FirstFT: Donald Trump’s donor numbers drop by 200,000

Stay informed with free updates

Good morning.

Donald Trump entered the 2024 election year with about 200,000 fewer donors than in the previous presidential campaign four years ago, raising questions about his fundraising machine just as legal bills eat into his war chest.

The Trump campaign and affiliated political action committees attracted roughly 516,000 donors in the second half of last year, compared with 740,000 at the same stage of his last race for the White House, according to Financial Times analysis of the latest data.

President Joe Biden had 473,000 donors in the second half of 2023 — fewer than the Republican frontrunner but almost double the number he had in the second half of 2019, when he was competing for the Democratic nomination.

Trump and affiliated groups raised $189mn from his donors in 2023, while Biden drew in $202mn from a smaller donor base. Here’s what the drop means for Trump’s presidential campaign.

The FT has launched its new US Election Countdown newsletter. Join the FT’s Washington reporter Steff Chávez for your essential guide to the twists and turns of the most significant election in decades. Sign up here.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Monetary policy: The US Federal Reserve will release minutes from its January rate-setting meeting, which kept borrowing costs at their 23-year high and cooled speculation of imminent cuts. Federal Reserve Board governor Michelle Bowman and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond president Thomas Barkin will make public comments today.

  • Results: Chipmaker Nvidia is expected to report that its revenue almost tripled in the final three months of last year, driven by the AI boom. Electric-vehicle makers Rivian Automotive and Lucid Motors also report earnings today.

  • G20 in Brazil: Foreign ministers from the world’s biggest economies discuss international crises, from the Middle East to Ukraine, and reforms in global governance institutions.

  • Sam Bankman-Fried: The founder of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX will be back in court today for a hearing over a potential conflict of interest involving his new lawyer Marc Mukasey.

Five more top stories

1. HSBC’s quarterly profit plunged 80 per cent as it took a $3bn charge on the value of its stake in a Chinese bank and a further writedown on commercial real estate. Profits for the final three months of 2023 fell to $1bn from $5bn in the same period a year earlier, HSBC said today. The share price reaction was severe.

  • More banking news: Citigroup has become the latest US bank to raise its chief executive’s pay, despite an almost 40 per cent decline in profits at Citi amid a sweeping reorganisation. 

2. Law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the UK’s National Crime Agency have dealt a crippling blow to LockBit, one of the world’s most prolific cyber crime gangs. The ransomware group — many of whose members are based in Russia — claimed responsibility for the shutdown of the financial services arm of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in November which disrupted the US government bond market. Read more on the operation to shut LockBit down.

3. An intense debate has begun in Israel regarding what to do with Palestinians arrested in connection with the Hamas attack on October 7 that triggered Israel’s deadly offensive in Gaza. Some Israeli lawyers and commentators are recalling Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s trial in 1961 and calling for similar large-scale proceedings. Read more on the comparisons here.

4. Apple is coming under fire from rivals Meta and Microsoft who say the iPhone maker’s plans to open up its mobile software to comply with a landmark EU law fail to go far enough. Meta and Microsoft want Brussels regulators to extract more concessions that unpick the iOS software and to reject Apple’s proposals to satisfy the bloc’s Digital Markets Act.

5. Private equity firms are increasingly raising money to buy individual companies on a “deal-by-deal” basis. A record $31bn was deployed by investors last year for that purpose, according to data provided by private equity advisory firm Triago. Read more on the new fundraising tactic.

The Big Read

© FT montage; Getty Images

United Front, a department of China’s Communist party, works to foster Chinese patriotism and promote unification among young Taiwanese. Its activities are now kicking into overdrive following the recent election victory for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive party by cultivating village-level elected officials, splinter parties, temple societies — and even triad gangs.

We’re also reading and listening to . . . 

Chart of the day

An options contract in small Israeli medical device maker Nano-X Imaging, which is partly owned by Nvidia, jumped 16,000 per cent last week from peak to trough ahead of its expiration. The explosive market reaction is the latest sign of investor fervour for stocks that benefit from “the magic dust of AI”, particularly those with links to Nvidia.

Take a break from the news

The FT’s US art critic Ariella Budick shares her favourite works in Moma’s world-leading permanent collection, including James Rosenquist’s 86-foot ‘F-111’ which wraps round an entire room.

© Emile Askey

Additional contributions from Grace Ramos and Benjamin Wilhelm

Recommended newsletters for you

Working It — Everything you need to get ahead at work, in your inbox every Wednesday. Sign up here

One Must-Read — The one piece of journalism you should read today. Sign up here

Source: Economy -

UBS Wealth Management pushes back Fed rate-cut forecast to June

HSBC posts record annual profit but misses estimates on China write-down, shares tumble 7%