Donald Trump is definitely the most depressing thing about American politics right now. Lazy, vindictive, unstable, undeserving of the great office he holds. The second most depressing thing is the Democratic party primaries, where two football teams’ worth of candidates are currently vying to be the one lining up against the President in 18 months’ time. And as we start the publication of candidate fundraising figures for the second quarter of 2019, we will start to see who is carrying momentum following last week’s televised debates, and who will now start to quietly fall away.
If you caught anything from said debates, can you honestly say that what you saw up on the podiums inspired you? Or that any of them will really unsettle Trump?
They all seem so forced, so earnest, so seeking to replicate the magic of Barack and ignite a party base that is getting angrier and hurtling further leftwards. This ignores the reality that you can’t fake the connection President Obama, or the likes of Reagan and JFK, forged with the majority of their nation. Presidents who drive change, or in the case of Obama and Kennedy are themselves the change, go on to spawn cheap imitations. At a time when Trump’s approval ratings are more or less the same as Obama’s and Clinton’s a year out from their subsequent re-elections, cheap imitations aren’t going to cut it.
From Kamala Harris to Julian Castro and even Eric Swalwell (nope, me neither), they are all vying for the ‘debate moment’ that positions them as the standard bearer of the coming campaign. Senator Harris seems to have had the most cut-through because of her brutal skewering of Joe Biden on racebut, despite the relevance of the issue to her own personal story, her anger still felt very staged.
The one who impressed me most was Elizabeth Warren, who largely stayed above the idiocy and talked about, y’know, her actual policies. This steady focus on administrative competence and a plan to govern that, given the current incumbent’s lack of either, should be absolute priorities for the Democratic nominee, may yet seal the deal for her in the long term.
Look, if I had a vote in 2020, it would likely go to whoever is trying to turf Trump out of Pennsylvania Avenue. Anything is better than him, right? Well, based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m not certain that a sufficient number of people in the handful of US states that decide this thing will necessarily agree. The 45th President of the United States might be authentically horrible, but maybe enough of his fellow citizens will look at him and decide: “At least he’s authentic”.
In a surprise move, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has been nominated to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission. Von der Leyen was not among the initial frontrunners for the post. Of the four appointments announced yesterday, Christine Lagarde of the IMF being nominated as the first woman to head the European Central Bank was the most high-profile.
The latest quarterly report from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has found that Scottish firms are putting off investment because of current uncertainty around Brexit. All sectors, except retail, increased wages over the last three months in a bid to keep skilled workers. However, the survey of 350 firms also found that business confidence in Scotland was up slightly.
At least 40 people have been killed in an air strike on a detention centre for African migrants in Tripoli, Libya. The internationally recognised government in Libya has blamed the attack on General Khalifa Haftar, who is a leading figure in the civil war, fighting against the incumbent administration.
Business & Economy
The chairman of French investment bank Société Générale has spoken with the Financial Times, which leads with his admission that the bank was too slow to cut jobs and restructure as it began to lose the confidence of its investors. SocGen shares have fallen nearly 40% over the past year and the bank posted a profit warning in January 2019. The chairman also hinted that he was prepared for further job cuts if market conditions continued to deteriorate.
Tesla’s latest quarterly results have seen the company’s stock jump seven per cent in the immediate aftermath. It delivered 95,200 cars during Q2 2019, a 51% increase on Q1 and a record haul overall. Deliveries for the company’s biggest seller, the Model 3, were 77,550 compared with 74,100 estimated by analysts. Combined deliveries for the Model S sedans and Model X SUVs were 17,650, also beating estimates of 16,600.
The Labour Party has sought to play down reports that it will renationalise BT. It had been speculated that the leadership was considering a plan drawn up by the Communications Workers’ Union, which might cost around £30 billion, but Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has confirmed that he is “not looking at [the policy]”.
What happened yesterday?
Stocks in the US closed at a record high for the second day in a row, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing 0.3% up, and the Nasdaq Composite rising 0.2%. These indices had all rebounded from a slow start to the day, when further tariffs on China had been threatened. Amid renewed demand for US debt, the yield on 10-year US Treasuries dropped by 5.6 basis points.
Across the Atlantic, the FTSE 100 rose 0.8% and the Europe-wide Stoxx 600 increased 0.4%, although Airbus was the most significant underperformer of the day, losing 0.3%.
Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trust
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Services
International Economic Announcements
(08:55) PMI Services (GER)
(08:55) PMI Composite (GER)
(09:00) PMI Composite (EU)
(09:00) PMI Services (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) Factory Orders (US)
(15:00) ISM Non-Manufacturing (US)
(20:30) Auto Sales (US)
Columns of Note
In The Financial Times, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson examines the phenomenon of “activist employees”, citing the recent issues at Wayfair, where staff protested against the online furniture site’s sale of $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to a contractor equipping a detention centre in Texas. With newer employees wanting to work for companies that share their values, he concludes: “Leaders who cannot communicate their corporate culture and encourage employees to tell them when they feel it is being betrayed leave themselves vulnerable. CEOs who can explain their values and remain open to having them challenged, however, might even manage to harness their employees’ social media savvy the next time they feel the activist urge themselves.”
Daniel Finkelstein uses his regular column in The Times to dissect the growing row between Jeremy Corbyn and the civil service, following unnamed briefings that Whitehall is concerned about the Labour leader’s health should he ever become prime minister. He notes that ever since Tony Benn’s ambitions as Industry Secretary in the mid-1970s were frustrated by the civil service, disciples of the Bennite left, of whom Corbyn is one, have wanted to wrestle power from Whitehall and, in that sense, the leaks at the weekend won’t change the plans of the Labour leadership if they assume power.
Did you know?
Around 2,000 years ago, the Mayan civilisation worshipped turkeys as vessels of the gods.
House of Commons
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Plastic Pollution (No. 2) - Mr Alistair Carmichael
Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 3) Bill: 2nd and 3rd Reading
To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the Draft Capital Allowances (Structures and Buildings Allowances) Regulations 2019 - Jesse Norman
To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2019 - Sajid Javid
Debate on a Motion on Whistleblowing - Norman Lamb, Stephen Kerr
Schools in Winchester - Steve Brine
House of Lords
Support to people suffering from asthma, including on access to medicines - The Earl of Clancarty
Bullying, harassment and abuse in the National Health Service in England - Lord Clark of Windermere
Removing any impediments to selling public land to local authorities or housing associations at below its market value - Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Petition calling for anonymity for those accused of sexual offences until charged - Lord Lexden
Further to the resolutions of this House on 14 and 28 January, and that of the House of Commons on 14 March, it is expedient that a joint committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on the costs and implications for the UK of exiting the EU without a withdrawal agreement on 31 October 2019, and that the committee should report its findings by 30 September 2019 - Baroness Smith of Basildon
Mitigating the risks posed by the wreck of SS Richard Montgomery - Lord Harris of Haringey
Parliament is in recess
House of Commons
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Mel Stride
Select Committee Statement
10th Report of the Transport Committee on local roads funding and maintenance: filling the gap, HC 1486
Debate on a Motion on Ending the Sale of New Petrol and Diesel Cars and Vans - Peter Kyle, Rachel Reeves, Antoinette Sandbach, Lilian Greenwood
General Debate on the Functioning of the Existing Law Relating to Assisted Dying - Nick Boles, Sarah Champion, Norman Lamb
NHS procurement processes and the exclusion of subcontractors - Mr Ivan Lewis
House of Lords
Implementing the recommendations of the independent review into the application of sharia law - Baroness Cox
Home Office discussions with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Lord Campbell-Savours
Cost to the new South Eastern franchise arising from any increase in track access charges proposed by HS1 to the Office of Rail and Road - Lord Berkeley
Protecting the NHS in future trade deals entered into by the UK - Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe
Apprenticeship Levy and the case for the effective delivery of workplace opportunities for young people - Lord Young of Norwood Green
Role of reducing inequality and job insecurity in tackling the prevalence of mental illness - Lord Bird