Charlotte Street Partners



Biden’s Geneva test

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
16 June 2021

Good morning,

On Monday, Joe Biden’s first participation as a president in a one-day NATO summit signalled the next phase of the United States’ return to multilateral diplomacy. However, the most important piece of geopolitical theatrics is still to come. 
Recent developments in American foreign policy will be put to the test today as the US president heads to Switzerland for his first one-to-one meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Although their rendezvous will take place in Geneva – perhaps strategically chosen for its tradition of political neutrality – the conversation is likely to be anything but neutral.
The first sign came on Monday, when Biden issued a warning that the potential death of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny would hurt Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world and especially with the United States. 
And then, there is Putin’s playbook. In a rare interview with a US news agency this week, the Russian president was asked a long list of questions on contested topics such as Russia’s involvement in cyber-attacks, the imprisonment of his political rival Navalny and meddling in the 2016 and 2020 US elections. The summary key message of the 90-minute interview? “Russia is not to blame”. Crucially, Putin refused to give a guarantee that Alexei Navalny would leave prison alive, an omission that spells trouble for the already tense US-Russia relationship.
The Geneva meeting is unlikely to lead to any immediate agreements, but will play an important role in shaping the relationship with Russia in the years to come. The Russian president may be a formidable foe, but Biden comes from a position of strength – one freshly cemented by the multilateral approach he has demonstrated in recent days and weeks. He will be measured in his approach and, in referring to his Russian counterpart as “a worthy adversary”, careful to grant Putin the respect he craves.
Donald Trump’s first encounter with Putin set the scene for a mysterious and shaky relationship that lasted until the end of Trump’s presidency. Biden’s meeting with the Russian president might be the first sign of a very different type of Russia-US cooperation. 


Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary has said that the pilot of a flight that was diverted to Belarus, leading to the arrest of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, had no other choice but to land in Minsk. He added that the incident was “clearly a premeditated breach” of international aviation rules. In the meantime, Belarus has denied allegations that the diversion was a forced landing.
Israel has launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the first since a ceasefire ended 11 days of intense conflict in May, in retaliation to incendiary balloons launched by Palestinian groups. The Israeli military said it was “ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said the country’s economy improved in the first half of the year but has warned of possible food shortages owing to the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s typhoons. In a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee on Tuesday, the leader set goals to achieve the country’s new five-year economic plan, including increased food and metal production.

Business and economy

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into Apple and Google over allegations that the two companies hold a dominant position in the mobile phone market. The year-long study will examine whether the two companies have a harmful duopoly that is stifling competition.
Environmental activists have lodged a legal challenge with the European court of human rights, arguing that Norway’s drilling for oil in the Arctic breaches human rights. Norway has already defeated three lawsuits filed by environmental groups accusing the government of breaking the country’s constitution and the right to a healthy environment. This follows a series of recent legal challenges to fossil fuel exploitation, including a court in the Netherlands ruling that Royal Dutch Shell must accelerate its emission cuts. (£)
The Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform has called on the UK government to change UK regulations on finance post-Brexit to “unlock” over £100bn of investment in small businesses and high-growth tech firms. Led by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the government taskforce has proposed regulations to enable pension funds to invest more easily in high-risk, high-growth firms.

Columns of note

Yesterday, Australia and the United Kingdom agreed a major free trade deal. In the Financial Times, the editorial board argues that while the deal will become a framework for future trade talks, it sets an unfortunate precedent in the way the UK’s trade policy is managed. (£)
In the Independent, Chris Stevenson reflects on the troubling footage of the BBC’s Newsnight political editor, Nicholas Watt, being chased through Westminster streets by a group of anti-lockdown protesters. Freedom of expression is a key pillar of any free society, he says, but “if raising your voice so that it drowns out discussion is the go-to move”, then we all lose. 

Cartoon source: The Economist


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed higher on Tuesday, with the FTSE 100 ending the session up 0.36% at 7,172.48, while the FTSE 250 was 0.5% weaker at 22,631.72. Sterling entered into negative territory, last trading 0.18% weaker against the dollar at $1.4087, and losing 0.23% on the euro to €1.1616.
Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.19%, to 34,326.96, the S&P 500 fell 0.15%, to 4,248.64 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.72%, to 14,071.50.
In company news:
General Motors Co has announced plans to increase its global spending on electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion through 2025, a 30% advance on its previous forecast.
Swedish firm Ikea has been fined €1.1m by a French court for “receiving personal data by fraudulent means” in order to identify potential trouble-makers among its employees.
Fashion retailer Boohoo has reported a 32% growth in sales in the three months to May, amid the online shopping boom during the pandemic.

What’s happening today?


Trading announcements

Anexo Group Plc
Echo Energy
Elixirr Int.
Foresight Solar
International Airlines
Jadestone Energy
Kooth Plc
Life Settlemen
Standard Life
Tullow Oil        
Tullow Oil        

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index 
(07:00) Producer Price Index 
(07:00) Retail Price Index

Int. economic announcements
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) 
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

      After Frederick the Great of Prussia instituted a high tax on coffee, he hired a squad of “coffee sniffers” to sniff out anyone illegally roasting coffee. (Source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Northern Ireland
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Presentation of Bill 
Presentation of Ballot Bill
The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualifications (Dissolved Companies) Bill: Second Reading
Safety of anti-loitering devices

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Sustainability of the fishing industry in the UK
Oral questions
Security needs of public representatives in relation to the regulation of online abuse
Oral questions
Ensuring young people have access to education and training focussed on the skills and knowledge employers require
Oral questions
Report by Amnesty International,“Like We Were Enemies in a War”: China’s Mass Internment, Torture, and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang
Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] – second reading

Scottish parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Portfolio Questions: Social Justice, Housing and Local Government; Constitution, External Affairs and Culture
Ministerial Statement: Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) Scotland Act 2021 Update
Scottish Government Debate: Mitigating, Tackling and Responding to the Skills Impact of Brexit
Business Motions
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Approval of SSIs (if required)
Decision Time
Members’ Business — S6M-00138 Monica Lennon: Historical Forced Adoption

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