It is not often that two heads of Western powers celebrate a birthday in the same week. Even more rare that both are in their eighth decade. Should we celebrate that age is apparently now no barrier to such leadership jobs? King Charles III turns 74 on Monday and will be honored with a 41-gun salute and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” at Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guard. But US President Joe Biden is passing a more important milestone, turning 80 on Sunday. He also has a more pressing week of international diplomacy and national politics to deal with before blowing out the candles on his cake.
First there is the G20 summit in Bali, or what an FT colleague called the first global government meeting of the second Cold War. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending, but China’s Xi Jinping is expected to, so there will be pressure for Biden to talk to him.
At home, there’s the small matter of Donald Trump’s long-delayed “very big announcement” on Tuesday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
This is also the week of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand, which brings together 21 countries in the region, the first meeting of its kind since 2018. Again, the US, China and Russia are invited, and again Putin will not be there. However, French President Emmanuel Macron will attend, as he has been invited to speak on global trade relations.
Fixes a hole
Across the Atlantic in Britain, where potential festive roasts are having a particularly miserable season, the key diary date is Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s accounts on Thursday.
The country is in a “tax hole” (not my phrase, Hunts) and the chancellor’s plan is to find around half of the required £55 billion deficit in public spending cuts, with measures including a delay in welfare reforms, a freeze on income tax thresholds and a sneak raid against inheritance tax.
The FT’s parliamentary and economic team will be on hand to translate politicians’ words and find the key points buried in Treasury documents. Read this explainer to understand why the UK must act quickly. And if you think you can do a better job than the chancellor, knock yourself out with our interactive “fill the black hole”.
Sticking to British politics, Nicola Sturgeon will mark eight years as leader of the Scottish National Party on Monday. She got the job when her predecessor and mentor Alex Salmond resigned in the wake of the independence referendum in 2014. While Westminster is cutting government spending, Holyrood is carrying out its own austerity campaign. Will Sturgeon’s milestone spur an assessment of her record as First Minister?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 draws to a close on Friday, but on Sunday we have the start of something that will most likely grab world news as well as sports page headlines for the next month – the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022. To put it this way likely to be a contested tournament would be something of an understatement — read our newspaper report here. The FT will be on hand to provide extensive coverage.
Finally we have more choices. Malaysia goes to the polls on Saturday. Nepalese will vote for parliamentary and provincial government seats on Sunday and the FT’s sister title Nikkei Asia has produced this handy guide to the key points. Kazakhstan’s general election on Sunday is worth noting because it represents the most significant constitutional change for the oil-rich Central Asian country since it declared independence from the former Soviet Union.
There is some potentially important data from the US next week, namely producer price index inflation numbers, retail sales figures and further updates on the faltering US housing market.
The UK’s big economic event is the Autumn Statement, but before that UK unemployment data will be updated on Tuesday. The British government has focused attention on their record here because it is one of the only good news for them. It’s not that good though.
The UK will be the only developed economy with employment still below pre-pandemic levels at the start of 2023, according to a new analysis. Another “winter of discontent” is also looming as a range of workers – nurses are the latest – demand pay rises in line with inflation.
Then on Wednesday, more inflation data will come with concerns that the consumer price index measure will remain in double digits. The week will end for the UK with an update on retail sales, although hopes are not high given gloomy predictions that the country is heading into recession.
The cost of living will also be in focus for the EU this week, with inflation data out on Thursday. There will also be an estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product on Tuesday.
The words “Elon Musk will make headlines again this week” could be written here at any time of the year, but this week a breakout is in the diary. This time it’s over his $56 billion pay package at Tesla. A court in Delaware, where the electric car maker is registered, will hear the complaint from a shareholder.
Vodafone, which reports interim results on Tuesday, has been under pressure to review its operations. Shareholders will be looking at the amount the company has been able to reduce its debt after announcing the sale of a stake in its mast business Vantage last week.
Fashion changes and so do management teams, as British brand Burberry has discovered this year. Investors will be keen to see what new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd has come up with to boost growth when the company reports its first half on Thursday. Analysts expect him to focus on improving profit margins, which have historically lagged behind larger French and Italian rivals.
Read the entire week’s calendar here.
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