“Trump-Russia Probe’s Opening Salvo Targets Manafort, Partner.”
Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, and his onetime business partner Rick Gates were charged with conspiracy against the U.S., the first people charged in the broad investigation into Russian meddling with the U.S. election.
Manafort laundered more than $18 million to support a “lavish lifestyle,” including buying U.S. real estate, and of defrauding financial institutions that loaned him money, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. He and Gates, his longtime deputy, hid foreign accounts from the U.S., failed to disclose their work for a foreign government and misrepresented their work to authorities as recently as 2017, according to the indictment.
Those accusations, laid out in a 12-count indictment after a monthlong investigation, indicate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is intensifying and could pose a danger to the White House. Investigators are likely to pressure the pair to cooperate with prosecutors in a bid for leniency and to disclose everything that they know about Trump’s campaign.
The federal charges put the prospect of a presidential pardon front and center, a potential wild card for Mueller’s investigation. Trump has said on Twitter that the president has “complete power” to pardon. But doing so could deepen the legal trouble of those in Trump’s circle because prosecutors could then try to compel pardoned individuals to testify since they lose some Fifth Amendment protections.
“Catalan independence: Spain’s top prosecutor calls for rebellion charges.”
Spain’s chief prosecutor has called for charges including rebellion – which carries a maximum 30-year jail term – to be brought against Catalan leaders. José Manuel Maza said they should also face sedition charges following the region’s declaration of independence. It comes as Spain acts to take direct control of Catalonia, replacing senior officials.
Meanwhile, former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is reported to be in the Belgian capital, Brussels. Mr. Puigdemont is with other dismissed Catalan ministers and will meet Flemish politicians, Spanish media report. Belgium’s state broadcaster also reported that he would meet lawyers in Brussels, and a journalist tweeted (in Catalan) that the former president was in a «safe and secret» location.
Spanish authorities sacked Mr. Puigdemont as regional leader on Friday, and suspended Catalan autonomy. Speaking at a press conference earlier, Mr. Maza, the Spanish attorney-general, called for Catalonia’s leaders to be charged with misuse of funds over the independence referendum they held in October, after it had been declared illegal by the constitutional court.
Under the Spanish legal system, Mr. Maza’s requests will be considered by a judge. There appeared to be no major disruption in Catalan government offices on Monday morning, despite some officials defying instructions from Madrid not to turn up for work. Any ministers who arrived at their offices were given hours to leave under threat of «action» by Catalonia’s regional police force, Mossos.
Madrid’s temporary move to impose direct control by invoking Article 155 of the constitution – a first for Spain – will see as many as 150 of the region’s top officials replaced. Mr. Puigdemont and his vice-president Oriol Junqueras reject the central’s government’s moves, arguing that they can only be removed from office by the citizens of Catalonia.
“U.S. consumer spending grows at fastest pace since 2009, savings drop.”
U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than eight years in September, likely as households in Texas and Florida replaced flood-damaged motor vehicles, but underlying inflation remained muted.
Households, however, dipped into their savings to fund purchases last month, pushing savings to their lowest level since 2008. Against the backdrop of lackluster wage growth, the drop-in savings suggests that September’s robust pace of consumer spending is probably unsustainable. “Relying on consumer savings to move the economy forward is not going to last for long,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.
The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, jumped 1.0 percent last month after an unrevised 0.1 percent gain in August. The increase, which also included a boost from higher household spending on utilities, was the largest since August 2009.
When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending increased 0.6 percent in September after slipping 0.1 percent in August. While that put consumer spending on a higher growth trajectory heading into the fourth quarter, the pace is unlikely to be maintained. Personal income rose 0.4 percent last month after increasing 0.2 percent in August. Income at the disposal of households after inflation was flat after slipping 0.1 percent in August.
With spending outpacing income, savings fell to $441.9 billion in September, the lowest level since August 2008, from $521.4 billion in the prior month. The saving rate dropped five-tenths of a percentage point to 3.1 percent, the lowest level since December 2007.
“Bitcoin’s Market Cap Surges Past $100 Billion.”
The most widely used digital currency will now cost you about $6,125 apiece after blowing past the $5,000 and $6,000 price levels for the first time earlier this month. Bitcoin’s total value is just over $100 billion, meaning it makes up more than half of the overall cryptocurrency market.
Cryptocurrency prices have been unfazed by recent regulatory crackdowns across the world and skepticism from Wall Street stalwarts including Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon. More than $3 billion has poured into initial coin offerings this year despite warnings from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other government watchdogs.
The price of ether, the second most valuable virtual coin, has climbed 8 percent in the past week, eclipsing bitcoin’s 4.8 percent gain during the same period, according to Coinmarketcap.com. That comes amid cautious comments from Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a company that makes hardware for mining ether.
«In terms of the headwinds, we have the semi-custom seasonality and we’re also predicting that there will be some leveling-off of some of the cryptocurrency demand,» Advanced Micro Devices Chief Executive Officer Lisa Su said last week on the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock Monday, citing the likelihood of a significant slowdown in graphics-chip sales to cryptocurrency miners.