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Morning Update

Word of the week Wednesday, Trump's legal case rejected by US court, challenges for the Eurozone as retail sales slump, and continuing tensions in the Middle East.

Word of the Week Wednesday 

Black Swan Events: These are events in the financial or geopolitical sphere which are difficult to predict but may have severe implications. It was once widely assumed that swans were only white, until news spread that black swans existed.

US Court Rejects Trump’s Presidential Immunity Case

Yesterday afternoon the US Court of Appeals rejected Donald Trump’s legal case which sought to shield himself against prosecution through presidential immunity. The case had been brought up as part of Trumps defence against election subversion charges. The three-person panel unanimously rejected the case stating that “for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defences of any other criminal defendant”.

Notwithstanding the Court’s ruling, Trump has continued to argue that that for former Presidents ought to be beneficiaries of Presidential Immunity. It is therefore expected that

 

Trump will appeal the decision, which could see it go to the Supreme Court. Here, the Supreme Court will decide whether to review it or uphold the Court of Appeals’ ruling.

According to the BBC, Trump currently faces “more than 90 charges in multiple cases” and hence the landmark decision makes the former President’s legal situation even more precarious given that he has cited presidential immunity across a multitude of cases.

Eurozone Retail Sales Slump

Eurozone retail sales over December missed expectations yesterday, as they slipped at their highest rate in a year. Yesterday’s print was a further indication of the challenges continuing to confront the Eurozone, as households grapple with borrowing costs at their highest level in decades as Frankfurt’s benchmark interest rate stands at 4.5%. The print serves as a reminder that the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact consumer demand across the continent, as the latest consumer confidence survey points to consumers being less inclined to make major purchases.

On a monthly basis, retail sales across the 20-member currency union fell 1.1%, against forecasts of a 1% contraction. When looking at retail sales on an annualised basis, retail sales fell for the 15th consecutive month with the print pointing to a 0.8%, contraction.

Some positive signs however were seen in Slovakia (which recorded 2.0% growth), Croatia (at 1.4%), and Portugal (at 0.7%), though this came in sharp contrast to Slovenia’s retail sales which slumped 3.6%, as Luxembourg’s fell 3.1%.

Middle East

In the Middle East, whilst a lot of the focus has understandably been on negotiations between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Qatar and the US, there’s been several lower profile conversations between Israel and Hezbollah, brokered by the US, UK, France Germany and Italy. Axios is reporting that there’s been progress with both parties in reducing the tension on the Israel-Lebanon border, which the US is keen to see.

With fears that the Israel Hamas conflict could widen into other areas in the region, the White House believes getting an agreed de-escalation would be a significant step to reducing this possibility. Though nothing is likely to be signed by the parties, it is hoped that in the coming weeks the brokers of the deal will be able to announce what each side has signed up to, which is namely moving troops back from the border and Israel not flying into Lebanese territory. In return the brokers will offer Lebanon some economic sweeteners.

To be honest, reading the article will give a far better summary than we have been able to – click here to read. Scoop: U.S., European allies hope to soon announce steps to end Israel-Hezbollah fighting.

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