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A coup attempt and an undivided government

January 7, 2021, 11:35 AM UTC

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Good morning.

A coup attempt, incited by a defeated president.  That’s a plot line for a Tom Clancy novel, not something that would happen in the citadel of democracy. But yesterday, it did. It was the most significant attack on the U.S. Capitol since the British invaded in 1814.

That disturbing spectacle swamped the other big story of the day: the election of two Democratic senators in the heart of the once-solid South, handing control of Congress to the new president’s party. Many political analysts in Georgia credited this one to President Trump as well. As always, the departing President is keeping himself at the center of attention.

For business, it’s the second story that significantly changes the outlook for the next four years. Many business leaders were hoping for a different result—a divided government whose center of gravity would rest with centrists like Romney, Collins, Manchin and Warner. With clearer control in Democratic hands, the President will be under greater pressure to cater to his progressive caucus—likely creating bigger headaches for business.

Most disturbing is the fact that a significant portion of the American public—including a number of CEO Daily readers—sincerely believes the November election was fraudulent, despite 50 states and some 60 courts that have said otherwise. According to YouGov, 45% of Republican voters approve of the storming of the Capitol building, based on what they read or heard about the event. Hard to see how democracy survives when the most basic facts of public life are up for grabs, and immune to resolution.

You can read Fortune’s coverage of the insurrection in Washington here and here and of the Georgia Senate race here and here.

More news below.

Alan Murray


"Orderly transition"

Following yesterday's chaos, Congress continued to do its job tallying electoral-college votes, and Vice-President Mike Pence this morning affirmed Joe Biden's November victory. "It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not," he told lawmakers. Trump then finally promised an orderly transition of power, via someone else's Twitter account, because... Fortune

Twitter move

…Twitter temporarily suspended President Trump's account "as a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C." It said the account would remain locked until Trump removes tweets that contained "repeated and severe violations" of Twitter's civic integrity policy. Facebook and YouTube also removed the now-infamous Trump video in which he told insurgents to go home, but also told them he loved them and repeated false claims about the election's integrity. Fortune

Alibaba and Tencent

Shares in Alibaba and Tencent slid 4% or more after news broke that the Trump administration is considering a ban on U.S. investments in them. Given the size of the companies—their primary listings have a combined market value of $1.3 trillion—the move would be a huge deal for the market, and for U.S.-China relations. Fortune

NYSE listings

The New York Stock Exchange has U-turned once more and will after all delist three Chinese telecoms giants, as Trump wants. Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley: "If you are confused, so am I and it seems like the dying days of the Trump Administration will feature more last shots at China." Fortune


Bayer and CureVac

Germany's Bayer has signed up to aid the development and rollout of the candidate COVID-19 vaccine from its compatriot CureVac. The deal, which could see Bayer take the lead in marketing the vaccine outside Europe, follows the EU's approval of Moderna's vaccine. Moderna, CureVac and Pfizer-BioNTech are all using a new kind of vaccine technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. Bayer's share price rose more than 2% on the news. Fortune

Walgreens Boots

Walgreens Boots Alliance is selling most of its pharmacy wholesale unit to AmerisourceBergen, for $6.5 billion. Walgreens would prefer to focus on its retail pharmacies and health initiatives, as it squares up to rivals CVS and Amazon. Wall Street Journal

Digital taxes

Italy, India and Turkey's new digital services taxes—which disproportionately affects U.S. firms because the biggest tech firms are American—will not lead to U.S. tariffs just yet. But the U.S. Trade Representative's Office on Wednesday paved the way for such retaliation by saying the taxes are inconsistent with international tax principles. Reuters

Spacing doses

Former FDA director Norman Baylor has added his voice to the chorus of those warning against heavily spacing out doses of twin-jab COVID-19 vaccines, such as that from Pfizer and BioNTech. The U.K. is already spacing out the doses by 12 weeks, in order to cover more people with initial doses, but the companies have warned that the data only supports a three-week separation between doses. Extending the gap or relying on one dose is "a very risky venture because if it fails, you’re in worse shape," Baylor said. CNBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.