Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - ‘Real progress’

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Amid strained economic ties, diplomatic missteps and increasing military brinkmanship, US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met on Wednesday for the first time in over a year. They sat down on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco. The rivalry between the world’s two economic superpowers has not only intensified the risk of conflict, but has also weighed on the fate of industries. Washington has been trying to prevent China from acquiring high-end computer chips and has imposed curbs on US investment in the Asian nation. Beijing has responded by jump-starting its own chip efforts and exhorting citizens to buy locally made phones and other products. Meanwhile China’s economy has stumbled since Xi’s catastrophic pandemic reopening triggered an infection wave that’s estimated to have killed almost two million people.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping with their aides meeting in San Francisco on Wednesday Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Taken together, it’s all a challenging backdrop for diplomats who have also placed cracking down on fentanyl networks and resuming military-to-military communications on the agenda. The latter is of decisive import, given the risks associated with Taiwan and Russia’s war on Ukraine. At Wednesday’s meeting, there were early signs of progress though: Hours before, the US and China announced new commitments on climate change, with promises to build carbon-capture facilities, curtail power sector pollution and take aim at the full suite of greenhouse gases helping warm the planet. Biden said they are making “real progress.” 

Here are today’s top stories

Also at the summit, leaders from Microsoft, Citigroup, Exxon, Tesla and other major companies are waiting in the wings to meet with Xi. For many corporations, the agenda is simple: They’re ready to get back to business with China, despite the challenging atmosphere for business there.

Israeli troops stormed Gaza’s biggest hospital on Wednesday. Israel and the US have alleged that Hamas fighters are inside and below the building, claims Hamas has denied and which cannot be independently verified. Officials from Turkey, Jordan and the United Nations have condemned the action as a violation of international law. The attack on Shifa hospital—the last remaining one in Northern Gaza—is likely to further enrage opponents of Israel’s crushing retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Gaza officials report more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, including thousands of children. US officials have grown increasingly frustrated with Israel’s war effort as civilian killings mount and warnings from Washington go unheeded. Israel says it wants the more than 200 hostages seized by Hamas returned before it will pull back. Still, any consternation in the White House hasn’t stopped the administration from sending more deadly weapons to Israel’s military. 

Patients and internally displaced Palestinians line the hallways of Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Nov. 10. Photographer: AFP for Getty Images 

US shoppers took a breather ahead of the holidays. US retail sales fell in October after a summer spending flurry. A separate report showed producer prices last month fell by the most since April 2020, helped by a plunge in gasoline costs. Wednesday’s reports followed consumer-price data showing inflation is broadly slowing and recent figures indicating tempered job growth, suggesting the economy is slowing and inflation continues to fall after aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Here’s your markets wrap.  

But there’s some turbulence between here and a soft landing. A new study estimates that as many as 1.4 million Americans could become seriously delinquent on all kinds of household credit—including credit cards and personal loans—over the next 12 months because of the financial pressure from student-loan payments that resumed last month.  

SpaceX may spin off its satellite business Starlink in an initial public offering as soon as next year in a bid to capitalize on demand for communications via space. Starlink, a network of 5,000 low-orbiting satellites, provides internet to customers in 60 countries. It’s also been at the center of a controversy since Elon Musk interceded against Ukraine and its use of the network as part of its effort to eject Russia from its lands (a move that’s now the subject of a Senate investigation). Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Starship rocket could be returning to the launch pad as soon as Friday after its debut test blew up in April. Listen for details on the latest episode of Elon, Inc.

The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a flight test in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20. It subsequently exploded. Photographer: Patrick T Fallon/AFP

China’s wealth boom started more than four decades ago when the country began embracing private businesses. Over that period, the founders of some of China’s biggest companies have collectively built up $1 trillion of wealth. Now, as the tycoons approach retirement, some are tapping the next generation. This is the new rich list in China

While still funding Big Oil despite its starring role in the climate crisis, Wall Street has figured out another way to exploit natural resources: Large food and investment companies have acquired more than 12 million hectares of African farmland. The land-buying spree was stoked by rising demand for food among the world’s growing middle class. But now it has spurred a run on the most precious resource of all: water.

Villagers carry water back to their homes in Lugdemiss Tableau in northern Senegal. Demand for water in greater Dakar is expected to increase around 300% in the next 25 years. Photographer: Annika Hammerschlag/Bloomberg

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Champion’s Murder in Africa’s Running Heartland 

In October 2021, Agnes Tirop was found lying in a pool of blood in her modest bungalow in Iten, Kenya. Tirop, 25, who had recently set a world record in the women-only 10-kilometer road race, had been brutally murdered. In the Bloomberg Investigates mini-documentary Run for Your Life, we reveal how runners, coaches, managers and police in this small town—the heartland of Africa’s running elite—found dozens of other cases of alleged domestic abuse, violence and property theft involving female athletes.

Agnes Tirop of Kenya celebrates winning the bronze in the Women’s 10,000-meter final in 2019 at the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. Watch Bloomberg Investigates: Photographer: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

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