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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travails of TikTok are the most visible example of how the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China can evaporate tens of billions of dollars of corporate value.

Why it matters: When corporations find themselves at the mercy of politicians flexing their geopolitical muscles, they generally end up ruing the encounter.

Driving the news: While President Trump has vowed to ban TikTok if it isn't sold to Microsoft, U.K. bank HSBC — which makes half of its money in Hong Kong — saw its second quarter earnings fall by 67%. The culprit? "Increased geopolitical risk." As the New York Times put it: "In Showdown Between China and the West, HSBC Gets Caught in the Middle."

  • By the numbers: HSBC was worth $157 billion in mid-February. It's now worth less than $90 billion. By contrast, America's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase — which is slightly smaller than HSBC in terms of total assets, but which is much less exposed to China — is worth about $300 billion.

The other side: Hong Kong's stock market remains a fantastic place to raise money. Alibaba Health easily raised $1.3 billion this week in a secondary share offering.

Go deeper

SoftBank signals turnaround, reports third-quarter profit

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photo via Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images

Japan's SoftBank Group on Monday reported $6.1 billion in third-quarter profit, with chairman Masayoshi Son telling analysts that "regardless of interest rates or regardless of who the president is, we want to continue to invest in the American market, and also in China."

Why it matters: This was a strong rebound for SoftBank, which had been bleeding red ink.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.