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Jackson Hole and Mugshot Buzz: Your Saturday US Briefing

(Bloomberg) -- This week, the world watched as former president Donald Trump surrendered in Atlanta on charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election. A polarizing mugshot of Trump was released soon after, adding to the assemblage of mugshots from other case defendants including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and attorney Sidney Powell. Trump didn’t hesitate to capitalize on the image, and soon after posted on X for the first time since 2021 with a link to a political fundraising page.

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But before that, he skipped the first Republican presidential debate for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Trump attributed the decision to his high standing in the polls, where his supporters have signaled even stronger approval since his legal troubles intensified. Eager to catch up to the former president, eight other GOP candidates gathered in Milwaukee on Wednesday. But jabs between former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy signaled a deepening divide among the party’s foreign policy views as criticism arose about whether the US should continue to send aid to Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man who led a mutiny that posed the biggest threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s almost quarter-century rule, is presumed dead after he was listed onboard a plane that crashed on Wednesday. All 10 passengers who were aboard the aircraft were killed, according to Russia’s aviation authority. American officials said early assessments signaled the plane carrying Prigozhin may have been destroyed by a bomb on board, though the Kremlin denounced allegations from US officials that he was the victim of an assassination that was probably approved by Putin. Now, all eyes are on the Kremlin and the Wagner group to see what comes next. The Kremlin said Putin is too busy to attend the G20 Summit in India next month, after he made a virtual appearance at the meeting of BRICS emerging economies in South Africa this week.

As Putin’s war on Ukraine rages on, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated his country’s commitment to Kyiv. “We’ve always known this was going to be a long process,” Trudeau told Bloomberg TV. “Certainly from the conversations we’ve had at the G7 and NATO, we are ready for a war that will take as long as it needs to, because we cannot and must not let Russia win.” Read more from the interview here.

Back in the US, the world’s top central bankers gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Federal Reserve’s annual symposium — and hopefully, you have your Bingo cards out and ready. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said policymakers are prepared to raise interest rates even further if needed, while also signaling that they could hold rates steady at the next FOMC meeting in September as investors expect. The message remained consistent with Powell’s messaging throughout this year: he is focused on restoring price stability, and further tightening remains on the table to get the country back to 2% inflation if necessary. ECB President Christine Lagarde reiterated the same committment for the euro zone, telling Bloomberg TV “it’s critically important that inflation expectations remain anchored at 2%.” Still, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the Fed probably needs to raise interest rates at least one more time, adding that not enough attention is being paid to the effects of US fiscal deficits.

Among the hotbed of labor issues this summer, United Auto Workers gave union leaders permission to call a strike against the biggest US carmakers if they fail to agree on a new contract before Sept. 15, which sets the stage for three weeks of tough negotiations. The UAW President signaled that if Ford, General Motors and Stellantis don’t give up more ground, the union could strike at all three companies instead of just one. Hollywood writers are still held up in negotiations and fired back at the major media companies after the group representing the studios released details of its latest proposal.

One issue confronting workers is the lack of affordable housing in the US, where construction has long focused on single-family homes and large apartment buildings. To tackle that, states like Oregon, California and Maine have effectively ended single-family zoning, revising regulations to allow duplexes, triplexes and other multifamily units to be built, while lawmakers in Arizona and Rhode Island introduced similar legislation this year. President Joe Biden is also pushing for more middle housing with a plan that rewards areas that implement zoning reforms.

This summer has been a hot one, and the US is still feeling the consequences of increasingly disastrous climate change. Now, a punishing heat wave is testing the Texas power grid this week as triple-digit temperatures continue to drive up electricity consumption. Plus, Hawaii state and local municipal bonds have pared all their 2023 gains in the past three weeks after the catastrophic Maui wildfires delivered a fresh reminder of climate risk in the $4 trillion market for state and local debt. The FBI released a validated list of 388 people still unaccounted for after the tragedy. Meanwhile, Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz is urging visitors to ​​​​​​go to South Maui as the tourism-reliant state seeks to rebuild.Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the week ahead.

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