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Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament is an affront to democracy | John Lothian News

Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament is an affront to democracy

Aug 29, 2019

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

The NFA has a new and improved style and format for their “NFA Board Update – August 2019 Meeting” edition. Look for even more improvements in the months ahead. The changes are driven by the NFA to improve the impact of the videos. Disclosure: John Lothian Productions shoots and edits this video for them.~JJL

AFX‘s Ameribor futures traded 49 lots yesterday, a best volume day since launch on August 16. ~JK

The World Federation of Exchanges’ latest Focus issue is out, with a strong emphasis on technology gleaned from the WFE’s tech conference in UmeÂ, Sweden, where Cinnober (now Nasdaq) had a strong technology team.

Our apologies for the late newsletter yesterday. It was compiled and sent out at its normal time, but to the wrong email list. It was sent out to the JLN Options list. Thank you to my mother, who complained that she had not received the newsletter, for alerting me to the error. Thanks Mom!!~JJL

The CFTC released an updated version of its weekly swaps report. The total gross notional outstanding as of August 16 is $345.6 trillion, down from $351.4 trillion the week prior.~SD

According to a Coindesk story, customers can deposit bitcoin to Bakkt’s warehouse starting next week.~JJL

FIA has its latest edition of MarketVoice out.~JJL

Register by Sept. 6 for the best rates on the FIA Expo.~JJL


From Grains to Frac Sand to Hemp
If you had told Julie Lerner eight years ago that the commodity trading platform PanXchange, which she was building with sugar in mind, would grow to support the trading of frac sand, East African grains and hemp, she would have said you are nuts.

Hemp was the most recent addition to the platform after the full legalization of the crop last year with the passage of the Farm Bill. In this video, Lerner, CEO of PanXchange, talks about launching the first benchmark pricing for hemp and the state of the nascent world that is physical hemp trading. It’s a different beast from the traditional commodity landscape.
Watch the video »


Huge hoard of Norman coins reveals medieval tax scam
Mark Brown – The Guardian
A millennium-old tax scam has been revealed with the discovery of thousands of coins in a muddy field that together make up the largest hoard to be unearthed from the immediate post-Norman conquest period.

**** English authorities are now looking into it. ~JK


2019 Fall Foliage Map & Nationwide Peak Leaf Forecast
Smoky Mountains
The 2019 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.

**** Not finance related at all, but if you want to see the upcoming fall season in its full glory this might help. Great tool if you are a camper. (Someone at JLN is a camper.) ~JB


My son ended his life because he felt controlled by gambling; The UK’s deregulated industry has normalised a complex and life-threatening addiction
Charles Ritchie – FT
The relationship between gambling and suicide is one of the unacknowledged aspects of Britain’s betting revolution, kick-started by the 2005 Gambling Act, which saw widespread deregulation of the industry in the UK. The free-for-all that followed has led to a fivefold increase in people gambling online and on smartphones.

***** I know other cases of such addiction that really make me wonder about the powers pushing gambling as some social and governmental good.~JJL


Report: 56% of the world’s 50 top universities offer blockchain courses in 2019, a 25% increase from 2018
The Block Crypto
A Coinbase report finds that 56 percent of the top 50 universities in the world now offer at least one course on cryptocurrency or blockchain, a 25 percent increase from 2018.

*****Maybe someone can get a research grant to figure out who is Satoshi Nakamoto.~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our top item of the day on Wednesday was the MarketsWiki Education video with Jason Manumaleuna, the CEO of the RCG division of Marex Spectron, titled The Human Element. Second was Global Investor’s Recent Strides in OCC’s Transformation by Craig Donohue. Third was The Wall Street Journal’s This Little Black Box Does Heavy Lifting for Wall Street


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Lead Stories

Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament is an affront to democracy; MPs must pass a no-confidence vote in the government and trigger a general election
The Editorial Board – FT
Boris Johnson has detonated a bomb under the constitutional apparatus of the United Kingdom. The prime minister’s request to the Queen to suspend parliament for up to five weeks, ostensibly to prepare a new legislative programme, is without modern precedent. It is an intolerable attempt to silence parliament until it can no longer halt a disastrous crash-out by the UK from the EU on October 31. The seat of British democracy, long admired worldwide, is being denied a say on the most consequential decision facing the country in more than four decades. So, too, are the British people ó in whose name Mr Johnson claims to be acting. It is time for parliamentarians to bring down his government in a no-confidence vote, paving the way for an election in which the people can express their will.

****Plenty more on this development in our “Brexit” section.

Suspending Britain’s Parliament Is an Act of Desperation; It might not be a constitutional outrage, but it’s wrong.
Editorial Board – Bloomberg
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament is hardly the “coup” that his more emotional opponents have claimed. Even so, the move is shabby politics, a gamble that might well fail, and an eloquent demonstration of the prime minister’s weakness.

Boris Johnson Rolls the Dice on City’s Future; Suspending parliament has cast doubt on legislation deemed crucial to the U.K. financial services industry in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
Not long after Britain voted to leave the European Union, the City of London’s chiefs grudgingly began hammering out plans for the worst: that Britain might eventually abandon the EU’s single market. Now the future is suddenly looking even more uncertain.

Deutsche Bank Becomes Government Headache as Economy Tanks
Birgit Jennen, Steven Arons and Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
Germany’s shrinking economy threatens turnaround plans; Buildup of capital base slowed because of restructuring
Germany’s economic downturn is reigniting fears in Angela Merkel’s government about the future of its two largest lenders.

Swiss battles with EU are ominous for UK fund managers; Negotiations over ‘equivalence’ after Brexit are likely to be tortuous if Switzerland’s experience is any indicator
Denis MacShane – FT
The Swiss have so far kept at bay a European Commission that is growling like an angry bear at the country’s refusal to finish a deal that settles the near three decades of negotiations about Switzerland’s future relationship with the EU.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit prorogation is constitutional cheating; Suspending parliament in this way is a direct attack on representative democracy
David Allen Green – FT
On Wednesday, something bad happened. That was the decision to prorogue the UK’s parliament for up to five weeks over September and October. A prorogation closes down parliament completely: no legislation can be passed and members of parliament cannot scrutinise the executive. Parliament will be stone dead.

Koch Industries Seeds New Quantitative Trading Firm; Keebeck Alpha aims to boost returns amid market volatility
Lisa Beilfuss – WSJ
Koch Industries Inc. has helped launch a new quantitative-trading firm aimed at boosting investment returns at a time of market volatility. The Stamford, Conn.-based firm, Keebeck Alpha, is effectively running a hedge fund, using fundamental, technical and other signals from the market to buy and sell mostly global equities and futures contracts. Seeded by Koch Industries, it has raised $200 million since launching this month, though executives declined to say how much Koch Industries invested.

What is Boris Johnson trying to achieve?; Opponents of a no-deal Brexit are furious at PM’s move to suspend parliament
George Parker and Jim Pickard – FT
Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings is a keen student of Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military strategist, who wrote in The Art of War that “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

Banking regulator fears return of PPI-type scandals; FCA warns that lenders could repeat bad behaviour in next recession
Nicholas Megaw – FT
British banks need “a generation” to fix the cultural issues that led to the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal, according to the UK’s most senior retail banking regulator, as he warned that bad behaviour could return during the next economic downturn.

UBS hires Credit Suisse veteran Iqbal Khan as wealth head; Asset management leadership also changed in reshuffle at Swiss lender
Sarah Provan – FT
UBS has snapped up former Credit Suisse executive Iqbal Khan as co-president of its wealth management division, as Switzerland’s largest lender seeks to revive its flagship business.

UBS Sets Major Reshuffle Atop Wealth Management Unit
Dale Crofts – Bloomberg
Khan takes over as head of wealth management with Tom Naratil; Board members Martin Blessing and Ulrich Koerner to leave UBS
UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti moved to quell concerns surrounding the bank’s long-term succession plan with a radical overhaul of the top ranks, hiring a star banker from a rival and ousting some of its most senior executives.

A Crypto Miner Cuts Costs and Rides Bitcoin’s Price Rise; Toronto-based Hut 8 Mining laid off staff and renegotiated contracts before cryptocurrency’s rally
Paul Vigna – WSJ
A Canadian firm that “mines” bitcoin has returned to profitability, offering a unique look at the impact a recent rally in the cryptocurrency has had on an opaque industry.

The Cutting Edge of FX Hedge: Rethinking Liquidity
Jay Moore, FX HedgePool – Tabb Forum
When it comes to the execution of FX hedging programs, and specifically the systematic roll requirements of maintaining forward positions, the buy side doesn’t have a lot of options. For the most part, the buy side is beholden to the banks for accessing forward liquidity simply because that is where they’ve got credit relationships. Forward liquidity is tied to credit, which is why the top 20 banks in the world basically control the market. A buy-side participant may have a relationship with, for example, four of those 20 banks, which means its liquidity is limited to those four banks, which get to dictate price.

Hedge fund CEO arrested at her Rittenhouse Square condo, charged in $63 million Ponzi scheme
Sam Wood – Philadelphia Inquirer
Federal agents on Tuesday morning arrested a hedge fund CEO at her Rittenhouse Square condo, charging her in a massive fraud that rooked investors out of at least $63 million.

There’s a ‘bubble’ in passive investing, says investor made famous by ‘Big Short’
Andrea Riquier – Market/Watch.
Michael Burry, the doctor-turned-investor profiled in Michael Lewis’s book “The Big Short” for his call on the trouble lurking in mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, has a new big idea:

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Approval of Initial Listing (TOKYO PRO-BOND Market): USD-Denominated Foreign Bond with Value of USD 1 billion (Japan Finance Organization for Municipalities)
Today, Tokyo Stock Exchange approved a USD-denominated bond with a total value of USD 1 billion (tenor: 5 years, coupon: 1.750%) from Japan Finance Organization for Municipalities for listing on the professional-oriented TOKYO PRO-BOND Market.

Inter-Product Spreads enhance Eurex’s fixed income suite
As of 16 September, Eurex will offer Inter-Product Spread Strategies (IPS) for fixed income futures. With recent severe changes of the European yield curves inter-product spreads are sought-after hedging and trading instruments.

HKFE Announces Revised Margins For Futures Contracts
Please be advised that pursuant to Exchange Rule 617(d) and HKCC Rule 402, the Exchange and the Clearing House have determined that with effect from the commencement of trading on Monday, 2 September 2019, the margin levels of the following Futures Contracts shall be as follows


Shining a light and leading the way on trade surveillance; The MAS/SGX Trade Surveillance Practice Guide
When it comes to technology, innovation almost always outpaces rules and regulations. Consider the case of automobiles in the United States. From a base of hundreds produced per year in 1900, nearly 500,000 new cars were manufactured in 1914. Not coincidentally, that was the year that the very first electric stoplight was installed in Cleveland, Ohio (1). Clearly, the surge in the number of automobiles changed the dynamic on the roads and new forms of regulation were needed to control the situation.

Northern Trust To Expand Use of Machine Learning
Markets Media
Dane Fannin, head of global securities lending at Northern Trust, said the firm is discussing further applications of machine learning across the trading function in the business as it launched a pricing engine using the technology.

APIs – Bridging the Connectivity Gap
Godfried De Vidts, TransFICC
When I started my career in banking, punch cards from IBM hard coded each transaction. An army of staff prepared piles of such cards to be read by huge machines producing hundreds of pages of bookings. Manual intervention by operational staff checked the handwritten daily cash movements from the traders against these computer-generated reports. Half a century later things have improved, but there is still a huge gap between the front and back office, in that trading desks have the most sophisticated tools allowing ever faster and more trading volume.

Get Your FIX: Why (and How) – Connamara Supports QuickFIX
Grant Birchmeier – Connamara
The QuickFIX open source project is an important part of what we do at Connamara, and has been for nearly 20 years now. However, we still talk to many people – some clients included – who are unfamiliar with QuickFIX. We wanted to share our history with the project, why we believe it is important, and how it influences our work today.


A CoinMarketCap alternative launches trading indices that find only 17% BTC trading volumes trustworthy
Celia Wan – The Block
A cryptocurrency trading data provider is now showing how much of a cryptocurrency’s trading volume can be trusted, and it finds that around 17% of bitcoin (BTC) trading volumes are trustworthy, while for ether (ETH), that number is 8%. Backed by Coinbase Ventures, Nomics measures the trustworthiness of a cryptocurrency’s trading volume, or the so-called transparent volume, by summing the token’s trading volumes across several exchanges.

They Biked, Ran and Swam Over 200 Miles Across Europe – All for Bitcoin
Alyssa Hertig – Coindesk
A group of bitcoin enthusiasts just ran, biked and swam across Europe, all to promote the cryptocurrency they believe is leaving a powerful, positive mark on the world. The first “Satoshi Freeathlon” officially finished this weekend, in which a group of seven bitcoin enthusiasts flexing their athletic abilities by journeying from Switzerland’s “Crypto Valley” in the tiny city of Zug, Switzerland, to Munich, Germany – a 221 mile adventure in total.

Charlie Lee Vows to Keep Funding Litecoin Foundation Amid Pay Cuts
William Foxley – Coindesk
Litecoin creator Charlie Lee remains committed to funding the Litecoin Foundation despite rumors that its financials are in the red. Lee told CoinDesk the crypto bear market hurt the foundation’s numbers much like other projects. Since 2017, Lee’s donations have accounted for some 80 percent of the foundation’s funding.

Fintech Firm Partners With R3 to Develop Shariah-Compliant Market Platform
Max Boddy – Cointelegraph
Dubai-based fintech company Wethaq has entered into a strategic partnership with enterprise software firm R3, in order to create a platform for issuing and trading sukuk securities based on R3’s Corda offering.

Why Today’s Cryptocurrency Crash Could, in Part, Be Blamed on Burning Man
Vildana Hajric, Olga Kharif – Fortune
Cryptocurrencies plunged suddenly in afternoon trading on Wednesday, spurring a guessing game of potential catalyst among enthusiasts and investors. The price of Bitcoin dropped below $10,000 for the first time since July. The largest digital token fell as much as 5.6%, before trading at $9,686 as of 3:40 p.m. in New York. Peer coins also sold off, with Bitcoin Cash falling close to 4% and Litecoin dropping about 8%.

Coinbase: Student interest in cryptocurrency education doubles in 2019
Nicholas Marinoff – Decrypt
Enthusiasm from both students and universities in blockchain and cryptocurrency is growing, according to Coinbase’s second annual higher education report.

MERJ Exchange Partners with FCA-regulated Globacap to Offer Tokenized Securities to EU Investors
In a move to shape the future of financial markets, the first national stock exchange to list tokenized securities today announces its partnership with the UK’s first regulated platform to issue tokenized equity.

Hedera Hashgraph Blockchain to Launch, Release Coins Starting Sept. 16
Nathan DiCamillo – Coinbase
Hedera Hashgraph, a blockchain-like public network for enterprises, is adding a U.S. financial giant to its governing council.

Crypto project Decred adds privacy features to its coin
The Block Crypto
Decred, the cryptocurrency project focused on governance, has added privacy-focused features to its cryptocurrency DCR.

Who Needs Censorship Resistance? Not Most Of Us
Yaya Fanusie- Forbes
Several months ago, I met a well-known cryptocurrency privacy advocate friend for lunch in DC. We had a lively conversation about the pros and cons of privacy-enhancing digital tokens. At the end of our conversation, we acknowledged that concerns over both illicit use and privacy violations had merit, even if neither of us could offer a mutually satisfying solution. What happened next, though, was quite telling.


Energy Companies Set to Get Reprieve on Methane Rules; Plan to end Obama-era regulations is likely to draw protests from environmental groups
Timothy Puko – WSJ
The Trump administration is moving to erase Obama-era rules on methane emissions from the oil-and-gas business, saying the federal government overstepped its authority when it set limits on what scientists say is a significant contributor to climate change.

More Americans Say the Economy Is Declining, and They’re Blaming Trump
Gregory Korte – Bloomberg
More voters say economy is getting worse in Quinnipiac survey; Strong majority says conditions are still excellent or good
For the first time since President Donald Trump was elected, more Americans say the economy is getting worse than getting better.

Column: Trump’s mysterious devotion to Putin endures
Steve Chapman – Chicago Tribune
The disagreements, surprises and compromises that arose during the G-7 summit in Paris all have implications for the future of the world’s biggest industrialized democracies. But they distract from a deep mystery that holds more importance: What is it with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin?

Trump slams Fed in fresh attack, says central bank can’t ‘mentally’ keep up
Quint Forgey – Politico
President Donald Trump on Wednesday leveled a new attack against the Federal Reserve, charging that the central bank is “mentally” unfit to foster a competitive edge for the United States in the global economy.

Mnuchin Says Ultra-Long Bonds Under ‘Very Serious Consideration’
Saleha Mohsin – Bloomberg
Treasury chief discusses long-term debt in Bloomberg interview; Yield on 30-year Treasuries dropped to record low on Wednesday
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said issuing ultra-long U.S. bonds is “under very serious consideration” in the Trump administration, possibly setting up a move that would mark a historic revamp of the $16 trillion Treasuries market.


LIBOR To RFR Transition Progress Across The Financial Markets
Ashley McDermott and James Taylor – Mondaq News
Andrew Bailey, the Chief Executive of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), recently reiterated the FCA’s expectation that LIBOR will cease to be published beyond 2021. There has been significant progress in the move away from LIBOR in the last 18 months, and Andrew Bailey’s speech of 15 July 2019 (available from the FCA website) corroborates that view and provides a number of facts and figures to support it. Further to our 29 March 2019 update entitled “Breakage and Yield Protection in a post-LIBOR World”, this note includes a high-level update on the progress of transitioning away from LIBOR across different financial markets, with a particular focus on the syndicated loan market.

ASIC Queensland regional liaison breakfast; A speech by ASIC Deputy Chair Karen Chester at the ASIC Queensland Regional Liaison Breakfast, Brisbane, 28 August 2019
Thank you, Amanda. And congratulations, on your appointment as our Queensland Regional Commissioner. And thank you all for joining us this morning – for me, a return to state of origin.

ASIC outlines priorities for small business in 2019-20
ASIC has released its Corporate Plan for 2019-2023 and small business remains a large and important stakeholder for ASIC, reflected in the plan’s action items for this financial year.

Insider-Trading Suspect Loses Bid to Spike French Airgas Charges
Gaspard Sebag – Bloomberg
Lucien Selce was also charged over transactions related to CGG; He argued CFDs weren’t covered by French law on insider trades
France’s top court denied an appeal by a Geneva trader charged with insider trading who argued that the country’s laws didn’t cover certain types of derivatives.

Investing and Trading

While Wall St. Talks of Recession, Bond Investors Make a Killing
Matt Phillips – NY Times
For stock investors, the trade war has been nothing but trouble. For bond investors, it’s been a dream.

US company dividends now outstrip Treasury yields; Income-hungry investors could be driven into stocks just as bond markets signal danger
Richard Henderson and Joe Rennison – FT
The dramatic decline in yields on US Treasury bonds means that investors can now get more income from dividends on S&P 500 shares than on even the longest-dated government debt, upending the traditional relationship between stocks and bonds and potentially driving more savers towards the stock market.

Central banks can no longer afford to act in isolation; International spillovers from monetary policy have been amplified by increased globalisation
Megan Greene – FT
Just as some of the world’s political leaders are adopting a go-it-alone attitude, the central bankers who gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last week are acknowledging the benefits of co-ordination and the downsides of pursuing purely domestic objectives.

Investors Regret Not Buying the Most Negative-Yielding Bond Ever
Tasos Vossos – Bloomberg
Siemens’ new 3.5 billion euro sale rose in the aftermarket; Short-term corporates at sub-zero rates ‘least-bad’ option
When Siemens AG sold a corporate bond at the most negative yield ever recorded, there was disappointment — by those who were left out.

Dalio Says Central Banks Are Losing Ability to Reverse Downturns
Nathan Crooks – Bloomberg
Ray Dalio thinks the ability of central banks to reverse an economic downturn is coming to an end as the global economy enters what he says are the late stages of the long-term debt cycle.

Negative Rates Actually Cut Lending, Research Shows
Eddie Spence – Bloomberg
Negative interest rates create unintended effects, paper says; They don’t create the right incentives to spend and invest
Central banks’ negative interest rates were supposed to increase spending, stop deflation and stimulate the economy. They may have done the exact opposite.

Alternative investors split on importance of ESG
Charles McGrath –
Private equity investors were the most likely to consider environmental, social and governance issues into their alternative investments compared to investors in other asset classes. Of the 177 investors surveyed by Preqin in its latest alternative assets update, 48% said they already have ESG policies in place, or plan to in the next 12 months. Investors in natural resource funds were the least enthusiastic about ESG with only 18% saying definitively that they consider such policies. Hedge fund investors were the most common to reply that they have no formal ESG considerations in place with no plans to do so in the future.


Boaz Weinstein Hedge Fund Spars With BlackRock and Neuberger; Saba is embroiled in fights over closed-end fund boards with asset managers and law firm Skadden
Rachael Levy – WSJ
New York hedge fund Saba Capital Management LP is currently embroiled in separate fights with two large Wall Street asset managers and a well-known law firm over the obscure mechanics of closed-end fund boards.

One of Wall Street’s Most Successful Executives Is Parting Ways with Blackstone
Erik Schatzker and Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
He plans to hand off most senior roles and build family office; That means forfeiting more than $100 million in unvested stock
Like the letters on a lighted marquee going dark one by one, Blackstone Group Inc. has been losing the co-founders of its $139 billion credit business, GSO Capital Partners. The “O” left first, in 2015. “S” followed in 2018. Now, finally, the “G” — Bennett Goodman — is making his exit.


Introducing a new currency was Zimbabwe’s only viable option; If the opposition were in power it would have done the same, writes the country’s finance minister
Mthuli Ncube – FT
Zimbabwe, the country I serve as finance minister, has been in the news for restricting the use of the US dollar and other international currencies as legal tender. Why would we want to return to our own currency, given such recent, home-made, experience of monetary turmoil?

Banks and law firms in UK demand more female barristers; Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Barclays and Lloyds among those pushing for gender diversity
Kate Beioley – FT
Lawyers and banks in the UK are demanding more diversity from the barristers they instruct as they attempt to end panels of “white, middle-aged men” on their high-profile cases.

Argentina seeks to restructure $101bn of debt; Government wants more time to pay back borrowing as election turmoil plays havoc with economy
Robin Wigglesworth in Oslo and Michael Stott- FT
Argentina’s embattled government will ask its creditors including the IMF for more time to pay off $101bn of debts, as the country struggles to avoid a ninth sovereign default.

Singapore Expects New Digital Banks to Start by Mid-2021
Chanyaporn Chanjaroen – Bloomberg
Singapore plans to award licenses for its new digital banking initiative by mid-2020, with successful applicants expected to start business a year later, its financial regulator said.

Italy’s Bond Investors Show Their Support for Fresh Coalition
John Ainger – Bloomberg
Weak pricing distorted by large rally going into auction; Benchmark 10-year yield stays below 1% after the sale
Italy’s prospective coalition got the seal of approval from investors, who snapped up the country’s bonds at an auction even with yields around record lows.

Banks Throw Money at Russians in Shadows to Beat Loan Clampdown
Anna Baraulina – Bloomberg
New rules to slow retail loan growth target grey economy; About 12% of Russians’ income is undeclared, VTB estimates
Russian lenders are handing out loans like they’re going out of style in advance of new regulations that will cut millions of informal wage earners out of the consumer lending market.

Brazil Finds a Sweet Spot Between Cheap Money and a Trade War; Low interest rates, tame inflation and coming pension reforms bolster the country’s equity market.
Matthew A. Winkler – Bloomberg
When Brazil’s benchmark Ibovespa stock index reached a record on July 10, it was a milestone that few predicted. A 26% return over the previous year has made the country the top emerging market, beating 32 others that lost 7% collectively. The performance was even more impressive considering Brazil’s economy is barely growing at a 0.9% annual pace.


Did Boris Johnson Just Break Parliament?; One of the world’s oldest democracies takes an alarmingly authoritarian turn.
Martha Gill – NY Times
To understand what happened in British politics on Wednesday, it’s perhaps useful to turn to the workings of a popular game show, “Mornington Crescent,” that has been on the radio here for several decades now.

Davidson quits as Scottish Tory leader citing ‘conflict’ over Brexit; Boris Johnson suffers further blow as chief whip in Lords resigns over move to suspend parliament
George Parker, Jim Pickard and Mure Dickie – FT
Ruth Davidson has delivered a heavy blow to Boris Johnson by quitting as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, admitting that one reason for her resignation was “the conflict I have felt on Brexit”. Ms Davidson, a staunchly pro-EU Tory who has clashed repeatedly with Mr Johnson over Europe, has been credited with reviving the Scottish Conservatives, helping to deliver 13 Tory MPs to Westminster at the last election.

Boris Johnson’s move to prorogue parliament is forcing the hands of no-deal Brexit opponents; The prime minister has shown he is ready to do whatever it takes to get his way
Robert Shrimsley – FT
Boris Johnson is forcing his opponents to face a hard but simple fact. If they want to stop him from pushing through a no-deal Brexit they are going to have to bring him down, and quickly. By announcing plans to suspend parliament for up to five weeks the UK prime minister has shown he is ready to provoke a full constitutional crisis to drive through his policy.

Uproar as Boris Johnson shuts down parliament to protect Brexit plan; Queen approves prorogation as Speaker Bercow criticises ‘constitutional outrage’
Sebastian Payne and Jim Pickard – FT
Boris Johnson provoked a constitutional uproar on Wednesday when he announced plans to shut down parliament for five weeks, daring opponents of his Brexit strategy to vote down his government.

On Brexit Fantasy Island, democracy is the first casualty
The Globe and Mail
So now we know: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s goal is for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in a glorious blaze of self-immolation known as a no-deal Brexit.


We’re Running Out of Helium, and Two Geologists Might Have a Fix; MRI machines, fiber-optic cables, and kids’ birthday parties need it. Helium One wants to help.
Adriane Ohanesian – Bloomberg
If Josh Bluett and his pal Thomas Abraham-James hadn’t run out of things to talk about during a road trip, they might never have read the six pages that changed their lives. Bluett and Abraham-James are Australian geologists and onetime housemates in Brisbane who’d been hunting precious metals and fossil fuels for mining and energy companies. By November 2013, Abraham-James was living in Tanzania, looking for gold and copper, and he invited Bluett for a visit. “I was having a great timeóthis was proper exploration,” Abraham-James recalls. “I told him, ‘You’ve got to come experience this place.’?”

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