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Biden heads to Europe with China on his mind

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Biden in Europe with China on his mind — Joe Biden jets off for his first foreign trip as President on Wednesday with meetings in the U.K., Brussels for the G-7 and finally a sit down with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva next Wednesday. The European swing is important with the White House looking to reconnect with traditional allies after the rocky Trump years.

But even while in Europe, China will remain top of mind for the White House after Senate passage of a sweeping bi-partisan bill (that faces an uncertain future in the House) and efforts by the administration to use executive authority to improve the U.S. position on rare earth minerals, batteries and other areas. It’s the key foreign policy challenge the administration faces on the economic front.

Via Beacon Policy Advisors: “[N]early all foreign policy decisions are made through the lens of how they will impact the US effort to out-compete China. In the case of Europe, this has already been shown in decisions the administration has made regarding the push for an intellectual property waiver for the coronavirus vaccines and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“It will continue to impact future decisions as well on issues ranging from the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs to the establishment of a tech partnership between the US and the EU.”

Bipartisan infrastructure talks are (actually not) dead … Via our Burgess Everett: “Bipartisan infrastructure talks between … Biden and GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito are over, and the White House will now focus on working with a bipartisan group of 20 senators.

“Biden and Capito spoke for five minutes Tuesday, the West Virginia senator said, the final conversation in what’s been a stubborn deadlock over how to pay for a massive infrastructure bill and how large that measure should be. The two sides were about $700 billion apart after the GOP’s final offer. …

“The breakdown puts new pressure on a group of bipartisan senators to quickly come up with something that can satisfy Biden’s desires and also garner at least 10 GOP votes. After waiting 10 years to have full control of Washington, there’s no desire in the leadership suites to see another six or more weeks of negotiations”

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING — Email me on [email protected] and follow me on Twitter @morningmoneyben.

Biden this evening “will greet U.S. Air Force personnel and their families stationed in the United Kingdom and deliver remarks at Royal Air Force Mildenhall. … Senate Banking subcommittee has a hearing at 2:30 p.m. on “Building A Stronger Financial System: Opportunities of a Central Bank Digital Currency” …

House Budget Committee has a hearing at 11:00 a.m. on Biden’s FY2022 spending proposal featuring Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda D. Young … House Financial Services has hearing at noon on “Universal Vouchers: Ending Homelessness and Expanding Economic Opportunity in America”

CHINA BILL HEADS TO HOUSE — Our Sarah Ferris and Andrew Desiderio: “The Senate … passed a massive bipartisan bill aimed at countering China’s economic and geopolitical rise — though it faces another uphill climb on the other side of the Capitol, where the House is already contending with challenges on the issue.

“The Senate’s China competitiveness measure won final approval after months of committee work and weeks of partisan squabbles … But the fate of the Senate’s rare cross-aisle collaboration is uncertain in the House, where Democrats are advancing several of their own bills to bolster U.S. competitiveness in science and manufacturing as well as to respond to Beijing’s human-rights abuses”

BIDEN INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN COULD DROP CLIMATE EFFORTS — Our Zack Colman: “Biden’s National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said … some ambitious proposals to fight climate change could fall out of the infrastructure package, but the administration would not give up its pursuit of the measures to push green energy to slash greenhouse gases.

“In an interview with POLITICO, McCarthy acknowledged the political difficulties in passing aggressive climate change legislation, but said Biden was still ‘going for it on climate in his $2 trillion infrastructure plan. ‘I think a lot of people have concerns,’ McCarthy said. ‘We have concerns about whether we’re going to meet the moment in the kind of bold way in which President Biden knows we have to.’”

REPORT RE-UPS DEM CALLS FOR A WEALTH TAX — Our Aaron Lorenzo: “The IRS has opened an investigation into apparently leaked tax documents showing that ultra-rich Americans like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and business tycoon Warren Buffett paid very little or no taxes, while Democrats seized on the report to further their call for higher taxes on the wealthy.

“The revelations by ProPublica will undoubtedly put a sharp focus on the debate in Congress over raising taxes on wealthy people and revive calls for a ‘wealth tax’ that supporters say would capture a greater amount of the assets held by the rich. If the information was leaked by someone with access to IRS data, it would be one of the biggest breaches in the agency’s history.”

A NEW MEME STOCK EMERGES — WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein: “Shares of Clover Health Investments Corp. soared after emerging as the latest target for retail traders on Reddit forums.
The healthcare company’s share price rose as much as 109% Tuesday before retreating to close at $22.15, up 86% and nearly triple the $7.64 price at the end of last month. Following a 32% jump in the share price Monday, more than 720 million shares traded on Tuesday, nearly a 45-fold increase from Friday.

“Clover Health went public Jan. 8 by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, run by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya. Founded in 2013 by healthcare entrepreneur Vivek Garipalli and based in Nashville, Tenn., it provides private health insurance and Medicare plans in eight U.S. states.”

RETAIL INVESTORS DRIVING THE MARKET — Via Reuters: “Wall Street stocks struggled to eke out closing gains on Tuesday as a lack of clear market catalysts kept institutional investors on the sidelines, while retail traders fueled the ongoing meme stocks rally.

“All three major U.S. stock indexes ended the range-bound session near flat or higher, with the S&P 500 and the Dow closing within about 0.5% of record highs. The tech-laded Nasdaq Composite fared best, with Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc providing the biggest boost. … The CBOE volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, touched its lowest level in over a year.”

JOBS OPENINGS HIT RECORD — Our Rebecca Rainey: “U.S. employers had 9.3 million job openings available at the end of April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, the highest number recorded since the government started collecting the data in 2000.

“Employers hired 6.1 million workers in April, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, a small increase from the 6 million hired in March. At the same time, the rate of workers quitting jobs reached the highest level on record in April, while layoffs reached a series low. … The new data, coupled with a mediocre May jobs report, is fueling business complaints of a labor shortage.

AND EMPLOYERS HAVE TO SCRAMBLE — NYT’s By Nelson D. Schwartz: “College subsidies for children and spouses. Free rooms for summer hotel employees and a set of knives for aspiring culinary workers. And appetizers on the house for anyone willing to sit down for a restaurant job interview.

“Determined to lure new employees and retain existing ones in a suddenly hot job market, employers are turning to new incentives that go beyond traditional monetary rewards. In some cases, the offerings include the potential to reshape career paths, like college scholarships and guaranteed admission to management training programs.”

AMAZON COULD DUMP J.P. MORGAN OFF CREDIT CARD — Bloomberg’s Gillian Tan and Jennifer Surane: “Amazon.com Inc. is fielding bids to replace JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the issuer on its popular co-brand credit card, according to people familiar with the matter.
American Express Co. and Synchrony Financial are among those bidding on the portfolio, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the negotiations.

“Representatives for the lenders declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Amazon didn’t have immediate comment when reached by email on Tuesday JPMorgan is willing to part with the Amazon portfolio, according to some of the people familiar with the matter. Banks in recent years have loaded up their cards with rich perks, making it harder for lenders to turn a profit, especially in the world of co-brand cards where revenue is often shared with the merchant partner.”

TRANSITIONS — DDC Public Affairs has hired Katie Chipps as vice president of PAC services. She was previously second vice president of external relations at Travelers.

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