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Blackstone COO Jonathan Gray. Photo: Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Blackstone Group might have pulled its executives from next week's "Davos in the Desert" event in Riyadh, but it does not appear to be altering its deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

The bottom line: It's much easier for firms to walk with their feet than with their wallets.

Blackstone reported Q3 earnings this morning, and during an analyst call was asked about possible pressures related to the Saudi Public Investment Fund's anchor commitment to an infrastructure fund that so far has garnered around $5 billion (total target of $40 billion, half of which could come from PIF). An executive replied:

"We've been concerned by what we've been reading... In the short-term we may get some questions, but the key thing to remember is our investors know Blackstone is the sole GP of the capital. We have sole discretion... Investors have enormous confidence in us which is why we believe we're on a path to growing [infrastructure] to large-scale despite some near term challenges."

The only real exceptions so far have been Richard Branson and Ari Emanuel, who have both pulled out of tangible business deals with the Saudis. But expect reporters and investors to begin asking these more consequential questions, particularly as the conference fades into the past. And we'll see if Blackstone is right that this is only a "short-term" issue.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.