A nation in limbo

Balance of Power

The U.S. is stuck in an unprecedented limbo nearly two weeks after Election Day and nine days after the presidential race was called for Democrat Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump is refusing to concede, while also hardly acting as if he's preparing for a second term.

Yesterday, Trump seemed briefly to recognize he'd lost with a tweet asserting that Biden "won because the Election was Rigged." He then walked back the post, which was flagged by Twitter for containing disputed claims of election fraud, saying "I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go."

Trump's actions have delayed the start of the formal transition process, leaving the nation in an unusual state of electoral purgatory. Even so, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have begun forming an administration-in-waiting. They'll outline their plans today for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

And, as Mario Parker reports, the initial tweet was interpreted by fellow Republicans as a possible concession — while the president's advisers say he's privately coming to grips with his defeat.

The pressure from Republicans to get on with it is growing, with Trump's abrupt personnel moves at the Pentagon and Homeland Security Department feeding concerns over national security.

Trump's political strength has hinged largely on his ability to keep members of his party in line. As Republicans increasingly look to the future, their patience with him may be wearing thin. — Kathleen Hunter

 A woman holds a Biden-Harris campaign sign on Nov. 7 in Philadelphia.

Photographer: Chris McGrath/Getty Images North America

Click here for more on how the Trump administration's push to issue permits and finalize major environmental regulations before Inauguration Day could complicate Biden's climate and conservation agenda.

Tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

Global Headlines

More talks | The U.K. government signaled the quick-fire departure of two of Brexit's architects from Downing Street won't prompt it to back down as negotiations with the European Union enter another crucial week. Officials from both sides say the coming days will be pivotal to overcoming the key barriers to a trade deal as Britain's departure from the world's largest single market on Dec. 31 approaches.

  • Boris Johnson's bid to get his premiership back on track has hit difficulty, with the U.K. prime minister forced to self-isolate after meeting a lawmaker who has Covid-19.

Power vacuum | Peruvians had their first night without a head of state after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on who should replace the interim leader who stepped down over the weekend in the face of widespread street protests. With divisions in congress deepening a political crisis that began last week with the unexpected impeachment of President Martin Vizcarra, legislators will meet today to evaluate a new candidate to become the nation's third president in a week.

Demonstrators at a protest at San Martin square in Lima on Nov. 14.

Photographer: Angela Ponce/Bloomberg

Crackdowns everywhere | Chinese President Xi Jinping can move fast when he hones in on long-term threats to the Communist Party's rule, and right now they revolve around the convergence of technology, finance and Hong Kong. The shock suspension of Ant Group's $35 billion initial public offering was followed by more rules to rein in Tencent and Alibaba, leading to a $290 billion equity sell off last week, while Xi's also moved to further stamp out opposition in Hong Kong's legislature.

  • Trump plans several new hard-line moves against China in the remainder of his term, potentially tying the hands of Biden.

Election slap | Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro emerged weaker from municipal elections yesterday that were seen as a referendum on the first half of his four-year term. Against the backdrop of 165,000 deaths from Covid-19 and a $57 billion program to hand cash to informal workers, candidates backed by the far-right president in major cities either lost or will face strong rivals in runoff votes scheduled for Nov. 29.

Escalating conflict | Ethiopia's army advanced on the capital of the rebellious Tigray region amid international concern that fighting is spreading beyond the nation's borders. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is ignoring calls for talks after Tigrayan President Debretsion Gebremichael said his forces fired missiles at neighboring Eritrea in retaliation for its support of Ethiopian troops. The United Nations reiterated an appeal for access to thousands of refugees who are fleeing the conflict.

What to Watch This Week

  • U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is on a seven-nation tour that includes France and the Middle East that will put his counterparts in an uncomfortable position, as he presses for cooperation on policies that Biden is likely to abandon.
  • House Democrats plan to hold leadership elections this week, marking an early test of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's ability to unite the caucus without endangering her slim majority in midterm elections two years from now.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo tomorrow for defense talks.
  • Starting Saturday, leaders from the world's largest economies are set to attend the (virtual) Group of 20 meeting to discuss measures to drive a recovery from the coronavirus-driven collapse.
  • EU leaders are expected to meet on Thursday over the region's burgeoning virus outbreaks.

Thanks to all who responded to our pop quiz Friday and congratulations to Stephen Markscheid, who was the first to correctly say Turkey was the country where a presidential son-in-law unexpectedly resigned as treasury and finance minister.

And finally ... The tiny Gulf state of Bahrain has a new leader. Its crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has taken over as prime minister after the death of his hard-line great uncle who held the job for half a century, with scant expectations for political change in the autocratic nation he once sought to open up. Viewed early on as a reformist, Sheikh Salman, 51, was instrumental in efforts to build trust between the Sunni Muslim royal family and a Shiite majority who have long spoken of discrimination.

Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa during a meeting with Trump last year in Washington. 

Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Polaris



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