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FirstFT: Biden begins fightback

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Joe Biden will this week begin to sell his $1.2tn infrastructure deal to the American people as he tries to put behind him months of Democratic party infighting and sinking poll ratings.

After a crushing electoral defeat in Virginia for the Democrats, the week ended on a positive note for the president after the House of Representatives passed his landmark infrastructure bill late on Friday night, providing a breakthrough for Biden’s legislative ambitions.

Progressive Democrats backed the infrastructure spending bill, which will funnel billions of dollars into improving roads, bridges and tunnels as well as the national railway network, airports and shipping terminals, in return for a pledge from moderate colleagues that they will support a vote on the larger “Build Back Better” bill in the week beginning November 15.

The White House said yesterday that Biden would visit Baltimore on Wednesday as he started the job of selling the merits of his $1.2tn infrastructure package to the American electorate after moderate voters turned away from the Democrats last week in contests across the country.

Evidence of a pick-up in hiring was also welcomed on Friday by the White House as the economy showed signs of regaining momentum after the Delta variant of coronavirus had depressed hiring since the summer. Data released showed 531,000 jobs were added to the US economy in October, close to this year’s monthly average and well above the upwardly revised 312,000 positions created in September. Notably the leisure and hospitality sectors, which have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, saw strong growth.

Speaking at the White House ahead of the infrastructure bill vote Biden called it “a great day” for the economy. He will now be hoping for some momentum for his political programme.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here’s the rest of the news — Gordon.

Five more stories in the news

1. Musk urged to sell 10% of Tesla stake by Twitter users A total of 3.5m users of Twitter voted for Elon Musk to sell a 10 per cent stake in Tesla, worth about $20bn based on Friday’s closing price. The chief executive of Tesla took to Twitter on Saturday to ask his 62.7m followers whether or not he should make the sale and face a tax bill of $4bn. He is yet responded to the result.

2. Xi lays groundwork for third term Xi Jinping has summoned hundreds of senior Chinese Communist party officials to Beijing for a meeting that was expected to pave the way for a historic third term in power. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping are the only two other leaders of the Chinese Communist party to have secured a third term in the party’s one hundred year history.

3. SoftBank unveils $8.8bn share buyback SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has promised a ¥1tn ($8.8bn) share buyback programme over the next 12 months, yielding to investor pressure after the company’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund disclosed a record quarterly loss of ¥825.1bn.

4. Irish minister warns EU could ditch entire Brexit deal The EU could abandon the entire Brexit agreement with the UK if London goes through with its threat to suspend parts of the withdrawal deal, Ireland’s foreign minister has warned. The EU increasingly believes London is seeking to collapse negotiations in a bid to get the EU to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol.

5. Hedge fund makes $400m from volatile natural gas prices Miami-based hedge fund Statar Capital, headed by former Citadel and DE Shaw trader Ron Ozer, bagged a profit of more than $400m in October alone. The gains mark a bounceback after Statar, which manages about $2bn of assets, suffered a loss of $130m in the first two-and-a-half weeks of September.

COP26 digest

  • Rich countries are scrambling to reach a $100bn climate finance target in the last week of COP26 after mixed progress at the event so far.

  • Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and dozens of members of Congress will converge on Glasgow this week for the final few days of COP26, even though Democrats will fail to pass key climate-focused legislation before the conference ends.

  • For young climate campaigners, discontent with action on carbon emissions is spreading into broader activism for social justice.

  • FT View: There has been more hot air than progress at COP26.

  • Henry Mance: If you want action on climate change, start with yourself.

The day ahead

Travel After 21 months of travel restrictions, the US today reopens its borders to fully vaccinated passengers arriving from China, India, the UK and many other European countries.

Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen addresses members of the European parliament in Brussels today on Big Tech’s practice of targeted advertising as MEP’s face calls to ban the practice.

Apec Leaders from the Asia-Pacific trade group meet today and will focus on the economic recovery in their region following the pandemic. Although officially hosted by New Zealand, the gathering will be held entirely online.

Earnings Online payments processor PayPal, which recently held talks about a takeover of Pinterest, reports third-quarter earnings.

What else we’re reading

Fed leadership question risks markets uncertainty Unusually for a Federal Reserve chair, Jay Powell’s last two press conferences have featured probing questions about his fate at the helm of the US central bank. That’s because the window for the Biden administration to decide whether to renominate him for a second term is narrowing.

Why innovation could stop inflation In all the debate surrounding inflation one point gets little discussion, says Rana Foroohar: the role of technology as arguably the most important variable in what might happen to inflation over the coming several years.

Travel sector braces for post-pandemic world After losing $6tn during the coronavirus crisis, the global travel industry — from hotel groups to airlines — must navigate a precarious-looking future.

How China’s tech bosses cashed out at the right time When Xi Jinping complained that relentless home-schooling was putting too much pressure on Chinese children, the heads of at least two Chinese tutoring companies started selling their shares in New York. Documents reviewed by the FT show dozens of other well-timed sales by executives when Chinese tech companies came under fire.

Scroll through TikTok to see the real stars of the workplace Social media has rewritten the rules. Employees may now promote themselves as much as the brand, and short videos help reach students left cold by recruitment fairs, at a time when so many workers are quitting their jobs in what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation”.

Want to get a pay rise? Grace Lordan provides six pay-enhancing life hacks and tells us how to spot the biases holding us back from asking for more money.


Explore a new guide to Miami, including the best places to eat, top museums and art galleries as well as locations to exercise.

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