FirstFT: US Senate passes Biden’s flagship economic package

Good morning. After a marathon overnight voting session, the climate, tax and healthcare bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act was passed by a margin of 51 to 50, marking a cornerstone achievement of President Joe Biden’s first term.

The bill, which is designed to cut prescription drug prices, invest in energy initiatives and reduce the deficit, is not yet law. It will now go to the House of Representatives, where a vote is expected later this week. Then it will be handed to the president, who completes the final step of signing it off.

The approval by the Senate marks the biggest in a string of recent wins for Biden just months before midterm elections, when he will aim to defend slim majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes some of the most significant climate change legislation enacted in the US. Read about the bill’s key climate measures here.

1. China’s military extends drills around Taiwan and ramps up propaganda push Beijing’s largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan had been expected to wind down after navigation warnings for seven areas around the country expired early today. But the Chinese military announced it would continue “joint training under real war conditions”.

2. SoftBank posts $23.3bn loss as falling tech stocks weigh on Vision Fund The Japanese group was hit by a ¥3.1tn ($23.3bn) loss in the second quarter, as sliding technology stocks weighed on Masayoshi Son’s flagship Vision Fund portfolio. It blamed “deepening challenges” in the macroeconomic environment, inflation, central bank policy responses and geopolitical tension.

3. Investors sell stakes in buyout funds at a record pace Pension and sovereign wealth funds were among those that sold $33bn worth of stakes in private funds in the first six months of the year. The sell-off was partly triggered by the steep decline in stock markets.

4. Shortage of job candidates helps PageGroup profits soar Recruitment consultancy PageGroup highlighted improvements in the property and construction, technology and healthcare and life sciences sectors in the US, as well as a record performance in Latin America.

5. Gustavo Petro sworn in as Colombia’s president in historic ceremony The former urban guerrilla, who was jailed for his political beliefs in the 1980s, was sworn in yesterday, officially assuming leadership of what is likely to be the most leftwing government in the country’s history.

The day ahead

Corporate earnings American International Group will publish its second-quarter results after markets close. US meat and poultry processor Tyson Foods is expected to post an increase in third-quarter revenue, boosted by higher meat prices and growth in restaurant demand.

News Corp releases fiscal-year results, while Porsche publishes results for the first half. Quarterly earnings are also due for NTT Group and BioNTech.

Joe Biden visits Kentucky The US president has said he will visit eastern Kentucky to visit families affected by fatal floods. At least 37 people died and hundreds were displaced in the state following record rainfall in July.

Arms aid for Ukraine The US is expected to announce a further $1bn security assistance package for Ukraine as early as today, Reuters has reported. It would take the total of US help since Russia’s invasion in February up to $8.8bn.

Ben & Jerry’s dispute with Unilever The latest court hearing in Ben & Jerry’s row with parent company Unilever over the sale of the ice cream maker’s Israeli business will take place in New York City.

What else we’re reading

Kenya’s presidential election heats up The two main candidates fighting to be the next Kenyan president are neck and neck ahead of tomorrow’s poll. William Ruto, 55, and Raila Odinga, 77, are scrabbling for votes in the midst of the country’s economic downturn, with inflation at a five-year high of 8.3 per cent in July.

A woman wearing a head-dress made of oranges dances during a rally for Raila Odinga, presidential candidate, in Nairobi, Kenya
A woman dances during a rally for Raila Odinga, presidential candidate, in Nairobi, Kenya © Bloomberg

Bad news for Big Tech Real chinks are starting to show in the core business model of firms such as Amazon and Meta, which hinges on globalisation and the network effect to create scale, argues Rana Foroohar.

How cost of living crisis is pushing UK households to breaking point People on low incomes in the UK are facing increasing precarity, with the rising cost of living stretching budgets to their absolute capacity. A single change in circumstance, from the end of a relationship to a pet’s death, can be enough to tip them over the edge.

Line chart of Total loans (£mn) showing Personal loans from community lenders soared in 2021

The end of the warehouse bubble The pandemic put industrial sheds centre stage in commercial real estate because they were less vulnerable to Covid-19 lockdowns than offices and shops. But now, warehouses are suffering from rate rises and cooling demand as the global economy causes a slowdown in ecommerce.

Climate, war and inflation jolt reinsurers into action Claims for natural catastrophes and pandemic-related losses have wiped out a large part of reinsurers’ profits in the past few years, causing the price of coverage to rise — and the options to shrink for insurers looking to pass on risks.

Food & drink

Mix up your picnic fare by swapping sandwiches for any number of these can-be-eaten-cold delights. Rowley Leigh offers up a plethora of recipes we can look forward to enjoying at lunch, including chicken and ham pie and kipper pâté.