Business lessons from the Spanish flu of 1918; Kraft, Mondelez to End Fight With Regulator Over Manipulation Claims

Mar 6, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

The Options Industry Conference scheduled for April in Puerto Rico has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. It was the Cboe’s turn to host the conference. The OCC is encouraging continued support of World Central Kitchen and support efforts for the important work that the organization does around the world. The Options Industry Conference portal to donate is still open.~JJL

This OIC cancellation came quicker than I expected, but is the right move in the circumstances. JLN’s Matt Raebel was expecting to go to his first Options Conference, so he is disappointed, and I was going to bring my wife to Puerto Rico and to Boca (since we are now empty nesters) and so I have some making up to do.~JJL

JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon underwent emergency heart surgery yesterday and is recovering. Here are the stories from the FT, WSJ and Bloomberg about his surgery and recovery.~JJL

The World Health Organization has warned that cash could be spreading the coronavirus. This is where money laundering is a good thing.~JJL

CFTC v Kraft/Mondelez has gotten a little twisty-turny. Kraft yesterday filed publicly a motion they had previously filed under seal (who DOES that when the 7th District Circuit Court of Appeal ordered everything unsealed a few months ago?). The motion seeks to withdraw Kraft’s earlier motion for contempt against the CFTC which blew up their August 2020 settlement agreement provided that the new agreement was finalized. Judge Blakely said that he will proceed with his consideration of the CFTC’s contempt and will hand down his findings. Kraft had already agreed with the CFTC not to contest the CFTC’s potential appeal of Blakely’s likely sanctions, an agreement that the judge questioned. There was plenty of obvious tension between the CFTC and the Judge. Blakely expressed surprise that, according to the proposed settlement, Kraft was still accepting a $16 million fine. The next hearing is March 26. ~Thom Thompson

Euronext has introduced its first all-employee share grant. What a great idea.~JJL

Tito’s Vodka wants people to know that Tito’s should not be used as alcohol for cleaning to avoid the coronavirus. They say in a Twitter quip that is what grocery store vodka is for. However, alcohol must have 60% alcohol to be effective to be used as hand sanitizer and Tito’s only has 40%.~JJL

OCC and Maven Wave Partners are featured in this story from Built in Chicago.~JJL


Coronavirus’s True Lethal Power Still Eludes Disease Experts
Marthe Fourcade and John Lauerman – Bloomberg
Many cases may fly below radar as tests administered sparingly; New tools may help better gauge Covid-19’s scope and virulence
Even the world’s top infectious-disease specialists still aren’t sure how lethal a threat the coronavirus presents. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week that the new virus has killed about 3.4% of those diagnosed, a chilling mortality upgrade that far eclipses seasonal flu’s death toll.

*****It eludes the non-experts too.~JJL


US unusually vulnerable to coronavirus outbreak, say experts; High numbers of uninsured people mean it could spread more quickly than in other countries
Kiran Stacey and James Politi and Hannah Kuchler – FT
As the number of coronavirus cases mount in the US, experts are warning that the country is unusually vulnerable to the spread of the disease. Public health officials and academics are concerned that a mix of high numbers of uninsured people, a lack of paid sick leave and a political class that has downplayed the threat could mean it spreads more quickly than in other countries.

*****If the government is going to cover the cost of testing for the coronavirus, that sounds a lot like medicare for all.~JJL


CNBC’s Rick Santelli suggests giving everyone coronavirus to spare the economy
Mike Murphy – MarketWatch
Everyone in America should be given the coronavirus so the economic impact of the outbreak will be lessened, CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli suggested Thursday. But what he left unsaid was that could result in more than 11 million Americans dead.

*****Rick should volunteer to be the first to get it.~JJL


Fearless Girl at Year Three … and She’s Just Getting Started
Cyrus Taraporevala – Via LInkedIn
Three years ago this week, she changed us forever. It began on a cold, freezing day, when in the heart of the world’s financial capital this 50-inch bronze statue of a strong, defiant girl suddenly appeared on Wall Street. Placed by State Street Global Advisors in commemoration of International Women’s Day, “Fearless Girl” became a viral sensation overnight, inspiring selfies from across the globe and starting a conversation about the power and potential of women leaders.

***** You go girl!!!~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our most read story Thursday was the Wall Street Journal’s Thin Liquidity in Stock Futures Raises Risk of More Wild Market Moves, about the loss of liquidity in the E-mini S&P 500 futures. Second was the big news Aquis gets go-ahead for £2.7 million NEX Exchange takeover, from The Trade. Third was our own Matt Raebel’s report for JLN, Options Thrive as Markets Nosedive.


CryptoMarketsWiki Coin of the Week: Chainlink (LINK)
Chainlink, a cryptocurrency and blockchain company primarily focused on building technology to improve the interoperability of smart contracts across different blockchains, announced a partnership last week with Polkadot, a blockchain company that builds “bridges” between blockchain networks. This week, Chainlink announced that it had integrated with Ethereum Classic this week, as well as a number of other decentralized fintech projects. This means that Chainlink, which is built on the Ethereum blockchain, is now compatible with both Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.


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Lead Stories

Business lessons from the Spanish flu of 1918; What companies can learn from the world’s worst influenza pandemic
Tom Braithwaite – FT
You have panicked. Sold all your shares. Lent the proceeds to the US government for a 0.8 per cent yield. Now what? Toilet roll fight club at the local supermarket? Consider instead the lessons of 1918, when the world dealt with its worst war and worst epidemic. Business continued, as chronicled in the pages of the Financial Times.

Kraft, Mondelez to End Fight With Regulator Over Manipulation Claims; The deal, if approved by a federal judge, would resolve an unusual legal standoff over the CFTC’s comments about an earlier settlement
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Kraft Foods Group Inc. and Mondelez Global MDLZ -1.98% LLC are poised to pay $16 million to settle regulatory allegations they manipulated the market for wheat futures. The deal, if approved by a federal court in Chicago, would resolve an unusual legal standoff: The companies had accused the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of violating an earlier settlement with them by commenting on it. The deal had limited what could be said about the case.

Coronavirus Cases Near 100,000 as Countries Struggle to Contain Spread; In the U.S., there have been 233 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, mostly in the state of Washington
Lucy Craymer – WSJ
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally neared 100,000 on Friday, as infections outside of China continued to mount and many countries and cities struggled to get the epidemic under control.

What If This Is a Financial Crisis, But With People? Coronavirus stops the flow of workers and travelers, which could be worse than stopping the flow of credit.
Mark Gongloff – Bloomberg
Ever since the financial crisis we’ve reassured ourselves that such a thing can’t happen again for a long time, that with tame banks and derivatives, there’s no more market voodoo out there strong enough to hex the economy. But maybe the seeds of the next meltdown were staring us in the face all along, whenever we looked in the mirror.

JPMorgan Splits Up Traders Amid Banks’ Quickening Virus Response
Michelle F Davis – Bloomberg
Workers asked to avoid contact with staff at other offices; Bank is taking precautions to ensure business continuity
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is sending hundreds of its New York and London sales and trading staff to backup locations to reduce disruptions if employees are exposed to the coronavirus.

Banks seek trading rule guidance as coronavirus spreads; Regulators urged to provide clarity on exemptions ahead of potential staff quarantines
Laura Noonan, Nicholas Megaw and Primrose Riordan – FT
Global banks are pushing for guidance from regulators over the exemptions and temporary permissions they will need to keep their trading businesses open if the coronavirus outbreak forces staff to work from home or triggers a mass quarantine.

U.K. Investigators Examine Visits by Barclays CEO Jes Staley to Jeffrey Epstein’s Island; Probe asks whether Mr. Staley gave a full and accurate account of his interactions with convicted sex offender
Anna Isaac, David Benoit and Simon Clark – WSJ
U.K. investigators are examining visits by Barclays BCS -4.31% PLC Chief Executive Jes Staley to Jeffrey Epstein’s private Caribbean island as part of a probe into whether Mr. Staley told the truth about his association with the convicted sex offender.

Meet Zinc, the Cheap Metal Gunning for Lithium’s Battery Crown
Yvonne Yue Li – Bloomberg
Utilities need big battery systems to back up solar and wind; Rechargeable zinc systems, around just two years, ramping up
A metal best known for galvanizing steel is making the jump into a developing $30 billion energy-storage market for electrical grids that’s increasingly seen as key to unleashing solar and wind power upon the world.

Traders Dust Off Old Disaster Hedge With Virus Fear Escalating
John Ainger and Stephen Spratt – Bloomberg
Commerzbank suggests investors add schatz widener versus swap; Global bond yields fall as panic over economic fallout spreads
When markets are in turmoil, traders turn to their favourite hedges. They’re going for a classic form of protection against recession — buying short-dated German bonds versus interest-rate swaps — that would pay off if things get worse from here. The premium between the two hit its widest level in over a year Friday.

Virus Makes Lobsters So Cheap That Sellers Face a Fatal Blow
Jen Skerritt – Bloomberg
Prices tumble as flights to top-buyer China stop amid outbreak; ‘I’m about to lay off most of my employees,” one seller says
The coronavirus outbreak is turning one luxury treat reserved for special occasions into a meal bargain hunters can afford. U.S. lobster prices have plummeted to the lowest in at least four years after the spread of the virus halted charter flights to Asia at a time when sales usually boom for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Euronext introduces its first all-employee share grant
Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Oslo and Paris – 6 March 2020 – Euronext today announced its first Performance Share Plan granting free shares to all employees across the company, subject to approval by Euronext shareholders. As part of this award, every eligible Euronext employee will receive a grant of 10 performance shares, taking the percentage of beneficiaries of a performance share plan from 24% to 100 % of eligible Euronext employees.

Fixed income ETFs drive ICE ETF Hub to $27 billion record in February; February was a record month of activity for the ICE ETF Hub, with $20 billion of notional processed for fixed income ETFs.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
US exchange group ICE has said it saw record volumes from clients using its exchange traded fund (ETF) ecosystem during February, with fixed income ETFs driving the bulk of the activity.

Eurex Clearing now accepts USD in LSOC clearing model
Starting 2 March 2020, Eurex has been accepting USD as cash collateral for Initial Margin payments. This extends Eurex’s previous offering which only accepted EUR under its LSOC clearing model.

Exchange Launches E-training and Publishes Guidance Materials on ESG Reporting
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), has published the following updated guidance materials on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting:

Launch of Options Calculator
Today, Osaka Exchange, Inc. launched “Options Calculator” on our website. Our Options Calculator allows any users, from beginner to advanced options trader, to calculate option prices and indicators online.

JPX marks International Women’s Day, March 8; JPX shows its support for Ring the Bell for Gender Equality 2020
March 8 is designated as International Women’s Day by the United Nations. Every year, exchanges around the globe hold a “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” ceremony to show support for women’s active participation in society.

Nodal Exchange achieves record volume and market share in power in February
Nodal Exchange
Nodal Exchange achieved record power futures trading volume in February 2020 with 259.5 million MWh ($6.6 Billion per side), including 73.9 million MWh related to the successful migration of power futures from Nasdaq Futures (NFX) on February 6. This represents Nodal Exchange’s highest volume month ever, as well as its 19th consecutive record calendar month.


Rival Systems Launches CAT Reporting Service
Press Release
Rival Systems (Rival), an award-winning provider of trading and risk management software, today announced the launch of their cloud-based Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) Reporting Service. Rival’s reporting service meets the needs of firms trading equities and equity options with support for comma separated value log files as well as custom log formats. As a registered CAT Reporting Agent, Rival will offer CAT support for firms using any trading platform.

Standard Chartered invests in FX derivatives startup 24 Exchange; The global head of FX at Standard Chartered will take a seat on the 24 Exchange board of directors as part of strategic investment.
Kiays Khalil – The Trade
Startup FX derivatives platform 24 Exchange has confirmed that Standard Chartered has made a strategic investment in the firm, further expanding its existing partnership.

‘Uncharted territory’: Robinhood’s competitors aren’t celebrating its massive outage
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Rivals to popular investing app Robinhood aren’t jumping at the opportunity to celebrate the company’s recent outage.

HS Markit Builds Out Alt Data Library for Research Signals; The data service provider is widening its coverage of alt datasets for signals in cyber risk and controversy data.
Josephine Gallagher – Waters Technology
IHS Markit is broadening its coverage of alternative datasets for Research Signals, its library of data signals, to provide actionable insights on investment themes such as cybersecurity, maritime movements, and the automotive industry.


South Korea passes one of the world’s first comprehensive cryptocurrency laws
Danny Crichton – TechCrunch
The South Korean National Assembly passed new legislation today that will provide a framework for the regulation and legalization of cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges. In a unanimous vote during a special session of the legislature convened amidst the country’s worsening novel coronavirus situation, the representatives passed an amendment to the country’s financial services laws that would authorize Korea’s financial regulators to effectively oversee the nascent industry and develop rules around anti-money laundering among other processes.

This is how North Korea uses cutting-edge crypto money laundering to steal millions
Mike Orcutt – MIT Technology Review
The US government has just come down hard on two Chinese nationals for allegedly conspiring with North Korean state-sponsored hackers to steal millions of dollars’ worth of digital money from cryptocurrency exchanges. In the process, it has provided a glimpse at the cutting edge of crypto money laundering. The Department of Justice charged Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong with laundering over $100 million worth of cryptocurrency to benefit co-conspirators in North Korea. The Department of the Treasury placed their names (and 20 of their Bitcoin accounts) on a list of foreign individuals and entities that are blocked from doing business in the US.

Bitcoin mining hardware maker Canaan hit with securities lawsuit in U.S. court
Celia Wan – The Block
A stockholder of bitcoin mining hardware maker Canaan is suing the company for violating U.S. securities law. Filed on March 4 at the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, the lawsuit alleges that the Chinese firm misled investors about the company’s financial health and operations status in its initial public offering (IPO) filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition to Canaan, the lawsuit also names the firm’s underwriters for this IPO as defendants, including Galaxy Digital, China Renaissance Securities, Huatai Financial Holdings, CMB International Capital, and others. Notably, one of the original lead underwriters Credit Suisse dropped out a few days before the IPO.

Diving Into Three of Africa’s Emerging Fintech Economies
Chris Cleverly – Cointelegraph
For many, Africa represents the final frontier of untapped economic growth. Across its diverse countries, growth rates continue to outpace those achieved in long-developed economies. Collectively, growth on the continent stabilized at 3.4% in 2019, and is forecast to reach 3.9% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2021. While these numbers remain below historical highs, fundamentals continue to improve as economies shift from local consumption to external investments.

Indian Central Bank to Appeal Against Top Court’s Decision on Crypto
Arnab Shome – Finance Magnates
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, has deceived to appeal against the recent decision of the Supreme Court squashing the banking ban on crypto companies. Reported by local news outlet Economic Times, the decision was not officially revealed by the central bank yet. This came as the decision of the apex court came on Wednesday in a landmark judgment after a delay of several months in hearing the arguments.

A power plant in New York is reportedly mining roughly $50,000 in bitcoin each day
Yilun Cheng – The Block
The Greenidge Generation plant – a power plant based in Dresden, New York – is now producing approximately $50,000 worth of bitcoin daily. Over the past few months, the 650,000-square-foot power plant has installed approximately 7,000 bitcoin mining machines and is now mining about 5.5 bitcoins every day, as Bloomberg reported Thursday. Atlas Holding LLC, a private equity company, is the operator of the facility.

Bitcoin mining activity expected to surge as Chinese hardware makers shake off coronavirus slowdown
Celia Wan – The Block
Following a 0.38% dip in late February, the bitcoin mining difficulty rate is expected to bounce back by more than 5% on March 10 as a coronavirus-triggered hardware delivery slowdown abates. The bitcoin mining difficulty is adjusted roughly every two weeks, benchmarking the computing power needed to find one new block. The difficulty decreased for the first time in 2020 during its last adjustment on February 25, partly due to a government quarantine against the coronavirus in China that led to mining delivery delays.

Clearview AI Lawyer Tor Ekeland Says Your Face Is Public Property
Daniel Kuhn – Coindesk
Clearview is the newest company in the surveillance space we love to hate. The app, an “after-the-fact research tool,” allows thousands of government and corporate agencies to match photos of suspected criminals against a catalogue of 3 billion images culled from the internet. A New York Times report found more than 600 police agencies have started using Clearview last year, and Buzzfeed expanded that list to over 2,000 clients, including firms like Macy’s and Walmart, as well as organizations like Interpol. “Clearview is not a surveillance system and is not built like one,” according to the company website, which claims the firm only scrapes images from public websites. Still, questions around the Clearview’s cybersecurity have been raised and validated.

Blockchain startup Arweave secures $8.3M from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Coinbase Ventures
Yilun Cheng – The Block
Arweave, a blockchain startup focused on the permanent storage of Internet content, has raised $8.3 million in new funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Coinbase Ventures. Both Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures have already invested in Arweave. The investment firms were named as round participants in Nov. 2019, when the startup raised $5 million. Founded in 2017, Arweave went through Techstars Berlin’s mentorship program in 2018 and went live in June that year. According to a press statement, the protocol now has more than one million pieces of data stored on its permaweb and nearly 200 apps built upon it.


Judge Questions Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report, to Review Unreleased Portions; Federal judge says attorney general aimed to create ‘a one-sided narrative’ about the report
Byron Tau – WSJ
A federal judge on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of a lack of candor and questioned his credibility in his handling of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report last year.

Michael Bloomberg Plans New Entity to Boost Biden and Defeat Trump
Mark Niquette – Bloomberg
Independent effort focusing on crucial states for November; Former New York mayor ended his presidential bid on Wednesday
Michael Bloomberg plans a new organization with offices in six battleground states to help Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination and then defeat President Donald Trump in November, his campaign said Wednesday.

For a Germaphobe, Trump Is Pretty Bad at Fighting Viruses; The president isn’t to blame for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., but he hasn’t been making things better lately.
Justin Fox – Bloomberg
The coronavirus epidemic is not President Donald Trump’s fault. Neither is the stock market’s decline, or the economic downturn that seems increasingly likely to follow in its wake.

Conspiracy theorists blame U.S. for coronavirus. China is happy to encourage them.
Gerry Shih – Washington Post
The United States is concealing the true scale of its coronavirus deaths. The United States should learn from China about how to respond to an epidemic. The United States was the origin of the coronavirus — and the global crisis was never China’s fault. Welcome to the Chinese Internet this week.


UK authorities assessing industry’s coronavirus contingency plans; FCA, Bank of England and HM Treasury are investigating how firms will manage a widespread outbreak of coronavirus.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Banks and major financial institutions in the UK are being assessed on contingency plans to deal with the potential further spread of coronavirus. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England are actively reviewing plans across a wide range of firms, the authorities said in a statement alongside the HM Treasury, as they monitor the impact of an outbreak on businesses.

FCA announces proposals to improve climate-related disclosures by listed companies; The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today published proposals outlining new climate-related disclosure requirements for premium listed issuers.
The new rule will require all commercial companies with a premium listing to either make climate related disclosures consistent with the approach set out by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)or explain why not. The FCA will consider consulting on extending this rule to a wider scope of issuers.

Unstable coins: cryptoassets, financial regulation and preventing financial crime in the emerging market for digital assets
Speech by Therese Chambers, Director of Retail and Regulatory Investigations at the FCA, delivered at The Advancement of Digital Assets and Addressing Financial Crime Risk, New York.

Investing and Trading

ExxonMobil dismisses carbon targets as a ‘beauty’ match; Big oil chief resists pressure over climate and defends fossil fuel investment
Gregory Meyer – FT
ExxonMobil will eschew a “beauty match” on carbon emissions as rivals set out firm targets, marking a divide with international oil groups under pressure to address their impact on the global climate.

Passive Investing Is Not as ‘Passive’ as You Might Think; Even though many funds don’t label themselves as “active” they require significant human input.
Brandon Kochkodin – Bloomberg
The changing of the guard in asset management is complete. Passive overtook active in 2019: Assets in U.S. index funds and exchange-traded funds surpassed those in actively managed funds.

Coronavirus Could Kill Off the Auto Show, Once and for All; Officials canceled the most prestigious event on their calendar. But will it even be missed?
Hannah Elliott – Bloomberg
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, Bentley executives were mobilizing to debut the $2 million Bacalar at the Geneva Auto Show, announcing with the one-of-12 grand tourer their plan to double down on custom cars as the figurehead of the company’s business model.

Wall Street’s Pros Fess Up: ‘We Don’t Know What’s Going On’
Vildana Hajric and Elena Popina – Bloomberg
Vix above 30 for six sessions marks longest stretch since 2011; Deutsche Bank sees stocks falling 30% in worst-case scenario
Along with the virus, here’s what people said has been driving the stock market this week. Optimism over Fed policy. Pessimism over Fed policy. Optimism over the government’s response. Pessimism over the government’s response. The Beige Book. Joe Biden.

Bonds Aren’t as Safe as You Think; If interest rates rise, they’ll plummet in value, forcing investors to sell at a loss or stay trapped for years.
Steven Grey -WSJ
Investment risk has never been more challenging to gauge. Before last week’s market decline, it would have been almost laughable to suggest that investors should stay on the sidelines. After all, the S&P 500 gained 30% in 2019—despite trade tensions and slow growth overseas. And then the floor dropped out from under the stock market.

Sequoia Capital Warns Startups of Coronavirus ‘Black Swan’ Event
Lizette Chapman – Bloomberg
VC firm advises companies to cut costs and conserve cash; Email draws parallels to one sent during recession in 2008
Sequoia Capital, one of the world’s leading venture capital firms and a periodic soothsayer for the industry, sent an email to its entrepreneurs Thursday warning that the coronavirus could usher in a prolonged global economic slowdown and fundamentally alter the business environment.


Banks Told to Prepare for Cybercrime Jump in Coronavirus Fallout
Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
The European Central Bank has warned banks to prepare for a possible jump in the number of cyber attacks as part of the fallout from the coronavirus. The watchdog urged banks in a letter this week to test the capacity of their technology systems “also in light of a potential increase of cyber-attacks and potential higher reliance on remote banking services.” That suggests the ECB is concerned criminals may seek to take advantage of the chaos caused by the virus.

Jamie Dimon’s Emergency Surgery Puts Spotlight on JPMorgan’s Bench
Michelle F Davis – Bloomberg
Co-presidents Pinto and Smith will take over until he recovers; Scare will renew pressure on board to groom future leaders
Jamie Dimon steered JPMorgan Chase & Co. through the financial crisis, built it into America’s biggest bank and serves as the industry’s top spokesman.


Chinese piglet prices jump on supply disruptions; Coronavirus-linked glitches push cost to record high on surging demand from farmers
Hudson Lockett – FT
Supply disruptions from the coronavirus epidemic have pushed China’s piglet prices to record highs, as farmers bet that a domestic pork shortage will persist even after the country’s economy gets back up to speed.

India forced to rescue big private sector bank; RBI warns Yes Bank depositors not to panic as crisis sparks concern over financial system
Benjamin Parkin and Amy Kazmin- FT
India’s central bank has seized control of the country’s fourth-largest lender, as they try to engineer a rescue plan and prevent a loss of confidence in the country’s financial system.

Denmark Recommends Avoiding Large Gatherings to Stop Coronavirus
Morten Buttler – Bloomberg
The Danish government wants to suspend or postpone large public gatherings planned for this month in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Friday.

Lebanon’s financial prosecutor orders asset freeze on 20 banks; Move piles further pressure on crisis-hit country’s stressed financial sector
Chloe Cornish – FT
Lebanon’s financial prosecutor has frozen the assets of almost half the crisis-hit country’s banks and their executives, piling further pressure on an already stressed financial sector.


UK may not adopt CSDR buy-in regime post-Brexit; Industry experts believe the UK may decide not to adopt one of the most controversial aspects of the new settlement regulation post-Brexit.
Jon Watkins – The Trade
The UK may decide not to adopt the buy-in regime under the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR) following it’s exit from the European Union, industry experts have said.

British residents in Spain ‘confused and alarmed’ about post-Brexit future
Jon Henley – The Guardian
Britons living in Spain are confused and fearful about their post-Brexit futures “to a quite shocking extent”, according to the author of a study, with poor support and communication from British and Spanish authorities mainly to blame. Despite the withdrawal agreement securing the basic rights of UK citizens legally resident on the continent, Karen O’Reilly, a sociology professor at Loughborough University, said her research revealed “enormous levels of uncertainty and worry”.

Brexit: Preparations cost government more than £4bn says watchdog
Government departments spent more than £4bn on preparations for leaving the EU, says the public spending watchdog. The National Audit Office said this figure included spending on staff, external advice and advertising. A Treasury spokesperson said the government had made “all necessary funds available” to ensure the country was prepared for leaving the EU. But the Lib Dems claimed “billions of pounds have been thrown away in a bid to paper over the Tories’ Brexit mess”. The NAO stressed in its report that it was not making a judgement on whether the spending represented value for money.

How Brexit brings the spies in from the cold
Frederick Studemann – Financial Times (opinion)
The British love a good spy story. From James Bond to George Smiley, from the Scarlet Pimpernel to Richard Hannay, chilling tales of agents negotiating the shadowlands of the cold war, or foiling the murderous plans of revolutionaries, have long enjoyed a following of avid readers. On one level the attraction is obvious. Nail-biting storylines set against a contemporary political canvass make for compelling reading. Yet, according to John le Carré, there is also something else at play.


How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts
David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson – NY Times
When the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first published their research on “deaths of despair” five years ago, they focused on middle-aged whites. So many white working-class Americans in their 40s and 50s were dying of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse that the overall mortality rate for the age group was no longer falling – a rare and shocking pattern in a modern society.

Louvre Reopens, but the Crowd Will Have to Control Itself; Employees returned on Wednesday after a three-day closure over coronavirus fears. But the guards won’t move around to maintain order in the room where the Mona Lisa hangs.
Constant Méheut and Alex Marshall – NY Times
PARIS — The line of around 600 people outside the Louvre on Wednesday was a swirl of rumor, with people wondering if the world’s most-visited museum would open after a three-day closure. Since Sunday, the Louvre’s staff had been refusing to work, fearful they might catch the coronavirus from someone among the museum’s more than 30,000 daily visitors.

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