Trump’s Big Shadow: Your Saturday US Briefing

Something for the weekend.

(Bloomberg) — He wasn’t invited, but for now any event with Republican presidential candidates is ultimately about Donald Trump. That’s how a conservative forum in Atlanta — the staging ground for the ex-president’s latest indictment — ended up as a chance for his rivals to get some oxygen. Saturday’s schedule includes Vivek Ramaswamy, the businessman who’s riding a poll bounce but also is being sued by two former employees. 

Trump’s closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is pushing the envelope on how to run a presidential campaign as he seeks to close the gap. Everyone’s building up to the first GOP debate on Thursday, which Trump has been hinting he’ll skip.  

For President Joe Biden, putting his stamp on the US economy by embracing the “Bidenomics” label is proving a hard sell on the campaign trail, even if  the spending programs are popular. Probably as critical to his reelection bid is how Americans manage their finances in the months ahead, because the excess cash they built up during the pandemic is dwindling. That Sam’s Club set off a megaretail war with Costco over hot dogs seems to fit the mood. And if you’re earning well but don’t feel rich, try our city calculator to see where you might do better.

Flood watches are up in parts of the southwest, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as Hurricane Hilary heads toward Mexico’s Baja California and is expected to start dumping widespread rain across California this weekend. With climate risk gripping much of the world, Canada is fighting a renewed emergency as record-breaking wildfires head toward key population centers in the country’s west. 

In Latin America, political risk is in focus. Ecuador, beset by violence linked to cocaine cartels, is holding a presidential election Sunday after anti-corruption campaigner Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated. Guatemalans vote in a presidential runoff that has prompted US concern about possible government interference after prosecutors raided the election authority.

China has been taking a hit this month as signs of financial fragility and a crisis at one of the country’s biggest property developers shake market confidence. Yet America’s biggest geopolitical competitor has experience with booms turning to bust. China’s electric-vehicle graveyards are a jarring showcase, a reminder of the excess and waste that can happen when capital floods a burgeoning industry.

Finally, a trip to crypto’s dark side. Starting with a WhatsApp spam message from someone calling themselves Vicky Ho, it led to a giant compound in Cambodia called Chinatown and a mountain hideout that draws tourists to the ruins of colonial French mansions. The human trafficking at the center of the scam is a nasty consequence of a technology that allows for anonymous, untraceable payments, writes Zeke Faux.

Have a good Saturday. We’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the week ahead.

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.