Cboe Says It’s Seeking Approval to List Bitcoin ETF in U.S.; SPACs Are Hot Because They Are the ‘Poor Man’s Private Equity Funds’

Mar 2, 2021

First Read

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Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The World Federation of Exchanges, or WFE, has published its inaugural annual Women Leaders List that aims to shine the spotlight on some of the talented and gifted women in the exchange industry. There were 60 nominations and 21 women were chosen by 9 judges.

Some of the stories the WFE is highlighting include Julie Becker, Deputy CEO, Luxembourg Stock Exchange; Laura M Cha, Chairman, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX); Diana Chan, Independent Non-Executive Director and former CEO of EuroCCP, Euroclear SA/NV; and Anat Guetta, Chair, Israel Securities Authority.

You can find the complete list of women the WFT selected HERE.

The CME Group reported that Micro E-mini Equity Index futures reached back-to-back trading volume records last week of 4.4 million contracts on February 26 and 4.2 million contracts on February 25, across all four indexes – the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, Russell 2000 and Dow Jones Industrial Average Indexes. These new highs surpassed the previous record of 4.1 million contracts set on September 8, 2020. Small is BIG!

In a blow to the City of Chicago and an indication of where we are with COVID-19, the International Housewares Association canceled its McCormick Place show for the second straight year, stretching COVID-19’s assault on the convention center at least through late summer.

Can anyone tell me where I can send equity orders to school to become smart enough that they are considered toxic and are rejected by the aggregators? Asking for a friend.

We had no new donations to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign yesterday. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by donating to our GoFundMe campaign. If you donate, you are listed on a rolling list of donors at the end of each of our MarketsWiki Education videos.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL



Looking Back on 2020 with Phil Mackintosh, Chief Economist at Nasdaq

Phil Mackintosh, chief economist at Nasdaq, discusses some of the biggest takeaways learned from 2020, as well as what to expect from 2021.

Listen to the podcast »


The World Federation of Exchanges Publishes Women Leaders List for 2021
The World Federation of Exchanges
The World Federation of Exchanges (“The WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, today published its inaugural annual Women Leaders List. The WFE’s Women Leaders initiative aims to shine the spotlight on some of the talented and gifted women in our industry. The industry initiative drew almost 60 nominations from every corner of the world as the WFE’s global membership put forward their talented existing, and future, leaders. From the total pool of nominations, 21 women were awarded a place on the list in a very competitive process run by 9 distinguished judges.

*****An impressive list.~JJL


Previewing Gary Gensler’s SEC Confirmation Hearing
Alan Cohn, John T. Collins, Christopher R. Conte, Scott D. Fisher, Micah S. Green, Matthew B. Kulkin, Scott A. Sinder, Josh Oppenheimer – Steptoe
Tomorrow at 10:00 am, the Senate Banking Committee will meet to conduct a hearing on the nominations of Gary Gensler to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Rohit Chopra to be director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB). Both are strong advocates of the Biden administration’s policy agenda and have longstanding relationships with progressive Democrats. The hearing is certain to underscore the political and philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans, for example, over what role social issues and policies should have in SEC and CFPB deliberations and actions.

*****Gary Gensler is unpredictable in my book.~JJL


Hey Citi, your bitcoin report is embarrassingly bad; Truly one of the most shocking bits of “research” we have ever seen from an investment bank.
Jemima Kelly – FT
On Monday one of the world’s top investment banks, Citi, put out a report called “BITCOIN: At the Tipping Point”, which has been causing quite a stir across the crypto-net and beyond. “Absolutely fantastic birds eye view of the bitcoin phenomenon from Citi,” tweeted crypto VC Nic Carter. “It’s incredibly well done and very fair. Highly recommend giving this one a read”.

*****Citi getting some love from Jemima Kelly, NOT!~JJL


Greg Doud Returns to CMC; Officers Re-Elected
The Commodity Markets Council (CMC) announced today the election of its 2021 officers and the welcoming back of former Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Gregg Doud, who will be returning to CMC as Director of Development. CMC’s elected leadership for 2021 included Charlie Carey from the CME Group as Chairman, Clive Christianson from BP Corporation as Vice-Chairman, and Derek Sammann from the CME Group as Treasurer.
*****Former CMC President Doud spoke at our MarketsWiki Education World of Opportunity event in New York several years back.~JJL


The World For Sale — rollicking yarns from the biggest commodity boom; Javier Blas and Jack Farchy tell the story of how the noughties super-cycle catapulted trading houses to extraordinary wealth
Felix Martin – FT
With the reflation trade suddenly ripping through the world’s financial markets, a $1.9tn stimulus bill steaming through the US Congress, and “Dr Copper” bursting through $9,000 a tonne to prices not seen since the heady days of 2011, the commodity markets are headline news again. Could there be a better moment for Javier Blas and Jack Farchy’s rollicking new account of those markets’ recent history to land on investors’ desks?

*****Something to read to keep you up at night.~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was the SEC’s press release, SEC Suspends Trading in Multiple Issuers Based on Social Media and Trading Activity. The SEC said trading is being suspended “because of questions about recent increased activity and volatility in the trading of these issuers, as well as the influence of certain social media accounts on that trading activity.” Second was the Bloomberg Law article What’s Ahead for the Futures and Derivatives Industry? from former CFTC general counsel Daniel J. Davis at Katten Muchin Rosenman. Third was Former Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler Sells 49% Stake in Atlanta Dream WNBA Team, from Yahoo! Sports.


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Lead Stories

Cboe Says It’s Seeking Approval to List Bitcoin ETF in U.S.
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Exchange wants a green light for the VanEck Bitcoin Trust; U.S. has so far been reluctant to allow ETF for largest crypto
Cboe Global Markets Inc. is seeking approval to list and trade shares of what could be the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S. Cboe in a Monday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sought the green light for the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. VanEck Associates Corp. in December applied to start an ETF tracking the largest cryptocurrency.

SPACs Are Hot Because They Are the ‘Poor Man’s Private Equity Funds’; Retail investors who buy the shell-company shares get a shot at fast-growing startups before they go public.
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
SPACs—special purpose acquisition companies—are one of Wall Street’s hottest products. These publicly traded shell companies give tycoons and celebrities the capital to search for splashy one-shot deals. In a 2016 paper, Lora Dimitrova of the University of Exeter Business School dubbed SPACs “the poor man’s private equity funds.” That’s because they give ordinary investors a way to participate in the purchase of a hot company before it goes public—a perk usually reserved for the wealthy.

Wall Street broker BGC Partners takes legal action over alleged $35m theft; Firm run by Howard Lutnick says it has started proceedings against two former associates
Philip Stafford – FT
BGC Partners, the interdealer broker, has started legal proceedings against two former associates after discovering what it called a theft of $35.2m from funds the company set aside for UK tax payments. The Wall Street firm, which is run by the hard-charging Howard Lutnick, first warned that the funds were missing when it released fourth-quarter results last week, but the disclosure went unreported.

StoneX Acquires Equity Stake in Diversity Broker, Tigress Financial Partners
StoneX Group Inc.
StoneX Group Inc. (NASDAQ: SNEX) (StoneX or “the Company”) today announced that it has purchased a minority stake in Tigress Financial Partners. This transaction marks an investment of cash, infrastructure and global products into the nation’s only disabled and woman-owned investment firm. The closing of this transaction is subject to limited conditions including regulatory approval.

Man Group Has a Message for Reddit Rookies: We’re Watching You
Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
The world’s largest publicly-listed hedge fund has decided that the Reddit mob is now too influential to be ignored. Man Group Plc, known for its computer-driven quant funds, has built a system to track hot topics on the website’s WallStreetBets forum, according to Chief Executive Officer Luke Ellis. Managers receive a daily report on names being discussed on the site that hosted the hordes of retail investors behind the recent short squeeze on GameStop Corp. The report shows how the firm is using “technology to address investment problems that humans alone can’t handle efficiently,” Ellis said on a call with analysts Tuesday.

Why Changes to Hong Kong’s Stock Index Are a Big Deal
Sofia Horta e Costa – Bloomberg
The Hang Seng Index is undergoing a dramatic overhaul aimed at giving investors who track it greater exposure to China’s growing technological might. The heavy weighting of financial firms and state-owned enterprises will be reduced, which should go some way to rectifying the Hong Kong benchmark’s serial under-performance, and the near-doubling of the membership will add diversity. The changes aim to better reflect the city’s position as the preferred venue for mainland firms to sell shares, while keeping enough local companies on board to ensure it’s still a “Hong Kong” benchmark. Some $38 billion is invested in funds that follow the Hang Seng group of indexes.

Spac dealmaking sets new record; Blank-cheque companies announce transactions worth $109bn in a month as competition for acquisitions hots up
Ortenca Aliaj, James Fontanella-Khan and Aziza Kasumov – FT
Blank-cheque companies signed a record $109bn of transactions globally last month, as their founders rushed to take advantage of investor enthusiasm to bring privately held companies to the public markets.

Robinhood is reportedly prepping for IPO later this month
Thornton McEnery – NY Post
After getting roasted for its role in the January market meltdown and hauled before Congress in February, Robinhood is reportedly angling to go public in March. The no-fee trading app for millennials is eyeing an initial public offering later this month and plans to file confidential IPO paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the coming days, according to a report from Bloomberg that cited unnamed sources (paywall).

Sunak to arm City of London for fightback with listings shake-up; Hill review will seek to make UK more attractive in competition for IPOs and with tighter focus on Spacs
George Parker, Daniel Thomas, Philip Stafford and Matthew Vincent – FT
Rishi Sunak will use his Budget to launch a post-Brexit fightback by the City of London, setting in train new rules to help it compete with centres like New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt in attracting fast-growth companies.

A technical snag at India’s largest stock exchange has the government worried
Prathamesh Mulye – Quartz
A temporary telecom glitch at India’s largest stock exchange has rattled the country’s government and regulators. On Feb. 24, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was forced to abruptly halt trading for four hours due to failure in telecom connectivity as the company’s two service providers simultaneously went down. This resulted in heavy losses from many investors.

Hong Kong tax rise for stock trades overshadows index revamp; Hang Seng will be made more relevant for tech companies
Narayanan Somasundaram – Nikkei Asia
Hong Kong’s main share index just cannot seem to catch a break. Just as the stars seemed to be aligning for the worst performing major stock index of 2020, with record inflows of mainland money and an impending shakeup of the Hang Seng Index set to boost the relevance of sought-after new economy stocks, the government shook investor sentiment in recent days with plans to raise the city’s trading tax for the first time in 28 years

Robinhood in Talks to Settle Finra Probes Into Options-Trading Practices, Outages; Stock-trading app says in filing it is also being examined by SEC and states
Peter Rudegeair – WSJ
Robinhood Markets Inc. is in talks to pay a fine to settle investigations into its options-trading practices and outages the stock-trading app suffered in March 2020, according to a securities filing.

Oil Trade Group Is Poised to Endorse Carbon Pricing; Draft American Petroleum Institute statement says carbon pricing would help meet Paris accord
Ted Mann and Timothy Puko – WSJ
The oil industry’s top lobbying group is preparing to endorse setting a price on carbon emissions in what would be the strongest signal yet that oil and gas producers are ready to accept government efforts to confront climate change.

Fed’s Brainard Urges Steps to Address Weaknesses in Short-Term Funding Markets; ‘This rush of outflows as a share of assets was faster than in the run in 2008,’ the Federal Reserve governor says
Andrew Ackerman – WSJ
Regulators should continue to advance reforms to the financial system to address vulnerabilities revealed by the coronavirus-induced market turmoil a year ago, Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard said Monday. Fragilities remain in short-term funding markets, including from certain money-market mutual funds that experienced destabilizing investor outflows that eclipsed those during the 2008 financial crisis, leading to the second federal intervention in 12 years to prop up the market, she said.

Hedge fund manager Hohn pays himself $479m; Payout marks one of the biggest ever in the UK after his firm’s profits surge
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Christopher Hohn has paid himself a dividend of $479m, one of the largest-ever annual personal payouts in the UK, after profits at his firm more than doubled last year. Hohn, who is founder of Mayfair-based TCI Fund Management and one of the UK’s biggest philanthropists, made the payment to a company he controls during the year to February 2020, according to regulatory filings.

Hong Kong to overhaul Hang Seng to reflect Chinese listing boom; Shake-up to better reflect dominance of Chinese companies in city’s market
Hudson Lockett – FT
Hong Kong is planning to double the number of stocks in its benchmark index, in a shake-up that will better reflect the growing dominance of Chinese listings in the city’s market. Hang Seng Indexes will raise the number of stocks in its eponymous benchmark, tracked by about $28bn in exchange traded and local pension funds, from 52 to 80 by mid-2022. It will ultimately raise the total to 100, the company announced after markets closed in Hong Kong on Monday.

TMX launches trading venue for ESG debt, letting retail investors buy sustainable bonds
The Globe and Mail – Tim Kiladze
TMX Group Ltd. , the parent company of the Toronto Stock Exchange, is launching a trading platform for sustainable bonds, giving retail investors the rare chance to buy and sell ESG-friendly debt while…

Texas’ Biggest County Explores Exiting Power Grid After Storm
Joe Carroll – Bloomberg
Harris County, Texas, is exploring ways to draw electricity from other states — including quitting the power grid that came close to collapse during last month’s historic freeze.


Johnson & Johnson vaccine deepens concerns over racial and geographic inequities; Governors weigh ease of use against perception of a two-tiered system if new coronavirus vaccine is deployed primarily to harder-to-reach communities
Isaac Stanley-Becker – Washington Post
The nation has a third weapon to wield against the coronavirus, and this one doesn’t need to be kept frozen or followed by a booster shot. Those attributes of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, which gained regulatory clearance on Saturday, promise to help state and local officials quell the pandemic punishing their communities. First, however, they will need to determine its place in an expanding anti-virus arsenal, where it joins vaccines with sky-high efficacy rates that are still in short supply.

Covid-19 Virus Antibodies Found in 29% of London Residents
Neil Callanan – Bloomberg
Almost a third of Londoners would test positive for Covid-19 antibodies, highlighting the rapid spread of the U.K. strain of the disease last month. More than 29% of people in the capital are estimated to have the antibodies, the highest rate of any region in the U.K., according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics. The findings for cover the 28 days up to Feb. 11 and compare with one in five people in the city who would have tested positive in January.

Vaccine Comparison Shopping Lets Covid Win; France’s slow-motion rollout of AstraZeneca doses has lessons for Europe and the U.S. too.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
The scientist in charge of France’s vaccine rollout, Alain Fischer, must sometimes feel like Sisyphus forever rolling his boulder up the hill. After months of patiently working to win over a doubting public’s acceptance of the groundbreaking mRNA vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., he’s now fighting to convince French doctors to offer AstraZeneca Plc’s more traditional shot to their patients.

Vaccine Passport Finds Strong Support in U.K. Poll; The nation is leading the world’s major economies on getting its population vaccinated. Now Brits say they would support blocking those without shots from entering.
Katharine Gemmell – Bloomberg
Nearly a third of U.K. adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot. Now a wide majority of Britons support a controversial next step: so-called vaccine passports that would allow some to return to a more-normal life. New data provided to Bloomberg by YouGov show that 65% of British people say they would support a document that would theoretically allow vaccinated people to return to workplaces, bars and even travel again before those who haven’t had their shots.

New York Covid-19 Variant Expands Reach in U.S. With 735 Cases
Emma Court, Josh Wingrove, and Jordan Fabian – Bloomberg
Early studies suggest the mutation may evade antibody therapy; Strain first seen in November, likely in Washington Heights
About 735 cases of a coronavirus variant that emerged in New York City in November have now been identified in the U.S., including 585 in the last two weeks, a federal health official said. The mutation has traveled extensively through the metropolitan New York region, and individual cases have also been found in 14 other states, including Texas, Wyoming and Maryland, according to Gregory Armstrong, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advanced Molecular Detection Program.

Vaccine Shipments Present a Security Challenge Worthy of a James Bond Film; Shipping companies are using kill switches, panic buttons, plainclothes guards, and tons of monitoring to ensure delivery.
Thomas Buckley – Bloomberg
In the coming months, billions of doses of coronavirus vaccines will be dispatched via truck, plane, ship, and rail to hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies around the world. With that cargo worth tens of billions of dollars—and some individual shipments valued as high as $70 million—one thing is certain: Crooks will try to steal some of it. For freight haulers, the vaccine rollout poses “the biggest security challenge in a generation,” says Thorsten Neumann, chief executive officer of the European arm of the Transported Asset Protection Association, an industry group representing companies that carry precious goods.

Hydroxychloroquine Shouldn’t Be Used as Covid Preventive, Says WHO
Corinne Gretler – Bloomberg
Anti-inflammatory drug hydroxychloroquine should not be used in efforts to prevent infection with Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization. A WHO expert panel found that the medicine had no meaningful effect on deaths or hospitalizations and may even increase the risk of adverse effects, the group said in a statement Tuesday.

Germany loses Covid crown as vaccine campaign falters; Country lags far behind UK and US while jab strategy and technology underpinning it draw fierce criticism
Guy Chazan – FT
Germany is famed for Vorsprung durch Technik, engineering knowhow and general competence. No wonder then that its Covid-19 vaccination drive is fast becoming a national embarrassment. So far, the country has administered only 6.2m doses of the coronavirus jab, compared with 75.2m in the US and 21m in the UK. Perhaps most strikingly, it has 2.3m shots lying around unused.

Redemption shot: von der Leyen begins fightback on EU vaccine rollout; With Europe facing a possible third wave and public doubts about efficacy, the commission president is under pressure from member states
Sam Fleming and Michael Peel and Guy Chazan – FT
German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet meetings tend to be sedate affairs, however one gathering in early February was anything but. Olaf Scholz, finance minister, launched an extraordinary broadside against the European Commission, saying its vaccination strategy had been a “total shit-show”.

WHO investigators deeply sceptical of China’s Covid origin theory; Members of Wuhan team say authorities’ claim virus entered city on frozen food highly unlikely
Christian Shepherd and Yuan Yang, Max Seddon – FT
World Health Organization investigators have downplayed a Chinese theory that coronavirus was brought to Wuhan through frozen food, underlining the charged geopolitics surrounding the roots of Covid-19.

France lifts restrictions on Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for over-65s; New data bring about policy shift as other EU countries likely to abandon age limits
Leila Abboud – FT
France is to expand its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after additional clinical data proved its efficacy among people aged over 65, reversing the position Paris took a month ago.

Brazil virus variant found to evade natural immunity; Studies ‘urgently needed’ to check efficacy of current vaccines against strain, researchers say
Anna Gross and Clive Cookson – FT
The P.1 Covid-19 variant that was identified in Brazil is about twice as transmissible as some other virus strains and is more likely to evade the natural immunity usually conferred by prior infection, according to an international study. The research, conducted by a UK-Brazilian team of researchers from institutions including Oxford university, Imperial College London the University of São Paulo, found that the P.1 variant was between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than other variants circulating in Brazil.

EU plans digital vaccine passports to boost travel; Brussels proposes ‘Green Pass’ to help revive region’s devastated travel industry and wider economy
Michael Peel and Alice Hancock – FT
Brussels is to propose a personal electronic coronavirus vaccination certificate in an effort to boost travel around the EU once the bloc’s sluggish immunisation drive gathers pace. Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, said on Monday the planned “Digital Green Pass” would provide proof of inoculation, test results of those not yet jabbed, and information on the holder’s recovery if they had previously had the disease.

Variant Found in Brazil Can Cause Reinfection, Study Shows
NY Times
Some who had immunity from previous bouts of the coronavirus contracted it again as the P.1 variant spread in the Amazonian city of Manaus. And one Arizona county has opened vaccines to all residents.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Boerse Stuttgart records February turnover of around EUR 10,6 billion; Equities and leverage products show significant increase in trading volume compared to February 2020
Boerse Stuttgart
Based on the order book statistics, Boerse Stuttgart generated turnover of around EUR 10,6 billion in February 2021. The turnover thus increased slightly compared to February 2020.
Securitised derivatives made up the largest share of the turnover. The trading volume in this asset class was over EUR 4 billion. Leverage products generated turnover of around EUR 3 billion – around 13 per cent more than in February 2020. Investment products contributed over EUR 1 billion to the total turnover.

EDI Questions Whether Exchanges Can License Data They Do Not Own
Exchange Data International
Exchange Data International (EDI) has today released a report that questions whether stock and derivative exchanges have copyright in closing prices, and whether they can license the redistribution of these closing prices.

Nasdaq Amends Its Diversity Plan; We’ve listened to critics and made allowances for their needs and concerns.
Adena T. Friedman – WSJ
Nasdaq recently submitted a proposal to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission focused on diversity of the boards of companies listed on our U.S. exchange. Our proposal establishes a recommended objective for companies to include at least two board members from diverse backgrounds. We asked that each company disclose anonymous aggregate data—self-disclosed by the directors—regarding their gender identity, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

CME Group Announces Multiple Micro E-mini Equity Index Futures Trading Volume Records
PR Newswire (press release)
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced that Micro E-mini Equity Index futures reached back-to-back trading volume records last week of 4.4 million contracts on February 26 and 4.2 million contracts on February 25, across all four indexes – the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, Russell 2000 and Down Jones Industrial Average Indexes. These new highs surpassed the prior record of 4.1 million contracts set on September 8, 2020. Additionally, a record 1.9 million Micro E-mini Nasdaq-100 futures contracts traded on February 25, exceeding the prior record of 1.8 million contracts on September 3, 2020. Micro E-mini Russell 2000 reached a record 362,663 contracts traded on February 26, exceeding the prior record of 327,842 contracts set on January 29, 2021.

CME Group Reports February 2021 Monthly Market Statistics
PR Newswire (press release)
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today reported February 2021 market statistics, including average daily volume (ADV) of 24.6 million contracts during the month. Market statistics are available in greater detail at https://cmegroupinc.gcs-web.com/monthly-volume.

Circa lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The Australian biotechnology Circa has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: CIRCA). Circa uses renewable biomass waste to produce biochemicals, and has spent 15 years and five pilots to develop and patent a scalable production process.

OCC February 2021 Total Volume Up 45.6 Percent from a Year Ago
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, announced today that February 2021 total cleared contract volume was 828,558,430 contracts, the second highest month on record after January 2021 and up 45.6 percent compared to February 2020. Year-to-date average daily cleared contract volume through February was 44,002,651 contracts, up 61.4 percent compared to February 2020.

The Spanish Stock Market Trades 27.4 Billion Euros In February
The Spanish stock market traded 27.4 billion euros in Equities in February, down 27.6% from the same month last year and down 11.8% from the preceding month. The number of trades in February was 4.2 million, a 1.1% increase year on year and 3.9% down on the preceding month. The number of trades in the first two months grew 14.2%.

March 2021 Stock, ETF, and Corporate Bond Update- Effective March 01, 2021
CME Group
March 2021 Stock, ETF, and Corporate Bond Updates are now available on CME DataMine.

Performance Bond Requirements: Interest Rate Margins – Effective March 02, 2021
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below. Please email any questions to Clearing.RiskManagement@cmegroup.com

Variable Storage Rate (VSR) Results for Wheat and KC HRW Wheat Premium (Storage) Rates
CME Group

New Product Summary: Initial Listing of the Options on Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Price Index Futures – Quarterly PM (European-Style) Contract – Effective March 7, 2021
CME Group
Initial Listing of the Options on Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Price Index Futures – Quarterly PM (European-Style) Contract.

OTC IRS and FX New Release – Emerging Markets Discounting and Price Alignment Transition: Phase 2 Testing and Mock Transition Weekend – Effective March 01, 2021
CME Group
CME is scheduled to begin New Release Phase 2 testing of the Emerging Markets Discounting and Price Alignment Transition on March 8, 2021. At the beginning of Phase 2, CME will run a mock transition in New Release from March 5th to March 8th for testing of the end-to-end transition workflows.

Amendments to the CBOT, COMEX, and NYMEX Position Limit, Position Accountability, and Reportable Level Tables in Connection with the CFTC Final Rule on Position Limits for Derivatives
CME Group
This revised Market Surveillance Notice is being issued to advise the marketplace of changes related to the filings submitted to the CFTC. Please note MSN01-28-21R supersedes MSN01-28-21 from January 28, 2021.

Notice of Disciplinary Action
CME Group
It shall be an offense: L. 1. To fail to appear before the Board, Exchange staff or any investigative or hearing committee at a duly convened hearing, scheduled staff interview or in connection with any investigation.
PENALTY: In accordance with Exchange Rule 402.B (Sanctions), the BCC Panel ordered Yridian to serve a permanent ban from access to any trading floor owned or controlled by CME Group and from direct and indirect access to any designated contract market, derivatives clearing organization or swap execution facility owned or controlled by CME Group.

Position Limits and Accountability Levels
CME Group
This revised Market Regulation Advisory Notice is being issued to advise the marketplace that the changes to the number of shipping certificates/warehouse receipts that may be owned or controlled by any party in certain CBOT agricultural products originally described in Market Regulation Advisory Notice RA2101-5 from January 28, 2021, will not become effective until the CFTC has approved the increase in position limits for certain CBOT agricultural products as set forth in CBOT Submission 21-068 from January 27, 2021.

Regularity Approval for Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium
CME Group
New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (“NYMEX”) and Commodity Exchange, Inc. (“COMEX”) (collectively, the “Exchanges”) has approved the application of Manfra, Tordella & Brooks, Inc. to become an Approved Depository for gold, silver, platinum, and palladium at their facility in Jamaica, NY. Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc. will assume responsibility for the registered and eligible material at this facility effective immediately.

Withdrawal of Regularity for Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium
CME Group
Notice herby is given that the New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (“NYMEX”) and Commodity Exchange, Inc. (“COMEX”) (collectively, the “Exchanges”) received a request from The Bank of Nova Scotia to voluntarily withdraw their approved gold, silver, platinum, and palladium regularity at their Jamaica, NY facility. Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc. will assume responsibility for the registered and eligible material at this facility effective immediately.


Symphony Appoints Corinna Mitchell as General Counsel
Symphony Communication Services
Symphony Communication Services has appointed Corina Mitchell as General Counsel, effective on 1 March 2021. She will be leading the company’s legal work and operations and join Symphony’s global executive committee. Corinna will be based in London and has 25 years of experience as a lawyer. She spent 20 years in a private legal practice and most recently as General Counsel at financial services investment advisory firm Foxford Advisors LLP.

Ant Group Boss Tries to Quell Employee Discontent With Promise of Eventual IPO; Executive chairman also said company would look for ways to help workers monetize some shares after the company called off listings
Jing Yang and Keith Zhai – WSJ
Facing discontent among employees, Ant Group Co.’s leader said the Chinese financial-technology giant would eventually go public and that the company would look for ways to help workers monetize some of their shares.

Ant Tells Staff It Will Find Solution for Unsellable Shares
Bloomberg News
Chairman Jing responds to employee concerns over stock awards; Fintech giant suspended a share buyback program in July
Ant Group Co. told employees it would eventually go public and promised to help those who need to monetize their shares sooner, seeking to boost morale four months after Chinese regulators torpedoed the fintech giant’s blockbuster listing.

Now Hiring: Wall Street Poaching Season Heats Up With Fintech
Anders Melin – Bloomberg
Goldman exits underscore unusually sweet opportunities in 2021; Financial startups need experts in the industry’s mechanics
To the outside world, Wall Street banks looked like great places to be last year, as they printed profits during the pandemic slump. To those inside, they now look like great places to leave, too. Technology upstarts and investment firms are offering some unusually attractive opportunities to seasoned Wall Street professionals, including shots at multiplying their paychecks — an allure all the greater after banks showed restraint in doling out rewards for 2020. Exits are now proliferating as bonus season wraps up.

Jack Ma’s Ant defies pressure from Beijing to share more customer data; Central bank frustrated with drip feed of user information in crackdown following pulled $37bn IPO
Sun Yu – FT
Ant Group has shared just a fraction of its consumer data with China’s central bank, defying intense government pressure to hand over more information after it was forced to pull its record $37bn initial public offering last year.

Zoom predicts business boom will extend beyond pandemic; Videoconferencing start-up’s shares rise 10% as revenue growth forecast beats expectations
Richard Waters – FT
Wall Street may be anticipating that workers will become less reliant on Zoom calls as Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out, but the videoconferencing start-up still turned in a surprisingly strong performance in the last quarter and predicted faster growth in the coming year.

Quincy Data Adds Futures Market Data Distribution in Toronto at the Lowest Known Latency
PR Newswire (press release)
Quincy Data announced an expansion of its lowest known latency market data services to Canada. The Quincy Extreme Data (QED) service now distributes select Aurora, Illinois-sourced futures data at Toronto’s TMX data center at the lowest known latency. Quincy Data redistributes the full range of its select Equity Index, US Treasuries, Metals, Energy, and FX futures data at TMX via the industry-leading QED service.

Aspect Capital expands use of margin analytics from OpenGamma; Systematic investment manager Aspect Capital is expanding its use of OpenGamma’s analytics as it looks to trade new markets.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Hedge fund Aspect Capital has expanded its partnership with margin optimisation specialist OpenGamma and increased its use of the firm’s margin analytics across the markets it trades.

Former TP ICAP and NEX sales director joins TraditionDATA; Michael Kirby joins TraditionDATA as a senior member of the data sales team for the Americas after working at TP ICAP and CME NEX for over three decades.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
TraditionDATA, the data arm of interdealer broker Tradition, has hired a former senior sales executive at TP ICAP and CME Group’s NEX business to drive revenue growth for its Americas business. Michael Kirby joins TraditionDATA as a senior member of the data sales team for the Americas and a member of the firm’s global sales team.

Virtu RFQ platform sees record ESG options trades; The ESG options were traded on 9 and 11 February via the Virtu RFQ-hub and were valued at $332 million and $1.67 billion respectively.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Virtu Financial has confirmed its request for quote (RFQ) platform recently facilitated two record environmental social and governance (ESG) options trades as the market continues to adopt sustainable financial instruments.


Fidelity’s Head of Global Macro Says Bitcoin May Have Place in Some Portfolios
Danny Nelson – Coindesk
The bullishness shown by Fidelity Investments’ cryptocurrency-focused arm appears to be spreading to the rest of the investments giant, with Director of Global Macro Jurrien Timmer now comparing bitcoin directly to gold.

Goldman Sachs Set to Jump Back Into Cryptocurrency Trading
Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
BNY Mellon and Mastercard are also embracing cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, other digital assets once scorned in financial world
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is restarting a trading desk for cryptocurrencies amid a surge in the value of Bitcoin, a person familiar with the effort said. The Wall Street bank will begin offering Bitcoin futures among other products by mid-March after halting a similar effort started in 2018, according to the person, who asked to be named because the plans haven’t been announced. A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman declined to comment.

Bitcoin Risks ‘Spiraling Price’ on Environment, Regulatory Concerns: BCA Research
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
Canada-based global investment research firm BCA Research has pointed to several factors that pose a long-term threat to bitcoin’s price.

Dan Loeb Is the Latest Billionaire to Dive Into the World of Crypto; The hedge-fund manager referenced Steve Jobs as he called for openly engaging with the subject while maintaining healthy skepticism.
Charlie Wells – Bloomberg
Another week, another billionaire weighing in on cryptocurrency. On Monday it was hedge-fund billionaire Dan Loeb, who took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the subject. “I’ve been doing a deep dive into crypto lately,” he said. “It is a real test of being intellectually open to new and controversial ideas.”

NFTs Are Booming, But They’re Nothing New in the Art Market; Tokens backed by digital art may seem weird, but they have a precedent in photography collecting.
James Tarmy – Bloomberg
Four months after Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent nearly $67,000 on a digital artwork of Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the nude, the piece had transformed. Designed to respond to election results, it had morphed into a naked, graffiti-covered Donald Trump lying on a trash-strewn lawn. The price changed, too: Rodriguez-Fraile sold it for $6.6 million. “Obviously, I thought it would take a bit longer” to appreciate in value, says the 32-year-old with an MBA from Columbia, who describes himself as a digital asset investor. “Having said that, funnily enough, I actually think it was a fantastic deal for the buyer.”

New York Blasts Crypto Market as ‘High-Risk’ and ‘Unstable’
Erik Larson – Bloomberg
It’s state’s sternest warning yet to investors — and industry; Virtual currencies are open to special abuses, AG James says
New York’s top law enforcement officer issued a scathing statement on the cryptocurrency market, warning consumers about its susceptibility to “speculative bubbles” and abuse by criminals. “Cryptocurrencies are high-risk, unstable investments that could result in devastating losses just as quickly as they can provide gains,” Attorney General Letitia James said Monday in an investor alert.

Cboe files to list VanEck’s bitcoin ETF
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Cboe Global Markets—the global equities and derivatives exchange—filed a request with the Securities and Exchange Commission to list and trade shares of VanEck’s bitcoin ETF. The firm’s filing reignites VanEck’s journey to launch an ETF tied to bitcoin in the US. “Our filing builds on VanEck’s earlier S-1 filing from December 30 and represents the next steps in bringing what could be the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to market,” a spokeswoman for Cboe said in an email to The Block. Up north, Canada has approved two bitcoin ETFs that launched with much fanfare. The Purpose Bitcoin ETF quickly surpassed $400 million in assets under management since launching late last month.

Cardano Becomes a Multi-Asset Blockchain With Today’s Hard Fork
Brady Dale – Coindesk
The Cardano blockchain, which runs the ADA token, will become a multi-asset chain with its hard fork today. Named “Mary,” the hard fork will allow users to create tokens that run on Cardano natively, just as ADA does. Enabling new tokens was one of the first big use cases that caught on for Ethereum, enabling 2017’s multi-billion dollar initial coin offering splurge. In a video update previewing the hard fork, Charles Hoskinson, founder of IOHK, the company behind Cardano, called the move “historic.”

Crypto Derivatives Platform FTX Now Supports Deposits via PayPal
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
Customers of the cryptocurrency derivatives platform FTX can now use PayPal to top up their trading accounts. FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tweeted Tuesday that users can get “instant” payments to their accounts if they use the PayPal option. Most currencies are supported by the payments giant, and credit card payments can also be made through PayPal, Bankman-Fried said. He cautioned though that, due to PayPal’s fees, larger payments would be cheaper for users if sent to accounts with bank wires.

New Ethereum-Based Derivatives Trading Platform Wins EU’s MIFID License
Jamie Crawley – Coindesk
CloseCross, a derivatives trading platform built on the Ethereum blockchain, has been granted a European Union MIFID license ahead of its market launch later this month. According to an announcement emailed to CoinDesk on Tuesday, this is the first time the license has been granted to a blockchain-based derivatives trading platform. When live, CloseCross will offer multiparty derivative contracts for global stock market indices, cryptocurrency, forex rates, commodities, stock prices, interest rates and others.

February DEX volumes hit new high of nearly $73 billion
Saniya More – The Block
Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) ended the month of February with the highest monthly volume on record, according to data gathered by The Block. February’s monthly volume hit a new high of approximately $72.89 billion, increasing by $12 billion from January. Uniswap continued to lead in the DEX space, making up most of the monthly volume with $36.6 billion. This is the exchange’s third consecutive month posting a monthly volume of above $30 billion. SushiSwap and Curve came in second, hitting $14.93 billion and $4.42 billion respectively.

China Region Declares War on Crypto Mining, Stirring Wider Fear
Alfred Cang – Bloomberg
Inner Mongolia plans to shut all such operations by April; Nation is home to some of the world’s biggest crypto miners
China’s Inner Mongolia has banned cryptocurrency mining and declared it will shut all such projects by April, spurring fears the world’s No. 2 economy will take more steps to eradicate the power-hungry practice.


Merkel Wants Broad German Virus Lockdown Extension to March 28
Arne Delfs – Bloomberg
Chancellor, state leaders to discuss latest measures Wednesday; Draft paper foresees easing of some curbs on private meetings
Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for a broad extension of Germany’s lockdown measures until March 28 while allowing a partial easing of some restrictions, according to draft proposals seen by Bloomberg.

Senate Vetting Biden’s Choice for SEC Head Amid Stock Drama
Marcy Gordon – AP via Bloomberg
President Joe Biden’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission is coming before a Senate panel for his confirmation hearing at a moment when a roiling stock-trading drama has spurred clamor for tighter regulation of Wall Street.

Sunak to arm City of London for fightback with listings shake-up; Hill review will seek to make UK more attractive in competition for IPOs and with tighter focus on Spacs
George Parker, Daniel Thomas, Philip Stafford and Matthew Vincent – FT
Rishi Sunak will use his Budget to launch a post-Brexit fightback by the City of London, setting in train new rules to help it compete with centres such as New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt in attracting fast-growth companies.

Vaccine scepticism cuts across political lines in the US; Widespread opposition to jab could undermine efforts to end the pandemic
Patti Waldmeir – FT
For once: an issue that doesn’t break along mindlessly political lines. Whether to get vaccinated against coronavirus is a highly personal matter in the US, where vaccine sceptics crowd both ends of the political spectrum. Some of the whackier anti-vaxx reasons seem to be shared on both sides of the divide: I’ve heard just as many Democrats as Republicans insist the shot implants a microchip that will allow Big Brother to track the vaccinated.

Democratic senators call for tougher capital requirements for US banks; Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren warn Fed it would be ‘grave error’ to extend pandemic relief
Colby Smith and James Politi – FT
Two senior Democratic lawmakers have warned the Federal Reserve and other US regulators that it would be a “grave error” to extend looser capital requirements that were introduced for US banks at the start of the pandemic.

New USDA Appointee for Fair Markets Signals Focus on Antitrust
Mike Dorning – Bloomberg
Green is fellow at liberal think tank, former SEC aide; Agribusiness consolidation was key theme in Democratic race
Newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack turned to a leading liberal think tank for his senior adviser on fair and competitive markets, signaling high-level commitment to antitrust issues after consolidation in agribusiness emerged as a key theme in Democratic presidential nominating contests.


Robinhood is facing nearly 50 lawsuits over GameStop frenzy.
Matthew Goldstein – NY Times
Robinhood, the brokerage of choice for legions of online day traders, is in talks with securities regulators and other authorities over a host of matters, including last month’s surge in shares of GameStop and other so-called meme stocks.
The firm, in a regulatory filing on Friday, said it has received requests for information from federal prosecutors, the Securities and Exchange Commission, various states attorneys general and other financial regulators over its decision to restrict trading last month in stocks including GameStop.

DASH Regulatory Technologies’ 360R Broker-Dealer Regulatory Capital Compliance Suite Receives SOC 1 Type II Attestation
DASH Regulatory Technologies
DASH Regulatory Technologies – the regtech-focused affiliate of U.S. options technology and execution services provider DASH Financial Technologies – today announced that its SaaS-based DASH 360R platform has received its SOC 1 Type II attestation.

ESMA calls for experts on reporting to join consultative stakeholder group
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has today published a call for candidates to renew a Consultative Working Group (CWG) for ESMA’s Corporate Reporting Standing Committee (CRSC). Interested experts are asked to send their application by 2 April 2021.

ESMA supports increasing corporate transparency through the creation of ESAP
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has submitted its response and an accompanying letter to the European Commission’s (EC) targeted consultation on the European Single Access Point (ESAP). ESMA recommends a phased approach, which should prioritise financial and non-financial information of public companies.

SEC Awards Over $500,000 to Two Whistleblowers
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an award of over $500,000 to two whistleblowers whose tips revealed an ongoing fraud and resulted in multiple SEC actions and a related action from another government agency. Both whistleblowers provided substantial, ongoing assistance that conserved the agencies’ time and resources.

Blue Gate Capital Limited enters liquidation
Blue Gate Capital Limited (Blue Gate) has appointed insolvency practitioners to conduct the liquidation of the firm.

Bringing New Money-Laundering Law Into Force Falls to Tiny Treasury Unit; Among other things, FinCEN will have to create a registry of owners of anonymous shell companies, a task that will require a revamp of its creaky technology
Dylan Tokar – WSJ
Over the next year, a small, relatively obscure bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department will take a lead role in plugging what many experts consider the biggest hole in the U.S.’s anti-money-laundering protections.

Investing and Trading

Commodity rally: Assessing the impact on EM
BNP Paribas

BlackRock Warns of Whipsawed Emerging Markets After Taper Scare
Ben Bartenstein – Bloomberg
Developing-nation debt just had worst week since September; Trigo Paz says developing nations look stronger than 2013
There’s no immediate end in sight for bond investors getting tugged between risk-on rallies and selloffs that rekindled nightmares of the 2013 taper tantrum, according to the world’s largest money manager.

Shares can weather bond turmoil; Post-pandemic recovery compatible with higher inflation and yields
John Redwood – FT
What a difference a month makes to markets. The year started with the predicted run-up in shares, led by a buoyant mixture of green economy hopes, technology leaders and companies likely to benefit from post-pandemic recovery.

Spac led by tech founders targets Europe’s unicorns for US listings; Tailwind International looks to bypass EU and UK markets to build a European tech franchise
Daniel Thomas and Philip Stafford – FT
Tailwind International, the New York-listed special purpose acquisition company, is searching for European tech unicorns to list in the US as part of plans to bypass EU and UK markets and build a multibillion-dollar franchise of Europe-based businesses.

Cargill names Brian Sikes chief operating officer
Carrigan Miller – St. Paul Business Journal
Cargill Inc. has named Brian Sikes its chief operating officer, it announced Tuesday. Sikes will also take a role on Cargill’s board of directors.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Exxon Adds New Board Members Amid Activist Pressure; Oil giant says Jeffrey Ubben and Michael Angelakis would join its board, but Engine No. 1 plans to continue proxy fight
Christopher M. Matthews and Dave Sebastian – WSJ
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM 3.73% added two new directors to its board Monday, as the beleaguered energy company tries to fend off calls for change from a pair of activist investors. The Texas oil company said activist investor Jeffrey Ubben would join its board, along with Michael Angelakis, the chief executive officer of Atairos Group and former chief financial officer of Comcast Corp.

Texas Blackout Bills Plunge Power Supplier Brazos Into Bankruptcy; The largest power cooperative in Texas says it had to file for chapter 11 after it was hit with $2.1 billion in bills. Another electricity retailer, Griddy Energy, shut down after it failed to make payments to Ercot.
Soma Biswas and Alexander Gladstone – WSJ
Texas’s largest electric-power cooperative filed for bankruptcy, saying it is overwhelmed by the more than $2.1 billion in sudden bills stemming from the extreme winter weather that blanketed the state last month. The bankruptcy filing by Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. on Monday suggests that while the power blackouts in Texas are over, the process of settling massive bills stemming from the energy crisis is just beginning as the financial fallout spreads.

After Historic Fall, Carbon Emissions Are Now Coming Back Fast; In December, global emissions were higher than during the same month in 2019, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.
Eric Roston – Bloomberg
Pandemic restrictions in 2020 caused the largest absolute drop in carbon-dioxide pollution from energy use since World War II. But lockdowns eventually lifted, and as economic activity picked up, emissions resumed very quickly by year’s end. In December, worldwide emissions were 2% higher than the same month in 2019, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.

Toyota to Raise $4.7 Billion in ESG Debt to Fund Futuristic Hub
Ken McCallum and Rie Morita – Bloomberg
Proceeds to be used for projects including zero-emission cars; Japan ESG bond sales have jumped to record so far in 2021
Toyota Motor Corp. said it plans to sell as much as 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) in yen and foreign currency sustainability bonds, in what would be one of the biggest offerings globally in the booming market to fund environmental and social projects.

Vietnam’s Richest Man Plans Electric Car Factory in the U.S.
Nguyen Kieu Giang – Bloomberg
VinFast to set up showrooms, service centers in California; Company has established 50-member San Francisco R&D center
Vietnamese electric-vehicle startup VinFast plans to open a U.S. factory after setting up a 50-member San Francisco research office as it prepares for California automobile sales in 2022.

Price of going net zero about to be driven home for Britons; Country faces costly overhaul of homes and transport, although savings will follow
Peter Foster – FT
When the UK became the world’s first major economy to commit to a binding target of “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, it had already made good progress with its electricity grid.

Pivot by Mexico’s Orbia reveals ESG dilemma; Conglomerate pulls out of landmark divestment of vinyls business
Jude Webber – FT
At the start of this year, Mexican conglomerate Orbia was poised for a landmark divestment. The company, which makes almost all the famous soles for Doc Martens footwear and a quarter of the world’s turntable records, planned to exit one of its core businesses: vinyls.


Greensill Faces Another Fund Freeze as It Explores Insolvency; Decision by Switzerland’s GAM comes a day after Credit Suisse suspended $10 billion in investment funds with Greensill assets
Duncan Mavin and Julie Steinberg – WSJ
Pressure mounted on SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 -0.53% -backed startup Greensill Capital after a second fund manager, GAM Holding AG GMHLY -9.21% , froze an investment fund connected to the embattled finance firm.

Hedge Funds Are On the Mend, If Not Yet Fixed; Man Group has stopped the rot in fees, and grown its assets to a record.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
In recent years, the hedge fund industry has lost its luster. The rise of low-cost passive products has laid bare the inability of active managers to outpace benchmarks, leaving them without justification for their higher fees. Clients have voted with their pocketbooks, leaving in droves. But the world’s biggest publicly traded hedge fund is signaling that life may be about to get a bit brighter for its industry. Man Group Plc grew its funds under management to a record $123.6 billion last year, with net inflows of $1.8 billion — more than making up for the $1.3 billion clients withdrew in 2019. With a favorable market backdrop adding another $3.3 billion, the firm has reversed a decline in its assets.

Cathie Wood’s Flagship ETF Roars Back With Near-Record Inflow
Yakob Peterseil – Bloomberg
Ark Innovation fund added $464 million following four-day rout; Short interest in ARKK also hits new record at 5% of shares
Even the worst performance in almost a year is doing little to diminish demand for Cathie Wood’s brand. The ARK Innovation ETF (ticker ARKK), the main fund at Wood’s Ark Investment Management, notched its second-biggest inflow ever on Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Private equity chiefs get bumper payouts on back of Fed stimulus; Stephen Schwarzman and Leon Black take home nine-figure sums for 2020 — despite faltering economy
Sujeet Indap and Mark Vandevelde – FT
Private equity executives who rank among the richest men on Wall Street received hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts even as the US economy faltered last year, helped by central bank stimulus that wiped out the investment losses they recorded early in the pandemic.

Putnam to enter ETF market with suite of active non-transparents; Two of the four will replicate existing mutual fund strategies
Jackie Noblett – FT
Putnam Investments has made its first move into the ETF market, aiming at a spring launch of portfolio-protected products. The active manager intends to launch four ETFs using Fidelity’s active equity ETF model, according to disclosures filed last week.

Man Group raises dividend despite fall in profits; Hedge fund manager’s alternative and quant funds perform well
Joshua Oliver – FT
The world’s largest listed hedge fund manager, Man Group, has raised its dividend despite a fall in profits, as it weathered volatile markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Austria Nixes Portuguese Idea for Transactions Tax
Bloomberg Tax
A Portuguese proposal to slap a financial transaction tax on stocks and derivatives would harm businesses essential to a post-Covid recovery, according to Austria’s finance minister.

China’s top bank regulator warns of ‘bubble risks’ in foreign markets; Guo Shuqing says country’s property market also shows signs of ‘relatively large’ excesses
Thomas Hale and Hudson Lockett – FT
China’s top banking regulator has warned of the risk of bubbles in international markets and within the country’s own real estate sector, in the latest sign of mounting concerns over elevated global asset prices.

China ‘Worried’ About Bubbles in Property, Foreign Markets
Bloomberg News
China’s housing bubble still ‘relatively big,’ regulator says; Global financial market froth is at risk of bursting, Guo says
China’s top banking regulator said he’s “very worried” about risks emerging from bubbles in global financial markets and the nation’s property sector, sparking fresh concerns about further tightening in the world’s second-biggest economy. Stocks dropped across Asia.

Nigeria Calls Time on One of World’s Most Rewarding Carry Trades
Tope Alake and Anthony Osae-Brown – Bloomberg
Central bank phasing out sales of bills to non-residents; Cost of liquidity management too high, CBN director says
Nigeria’s central bank is preparing an end to an era of debt sales that handed foreign investors some the best carry returns in Africa. Offerings to non residents of so-called Open Market Operations bills — introduced to help stabilize the naira following the oil-price collapse in 2015 — are to be phased out “once current obligations have been redeemed,” Hassan Mahmud, the bank’s director of monetary policy in Abuja, said in an interview aired during an online conference on Tuesday. He didn’t give a time frame.

North American groups seek to break China’s grip on rare earths supply; New production method for metals vital to advanced technology comes as Beijing considers export ban
Andy Bounds – FT
Three North American companies are setting up a rare earths supply chain to reduce dependence on China for the vital metals used in weapons, electric vehicles and other advanced technology.

Sorry Steak Lovers, Australia’s Running Out of Cows
Sybilla Gross – Bloomberg
Nation’s beef producers could lose No. 2 exporter position; Rebuilding must happen now when there’s abundance of pasture
In what would be a blow to steak lovers the world over, Australian beef may slip off global menus if cattle producers Down Under can’t hasten the pace of a nationwide herd rebuild.

Malaysia to Cull 3,000 Pigs After Finding First Swine Fever Case
Anuradha Raghu – Bloomberg
Malaysia will cull about 3,000 pigs in the Borneo state of Sabah as it races to curb the first African swine fever outbreak in the country. Necessary action will be taken to stop the spread of the virus, which was discovered among pigs in northern Sabah last month, according to Deputy Chief Minister Jeffrey Kitingan. “This includes the culling of pigs in the affected areas, controlling the movement of pigs and the selling of pork products originating from the affected areas,” he said in a statement last week.


Brexit Triggers 30% Slump in German Exports to U.K. in January
Iain Rogers – Bloomberg
German exports to Britain plunged in January, as the downward trend since the country voted to leave the European Union gathered pace. Already curtailed by the economic impact of the coronavirus, Brexit helped trigger a nearly 30% slump in German exports to the U.K. in the first month of the year, according to a preliminary estimate published Tuesday by the Federal Statistics Office.

City firms made plans in Brexit run-up to move assets worth £100bn to EU
Kalyeena Makortoff – The Guardian
City firms revealed in the final months of 2020 that they planned to shift nearly £100bn in assets to the EU, taking the total value of assets lost to the bloc since the Brexit vote to £1.3 trillion, according to a new survey.
The data from consulting group EY pointed to a last-minute push by firms before 31 December after the UK-EU trade deal did not offer concessions for the UK’s dominant financial services sector. It forced companies to move staff and assets to the continent in order to continue serving EU customers.

Dublin is Top Brexit Relocation Spot for Finance Firms: EY
Tom Metcalf – Bloomberg
Dublin is the favorite destination for finance firms moving jobs into the European Union after Brexit, according to a study by consultancy EY.
Three dozen financial services firms are considering moving some U.K. operations to the Irish capital, or have already done so, the review found. Luxembourg is second, attracting 29 companies in total, followed by Frankfurt, which has drawn 23. Twenty businesses are moving business to Paris, according to EY’s survey of public statements by 222 firms through February.

German exports to UK fell almost a third in January as Brexit hit
Paul Carrel, Rene Wagner – Reuters
German exports to the United Kingdom fell by 30% on the year in January as the impact of Brexit turned Europe’s largest economy away from the UK, exacerbating the hit to business from the coronavirus pandemic, official figures showed on Tuesday. The UK left the European Union’s single market at the end of last year, raising barriers to trade. That final split followed more than four years of wrangling over its terms of exit from the EU, during which German businesses had already begun to reduce their interactions with Britain.

Brexit Border Friction Means Rejected Shipments is New Normal
Lizzy Burden – Bloomberg
Freight hauliers are rejecting more cargoes due to cross the U.K. border because of post-Brexit customs friction, and that’s likely to become the new normal. That’s the conclusion of the logistics platform Transporeon, which publishes high-frequency data about shipments in the region. It found the rejection rate for moving goods from France to the U.K,. rose to 38% above its third-quarter average. While down from its peak, the reading is settling into a what seems to be a permanently higher level. Truckers say they’re frustrated about the amount of paperwork it takes to move goods across the border, and the complexity means more cargoes are not economical to move.

Trade with Britain will not return to pre-Brexit model, exporters warned
Charlie Taylor – The Irish Times
The State will never return to the type of trading relationship it enjoyed with Britain prior to Brexit, a leading customs official said on Monday as he warned of potential disruption for exporters. Speaking at a briefing held at Dublin Port, Tom Talbot, head of Revenue’s customs operations, said ports were dealing well with post-Brexit border checks on goods coming from Britain into the Republic.


Security Guards Face the Hazardous Job of Enforcing Covid Rules; The industry is on a hiring spree, putting workers on the front lines of the war over mask mandates.
Polly Mosendz, Kin Bhasin, Anders Melin – Bloomberg
One Sunday last May, Karmen Kolda arrived early for his 11 a.m. shift as a security guard at a medical marijuana dispensary southeast of downtown San Jose. He’d made the 30-mile commute from his home in San Mateo wearing his usual all-black gear, with “SECURITY” printed on the back of his shirt. Kolda, who’s employed by Genesis Private Security in San Jose, spent the day checking IDs and reminding customers to stay 6 feet apart and wear face masks. A little after 3 p.m., he heard a commotion. A man without a face covering was yelling at a clerk who’d asked that he put one on. Kolda stepped in and told the man to calm down or get out. The customer got in his face, cursed at him, and shoved him hard in the chest, sending Kolda—5 feet 9 inches, 190 pounds—into a display case. The attacker fled, and staff called the police.

Boy Scouts Offer Sex-Abuse Settlement, Aiming for End to Bankruptcy; The group’s chapter 11 plan would set up a settlement trust to evaluate abuse claims and administer payments, drawing on assets contributed by the Boy Scouts
Peg Brickley – WSJ
The Boy Scouts of America are offering cash, artwork and other assets to sex-abuse victims under a bankruptcy plan filed Monday, an opening gambit by the youth group to move past the failures to protect children that have threatened its standing in American society.

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