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2017's FII. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon last night became the first prominent Wall Streeter to say he won't attend next week's Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, giving cover to folks like BlackRock's Larry Fink and Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman (both of whom officially pulled out this morning).

Be smart: It's much easier to bail on a conference than it is to unwind complex and lucrative business relationships.

  • Blackstone: Saudi Arabia committed up to $20 billion for a new global infrastructure fund that's targeting a total of $40 billion. Some other investors in the fund are beginning to murmur their disapproval, so we expect Blackstone to address the matter during its Thursday earnings call.
  • BlackRock: Last year BlackRock announced plans to open an office in Saudi Arabia (still a work in progress), and Fink expressed bullishness on "opportunity" in the kindgom after a summer visit.
  • J.P. Morgan: Picked to help manage the eventual Aramco IPO, J.P. Morgan has two operating licenses in Saudi Arabia, around 70 employees in Riyadh and has worked on sovereign bond offerings.

The bottom line: As of late Friday afternoon, all of these organizations (and others) were hoping that the Saudis would cancel or postpone the conference. It would have been a major embarrassment for the kingdom, but could have been a wise long-term play by maintaining good relations with Western business partners.

  • Now that ship has sailed, in part because of zero public pressure from the White House until a vague weekend threat via "60 Minutes" by President Trump (who also tweeted this morning that he's sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh).
  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had reaffirmed on Friday that he'll attend the conference.

Also, and this cannot be overemphasized: No one knows the geopolitical or economic end game here, particularly if it results in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman losing his clear path to the throne.

Go deeper: Companies back away from Saudi business over missing journalist

Go deeper

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.