Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

It's all fun and Games

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner

3 August 2021

Good morning,

As the proverb goes, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”—or, potentially, their life. Those are the allegations Belarusian Olympic sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya is bringing forward to her native country as she applied for asylum at the Polish Embassy in Tokyo earlier on Monday. On Sunday afternoon, the athlete was instructed to pack her bags and return to Minsk, after she criticised her national sporting authorities for entering her into the 4×400 meter relay without her consent.

The chilling story is far from a revelation that should shock readers. Olympic games are, after all, a chance for harmless patriotism at best. At their worst, they are the physical manifestation of countries’ attitudes on the international stage. Belarus’ track record of forced re-entry of its dissidents is apparent: Timanovskaya joins the likes of compatriot journalist Roman Protasevich, who was dramatically detained after his plane was forced to land in Minsk.

Forced participation in the Olympics sounds like a chapter straight out of a Soviet handbook, and reeks of eerie similarity. Nevertheless, Timanovskaya is not the only athlete to suffer the repercussions of being perceived as a “traitor”. Although it may vary in degree, the burden that athletes feel when competing in the Olympics is one you and I will most likely never experience.

Their performance is not a measure of their individual prowess, but rather of the nation’s.

And withdrawal—whether forced or voluntary—becomes synonymous with “deserter”. Take for instance Ugandan Olympic weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, who, after returning to Uganda amidst bizarre circumstances surrounding his disappearance from the Olympic village, told police in Kampala that he left to try to have a better life in Japan. That is because had he won any medals in Tokyo, it would still not be enough to support his wife and unborn child

So far, one for the athletes, nil for patriotism.

Lest we forget, these incidents should not be expected only of countries that are semi-democratic. A chorus of American popular opinion was quick to make itself heard when American Olympic gymnast Simone Biles decided to temporarily withdraw from competing in Tokyo to focus on her mental well-being. Internet sleuths, “couch potatoes”, and twitter-finger haters mobilised and were quick to call the gymnast weak for not being able to withstand the mental pressure of the Olympics.

Biles is the gymnast with most World medals (25) and most World gold medals (19). I’ll let that sink in.

To engage in the Olympics is a chance to display some wholehearted, harmless patriotism, and its history should teach us that the new records set are not always what lasts most in the memory.

News

Ahead of this week’s review of the government’s traffic light system for overseas travel, prime minister Boris Johnson has scrapped a proposal to create an “amber watch-list” for countries at risk of moving to red. Tory MPs have warned that a complex system risked putting people off from travelling and severely affect the traveling industry.

Changes to the NHS Covid-19 app will reduce the number of people required to isolate if they have been in contact with people that have tested positive for coronavirus, said health secretary Sajid Javid. The app will now only look for the contacts of people who have tested positive from the two previous days. (£)

Nicola Sturgeon is set to reveal plans for the lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions in a statement MSPs at Holyrood today. The statement is expected to include updates on the use of masks, large crowds at events, the return of office working, and Covid measures in schools. The Scottish government is also making a statement around the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland, following the latest figures published last week.

Business and economy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is pushing back against calls to scrap a proposal to cap bankers’ bonuses over fears the City of London will lose its competitive edge to rival cities. The government has said this issue is not a priority for the chancellor and will be a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority to review. (£)

Following Goldman Sachs’ proposal to increase junior investment analysts’ salaries to £100,00, Credit Suisse is the latest bank to follow suit. Amid growing competition for fresh talent, banking giants have been looking for new ways to entice young workers after up to 70% of junior bankers quit due to burnout since the onset of the pandemic.

As gas prices rise, small UK energy suppliers could fail or be acquired by larger competitors in the coming months. Small companies face the financial shock of record high gas prices as well as a key deadline to hand over renewable energy subsidies at the end of the month.

SSE has sold its stake in Scotland’s gas supply pipeline network to focus on renewable electricity. The pipelines will now be owned 37.5% each by Brookfield Investment Fund and the Ontario teachers’ pension fund, with the remaining 25% stake continuing to be held by Omers.

Columns of note

Libby Purves vindicates fourth placers on and off the Olympic podiums in her piece in The Times. Despite being not being cheered on in a display of “harmless patriotism”, like the gold, silver and bronze medallists, fourth placers deserve a comparable level of recognition. After all, arriving fourth in whatever competition—whether on or off the field—signifies that a person was a “contender, a threat, one whose brilliance the precious-metal winners feared”. In a day and age in which not arriving first equals not arriving at all, Purves’ words are a sombre reminder that success is neither the only measure for effort and “dedicated involvement”, nor the only marker for a job well-done. (£)

Whereas, in Tortoise, Emily Schultheis writes a critical analysis of Germany’s Green party’s potential rise to power amidst the climate crisis. In her own words, “if there is one party in Germany particularly poised to benefit from the resonance that the climate crisis now has within the electorate, it is the Greens”. Up until just three months ago, the German green party had ruled in coalition governments for the past three years and at different levels—state and federal—yet had never had a shot at running the country singlehandedly. The Greens not only benefit from the climate crisis, but also from the leadership crisis in chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Most significantly, Shultheis points out that the Greens’ winning streak is largely due to their positive, reinforcing rhetoric. Rather than remind people of the doom-and-gloom of the climate crisis, they paint a restorative picture of Germany post-election, using uplifting and convincing slogans to entice voters. (£)

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed positively on Monday, with the FTSE 100 ending the session up at 0.70%, after the covid death count fell slightly on Sunday, allaying investors’ fears at the session’s opening. A further boost in investor confidence was provided by the UK opening its borders to vaccinated visitors form the EU and US. However, sterling ended the trading day 0.12% weaker against the dollar, ending at $1.38, and 0.16% weaker against the euro at €1.169

Meanwhile in Europe, European stocks hit almost record high following a rebound in Asian shares overnight. The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day up 0.59%, with the French Cac-40 leading European indices, closing the day up 0.95% thanks to a 180% surge in first-half net income of French insurer Axa.

Over in the US, the S&P 500 edged down 0.2% at closing, driven by growing uncertainty about the Delta variant and economic outlook. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also closed the day negatively, falling 0.3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fared better, expanding fairly modestly and closing the day up 0.1%.

What’s happening today?

Finals

Filtronic

Joules Grp

Nwf

Interims

Aferian

BP

Coats

Direct Line

Greggs

Keller

Rotork

Standard Chartered

Travis Perkins

Ultra Electronics

Q2 Results

BP

Gran Tierra

Trading Announcements

Barr (A.G.)

Lamprell

AGMs

Caffyns

Syncona

Final Dividend Payment Date

Coca-Cola HBC

Discoverie Grp.

Gb Group

Johnson Matthey

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Schroeder Real

Int. Economic Announcements

(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)

(15:00) Factory Orders (US)

(20:30) Auto Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Two-thirds of the universe’s predicted quantity of lithium is missing, and no-one knows where it is. This is known as the ‘cosmological lithium problem’. (source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament

First Minister’s Statement: COVID-19 Update

Ministerial Statement: Actions being taken to reduce drug deaths in Scotland 

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