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Richard Drew / AP

China's holdings fall to lowest levels since 2010

The latest evidence that China is working hard to drive up the value of its currency is new data showing that the PRC sold $66 billion in U.S. Treasuries in November.

Selling of dollar-denominated assets drives up the value of China's renminbi relative to the dollar, and also encourages Chinese citizens to keep their wealth in the country.

Why it matters: Countries like China don't buy American debt to exert control over the U.S., as politicians like to claim, but to manage their domestic economies. As China continues to try to rebalance its economy away from exports to consumer spending, expect its holdings to continue to fall.

Stock analysts are trading positive coverage for access

So says the Wall Street Journal, which published a front-page expose on the relationship between securities firms' research departments and the companies they cover.

In 2003, regulators reached a $1.4 billion settlement with Wall Street firms, after it was revealed that analysts were giving positive coverage to companies in exchange for investment banking deals.

The new game in town is leveraging "buy" ratings to secure face-to-face meetings for securities firms' clients with corporate executives. These meetings are a valuable means for investors to better understand the equities they are buying, and so they are loyal to brokers who can lend this access.

CSX's big day

The biggest winner in trading Thursday was railroad shipping firm CSX, which skyrocketed more than 23% after news of activist interest in the company, led by railroad executive Hunter Harrison.

Why it matters: CSX isn't the poster child of an underperforming company that needs an outside investor to shake it up — the stock is up more than 620% since 2003. Investors jumped on the stock due to the belief that Harrison would agitate for CSX to merge with one of its rivals.

Like other major industries in America, freight rail has seen tremendous consolidation over the past 30 years. A regulatory and public relations battle over whether the country should tolerate further consolidation and higher prices in freight rail will be just a preview of similar debates in other industries.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”