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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The deteriorating political situation in Hong Kong threatens to severely muddy the financial gateway between East and West.

The state of play: If the protesters succeed in maintaining, or even furthering, "one country, two systems" governance, then it likely would keep global capital flowing through Hong Kong. But it's unclear how China can possibly allow that to happen without eroding its authoritarian bonafides on the mainland, and almost any crackdown would be viewed as ripping down the legal fabric that made Hong Kong a financial powerhouse in the first place.

What's happening:

  • Alibaba Group, which listed in New York five years ago, may delay a planned Hong Kong float that was set to raise upwards of $20 billion as early as this month.
  • Per Reuters: "The listing was always expected to be a complex affair because of China’s tight control of cross-border share trading, but Hong Kong’s unrest has taken the complexity several notches higher."
  • The Hang Seng Index fell more than 10% between the beginning of August through this past Wednesday. It has since recovered slightly, bringing the monthly loss to 8.6%, but is now the only major developed market index in the red for 2019.

Go deeper ... Pro Rata Podcast: Democracy vs. dictatorship in Hong Kong

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump leaves White House for the final time

President Trump took off on Marine One at 8:17 a.m on Wednesday morning, departing the White House for the last time, en route to Florida.

The big picture: Trump's final hours will be marked by snubbing his successor and granting pardons to many of his allies who have been swept up in corruption scandals.

Inauguration Day dashboard

Screenshot: Fox News

President Trump has left the White House en route to a farewell event at Andrews Air Force Base, kicking off the day that will culminate with President-elect Joe Biden taking office.

What's next: The inaugural celebration for young Americans is being livestreamed, starting at 10am.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen said all the right things to reassure the markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Treasury Secretary nominee and former Fed chair Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday showed markets just what they can expect from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden: more of what they got under President Trump — at least for now.

What it means: Investors and big companies reaped the benefits of ultralow U.S. interest rates and low taxes for most of Trump's term as well as significant increases in government spending, even before the coronavirus pandemic.