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UK PM Sunak visits Washington to strengthen ties, watch baseball – having already struck out on trade deal

The UK leader’s visit to the US comes amid trouble at home, with low ratings for his Conservative Party. But don’t expect much joy for Sunak on trade…



'I don't drink coffee, I take tea' -- the quintessential Englishman in, well, D.C. Paul Faith/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Alongside meetings with President Joe Biden, U.S. business leaders and members of Congress, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will take in a baseball game during a Washington trip that starts June 7, 2023. He may be given the honor of throwing the first pitch; many at home will be hoping he doesn’t drop the ball.

It is a high-stakes visit for Sunak, his first to Washington since becoming prime minister in October 2022. The British leader will be keen to showcase his close relationship with Biden. And he will want to underscore his more stable and pragmatic foreign policy, in contrast to his predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Yet Sunak, despite being prime minister for less than a year, is under great pressure. His party remains far behind in the polls, less than 18 months before the next general election is held in the U.K.

He has little time to burnish his credentials as a leader, and Washington may not be the most fertile ground to do so. Bilateral relations between London and Washington have been thorny in recent years, and three topics illustrate the challenges – and possible opportunities – ahead for Sunak: trade, Northern Ireland and security.

The forgotten trade deal

Sunak and Biden will have a busy agenda during talks due to take place in the Oval Office on June 8, but one topic will be conspicuously absent. As a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed prior to the trip: “We are not seeking to push a free trade agreement with the U.S. currently.”

This is in stark contrast to what Sunak’s Conservative Party manifesto had touted in the 2019 general election – the second to take place since a 2016 referendum upset the U.K.‘s trading setup by triggering the country’s exit from the European Union.

The document promised that in a post-Brexit U.K., 80% of trade would be covered by free trade agreements within three years.

Negotiations for a trade deal with the U.S. began in 2020 under the Trump administration, but made limited progress. The pandemic, and the question of access of U.S. agricultural goods to the U.K. market, further disrupted talks. In particular, U.K. concerns about differing food standard practices in the U.S., such as chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-treated beef, complicated discussions.

Yet the broad ideological shift in American attitudes toward trade proved the main obstacle. Since taking office, the Biden administration has consistently expressed its skepticism of emulating past free-trade agreements. According to the administration, these deals have too often ended up impoverishing American workers, while enriching multinational firms.

That shift on trade policy is not limited to members of the administration. Both Democrats and Republicans, even if for different reasons, have become more critical of unfettered globalization.

A man in a lifejacket stands on a boat in front of white cliffs
Don’t expect the U.S. to throw a lifeline on trade any time soon. Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP

In lieu of any breakthrough on a trade deal between the two countries, the U.K. has been focusing efforts on striking deals with individual U.S. states. In particular, the U.K. government hopes Rishi’s visit can pave the way for closer partnerships with California and Texas.

But these will only have a modest impact at best, when the U.K. economy is only forecast to grow by 0.4% in 2023.

The shadow of Northern Ireland

With trade unlikely to further cement U.S.-U.K. ties, Sunak will also have to navigate the divisive question of Northern Ireland. There is still strong bipartisan support in the U.S. for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. This reflects the historic role played by Democratic and Republican administrations in helping to mediate and implement the accord.

In that context, the U.K.’s exit from the EU only served to fuel tension between London and Washington. Brexit negotiations lingered for many years because of the sheer difficulty of reconciling conflicting pressures over the status of Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. but borders the Republic of Ireland, which remains an EU member state.

Throughout the prolonged Brexit process, American politicians across the aisle repeatedly expressed their concerns to the U.K. government. They emphasized the need to avoid measures that could restore a hard border on the island of Ireland. Among those airing such views was Joe Biden, who warned in 2020, “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.”

Biden’s deeply rooted emotional attachment to Ireland has hardly abated since he has been in office. His recent visit in April, for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, was rich in personal significance and symbolism.

Most of the trip was viewed as a homecoming, with Biden visiting his ancestral roots in Ireland. His time in Northern Ireland was brief in comparison, with only a terse meeting with Sunak. And if the message was not sufficiently clear, later remarks by Biden at a fundraiser left little doubt as to the president’s feelings. He went to the island of Ireland “to make sure the Brits didn’t screw around” with the region’s peace process, he said.

Sunak did win some praise for the recent Windsor Framework, which addressed some of the tension over Northern Ireland. But he has yet to solve the prolonged boycott of power-sharing institutions by the pro-U.K. Democratic Unionist Party.

Nonetheless, Sunak will have his work cut out for him to convince Biden that the U.K. can play a constructive role in further stabilizing Northern Ireland.

Better off sticking to security and China

Trade and Northern Ireland will likely bring little joy for Sunak. He will, however, be on far more fertile ground when the discussion shifts to the realm of security.

The prime minister has signaled on many occasions his very close alignment with the U.S. insofar as tackling China. At the recent G7 summit in Japan, Sunak defined Beijing as “the biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity.” And the March 2023 signing of the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal in San Diego further confirmed the U.K.’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific.

Regarding Ukraine, the U.K. has frequently been at the vanguard of providing support and new weapons to Kyiv. In May 2023, Sunak announced a plan, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to build an “international coalition” to help Ukraine acquire F-16 fighter jets.

Britain also led the way in being the first Western country to supply long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine. This was after being the first country to agree to deliver battle tanks to support the Ukrainian army. And that bullishness, reportedly played a key part in convincing Washington to lift its objection to sending F-16s to Ukraine.

The alignment in the field of global security will undoubtedly help Sunak’s attempt to ingratiate himself with Biden. But the harder test will be whether this convergence between Washington and London can extend to NATO.

The alliance will hold a crucial summit in Lithuania in July, where it will discuss longer-term plans to support Ukraine. That will include the thorny question of offering NATO membership to Kiev, which does not yet have unanimous support among members.

Even without talk of a trade deal, in terms of agenda items on Sunak’s visit the bases are loaded. It is questionable whether he can pull off a home run though.

Garret Martin receives funding from the European Union for the research center he co-directs at American University, the Transatlantic Policy Center.

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Fair and sustainable futures beyond mining

Mining brings huge social and environmental change to communities: landscapes, livelihoods and the social fabric evolve alongside the industry. But what…



Mining brings huge social and environmental change to communities: landscapes, livelihoods and the social fabric evolve alongside the industry. But what happens when the mines close? What problems face communities that lose their main employer and the very core of their identity and social networks? A research fellow at the University of Göttingen provides recommendations for governments to successfully navigate mining communities through their transition toward non-mining economies. Based on past experiences with industrial transitions, she suggests that a three-step approach centred around stakeholder collaboration could be the most effective way forward. This approach combines early planning, local-based solutions, and targeted investments aimed at fostering economic and workforce transformation. This comment article was published in Nature Energy.

Credit: Kamila Svobodova

Mining brings huge social and environmental change to communities: landscapes, livelihoods and the social fabric evolve alongside the industry. But what happens when the mines close? What problems face communities that lose their main employer and the very core of their identity and social networks? A research fellow at the University of Göttingen provides recommendations for governments to successfully navigate mining communities through their transition toward non-mining economies. Based on past experiences with industrial transitions, she suggests that a three-step approach centred around stakeholder collaboration could be the most effective way forward. This approach combines early planning, local-based solutions, and targeted investments aimed at fostering economic and workforce transformation. This comment article was published in Nature Energy.


Dr Kamila Svobodova, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the University of Göttingen, argues that, in practice, governments struggle to truly engage mining communities in both legislation and action. Even the more successful, often deemed exemplary, transitions failed to follow the principles of open and just participation or invest enough time in the process. Early discussions about how the future will look following closure help to build trust and relationships with communities. A combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches engages people at all levels. This ensures that the local context is understood and targeted specifically. It also establishes networks for collaboration during the transition. Effective coordination of investments toward mining communities, including funding to implement measures to support workers, seed new industries, support innovations, and enhance essential services in urban centres, proved to be successful in the past.


“To ensure energy security, it’s essential for governments to recognize the profound transformation that residents of mining communities experience when they shift away from mining,” Svobodova explains. “Neglecting these communities, their inherent strength of mining identity and unity, could lead to social and economic instability, potentially affecting the overall national energy infrastructure.”


Moving toward closure and consequently away from mining is not an easy or short journey. “It is essential that governments recognize that the transition takes time, and persistence is essential for success,” says Svoboda. “They should openly communicate their strategies, ensuring communities and other stakeholders are well-informed and engaged. Building trust and providing guidance helps residents navigate the uncertainties associated with transitions. By embracing the three-step approach that centers around stakeholder engagement, governments can prioritize equitable and just outcomes when navigating mining transitions as part of their energy security strategies.”


Original publication: Svobodova, K., “Navigating community transitions away from mining,” Comment article in Nature Energy 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41560-023-01359-9. Full text available here: 



Dr Kamila Svobodova

University of Göttingen

Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen, Germany


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Turley: Four Biden Impeachment Articles & What The House Will Need To Prove

Turley: Four Biden Impeachment Articles & What The House Will Need To Prove

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

With the commencement of the…



Turley: Four Biden Impeachment Articles & What The House Will Need To Prove

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

With the commencement of the impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Joe Biden, three House committees will now pursue key linkages between the president and the massive influence peddling operation run by his son Hunter and brother James.

The impeachment inquiry should allow the House to finally acquire long-sought records of Hunter, James, and Joe Biden, as well as to pursue witnesses involved in their dealings.

testified this week at the first hearing of the impeachment inquiry on the constitutional standards and practices in moving forward in the investigation. In my view, there is ample justification for an impeachment inquiry. If these allegations are established, they would clearly constitute impeachable offenses. I listed ten of those facts in my testimony that alone were sufficient to move forward with this inquiry.

I was criticized by both the left and the right for the testimony. 

Steven Bannon and others were upset that I did not believe that the basis for impeachment had already been established in the first hearing of the inquiry.

Others were angry that I supported the House efforts to resolve these questions of public corruption.

Without prejudging that evidence, there are four obvious potential articles of impeachment that have been raised in recent disclosures and sworn statements:

  1. bribery,

  2. conspiracy,

  3. obstruction, and

  4. abuse of power.

Bribery is the second impeachable act listed under Article II. The allegation that the President received a bribe worth millions was documented on a FD-1023 form by a trusted FBI source who was paid a significant amount of money by the government. There remain many details that would have to be confirmed in order to turn such an allegation into an article of impeachment.

Yet three facts are now unassailable.

First, Biden has lied about key facts related to these foreign dealings, including false statements flagged by the Washington Post.

Second, the president was indeed the focus of a corrupt multimillion-dollar influence peddling scheme.

Third, Biden may have benefitted from this corruption through millions of dollars sent to his family as well as more direct benefit to Joe and Jill Biden.

What must be established is the President’s knowledge of or participation in this corrupt scheme. The House now has confirmed over 20 calls made to meetings and dinners with these foreign clients. It has confirmation of visits to the White House and dinners and events attended by Joe Biden. It also has confirmation of trips on Air Force II by Hunter to facilitate these deals, as well as payments where the President’s Delaware home address was used as late as 2019 for transfers from China.

The most serious allegations concern reported Washington calls or meetings by Hunter at the behest of these foreign figures. At least one of those calls concerned the removal or isolation of a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma, an energy company paying Hunter as a board member. A few days later, Biden withheld a billion dollars in an approved loan to Ukrainian in order to force the firing of the prosecutor.

The House will need to strengthen the nexus with the president in seeking firsthand accounts of these meetings, calls, and transfers.

However, there is one thing that the House does not have to do. While there are references to Joe Biden receiving money from Hunter and other benefits (including a proposed ten percent from one of these foreign deals), he has already been shown to have benefited from these transfers.

There is a false narrative being pushed by both politicians and pundits that there is no basis for an inquiry, let alone an impeachment, unless a direct payment or gift can be shown to Joe Biden. That would certainly strengthen the case politically, but it is not essential legally. Even in criminal cases subject to the highest standard, payments to family members can be treated as benefits to a principal actor. Direct benefits can further strengthen articles of impeachment, but they would not be a prerequisite for such an action.

For example, in Ryan v. United States, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of George Ryan, formerly Secretary of State and then governor of Illinois, partly on account of benefits paid to his family, including the hiring of a band at his daughter’s wedding and other “undisclosed financial benefits to him and his family and to his friends.” Criminal cases can indeed be built on a “stream of benefits” running to the politician in question, his family, or his friends.

That is also true of past impeachments. I served as lead counsel in the last judicial impeachment tried before the Senate. My client, Judge G. Thomas Porteous, had been impeached by the House for, among other things, benefits received by his children, including gifts related to a wedding.

One of the jurors in the trial was Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who voted to convict and remove Porteous. Menendez is now charged with accepting gifts of vastly greater value in the recent corruption indictment.

The similarities between the Menendez and Biden controversies are noteworthy, in everything from the types of gifts to the counsel representing the accused.  The Menendez indictment includes conspiracy charges for honest services fraud, the use of office to serve personal rather the public interests. It also includes extortion under color of official right under 18 U.S.C. 1951. (The Hobbs Act allows for a charge of extortion without a threat of violence but rather the use of official authority.)

Courts have held that conspiracy charges do not require the defendant to be involved in all (or even most) aspects of the planning for a bribe or denial of honest services. Thus, a conspirator does not have to participate “in every overt act or know all the details to be charged as a member of the conspiracy.”

Menendez’s case shows that the Biden Administration is prosecuting individuals under the same type of public corruption that this impeachment inquiry is supposed to prove. The U.S. has long declared influence peddling to be a form of public corruption and signed international conventions to combat precisely this type of corruption around the world.

This impeachment inquiry is going forward. The House just issued subpoenas on Friday for the financial records of both Hunter and James Biden. The public could soon have answers to some of these questions. Madison called impeachment “indispensable…for defending the community” against such corruption. The inquiry itself is an assurance that, wherever this evidence may lead, the House can now follow.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/02/2023 - 15:00

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How the Polen Capital Global Small and Mid Cap Fund finds under-explored high quality companies

In this video insight, I am joined by Rob Forker, the portfolio manager of the Polen Capital Global Small and Mid Cap Fund. We discuss Polen Capital’s…



In this video insight, I am joined by Rob Forker, the portfolio manager of the Polen Capital Global Small and Mid Cap Fund. We discuss Polen Capital’s strategy of selecting elite companies from a pool of 8000 global stocks based on their five guide rails. Rob also highlights Polen’s approach to investing across the growth spectrum, balancing slower-growing, stable companies like Cochlear with high-growth firms like Globant. Despite the challenging market conditions, Rob remains confident in their strategy, believing that earnings growth will ultimately drive long-term stock price appreciation.



Hi I’m David Buckland, and welcome to this week’s video insight. Today, I’m being accompanied by Rob Forker. For those who don’t know, Rob is the portfolio manager of Polen Capital’s global small and mid-cap fund.

Rob, you have about 8000 stocks to choose from in the global space in the small to mid-cap area, and you have to go all the way down to try and get the best 35 stocks or approximately 35 stocks in the world. How do you do it?


It’s a hard task, but one we enjoy doing. So, finding the best of the best is what we’re all about. We want to find the most elite companies we can find globally wherever they reside, Australia, continental Europe, America, Japan, wherever. The way we do it is we apply our proven five guardrails that we’ve been executing at Polen Capital for almost 35 years. Those are:

  1. Real organic revenue growth,
  2. High end or improving margins,
  3. High returns,
  4. Abundant cash flow,
  5. And a strong balance sheet.

And at the end of the day, what we’re looking for is companies that have strong earnings, have strong cash flow, and a fortress like balance sheet because those are quality companies that can be durable over the long term.


And it’s interesting that out of your portfolio of, I think it’s 33 stocks at the moment, the average market capitalization is about 8.5 billion Australian dollars, which actually would put it in the top 60 on the ASX and be similar sized to something like Qantas (ASX: QAN) or Mirvac (ASX: MGR) so it’s interesting that, for Australians, that seems quite big, but by global standards, they’re still categorized as a small or medium sized type businesses.


Yeah, no question, so we find companies of course globally, and small cap, mid cap is a bit of an art as to how you define it but what we believe is that the inefficiency of the asset class is clear. So, a typical company that we’re looking at in our class has 7 to 8 analysts. For reference, Apple has 55. And so, the beauty of what we do is that we’re looking at under explored companies that we believe have a secret sauce. Now it’s our job to figure out what that secret sauce is, but what we do, as an example, is look at the companies that have no self-side coverage. So, this is an opportunity and one that we relish in.


That’s good. Now, one of the interesting graphs we get from Polen Capital is investing across the growth spectrum. On one side of the spectrum. You’ve got these very sexy, very high growth companies, but are earning money. And on the other side of the spectrum, a little bit more ballast in the portfolio. Can you just explain for the small mid cap global audience? Investing across the growth spectrum and how you think about it.


Yeah, so on the safety side, these are to consumer staples companies or healthcare companies where they’re a lit little bit slower growing, low double digit earning. So, it’s still great, but slower going. Cochlear (ASX: COH) would be a great example, a fortress in market share and their constant research and development (R&D), typically grows earnings at 12-14 per cent.

On the far end, we call these growth companies, they typically grow earnings 30 – 40 per cent. An example would be Globant, which is an IT consulting firm at the forefront, of what they do. They’re basically a mini-Accenture. And so those type of companies are growing faster.

We want both because we appreciate the safety and the growth elements that can help you in bad times and give you outsized returns in good times.


So, if we look at the fundamentals of the total portfolio let’s just sort of spend a minute or two on that.


Absolutely so, when you put it all together, this is a portfolio that trades at roughly 25 times earnings on a 12-month basis.

We believe earnings growth is nearly 20 per cent per annum.


For some years?


Yeah, where we forecast out 5 years in our investment time horizon. We want to think and act like owners when looking at these great companies, and what they can do over the long term.

The balance sheet is nearly net cash, so no balance sheet risk to speak of. As I mentioned, strong cash flows. We want companies that self-fund, which is quite unique in this space. Many small cap managers own unprofitable companies where they’re betting that things will get great.


Have to go back to the market for equity, on a regular basis.


We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to buy what will be quality. We buy what’s proven to be quality today. And this is the beauty of the menu that we have of nearly 8000 companies. We can be choosy. We want to own elite companies.


And I guess the elephant in the room Rob, we launched this in Australia although the fund out of America is actually, well, Boston where Rob’s based is actually a bit older than that, but we actually pick the timing to perfection in terms of the bigger the market, so October 2021. So, it’s coming around for its, it’s two year anniversary. It’s been a very, very rough ride for the early investors.

Yours truly as one of them.

Let’s just give it give it some context. It’s obviously been a very rough 24 months. Do you want to sort of just spend a few minutes on that?


Yeah, and yours truly as well. So, I eat my own pudding, I’m an investor and my children are investors you know, I am betting on the success of this strategy as many of you are. The elephant in the room is that 2022 was bruising, just literally awful.

We weren’t certainly the only ones that had the bruising. This was a global phenomenon, particularly in small to mid caps. This year, what’s been surprising is the bounce back has not been there. The strategy is certainly not doing poorly, but it hasn’t had the type of returns that that many of the large cap strategies have had, small cap in general has been toward left behind. What we focus on is the fundamentals of the business.

We believe that earnings growth for our companies was 12 per cent last year. We believe that earnings growth will also be very strong closer to that 15 to 20 per cent level that I was talking about. And that’s what we are focused on. Price to earnings (P/E) multiples as Roger and many astute investors talk about, P/E multiples are confidence, they go up and down. But we believe over the long term that stock prices follow earnings growth, and that’s what we think will happen over the long term. But certainly, are, we didn’t want to start this way. And it would have been better had we not, but this is where we are in there in lies the opportunity.


Alright. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s all we have time for this week. As many of you know, we’ve had a very, very good relationship with Polen Capital for about 2 and a half years now. Rob, Damon, and many members of the team come out pretty much on a 6 monthly basis. And, we have been blessed to partner with an organization of such great quality.

The Polen Capital Global Small and Mid-Cap Fund owns shares in Globant. This article was prepared 25 September 2023 with the information we have today, and our view may change. It does not constitute formal advice or professional investment advice. If you wish to trade Globant, you should seek financial advice.

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