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

U.S. stocks traded just below the highs of the day as a gust of optimism swept through global equity markets while millions of Americans headed to vote. 

The S&P 500 Index jumped 2% to 3,376.19 as of 12:15 p.m. New York time, the highest in a week on the largest surge in almost eight weeks. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose by 1.9% to 11,170.50, the largest climb in more than three weeks. The FTSE 100 increased by 2.33% to 5786.77, rising for the second day in a row.

In terms of commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 2.9% to $37.87 a barrel, the highest in a week on the largest increase in almost four weeks. Gold, on the other hand, strengthened 0.6% to $1,907.59 an ounce, the highest in a week. 

In company news: 

Primark has called for store trading hours to be extended in December to help retailers offset the impact of the latest round of lockdowns in the UK, its most important market.  

Ant Group was forced to suspend the biggest share offering in history yesterday. The move has come a day after the financial tech company’s top executives, including its founder, Jack Ma, were summoned to speak to regulators.  

IWG has warned that the impact of the pandemic had been worse than feared, as the company shut 66 of its buildings in the third quarter.

Deliveroo has reportedly appointed JP Morgan as it steps up preparations for an initial public offering in London next year. 

Deloitte has doubled the size of its UK legal practice with the acquisition of technology-focused law firm Kemp Little, marking the latest expansion by a Big Four accountant into legal services. 

What’s happening today?

Finals
Gattaca

Interims
Stobart Group

AGMs
Gcp Student Liv
Hansard
Investment Co.
Jpmorg.gbl.g&i
Wilmington

UK economic announcements
(09:30) PMI Services

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
(08:55) PMI Composite (GER)
(08:55) PMI Services (GER)
(09:00) PMI Services (EU) 
(09:00) PMI Composite (EU) 
(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) 
(13:30) Balance of Trade (US)
(14:45) PMI Services (US)
(14:45) PMI Composite (US) 
(15:00) ISM Services (US) 
(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US) 
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US) 

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Today, we mostly compare candidates on their policies, or on their approach to key issues, but what about on their phrenology? In 1884, comparisons of presidential candidates included an analysis of their (literal) skulls.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Northern Ireland
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Employment (Dismissal and Re-employment) – Gavin Newlands
 
Consideration of Lords amendment
Agricultural Bill
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
 
Motions
Motion to Approve The Draft Blood Safety And Quality (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, The Draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, The Draft Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 and The Draft Quality and Safety of Organs Intended for Transplantation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 – Edward Argar
 
Adjournment
Covid-19 emergency transport and travel measures in London boroughs – Dr Rupa Huq

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Level of support to accompany HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment to the South China Sea in 2021 – Lord West of Spithead
Strengthening the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK – Lord Lexden
Ensuring changes to the planning system will deliver more accessible homes for people with disabilities – Baroness Greengross

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – committee stage (day 4) – Lord Callanan

Scottish Parliament 

Portfolio questions
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Health
Members’ Business: 10th Anniversary of the Scottish Guardianship Service

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