Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - The ‘sham’ votes begin

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

In what have been labeled by Ukraine, the US, NATO and others as “sham” votes, Kremlin forces and Moscow-aligned rebels in four occupied territories of Ukraine are holding referendums on whether to join Russia. Kyiv has slammed the effort as reminiscent of a similar ballot in Crimea in 2014 ahead of its annexation, while the West has warned that Vladimir Putin’s related threat to use nuclear weapons is fomenting global instability. The ballots in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, mark an escalation in Russia’s plans to annex swaths of its neighbor. They follow recent setbacks for Russian troops and Putin’s move to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to fight. That order has triggered protests around the country, the biggest since the early days of the war, and conscription-age men are rushing to find ways to flee. Following more blowback, the Kremlin has now announced a few exemptions. At the same time, more evidence emerged of alleged torture and mass killings of civilians by Russian soldiers. 

Bloomberg is tracking the continuing coronavirus pandemic and the progress of global vaccination efforts with daily updates.

Here are today’s top stories

For all the attention that soaring inflation has gotten this year, one of its most surprising direct offshoots has gone largely unnoticed: US government debt is shrinking rapidly. Not in dollars-and-cents terms. No, that’s growing day by day. But it’s dropping in the way that really matters: when measured against the inflated size of the economy. As for markets, Friday was just a bad day. Here’s your markets wrap.

Buyout firms have been forced to erase billions of dollars from the value of their wagers, and financial regulators are now scrutinizing whether managers are reducing fees for investors when those deals sour.

Hong Kong scrapped hotel quarantine for inbound travelers in the most substantial move yet to end its pandemic isolation, and signaled more easing is likely as the city tries to salvage its status as a global financial center. Worldwide, as of Sept. 21, there were 491,000 confirmed new coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period worldwide and 1,284 confirmed Covid-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In the US, there are currently on average 347 confirmed Covid-related deaths each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the actual numbers are likely much higher. The number of confirmed daily US fatalities has remained relatively stable since April.

Barclays has told its investment bankers to work from the office at least four days a week, saying worsening market conditions mean a greater need for in-person collaboration.

Soaring mortgage rates aren’t stopping plenty of US property owners from tapping home equity—even if it means locking in a steep increase in their monthly repayments.

Liz Truss’s new British government delivered the most sweeping tax cuts since 1972, slashing levies on rich households and companies. Her move however triggered a massive market selloff in UK assets, and the pound plunged by the most since March 2020, reaching the lowest in 37 years against the dollar.

Truss’s plan, melding the biggest tax giveaway in half a century with Thatcherite deregulation, is seen as a straight-up gamble with Britain’s future—one that’s already starting to sour.  

Liz Truss Photographer: WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe

 What you’ll need to know tomorrow

The Italian Restaurant With Just One Table

Is it possible to uncover a singular dining experience in the vicinity of Rome that feels like a secret? Something that hasn’t blown up, thanks to Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy or the late Anthony Bourdain’s wanderings? It is possible. That place is Solo per Due, which boasts just one table for two and bills itself as the world’s smallest restaurant

The single table for two at Solo per Due near Rome. Photographer: Andrew Davis/Bloomberg

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