CFTC Orders J.P. Morgan to Pay $200 Million for Supervision Failures; SEC greenlights exchanges to list ether ETFs, still needs to approve money manager filings

May 24, 2024

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The message from Wednesday’s earnings from Nvidia is that while some customers may have said they are waiting for the next upgraded chip, the rest of the world is not waiting and wanted anything they could find on the shelves at Nvidia. The opportunity cost of delayed infrastructure enhancement could be substantial, making immediate action a strategic necessity. Let’s just say everyone wants one of Jamie Dimon’s printing presses, right now.

Join the LBMA/LPPM (London Bullion Market Association/London Platinum & Palladium Market) Global Precious Metals Conference 2024 from October 13-15 at The Diplomat in Miami, Florida. Enjoy high-profile speakers, engaging panel sessions, and exceptional networking opportunities. Keynote addresses on October 14 will feature Gideon Rose of the Council on Foreign Relations and Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles of HSBC Holdings. Register using this LINK with a special 10% discount for John Lothian News readers using code READER10OFF. Secure your discounted room at The Diplomat early.

The Financial Times editorial board has a commentary that highlights the urgent need for improved financial education in UK schools, as detailed in a recent parliamentary Education Committee report. Despite the launch of the FT Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign in 2021, only 33% of primary and 39% of secondary students receive financial education. The quality of current programs is inadequate, with financial literacy often overlooked or poorly implemented. The report recommends appointing financial literacy coordinators, enhancing curriculum quality, and making financial education compulsory for students up to age 18. To address these issues, sufficient recruitment and training of maths teachers are essential. Labour’s potential curriculum review offers a long-term solution to embedding financial literacy in education.

The New York Times is reporting that Kabosu, the Shiba Inu who helped define the Doge meme, has died at the age of 18. The Times said, “The dog, whose face helped spread the popular doge meme and later became the logo of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency, died on Friday.”

Yesterday was a very busy day. Too busy. My morning routine was disrupted by a trip to O’Hare International Airport to drop my wife off for the first leg of her journey to a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 with her brothers, Jeff Bergstrom and Bryan Howard, and Bryan’s husband Brad Daughtry. They are all successfully cruising the Atlantic.

Later that morning, I rushed downtown for a video shoot, where I met Patrick Lothian, who was in town to man the cameras. With Jeff out of town, extra responsibilities are doled out to cover his and amidst the flurry of activity yesterday, we never published JLN Options. Thus, we will not have the top three previous day’s JLN Options stories today. Look for JLN Options today.

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


The FIA released its April ETD volume report, saying that worldwide volume of exchange-traded derivatives reached 15.19 billion contracts in April, up 2.4% from March 2024 and up 89.9% from April 2023. Options trading continue to gain in popularity, reaching 12.57 billion contracts in April, up by more than 109% from last year, with most of that trading taking place in the Asia-Pacific region. Global trading of futures reached 2.62 billion contracts in April, up 30.3% from the same month last year. On a year-to-date basis, volume in the first four months of the year was 63.1 billion contracts, up 77.5% from the first four months of 2023. The majority of that increase came from equity contracts.~SR


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Futures Hall of Famers Moore and Heinz Reflect on Trading Careers in JLN Interview

BOCA RATON, Fla. (JLN) – Robert Moore and James Heinz, two veteran traders recently inducted into the FIA Futures Hall of Fame, reflected on their decades-long partnership and the evolution of the industry in an interview with John Lothian News.

Watch the video »

++++ Aims to Revolutionize Financial Services, Eyes Expansion Beyond Core Customer Base

BOCA RATON, Fla. (JLN) – The future of involves bringing cryptocurrency into every wallet and becoming a one-stop shop for financial services, according to two executives interviewed at the FIA’s annual Boca Raton, FL conference in March.

Watch the video »


Elon Musk says AI will take all our jobs
Samantha Murphy Kelly – CNN
Elon Musk says artificial intelligence will take all our jobs and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Probably none of us will have a job,” Musk said about AI at a tech conference on Thursday. While speaking remotely via webcam at VivaTech 2024 in Paris, Musk described a future where jobs would be “optional.” “If you want to do a job that’s kinda like a hobby, you can do a job,” Musk said. “But otherwise, AI and the robots will provide any goods and services that you want.”

****** I wonder what artificial intelligence will have to say about the increase in suicide rates?~JJL


A Hedge-Fund Volatility Trade Risks Getting Crushed by the Crowd
Justina Lee – Bloomberg
A once-niche stock trade beloved by hedge funds and volatility players has ballooned into one of the biggest options strategies on Wall Street, stirring fears it will get crushed by its own popularity. Known as dispersion, it’s traditionally been the preserve of bank trading desks and fast-money players like Capstone Investment Advisors and One River Asset Management. But it’s been luring new cash in the post-pandemic era as a market riven by rising interest rates has boosted performance.

***** Are you the Road Runner or Wile E. Coyote? Sometimes there are enough coyotes that even the smartest road runner gets crushed by an anvil from time to time.~JJL


Behind the Scenes of Scarlett Johansson’s Battle With OpenAI; Spat between star and Sam Altman’s company shows why Hollywood is worried about how artists’ work is used in the age of generative AI
Sarah Krouse, Deena Seetharaman and Joe Flint – The Wall Street Journal
Scarlett Johansson’s powerful Hollywood agent, Bryan Lourd, wanted answers when he made an urgent call to Sam Altman last week: What do you think you’re doing? Altman’s artificial intelligence powerhouse, OpenAI, had for months unsuccessfully courted Johansson, who memorably voiced an AI assistant in the 2013 film “Her.” Last September, Johansson turned down an offer to work with OpenAI and voice a new assistant feature.

****** This wins the prize for the best headline of the day, even if it probably was written by AI.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top clicked item Thursday was Simon Rostron’s post on LinkedIn about the twice daily LBMA Gold Auction price ending the week at an all time record high of $2402.60. Second was the Proprietary Trading Management Insight Report – Q2 2024 from Acuiti. Third was Gregory Meyer’s post on LinkedIn sharing that he is starting a new position as US consumer editor at the Financial Times.



Lead Stories

CFTC Orders J.P. Morgan to Pay $200 Million for Supervision Failures; CFTC Finds J.P. Morgan Failed to Surveil Billions of Client Orders on a U.S. Designated Contract Market
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today issued an order simultaneously filing and settling charges against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, a registered futures commission merchant and swap dealer, for failing diligently to supervise its business as a CFTC registrant, resulting in J.P. Morgan failing to capture billions of orders in its surveillance systems. J.P. Morgan admits the facts in the order in Sections II.C.2 (Scope of Surveillance Data Gaps) and 3 (Causes of Surveillance Data Gaps); acknowledges that its conduct in those sections violated the CFTC regulations; and otherwise neither admits nor denies the findings of fact.

SEC greenlights exchanges to list ether ETFs, still needs to approve money manager filings
David Hollerith and Jennifer Schonberger – Yahoo Finance
Regulators gave a green light to the NYSE and the Nasdaq to list eight exchange-traded funds that hold ether (ETH-USD), but they still have not given approval to money managers that want to issue the new products. The move from the Securities and Exchange Commission is the first major step toward allowing the ETFs to trade. The SEC will need to approve S-1 forms from the money managers – filings needed to publicly offer new securities – for the actual funds to begin trading.

Nvidia Keeps Its Old Chips Selling Hot; Worries about a slowdown in sales ahead of major chip upgrade look misplaced
Dan Gallagher – The Wall Street Journal
Patience might be the one thing Nvidia can’t afford these days. Luckily for the chip maker, it doesn’t look like it will need to. Ahead of Nvidia’s fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday afternoon, there was a growing fear among investors that major customers such as Google, and Microsoft would curb their orders for the latest generation of the company’s artificial-intelligence systems to await the launch of a new line later this year. Nvidia previewed those new systems under the name Blackwell at its developers conference two months ago to great acclaim, but noted that they wouldn’t ship until near the end of this year. Hence, the worries about an “air pocket” in demand that might hurt near-term sales-and a stock price that has more than tripled in value over the past 12 months and made Nvidia worth nearly $2.4 trillion.

CFTC’s Kristin Johnson a Leading Candidate to Be New FDIC Chair; She would need to deal with findings of toxic work culture; White House is under pressure to quickly fill top FDIC post
Lydia Beyoud – Bloomberg
Kristin Johnson, a Democratic commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has emerged as a top candidate to lead the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. White House officials have discussed the role with Johnson in recent days, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private conversations. The Biden administration is racing to nominate and confirm a new head of the FDIC.

Carry Trade Is All the Rage Across Global Bond and FX Markets
Alice Gledhill – Bloomberg
Exploiting differences in interest rates is set to become one of the most popular investment strategies in coming months as markets bet shallower cuts will keep volatility subdued. Strategists across Wall Street are touting carry trades, which harvest the extra income on higher-yielding currencies and bonds, and thrive in calm markets when there’s a lower risk of wild price swings wiping out profits. UBS Group AG recommends selling the Swiss franc to buy US and Australian dollars, Societe Generale SA likes riskier European government bonds, and Pictet Asset Management is locking in high yields with local-currency bonds from Mexico and Brazil.

JPMorgan Didn’t Monitor Billions of Client Orders, CFTC Says
Austin Weinstein – Bloomberg
JPMorgan Chase & Co. failed to properly monitor billions of client orders between 2014 and 2021, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The CFTC said Thursday the bank would pay $100 million to settle a multiyear probe into JPMorgan’s trade monitoring, in addition to fines it’s already agreed to pay the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In 2021, while on-boarding a new exchange, JPMorgan staff discovered significant gaps in its surveillance of trade data, according to the CFTC. Billions of orders over seven years were not being monitored by the bank across at least 30 trading venues, the regulator said.

The Rise and Fall of Simon Sadler’s Segantii, One of Asia’s Most Successful Hedge Funds; A criminal charge triggers the shutting of a 16-year-old fund with returns long envied by industry
Gillian Tan, Lulu Yilun Chen, Cathy Chan, Nishant Kumar, and Bei Hu – Bloomberg
The legal heat became too much for Simon Sadler. The founder of Segantii Capital Management has told investors that it’s winding down and returning their money, marking the end of a 16-year run for one of the largest and most successful hedge funds in Asia. Sadler’s abrupt decision came just three weeks after authorities in Hong Kong charged him, his firm and one of its former traders with insider dealing, a crime punishable with as many as ten years in prison plus fines. Worried clients of the hedge fund asked to redeem nearly $1 billion of investments, and some major Wall Street banks curbed financing and dialed back their trading relationships with Segantii – whittling away Sadler’s options until he announced his decision Thursday.

SEC paves way for ethereum ETFs in boost for crypto; Approvals follow January debut of first US spot bitcoin ETFs
Will Schmitt – Financial Times
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has paved the way for the potential launch of eight exchange traded funds tied to the world’s second-largest digital coin, following the regulator’s approval of the first bitcoin ETFs earlier this year. The regulator on Thursday approved rule changes in support of ETFs that invest in ether, the native cryptocurrency of the ethereum blockchain, for several groups including BlackRock, Fidelity, Invesco and Ark Invest. A second round of approvals will be needed before the products can launch.

SEC Widens Accessibility of Crypto Investing With Approval of ETFs for Ether; New funds will allow mainstream investors to buy and sell the cryptocurrency as easily as stocks or mutual funds
Vicky Ge Huang and Caitlin Ostroff – The Wall Street Journal
The Securities and Exchange Commission approved the first U.S. exchange-traded funds holding ether, the largest cryptocurrency behind bitcoin, in an about-face that surprised the crypto community. The new funds, known as spot ether ETFs because they buy and sell the digital currency itself, will allow mainstream investors to buy and sell ether as easily as stocks or mutual funds. Ether is the in-house token on the Ethereum blockchain, an open software platform for developers to build and operate crypto applications, much like iOS or Android.

ESG funds are leaking money for the first time; World: doomed
Robin Wigglesworth – Financial Times
Normally FT Alphaville is loath to write about anything ESG-related. Aside from crypto, no other subject reliably produces the same torrent of wishy-washy press releases (AI and private credit are close though). But this is interesting enough to swallow our misgivings: Although buoyant markets are still lifting their overall assets under management – now at apparently over $1.7tn – ESG funds are suffering severe outflows for the first time in their (admittedly limited) history this year.

Bakkt Strengthens Leadership Team with Appointment of Ray Kamrath as Chief Commercial Officer
Bakkt Holdings, Inc.
Bakkt Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: BKKT) announced today that Ray Kamrath was appointed as the Chief Commercial Officer of Bakkt’s crypto business. In this newly created position, Kamrath will report to Andy Main, Bakkt’s Chief Executive Officer. “By appointing Ray Kamrath to lead our commercial efforts, Bakkt is doubling down on our commitment to strategic expansion and growth. Ray brings a depth of experience and a proven track record of delivering business results, with deep client and marketplace relationships. All of this will be instrumental in bringing our strong, secure and scaled crypto platform to a growing market,” said Main.

AEGIS Hedging Solutions Appoints Ryan Vaile as Chief Growth Officer; AEGIS Hedging Solutions Appoints Ryan Vaile as Chief Growth Officer
AEGIS Hedging Solutions
AEGIS Hedging Solutions (“AEGIS” or “the Company”), a leading provider of hedging services and software for commodity markets, today announced the appointment of Ryan Vaile to the role of Chief Growth Officer. AEGIS aims to streamline its leadership structure while leveraging Vaile’s extensive expertise to drive revenue growth and strategic initiatives concurrently. Having been an integral part of AEGIS since 2023, Vaile previously held the position of Executive Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. In this role, he collaborated with customers, prospects, and the executive team to evaluate new market entry strategies, corporate partnerships, and potential acquisitions.

Citi, HSBC, Barclays Ramp Up Demands for Five Days in Office
Todd Gillespie, Gillian Tan and Ambereen Choudhury – Bloomberg
Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc and Barclays Plc are ordering more staffers to report to company offices five days a week as regulatory changes make it trickier for Wall Street to allow working from home. Citigroup is requiring about 600 US employees previously eligible to work remotely to commute to company offices full-time, the New York-based firm said in a statement Thursday. Even then, the majority of staff can continue their hybrid schedules, working up to two days a week outside the office, it said.

HSBC’s Americas Chief Says He Won’t Compel 5 Days in the Office
Todd Gillespie and Manus Cranny – Bloomberg
HSBC Holdings Plc won’t force US staffers back to the office five days a week unless new regulations from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority require it. “We will adjust to the Finra rules, we will make sure whoever needs to be here five days a week will be here five days a week, but I don’t want to decree people coming back,” Michael Roberts, chief executive officer for the US and Americas, said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “I want them to come back because they want to come back and they feel productive and they feel good about it.”Finra is preparing to sunset pandemic-era accommodations for monitoring brokers, traders and other staff. Banks are weighing how many workers they’ll force to return to the office full-time, while the regulator itself has said tighter attendance policies aren’t necessarily required, depending on how banks respond to the rules.

Food Inflation Fears Rekindled as Crop Index Erases 2024 Loss; Weather woes from Russia to Australia lift farm staple prices; Bloomberg Agriculture Spot Index turns higher on the year
Keira Wright and Mumbi Gitau – Bloomberg
An index of major crops wiped out its 2024 loss as bad weather stokes worries about harvests from wheat to coffee, reviving concerns about rising food prices. Droughts, frosts and heavy rain are popping up across key growers, threatening tighter supplies and lifting the cost of agricultural staples. A Bloomberg gauge tracking nine farm commodities has turned higher on the year and is headed for the largest weekly gain since July.

As US moves towards faster stock settlement, where are other countries?
Laura Matthews and Sinead Cruise – Reuters
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule in February 2023 to shorten the settlement cycle for securities transactions from two business days after the trade to one, beginning on Tuesday. Dubbed T+1, the move, which spans equities and corporate bonds, is expected by regulators and market participants to bring several benefits such as a reduction in counterparty risk and an increase in capital and margin efficiencies. Participants in much of the rest of the world are still settling on T+2.

London Exchange Loses Half of ETF Team Ahead of Crypto Launch; Departures include Michael Stanley, LSE’s head of ETFs; The UK is joining US, Hong Kong in launching crypto ETPs
Emily Nicolle – Bloomberg
London Stock Exchange Group Plc has lost half of its four-person team overseeing exchange-traded funds, just as it prepares to list its first products tied to cryptocurrencies. Michael Stanley, LSE’s head of exchange-traded products, and business development head Hetal Patel have departed, a spokesperson for the exchange confirmed to Bloomberg without saying when they left. Stanley and Patel didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Forget macro and micro, it’s mesoeconomics that matters; Understanding networks properly will help us to better grasp how the economy actually works
Gillian Tett – Financial Times
This week BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen are in the crosshairs of the US Congress. The reason? A Senate committee report claiming that their supply chains use parts made by forced Uyghur labour – which is embarrassing given that China is about the only issue of bipartisan consensus in Washington right now. No doubt other executives will be scrambling to assess their own supply chain risks. So should investors. But there is a third professional group that is also worth watching in this connection: economists.

More effort needed on financial literacy in the UK; The education system is falling short in teaching this vital life skill
The editorial board – Financial Times
When the Financial Times launched the FT Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign in 2021, the case for financial education was clear. Financial literacy has been shown time and again to improve life outcomes, across ages and demographics, while boosting economic potential. Three years of experience working with young people, women and marginalised communities has only confirmed FLIC’s view of the importance and scale of the challenge. It has therefore been heartening to see increased attention from policymakers in recent years. Yet a report this week by the UK’s parliamentary Education Committee suggests that much more needs to be done.

Citi Isn’t the Only One With a Fat Finger Problem; Being rushed, typos and confusing ticker symbols are among the reasons small investors cite when they’ve bought the wrong stock
Sarah E. Needleman – The Wall Street Journal
A trader cost Citigroup $78 million in fines this week by mistyping an order to sell shares. It’s a gaffe that ordinary investors like Derek Robinson of Seattle can relate to. The 45-year-old electrician was rushing one day last year to jump in on an investing trend he’d read about on Reddit. In his haste, he entered the wrong ticker symbol. “A biotech company was having a little bit of a squeeze,” he said. “I tried to jump in right at the end of the day, and I fat fingered the wrong ticker.”

Inside the FX cut-off conundrum sparking animosity between the buy-side, CLS and custodians as T+1 looms; Finger of blame is being pointed in each direction between custodians, non-US traders and settlement system CLS over FX cut-offs, with last minute decisions and confusion meaning some asset managers are now left facing operational challenges, pre-funding trades and balancing settlement security with best execution obligations.
Annabel Smith & Jon Watkins – The Trade
Tension is lingering between non-US traders, custodians and CLS over FX deadlines ahead of the rollout of T+1 settlement for equities in North America next week, with frustration and confusion over cut-offs leading to ongoing worries of increased risk for the buy-side.

Fireside Friday with… Stifel’s Raymond Powell; The TRADE sits down with Stifel’s head of equity execution, UK and Europe, Raymond Powell, to unpack the current pan-European market outlook, differing approaches to dealing across the channel and the likelihood research rebundling.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
What is the current market outlook for Europe and the UK?
The short-term dynamic for the UK has improved quite dramatically in the last month or two due to a mix of falling CPI and looming political clarity after the July general election declaration. Longer term, the new Government will face a number of aggressive assumptions regarding UK growth and tax revenue, with implication for absolute debt service levels. The demise of the UK market is exaggerated; however, the challenges are real. Structural reforms could be helpful to make the UK a more accommodative listing destination.

Ukraine Invasion

Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines, sources say
Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn – Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, four Russian sources told Reuters, saying he is prepared to fight on if Kyiv and the West do not respond. Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin’s entourage, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out talks.

Putin decree outlines Russian response to any US seizure of frozen assets
Russia will identify U.S. property, including securities, that could be used as compensation for losses sustained as a result of any seizure of frozen Russian assets in the United States, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how to best exploit some $300 billion worth of Russian financial assets, such as major currencies and government bonds, which were frozen shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Chechen leader meets Russia’s Putin, offers more troops for Ukraine
The leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said early on Thursday he had met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and offered to send more fighters to help Moscow in its more than two-year-old conflict in Ukraine. Kadyrov, who has led his South Caucasus region as a Kremlin loyalist since 2007, posted a photo of himself with Putin and said he had discussed the region’s economic problems and prospects and invited the president to visit.

Ukraine’s long-range glide bomb blunted by Russian jamming
Mike Stone – Reuters
Russian jamming has kept many of Ukraine’s relatively new long-range GLSDB bombs from hitting their intended targets, three people familiar with the challenges told Reuters. Ukraine over the last year sought weapons with longer ranges than the 43 miles (69 km) of U.S.-provided GMLRS rockets so Kyiv could attack and disrupt Russian supply lines and muster points.

US contradicts Shapps claim that China and Russia are ‘working together’ on war in Ukraine
Genevieve Holl-Allen – The Telegraph
The US has questioned a claim by the UK that Russia and China are working together on combat equipment to be used in Ukraine. Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, said on Wednesday that the two countries were “collaborating” on lethal aid for Moscow to use in its war against Kyiv. He told a defence conference in London: “An axis of authoritarian states led by Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have escalated and fuelled conflicts and tensions.

Ukraine Says It Will Push Back Russian Forces Near Kharkiv
Olesia Safronova and Aliaksandr Kudrytski – Bloomberg
The Ukrainian military said it’s planning to seize back territory in the northeast after claiming that Russia’s offensive north of Kharkiv has stalled. “The enemy has been stopped,” Ihor Prokhorenko, an official in Ukraine’s General Staff, said during a briefing in Kyiv Friday. Russia has failed in its effort to create a buffer zone of up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) within Ukraine.

Ukraine Hits Russian Complex in Occupied Crimea With U.S.-Supplied Missiles; Strike late Thursday was latest in mounting campaign against Russian air-defense systems, war planes and other military infrastructure
Ian Lovett and Nikita Nikolaienko – The Wall Street Journal
Ukraine hit a Russian military complex in Crimea with U.S.-provided long-range missiles Thursday night, the latest in a mounting series of strikes aimed at slowing the Russian war machine. The missile strike hit a communications center of Russian air-defense forces in the city of Alushta, according to a Ukrainian defense official. Crimean social media channels reported several explosions in the coastal city, with one video showing a large explosion, but the extent of the damage couldn’t immediately be established.

Russia, in New Push, Increasingly Disrupts Ukraine’s Starlink Service; Russia has deployed advanced tech to interfere with Elon Musk’s satellite internet service, Ukrainian officials said, leading to more outages on the northern front battle line.
Paul Mozur and Adam Satariano – The New York Times
Just before Russian troops pushed across the Ukrainian northern border this month, members of Ukraine’s 92nd Assault Brigade lost a vital resource. Starlink satellite internet service, which soldiers use to communicate, collect intelligence and conduct drone attacks, had slowed to a crawl. Operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink has been critical to the Ukrainian military since the earliest days of the war with Russia. Without the full service, Ukrainian soldiers said, they couldn’t quickly communicate and share information about the surprise onslaught and resorted to sending text messages. Their experiences were repeated across the new northern front line, according to Ukrainian soldiers, officials and electronics warfare experts.

Israel/Palestine Conflict

Top UN Peacekeeper Says Arab League Call for Gaza Deployment Is Premature; Lacroix says war has complicated UN troops’ role in Lebanon; UN and African Union moving toward new peacekeeping framework
Augusta Saraiva – Bloomberg
The United Nations peacekeeping chief argued against the latest calls for international troops to deploy in Gaza, saying the post-war state of affairs was too uncertain and that any operation would require agreement from Israel, which has been highly critical of the UN’s work in Palestinian territories. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, undersecretary-general for peace operations, said in an interview Wednesday that he’s aware of demands for sending in so-called Blue Helmets, including last week by the Arab League, but cautioned it’s too early and the politics too fraught to consider the option at the moment.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

ICE First Look at Mortgage Performance: Continued Improvement in April Leads to Fewest Serious Delinquencies in 18+ Years
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading global provider of technology and data, reports the following “first look” at April 2024 month-end mortgage performance statistics derived from its loan-level database representing the majority of the national mortgage market.

New edition of the ATHEX ESG Reporting Guide
Athens Exchange Group
The Athens Stock Exchange, in the context of its continuous efforts to promote sustainable investments in the Greek capital market, announces the publication of the new 2024 edition of the ATHEX ESG Reporting Guide, aiming to be at the forefront of regulatory developments among other stock exchanges around the world that have published ESG reporting guidance for the companies. The Guide is intended to function as a practical tool with which listed and non-listed companies can identify the ESG factors they should consider managing and disclosing on the basis of double materiality,

Addition of New Data Datasets to Data Distribution Service J-Quants Pro for Corporate Users
Japan Exchange Group
Today, May 24, 2024, JPXI has added three new data datasets to J-Quants Pro, which is a service that distributes financial data related to the Japanese market to corporate users in an easy-to-use manner.

Candidates for Directors of Japan Securities Clearing Corporation
Japan Exchange Group
Japan Exchange Group Inc. (JPX) hereby announces that its subsidiary Japan Securities Clearing Corporation has nominated candidates for directors to be put forth for approval at the Annual General Shareholders Meeting to be held on June 17, 2024. The proposal is as follows.


How TikTok’s Looking for a Man in Finance Became a Viral Hit; Megan Boni’s recording has been turned into electronic remixes and danced to by New York clubgoers. Will it be the song of the summer for finance bros?
Crystal Tse – Bloomberg
The summer anthem this year is literally music to the ears of the finance community. “I’m looking for a man in finance/ trust fund/ six-five/ blue eyes,” sings 27-year-old Megan Boni, who goes by Girl On Couch on TikTok. Her video, posted at the end of April, has amassed more than 2 million views and sparked thousands of riffs and re-creations. The original recording has been turned into remixes, danced to by thousands at New York rave institution Brooklyn Mirage and streamed over 300,000 times on Spotify.

Ex-Google CEO says the US and China’s most powerful AI systems may one day be stored in military bases and surrounded by machine guns
Kwan Wei Kevin Tan – Business Insider
Former Google CEO and chairman, Eric Schmidt thinks that “extremely powerful” AI systems will be heavily guarded by governments in the future. “Eventually, in both the U.S. and China, I suspect there will be a small number of extremely powerful computers with the capability for autonomous invention that will exceed what we want to give either to our own citizens without permission or to our competitors,” Schmidt told Noema Magazine in an interview published Tuesday.

Early ByteDance Backer Plans One of China’s Biggest New VC Funds; Source Code Capital raising $300 million for new tech bets; VC funding in China plummeted at the start of this year
Jane Zhang, Zheping Huang, and Lulu Yilun Chen – Bloomberg
Source Code Capital, among the earliest backers of TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd., is raising one of China’s largest venture funds as startups begin to draw renewed interest during the AI boom. The Beijing-based investor plans to raise $300 million for a new US-dollar fund led by partner Samuel Huang, according to people familiar with the matter. If successful, that will mark its first major investment vehicle since early 2021. The target is preliminary, however, and could change, the people said, asking not to be named.

OpenAI’s Altman on Defense Six Months After Surviving Ouster; The CEO has issued a series of apologies and mea culpas after criticism from employees and one of the most famous actresses in the world.
Shirin Ghaffary – Bloomberg
Altman’s apology tour
Six months after Sam Altman pulled off a stunning return to OpenAI following a boardroom coup, the chief executive is once again on the defensive – but this time it’s from employees and one of the world’s most famous actresses. In recent days, OpenAI has been hit with several resignations on safety-related teams, as well as reports that it’s attempting to muzzle staffers who quit and an accusation by Scarlett Johansson that the startup used a voice “eerily similar” to her own in a new product, without her permission. Altman has since issued a series of apologies and mea culpas.

Can the AI boom stop the tech exodus from San Francisco? Vast swaths of office space have been left empty after a big shift to remote working
Tabby Kinder – Financial Times
When Uber was booming a decade ago, it decided to send a signal of its commitment to San Francisco with a mammoth glass-walled campus on the city’s eastern waterfront. Then came the pandemic and with the shift to greater remote working in 2020, the ride-sharing app company realised it had become a cash sinkhole and it no longer needed as much space, putting a large chunk of it the market.


AI And Cybersecurity
Ashish Khanna – Forbes
In my frequent interactions with business leaders, I have observed a consistent focus on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to drive business growth while prioritizing security. Additionally, there is a desire to enhance security measures and improve the speed of response to potential threats, emphasizing the modernization of security operations by utilizing AI. AI-powered security solutions (AI for cybersecurity) can also help businesses identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in their systems faster. In addition to improving security, AI can also help businesses (cybersecurity for AI) improve their operational resilience in many ways. Of course, with any new technology, there are also risks associated with AI (data poisoning, hallucinations, data remodeling, etc.), so it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of AI carefully before implementing it.

This Windows Security Fix Doesn’t Contain Any Security Fixes, Microsoft Says
Davey Winder – Forbes
Microsoft has warned users of the Windows Server 2019 operating system that the most recent Patch Tuesday security update may fail, exposing them to the vulnerabilities it was meant to mitigate. An out-of-band update has been issued to address the embarrassing and potentially dangerous security issue, but is the strangest of beasts: a security update without any security fixes. Here’s what you need to know and do next.


Gensler Says ‘Stay Tuned’ on U.S. SEC’s Decision on ETH ETF
Jesse Hamilton – CoinDesk
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler declined on Thursday to preview his agency’s decision on ether {{ETH}} exchange traded funds (ETFs), though he advised observers to “stay tuned.” Though he’d reiterated that the court decision on ETFs had caused his agency to “pivot” in its thinking, when asked by CoinDesk on Thursday about what the agency is preparing to do in response to the specific applications on this much-anticipated crypto decision, he largely demurred.

Coinbase’s Supreme Court Loss Is Its Own Fault; The cryptocurrency platform’s lawyers made a mistake – or perhaps executives failed to heed their counsel.
Stephen L. Carter – Bloomberg Opinion
To hear the words “Coinbase” and “Supreme Court” in the same breath likely inspires thoughts of the justices jousting over cryptocurrency. But this week’s decision in Coinbase v. Suski is a reminder that even in our clever new era, old principles of contract law often hold sway. The question before the court at first blush seems simple. Back in 2021, Coinbase ran a sweepstakes offering prizes paid in Dogecoin.

Ether ETFs Clear Major Hurdle, Though SEC Hasn’t Cleared Them for Trading Yet
Helene Braun – CoinDesk
Spot ether exchange-traded funds took a giant leap toward reality on Thursday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved key regulatory filings tied to them, a milestone for the second-largest cryptocurrency. They are not yet cleared to trade, though. The SEC gave its blessing to so-called 19b-4 forms tied to the ETFs, but the regulator must approve their S-1 filings before investors can buy them.

US Paves Way for Ether ETFs in Test of Crypto Demand Beyond Bitcoin; SEC allows Cboe, Nasdaq and NYSE to list spot-Ether ETFs; Issuers still need more approvals before launching funds
Emily Graffeo and Lydia Beyoud – Bloomberg
The crypto industry is closer to another landmark after the Securities and Exchange Commission paved the way for the eventual launch of the first US exchange-traded funds investing directly in the Ether token. In a step deemed unlikely as recently as last week, the SEC signed off Thursday on a proposal by venues run by Cboe Global Markets Inc., Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange to list products tied to the second-biggest digital asset.


Democrats open probe into Trump ‘policies-for-money’ deal with oil chiefs; Investigation comes as party looks to highlight former US president’s ties to fossil fuel groups ahead of election
Myles McCormick – Financial Times
Democrats in the US Senate have launched a probe into allegations that Donald Trump sought a deal with leading oil and gas companies that would see him rip up environmental regulations if he is re-elected president in return for $1bn in industry contributions to his campaign. The investigation shines a spotlight on the industry’s relationship with the former president a day after he toured Texas in a fundraising drive that targeted wealthy fossil fuel executives.

How to Beat Back AI’s Threat to Democracy; On this episode of Voternomics, Taiwan’s former digital affairs minister explains why grassroots efforts by humans can turn the tide.
Chris Martlew – Bloomberg (podcast)
Bad actors using machine-learning, generative artificial intelligence and the power of digital networks are seeding ever-more distrust in democracy, warns Audrey Tang, former digital affairs minister for Taiwan. Tang joins this week’s episode of Voternomics to discuss the risk of foreign interference in the many elections happening around the world, as well as lessons learned while combating efforts to distort the political debate in Taiwan.

US House committee advances farm bill draft with little support from Democrats
Leah Douglas – Reuters
The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee passed its version of a $1.5 trillion farm spending bill late Thursday night with few Democratic votes, prolonging a standoff between the parties over key nutrition, agriculture, and climate policies. Congress failed in 2023 to pass a new farm bill, an omnibus legislative package passed every five years.

How red Texas became a model for green energy; The state’s solar surge proves that the energy transition defies politics
John Burn-Murdoch – Financial Times
A remarkable thing happened in March this year. For the first time, the fossil fuel rich state of Texas generated more electricity from solar power than from coal. Perhaps even more striking, on the early afternoon of May 14, Texas briefly hit 19.1 gigawatts of energy generation from solar farms. This set a new US-wide record according to figures from Grid Status, which tracks electricity generation data across the US.

Elon Musk Ramps Up Anti-Biden Posts on X; The billionaire owner of X has increasingly been using his social media platform to criticize President Biden for his health and immigration policies, according to a New York Times analysis.
Kate Conger and Ryan Mac – The New York Times
Last month, Elon Musk posted on X that President Biden “obviously barely knows what’s going on.” “He is just a tragic front for a far left political machine,” Mr. Musk wrote. It was the 29th time this year that he had posted about the president on X, formerly known as Twitter, which Mr. Musk bought in 2022. Mr. Musk has steadily ramped up his criticism of Mr. Biden as the campaign season heats up before the November presidential election. Mr. Musk has posted about Mr. Biden on X at least seven times a month since January, attacking the president for everything from his age to his policies on immigration and health. Before that, he posted about Mr. Biden twice in December and not at all in November, according to a New York Times analysis. In all, Mr. Musk had posted nearly 40 times about Mr. Biden this year, compared with about 30 times for all of last year.

There Is Nothing Nvidious About UK Assets as Election Looms; If Rishi Sunak thought things would get better, he should’ve waited. Going to the polls early suggests he expects them to get worse.
John Authers – Bloomberg Opinion
Nvidious Results: Yesterday, Points of Return revealed that the share price of Nvidia Corp., the world’s dominant maker of chips used in artificial intelligence, has historically moved an average of 8.9% up or down after reporting first-quarter results. And indeed it gained 7.8% in after-hours trading following this year’s. That would raise its market cap by $182 billion – equal to Texas Instruments Inc.’s entire market value, and 2.5 times the gross domestic product of Ghana.

Sunak’s Doom Loop Takes Britain Nowhere Fast; The prime minister’s stoppage of the landmark HS2 rail project left Britons in a lurch. What could it take to resurrect it?
Matthew Brooker – Bloomberg
The gap between Britain’s North and South is wider than the gulf between East and West Germany on the eve of unification – and has a credible claim to be the country’s biggest economic challenge. In October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak canceled a landmark high-speed rail line that was designed to help narrow the divide, saying the £36 billion ($46 billion) saved would be invested in hundreds of transport projects across the nation that would benefit far more people far more quickly. His own infrastructure advisers seem far from convinced.

Norway to block entry for most Russian tourists, Moscow says it will respond
Norway will further curb access for Russian tourist travellers due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, blocking almost all entry from May 29, the Nordic country’s justice ministry said on Thursday. Russia called the decision “purely discriminatory” and said it would respond. Norway, a NATO member that shares a border with Russia in the Arctic measuring almost 200 km (124 miles), first imposed restrictions on Russian tourist visas in 2022, shortly after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary Wants to ‘Redefine’ Its NATO Membership, Orban Says
Zoltan Simon – Bloomberg
Hungary is working to “redefine” the country’s NATO membership status to allow it to potentially opt-out from the military alliance’s deepening support for Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. Hungarian military officials and lawyers are already working on trying to come up with a new concept that would differentiate the country from other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Orban said in a state radio interview on Friday. “Our lawyers and officers are hard at work to see how Hungary can maintain its NATO membership in a way that it wouldn’t have to take part in NATO actions outside of NATO territory,” Orban said.


CFTC Staff Announces Updated Part 43 Block and Cap Sizes and Further Extends No-Action Letter Regarding the Block and Cap Implementation Timeline
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Data (DOD) today published updated post-initial appropriate minimum block sizes and post-initial cap sizes as determined under CFTC regulations. The Division of Market Oversight (DMO) also issued a letter further extending the no-action position originally taken in CFTC Letter No. 22-03 regarding the compliance dates for certain amendments, adopted in November 2020, to the CFTC’s swap data reporting rules concerning block trades and post-initial cap sizes.

Commissioner Pham Announces CFTC Global Markets Advisory Committee Meeting on June 4
CFTC Commissioner Caroline D. Pham, sponsor of the Global Markets Advisory Committee (GMAC), announced the GMAC will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, June 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT at the CFTC’s New York Regional Office.

Remarks of Enforcement Director Ian McGinley at the City Bar White Collar Institute: “Trends in the CFTC’s Recent Crypto Enforcement Actions”
Thank you for that introduction. As is customary, I’ll start with the standard disclaimer: These comments are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), its Commissioners, or CFTC staff. It’s a true thrill to be here. Most of my professional career has been spent in the white collar world here in my home town. It’s also nice to see people here who have taught me so much over the years-former colleagues, former adversaries, and some people who are a bit of both. I’m honored to have the opportunity to address you all.

Statement of Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson on Settlement Agreement Resolving Enforcement Action on Compliance and Supervision Failures
Today, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission or CFTC) announced a settlement agreement with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (J.P. Morgan) following over a decade of trade surveillance supervision failures in violation of Regulation 166.3.[1]

Statement of Commissioner Caroline D. Pham on Reasonable Accommodation
May 23, 2024
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Caroline D. Pham released the following statement regarding the CFTC’s administrative order regarding J.P. Morgan Securities LLC announced today: “I find it deeply disturbing that the CFTC did not provide reasonable accommodation to respect a religious holiday. The CFTC demanded that legal submissions be produced on Yom Kippur. I do not believe the CFTC would have done the same thing if it were Christmas Day. This raises concerns regarding unequal treatment under the law based on religion. The CFTC is not above the Constitution-no matter what. These actions are yet another example of why I have called for a GAO study on the CFTC’s internal procedures. While I support this significant settlement and remind all registrants that they must ensure diligent supervision under our regulations, that is no excuse for the CFTC’s apparent lack of respect for rights.”

ASIC wins Federal Court case against Cigno Australia and BSF Solutions
The Federal Court has found Cigno Australia Pty Ltd (Cigno Australia) and BSF Solutions Pty Ltd (BSF Solutions) engaged in credit activity without an Australian Credit licence and charged consumers prohibited fees. The Court also found that Cigno Australia director Mark Swanepoel and BSF Solutions director Brenton Harrison were involved in the unlicensed activity and other Credit Act breaches.

Firms to recommence GAP insurance sales following FCA action
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that several firms have been permitted to recommence their sales of Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance, following action by the regulator to improve fair value. To restart sales, firms need to demonstrate that their GAP products provide fair value to customers, in line with FCA rules.

FSA publishes English translation of monthly magazine, Access FSA No.247
Financial Services Association of Japan
Financial Services Agency Newsletter Provisional Translation.

When delivering a game that will be billed in Japan, game companies are required to notify the Japanese authority (Local Finance Bureau) in accordance with the Payment Services Act
FSA Japan
When a Foreign Company intends to carry out transactions continuously in Japan, it must specify its representatives in Japan and register as a Foreign Company.

MAS Bans Three Individuals for Obstructing Course of Justice, Falsification of Records and Providing False Information to MAS
Monetary Authority of Singapore
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued prohibition orders (POs) against two former insurance agents of Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Limited (PACS), Ms Yuen Pui Leng Eunice and Ms Tan Zhen Zhi, Grace, following their conviction for offences under the Financial Advisers Act (FAA). A prohibition order and a stern warning in lieu of prosecution were also issued against Mr Lim Hee Loon Benny, a former insurance agent of PACS and current insurance agent of Manulife Financial Advisers Pte Ltd for furnishing false information to MAS.

Investing and Trading

A 1,200% Surge Tests Nerves of Investors in Korean AI Chip Stock; Hanmi Semiconductor has surged on AI boom, CEO share purchases; ‘Some investors are having second thoughts’: DS Asset’s Yoon
Jenny Seung Min Lee – Bloomberg
The nearly 1,200% share-price leap in Hanmi Semiconductor Co. since the end of 2022 has some investors seeking to cash out amid scorching valuations. Hanmi Semi is the most expensive stock on a regional gauge of chip-related peers, relative to forward earnings estimates. That makes positives including demand for the South Korean firm’s AI-related chipmaking equipment and buying of the stock by its billionaire chief executive look more than fully priced in.

Nvidia’s revenue soars 262% on record AI chip demand; Semiconductor maker also announces a 10-for-1 stock split after quarterly results beat high expectations
Michael Acton – Financial Times
Record sales of artificial intelligence chips sent Nvidia’s revenue soaring 262 per cent in the past quarter, beating lofty expectations, and its chief executive said its blockbuster growth was set to continue this year with the launch of a new line of chips. Jensen Huang told investors the company would see “a lot” of revenue from its new Blackwell chips this year as it profits from exploding demand for the computing power behind generative AI.

As Nvidia Goes, So Does the Valuation of US Stocks; It’s not really healthy for a single company to have such a hold on the market. And China’s resilient shares.
John Authers – Bloomberg Opinion
It’s Nvidia Day! Get ready for an important anniversary. When Nvidia Corp., the world’s biggest chipmaker, announces first-quarter earnings after the market closes on Wednesday, it will mark a year since its stunning results for the same period in 2023 were treated as validation of the excitement over artificial intelligence, and sparked a rally that still continues. Before then, its market cap was already above $750 billion; it’s grown by more than $1.5 trillion since.

Stock Traders Prepare Game Plan for Biggest Shakeup Since Brexit; Historically, equities outperform after Labour victory: Citi; Election seen boosting sentiment further for rallying stocks
Michael Msika – Bloomberg
The earlier-than-expected UK election is prompting traders to prepare for the country’s biggest political shakeup since Brexit, despite the mostly muted market reaction since the announcement was made. Market strategists are gaming out election scenarios, with history showing UK equities trading relatively flat, or lower, during the first six months after wins for the ruling Conservatives. By contrast, stocks have historically strengthened about 6% following victories by the poll-leading Labour party, according to Citigroup Inc. strategists led by Beata Manthey.

Copper price to rocket to $40,000 a tonne, says top trader Andurand
Hedge fund manager shifts focus to red metal after bullish oil bets backfired last year
Costas Mourselas and Malcolm Moore – Financial Times
Hedge fund manager Pierre Andurand expects the price of copper to almost quadruple to $40,000 a tonne in the next few years as soaring demand causes global stockpiles of the red metal to run low. Andurand’s conviction on the copper market has helped his $1.3bn Commodities Discretionary Enhanced fund rebound from a 55 per cent loss last year that came as his bullish oil wagers backfired badly. The fund is up 83 per cent this year, with the gains coming from a broad range of commodities, according to people familiar with the performance.

Copper Barons Are Blocking Clean Energy’s Switch; Securing the metal that will get us to net zero requires economies of scale.
David Fickling – Bloomberg (opinion)
The road to net zero has never been smooth. Especially not when a vital element for decarbonizing the global economy is being hoarded by a group of little-known mining barons. Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange rose to $11,104.50 a metric ton, their highest level on record, on Monday. Traders are betting the world isn’t producing enough of the conductive metal, which will be vital to link all the wind turbines, motors, cables, and electronic devices needed as the world switches to clean energy. Smelters and refiners produced about 27 million tons last year. An additional 12.8 million tons will need to be supplied in 2030 to keep us on a net-zero path, BloombergNEF wrote this week.

Jane Street Avoids Disclosing Secrets to Millennium in Dispute; Only court, lawyers can access secret India trading strategy; Jane Street faced May 23 deadline to detail alleged secrets
Ava Benny-Morrison – Bloomberg
Jane Street Group was spared for now from having to share trade secrets with former traders it sued after they left for a rival firm. US District Judge Paul Engelmayer on Thursday said Jane Street does not need to share a court-ordered disclosure with former traders Douglas Schadewald and Daniel Spottiswood and Millennium Management. Instead, the firm can temporarily make it available only to the court and outside lawyers.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

How red Texas became a model for green energy; The state’s solar surge proves that the energy transition defies politics
John Burn-Murdoch – Financial Times
A remarkable thing happened in March this year. For the first time, the fossil fuel rich state of Texas generated more electricity from solar power than from coal. Perhaps even more striking, on the early afternoon of May 14, Texas briefly hit 19.1 gigawatts of energy generation from solar farms. This set a new US-wide record according to figures from Grid Status, which tracks electricity generation data across the US.

These Teens Adopted an Orphaned Oil Well. Their Goal: Shut It Down. Students, nonprofit groups and others are fund-raising to cap highly polluting oil and gas wells abandoned by industry.
Delger Erdenesanaa – The New York Times
As a child in Bolivia, Mateo De La Rocha told his family he wanted to work as a garbage man when he grew up. In La Paz, his home city at the time, trash piles were everywhere. In Mr. De La Rocha’s eyes, the local sanitation worker was the only person cleaning up pollution. “I didn’t really see anyone doing anything about it, apart from the garbage man,” he said. His family later moved to the United States, and now Mr. De La Rocha is a high school senior in Cary, N.C., who has found a unique way to clean up pollution: Along with two friends, he recently raised $11,000 to plug an abandoned oil well in Ohio that was leaking gas close to a barn on a horse farm. It’s an unusually niche cause for young environmentalists to take up, but one with a potentially significant effect on global climate change.

US to Outline Vision for Carbon Offsets Dogged by Controversy; Top officials are set to lay out broad guidelines for how companies can use carbon credits to meet their climate goals.
Jennifer A Dlouhy and Natasha White – Bloomberg
Top Biden administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, are set to lay out the first broad US government guidelines for carbon markets next week, a major win for advocates of emission offsets as a weapon against global warming. The move is a bid by the US to encourage a new era of what it calls “high-integrity carbon markets” and help rehabilitate a climate solution that’s been dogged by controversy. Although there’s increasing interest in using offsets to unlock billions of dollars for decarbonization, the credits have drawn intense criticism after revelations that multiple projects never delivered on their emission-cutting claims.

Adani suspected of fraud by selling low-grade coal as high-value fuel; Indian conglomerate rejects accusations of inflating prices in transactions with state utility
Dan McCrum, Chris Cook and John Reed – Financial Times
Adani Group passed off low-quality coal as far more expensive cleaner fuel in transactions with an Indian state power utility, according to evidence seen by the Financial Times that throws new light on allegations of a long-running coal scam. The documents, secured by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and reviewed by the FT, add a potential environmental dimension to accusations of corruption associated with the Indian conglomerate. They suggest that Adani may have fraudulently obtained bumper profits at the expense of air quality, since using low-grade coal for power means burning more of the fuel.

Pair of major European banks backs away from oil and gas bond deals; French lenders Credit Agricole and BNP shift policy as scrutiny heightens on green finance
Kenza Bryan – Financial Times
Two of Europe’s leading banks have retreated from oil and gas bond deals, eschewing a type of financing on which big fossil fuel companies have become increasingly reliant. BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole, the second and third largest banks in Europe by assets, have told shareholders that they will no longer underwrite bond issues for the sector unless they include green restrictions, clarifying their existing policies.

Norway’s oil fund to vote against ExxonMobil in clash over shareholder rights; Sovereign wealth fund to oppose re-election of energy company’s lead director
Attracta Mooney, Patrick Temple-West and Myles McCormick – Financial Times
Norway’s oil fund has become the latest ExxonMobil investor to commit to voting against the re-election of director Jay Hooley as concerns intensify over the impact on shareholder democracy of a lawsuit launched by the US oil group. The $1.5tn sovereign wealth fund is the biggest investor yet to come out against Exxon after the company filed a case against two climate-focused shareholder groups to block their resolution demanding it do more to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

*****This story from [[|Reuters]]

NOAA Predicts the Most Hurricanes That It Has Ever Forecast; Up to 25 tropical storms and as many at 13 hurricanes are expected to form
Eric Niiler – The Wall Street Journal

What airlines can do about dangerous invisible turbulence; Severe turbulence of the type that hit a Singapore Airlines flight this week has increased by half in the North Atlantic as the climate changes
Philip Georgiadis, Clara Murray and Sylvia Pfeifer – Financial Times

Life in the Dirt Is Hard. And Climate Change Isn’t Helping. Heat and drought are taking a toll on the tiny soil creatures that help to lock away planet-warming carbon, according to a new analysis.
Sofia Quaglia – The New York Times

Rotten Bananas in a Scorching India Expose Climate’s Food Cost; India wastes more food than almost any other country partly because of spotty refrigeration. Climate change is making the problem worse.
Pratik Parija – Bloomberg

Environmental activists sue Norway over seabed mineral plan

Colombia Plans to Boost Oil Output With Push for More Drilling; Energy minister wants to juice existing ‘lazy contracts’; Sees production rising to 800,000 barrels per day this year
Andrea Jaramillo – Bloomberg


Which investment platform has the lowest fees? There is no ‘best’ provider – so how do you choose one that is right for you?
Sally Hickey – Financial Times
When Linda acquired a lump sum of cash last year after a business sale, she wasn’t sure what to do with it. “I put most of it in bank accounts – it terrified me,” she says. But, determined to make the investment decisions herself, she set about teaching herself about the best place for her money. It was only then that she made a discovery about the investment platform she had used for a decade.

Stephen Bird steps down as Abrdn chief executive; UK asset manager says it is ‘the right time’ for new leadership
Emma Dunkley and Oliver Ralph – Financial Times
Stephen Bird has stepped down as chief executive of Abrdn after a four-year tenure set to be remembered for a rebranding that failed to restore the fortunes of the UK asset manager. Abrdn said on Friday that, “following the significant strategic repositioning of the company”, it was the right time for Bird to step aside.

Ex-Deutsche Bank CEO Rolf Breuer Passes Away
Rolf-E. Breuer, former CEO and Chairman of Deutsche Bank, passed away on Wednesday. Employees, members of the Management Board and Supervisory Board mourn his death. The 86-year-old passed away in the presence of family, following a long illness.

Work & Management

Some big banks ask more staff to return to office five days a week, Bloomberg reports
Citigroup, HSBC Holdings and Barclays are ordering more staffers to report to company offices five days a week, Bloomberg News reported late on Thursday. Citi has asked about 600 U.S. employees, who were earlier eligible to work remotely, to commute to company offices full-time, the report said, citing a statement from the lender.

OpenAI Releases Former Staffers From Non-Disparagement Clauses; AI startup is changing policies for outgoing employees; OpenAI apologized for restrictions in exit contracts
Shirin Ghaffary and Rachel Metz – Bloomberg
OpenAI is releasing a majority of past employees from nondisparagement agreements tied to their exit contracts and equity, the startup confirmed Thursday. In a message sent to former employees Thursday, the company said it would not seek to cancel staffers’ equity that has vested if they spoke out about the company.”Regardless of whether you executed the agreement, we write to notify you that OpenAI has not canceled, and will not cancel, any vested units,” said the message, which was reviewed by Bloomberg. Current staff were also notified of the change.

From oil to offshore: Energy sector reveals ‘skills passport’ for seamless worker transition
Sidhi Mittal – edie
Energy industry leaders have unveiled a roadmap for a prototype ‘energy skills passport’ to facilitate cross-sector recognition of expertise and training within the energy industry, as a response to the growing skills gap challenge. The skills passport aims to help workers and employers recognise transferable skills and qualifications across sectors such as oil and gas, and offshore wind. This will enable workers to transition seamlessly between different roles within the energy industry as emissions are reduced, accelerating the UK’s energy transition. The project will focus on aligning technical qualifications, mapping safety standards, creating career pathways, and establishing a mechanism for recognising standards.

Wellness Exchange

A Walk in the Woods With My Brain on Fire: Spring; The season might reveal its healing powers and generosity if you look up.
David Sassoon – Inside Climate News
Two visits to this wildlife sanctuary. One week apart. I came to report the arrival of spring, an under-covered story. In the hope, too, that the new season might extinguish the fire in my brain, ablaze in the Anthropocene: The accelerating heat with its cascading catastrophes; the barbaric wars with their crimes against humanity; scorching hatreds shared instantly everywhere. Our raging modern inferno. And yet, we are in the midpoint of a great annual renewal, marked by the seasonal migration of creatures beyond number flying their way north. Might the incessant flapping of billions of pairs of wings cool down the hemisphere? Surely birdsong is balm for our blisters and burns? I went looking for remedy with little idea of what I was soon to witness.

Health officials explain human-contracted bird flu, say to take precautions
Riley Connell – WILX 10
Public health officials and researchers are working to learn more about a second human case of bird flu recently discovered in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said a male farm worker is confirmed to have contracted highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, or H5N1. Although the patient’s specific location within the state was not released, officials said he has already recovered without the help of medication. Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said the farm worker’s primary symptom was a “grainy feeling” in his eyes.


Foreign Investment in China Drops for Fourth Month in April
Bloomberg News
Foreign investment into China slowed for a fourth straight month in April, underscoring Beijing’s struggle to attract more overseas funds to boost its flagging economic growth. New actually utilized foreign investment into China was 58.5 billion yuan ($8.1 billion) last month, according to calculations based on figures provided by the Ministry of Commerce on Friday. That was down 36% compared with the same month in 2023 and was the second-lowest result for any month since late 2019.

Nigeria Bans Naira Street Trading as Battered Currency Takes Another Hit; Regulator asks all BDC operators to apply for fresh licenses; Hikes capital to $1.4 million from $24,333 to trim operators
Emele Onu – Bloomberg
Nigeria stepped up efforts to curb speculation against the battered naira, slapping tough new conditions on bureau de change and banning street trading in foreign currency. The Central Bank of Nigeria sharply increased capital requirements for the nation’s BDCs, citing the need to regulate the sector and ensure it isn’t undermining the value of the local currency.

Sheep, Gin And Rockets: The Scottish Island With Its Sights Set on Space; SaxaVord, a former military site, plans to subsidize rocket launches by becoming a one-of-a-kind travel destination.
Kate Duffy – Bloomberg
When Frank Strang visited SaxaVord nearly 20 years ago, he was so enamored with the Scottish property that he purchased it on the spot without even telling his wife. Now, the unlikely entrepreneurial duo is on the verge of opening Europe’s newest space hub. It occupies a former military station on the island of Unst, some 400 miles (640 kilometers) north of Edinburgh. The few people who choose to live there are vastly outnumbered by sheep, rabbits and the whales and dolphins that frolic in the cobalt seas surrounding the rocky coast line.


After spending more than a decade underground, trillions of amorous cicadas are noisily clamoring for a mate-and in a rare phenomenon, two broods are surfacing at once.
Nidhi Subbaraman – The Wall Street Journal
Periodical cicadas live underground for 13 or 17 years, depending on the brood. But once every 221 years, a 13-year and 17-year brood surfaces at the same time. This year’s cohorts, Brood XIII and Brood XIX, haven’t appeared together since 1803. The next double-brood, numbers XIX and IX, will arrive in 2037. (There are 15 known broods in North America.)

The Shiba Inu Who Became the Face of Dogecoin Cryptocurrency Preferred Napping; Kabosu, a rescue dog and unlikely internet sensation, died at 18 in Japan
Caitlin Ostroff and Miho Inada – The Wall Street Journal
Kabosu, an ordinary pet, leapt to accidental fame after her owner, a 62-year-old kindergarten teacher, shared online a photo of a cute dog with a baffled, wary expression. The internet found it and ran with it, and the Shiba Inu pooch became the mascot of the cryptocurrency dogecoin. Kabosu died in Japan on Friday. She was 18.

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The Stock Market Has Rarely Been This Sleepy

Lead Stories The Stock Market Has Rarely Been This Sleepy Gunjan Banerji - The Wall Street Journal It's eerily calm out there in the stock market. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, dropped below 12 last week, a nearly five-year low. The gauge, based on options prices...

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