Over the past few months, Former US President Donald Trump has been the focus of an investigation by a select congressional committee into the January 6 riot on the US Capitol. As the 2024 US presidential election nears, Trump has also hinted at running for office again. But, with his possible involvement in criminal acts during and after his administration, he may be unable to.
Monday night, Trump announced that the FBI raided his Florida Mar-a-Lago home, comparing it to Watergate “in reverse” and saying they broke into his safe. Reportedly, the raid has to do with the former president allegedly mishandling national records, including some which may be classified. He’s also facing ongoing accusations of conspiring to defraud the country, wire fraud, tampering with Georgia’s 2020 election, New York financial fraud, inflating real estate values and defamation. However, the committee is not able to charge Trump with any crimes; they can only make a recommendation to the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to bring charges against him. So, with all of this going on, it’s difficult to figure out the primary focus of the FBI investigation.
After Trump’s announcement, he immediately received backing from some of his loudest supporters. But some of his former allies aren’t so supportive, including Senator Lindsey Graham. White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Biden was not given advance notice by the FBI of the raid, and that he “learned about this from public reports.”
Last week, China began military drills in the waters near Taiwan, even reportedly inching past the unofficial boundary line of Taiwanese territory in the Taiwan Strait. These drills are widely seen as a show of intimidation against the region after Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit.
Yesterday, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, claimed that the military drills are really preparation to invade the island. He didn’t say exactly when he expects this invasion to happen, but he warned that “after the drills conclude, China may try to routinize its action in an attempt to wreck the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait.” In response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said these claims “distort the truth and obscure the facts.” The US has said it’s sticking with its take that China won’t invade Taiwan within the next two years.
Yesterday, Taiwan started its own batch of scheduled military drills. It’s been reported that Taiwan and China are currently having a “standoff” at the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Pelosi is standing by her decision to visit Taiwan.
Coinbase reports over US$1 billion loss for Q2
In case you haven’t heard, we’re in a bit of a crypto winter (or a crypto recession or a crypto bear market – pick your poison). So when Coinbase announced last week that it would partner with BlackRock to use some of its software tools for Bitcoin, it was good news. Coinbase stock rallied and injected some much-needed optimism amid the current market, especially after recently announcing a hiring freeze and going through layoffs.
In the bigger picture, though, Coinbase is still suffering. In the second quarter, it lost over US$1 billion, or about US$5 a share, compared to the about US$1.6 billion net income from the same time last year. It’s trading at around US$86 a share, which is way down from the US$381 it was trading at when it went public.
Coinbase is one of the few crypto companies that trade on the stock market, and it’s considered a sort of waypoint into crypto for the more traditional finance industry.
To end, we’ll look into:
Issey Miyake dies
Issey Miyake, the revolutionary Japanese fashion designer known for combining modern and traditional fashion techniques, died on Friday.
Miyake was born in Hiroshima in 1938, and when he was only 7 years old, the city was devastated by an atomic bomb dropped by the US. His mother died of radiation exposure just a few years later, and he said later in his life that he was in favor of the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the world.
“I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put [my memories of the explosion] behind me,” he said in a New York Times opinion piece in 2009, “preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy.”
Miyake studied in Tokyo initially, then moved to Paris and New York to study and work in fashion design before moving back to Tokyo to open his own design studio. There, he developed innovative techniques for working with new materials and quickly built a name as an international pioneer.
His work, including clothing, bags and perfume, sold globally and was highly successful. He also reportedly made those signature turtlenecks for Steve Jobs, with Jobs reportedly saying, “He made me like a hundred of them … I have enough to last for the rest of my life.” Miyake won several awards throughout his life, including the Japanese Kyoto Prize in 2006 and the French Legion of Honor in 2016.
“I am most interested in people and the human form,” Miyake said in 2014. “Clothing is the closest thing to all humans.”
In other news …
📉Stocks: MSCI’s gauge of stocks worldwide dropped 0.55% to 2,743.62.
Dow Jones Industrial Average drops to 32,774.41, 0.18%
S&P 500 lowered by 0.42% to 4,122.47.
Nasdaq Composite slid by 1.19% to 12,493.93.
Hang Seng Index dropped by 0.21% to 20,003.44.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
Monday, Wall Street closed mostly flat.
Geopolitical tensions between the superpowers increased as China extended its military drills.
Falling gas prices are a big factor behind forecasts of lower July CPI, which will be reported later today in the US and is expected to show that inflation has finally peaked. This could lead the government to ease its inflation fight. But, job data from last week showed that the labor market is still going strong, with bosses hiring more than expected, possibly setting the scene for a September hike.
There’s evidence of a “meme-stock frenzy” tumbling stocks in Hong Kong, similar to what happened in the US last year.
👄Some comments and chatter:
“The focus is on tomorrow’s US inflation numbers and whether or not they are likely to show any indication of a softening of inflationary pressures,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
“Everyone is primed for reasonably good news, so it’s got to be good news. If it’s not as good as people think, it’s going to be unusually bad news,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
🛢Oil: Brent crude settled at US$96.31 a barrel, down 0.4%. US crude went down to US$90.50 a barrel, shedding 0.3%.
👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin is at US$23,252.40, lowering 2.37%.
🌧Record rainfall overwhelms South Korea: Authorities in Seoul recorded 141.5 millimeters (5.6 inches) of rain per hour on Monday, which is the highest on record. So far, eight people have died as the downpours flooded the city.
✔China audits its trust industry: Worth US$3 trillion, China’s trust industry is being reviewed by top state auditors. This move comes as more and more developers have been defaulting on loans. More than 20 firms are up for review and are being asked to report on risky loans made to developers and any plans on disposing of them.
✍Kenyans cast their ballots for a new leader: Tuesday’s general election in Kenya is too close to call. The country’s current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is leaving office, and the two primary candidates preparing to take over are focusing on various economic issues currently facing the country. The polls have closed, so we’ll know who won soon.
🎾Serena Williams is retiring, reluctantly: The tennis icon will retire from playing professionally after this year’s US Open to grow her family. Williams told Vogue that she doesn’t want to choose between having more children and her tennis career, but she can’t do both. Being pregnant as an athlete isn’t really doable, so Williams is taking a step back.
🙋♀️Whatsapp’s “Irish Exit” from group chats: WhatsApp is ready to launch a feature that allows users to slip out of group chats without alerting everyone in the chat. This is one of the steps the platform is taking to boost users’ privacy.
✈Hong Kong’s flights bounce back: After recent news that Hong Kong will cut down the traveler hotel quarantine period from seven to three days, the city is already seeing boosted tourism. Flight bookings have risen by 249%, according to data from Trip.com.
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