Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff
One of the interesting things about the Abaxx Exchange is their thought leadership, whether in their popular podcasts or the whitepapers they publish. They have published a new white paper, albeit with a partial overused title. The title of the paper is “Back to the Future(s): The Best Commodities Benchmarks are Still Physically Settled.” In the paper, Abaxx talks about how “since 2002 and the advancement of financially-settled energy products via the NYMEX ClearPort platform – incumbent futures exchange operators have mostly neglected physically-settled markets. This created problems. Why? We dig into the issues below and present tangible arguments why today’s LNG and other global commodity markets require physically-settled benchmarks for better price discovery, more reliable hedging, and improved risk management.” Abaxx today submitted the specifications for its LNG contract.
Streets Consulting has a new YouTube series titled “Metaverse: WhatMatters?” The series includes Julia Streets’ avatar as well as that of the founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance, Catriona Wallace. I can remember when Julia was a real person before she was sucked into the metaverse. Here is a link for Episode One.
The price of eggs is a popular topic when talking about inflation, and The Wall Street Journal has a story that gets to the cause. It is titled “Worst Avian Flu in U.S. History Is Hitting Poultry, Wild Birds, Even Bears. My only comment is “Oh my.”
Employers have tried many things to get workers to return to the office, including free lunches, massages, and happy hours. How about free heat? Bloomberg reports some workers are returning to the office in the UK because of the freezing weather, in a story titled “Freezing Weather Sends Some UK Workers Back to the Office.”
There is an interesting essay on the debt ceiling issue in The New York Times by Eric Foner titled “The Constitution Has a 155-Year-Old Answer to the Debt Ceiling.”
Matthew Waldis is now a managing partner at MSW Consulting, which offers collateral and margin optimization, stress testing analysis and benchmarking, exchange clearing house process consulting, risk monitoring framework assessment, portfolio liquidation analysis and regulatory risk audit consulting. Waldis was previously executive director of risk management at the CME Group.
Journalist and author Kevin Morrison is starting a new position as energy finance analyst at Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). I met Kevin when he was a reporter with the FT.
The CME Group is looking to hire an Education Content Sr. Specialist in Chicago for a hybrid position.
There was an error in the Weekend Update. We included different images and links for the William Knottenbelt Part One video interview, rather than different images and links for Part One and Part Two. Our apologies.
We are adding a new feature to the JLN Partner sponsorship for John Lothian News that includes a banner advertisement within one of the news sections of this newsletter. If you want more information about it, let me know.
We continue to send out invoices. Thank you to everyone who has requested an invoice, or paid, or is set up on PayPal for recurring payments. You are all greatly appreciated by all of us at JLN.
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 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is launching the Pathfinder Framework in two sessions, the first on January 25, 2023 at 4:30 PM (CET) and the second on January 26, 2023 at 10:30 AM (CET). The WBCSD’s Partnership for Carbon Transparency (PATH) has developed the Pathfinder Framework, which takes “a cross-sectoral approach to help organizations develop and exchange primary data-based product carbon footprints (PCFs).” You can join either 90-minute session for the virtual launch. Learn more and register here.~SAED
Who is Barry Silbert, the head of Genesis-owner DCG?
Tom Wilson and Hannah Lang – Reuters
As an investment banker, Barry Silbert worked on some of the highest-profile corporate failures. Now, as founder of venture capital firm Digital Currency Group, parent of troubled crypto firm Genesis, he is grappling with problems closer to home. Silbert, 46, cut his teeth on bankruptcies including Enron’s and WorldCom’s when working at California-based investment bank Houlihan Lokey. “The experience working on complex, problematic restructurings proved invaluable,” he told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in 2011.
****** The other day I accidentally spelled his name “Barry Dilbert” when writing it. Not sure what to make of that.~JJL
Happy 30th birthday to the ETF*; Lookin’ good
Robin Wigglesworth – Financial Times
As the asterisk hints, the headline is not quite correct. One of the ETF industry’s favourite supposedly obscure but actually pretty well-known factoids is that the first ETF was born in Canada, on March 9, 1990. But the almost $10tn ETFs industry’s true progenitor is unquestionably the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, which was born with $6.5mn of seed money three decades ago today (and first started trading a week later, on Jan 29).
****** One creepy crawly product led to a whole industry.~JJL
Friday’s Top Three
Our top story Friday was The Wall Street Journal’s Are You Storing Your Wine Properly? Here’s What It Can Cost-and Save-You. Second was The New York Times’ Is It Bad to Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach? Third was A millennial founder who sold her company to JP Morgan for $175 million allegedly paid a college professor $18K to fabricate 4 million accounts. Their email exchange is a doozy. It was the story’s fourth time in the top three.
27,149 pages; 242,418 edits
Citadel Makes $16 Billion to Top Paulson’s ‘Greatest Trade Ever’; LCH table shows top 20 hedge funds made $22.4 billion profit; However, losses grew among smaller outfits in a volatile year
Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
Ken Griffin’s Citadel churned out a record $16 billion in profit for clients last year, outperforming the rest of the industry and one of history’s most successful financial plays. The top 20 hedge fund firms collectively generated $22.4 billion in profit after fees, according to estimates by LCH Investments, a fund of hedge funds. Citadel’s gain was the largest annual return for a hedge fund manager, surpassing the $15 billion that John Paulson generated in 2007 on his bet against subprime mortgages. This was described as the “greatest trade ever” in a subsequent book of the same name by Gregory Zuckerman.
The Crypto Crackdown Is Just Getting Started; Money laundering, fraud and tax evasion – real or virtual – are risks that won’t go away on their own
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg (opinion)
There was much mirth online when the US Justice Department announced the arrest of crypto exchange Bitzlato’s founder last week. Unpronounceable, unknown and unlike any of the far bigger fish (like Binance) getting headlines, Bitzlato looked like a small-fry, a nothingburger. The fact that Bitcoin resumed its march past $21,000 seemed to confirm it. But this ignores the bigger picture. In the first few weeks of 2023, watchdogs have done a lot. On Jan. 3, a joint statement by US bank regulators warned the industry of crypto risks creeping into the banking system. Then came a $100 million settlement with Coinbase Global Inc. over weak internal controls, a lawsuit against the Winklevoss twins’ Gemini and broker Genesis for allegedly selling unregistered securities, and a $45 million settlement with lending platform Nexo (which has ceased US operations). Subpoenas are flying.
The $1tn coin: a silly idea to resolve the US debt ceiling wrangles; The proposal is a response with uncertain outcomes to a threat with known and catastrophic consequences
Brendan Greeley – Financial Times
I have been covering the debates in the US Congress over the debt ceiling for a decade. For only slightly less time, I have been covering the suggestion to have the White House end those debates by instructing the US Mint to issue a $1tn platinum coin. These conversations have been going on for so long that since they began I have lost one dog and had two more children, one of whom is already old enough to play ice hockey. The ceiling and the coin are as familiar to me as the five-year conversation with my wife over whether to share our to-do lists in an app.
Abaxx submits specifications for LNG futures contracts and publishes white papers on futures on physical commodities
Layla Nelson – Canada Today
Abaxx Technologies Inc. (NEO:ABXX)(OTCQX:ABXXF) (“Abaxx” or the “Company”), a financial software company, majority shareholder of Abaxx Singapore Pte. GmbH.the Abaxx Commodity Exchange (ACX) and producer of SmarterMarketsâ„¢ media, announced that Abaxx Singapore Pte. Ltd.’s subsidiary, Abaxx Exchange Pte. Ltd., has filed a notice of pending listing of futures contracts with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
China Says Covid Deaths Top 12,600 and More Than 1 Billion Infected
China said its Covid-related death toll topped more than 12,600 in the week before the Lunar New Year holiday, while a top health official suggested more than 1.1 billion people had been infected since virus controls were abruptly dismantled late last year.
Democracies Shouldn’t Gloat About China’s Stumbles; The country still boasts a technocratic elite capable of recovering from even calamitous policy errors. How many of its neighbors can say the same?
Pankaj Mishra – Bloomberg (opinion)
As China’s death toll mounts and its economy slows, the country seems to be reaping the bitter fruits of Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy. Ill-informed and arbitrary decision-making looks to be, in the eyes of many in the West, the fatal weakness of China’s autocratic political system. But a self-righteous contrast between democracy and autocracy cannot explain away the challenges of governance that confront many nations today.
Monaco Falls Short in Fighting Financial Crime, Watchdog Says; Moneyval report found incomplete databases, lack of resources; Monaco says its determined to comply with strictest standards
Gaspard Sebag and Anthony Cormier – Bloomberg
When a team of European inspectors visited Monaco last year, they expected to see significant progress on Prince Albert II’s pledge that the Principality would develop a robust program to stop financial crime. Instead, they found that ownership databases were largely incomplete, reports on suspicious transactions were filed months late, and authorities lacked the resources or sophistication to tackle the most complex investigations. The findings led the inspectors to give Monaco their worst effectiveness rating for the way it prosecutes money laundering and recovers assets.
Almost $250 Billion Wiped From US Foundations After 2022 Rout; Foundations’ investments would need to rally 18% this year for giving to hold steady, which FoundationMark’s CEO calls ‘a tall order.’
Ben Steverman – Bloomberg
About a quarter of a trillion dollars earmarked for charity was erased last year from the foundations set up by wealthy Americans. US foundations, which began 2022 with a record $1.3 trillion in philanthropic firepower, lost 15.5% last year as markets plunged, according to projections from research firm FoundationMark, a decline that completely wiped out bull-market gains from 2021. They now hold an estimated $1.06 trillion, less than before the pandemic began.
Treasury Has About $500 Billion of Headroom After Debt Limit Hit; Department still at risk of running out of cash later in 2023; Yellen began extraordinary steps Thursday to avert US default
Sydney Maki – Bloomberg
The Treasury Department has about $500 billion of extraordinary measures available that will allow the US to dodge a payments default as Congress works out an agreement on raising the debt limit, which the nation hit Thursday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified congressional leaders on Thursday that her department would be deploying two special accounting maneuvers to avoid breaching the debt limit. The Treasury later released a list of the extraordinary measures available, with some figures on how much financial space they offer.
Citadel breaks records with $16bn profit; Ken Griffin’s hedge fund charged its investors $12bn in fees and expenses in 2022
Laurence Fletcher – Financial Times
Ken Griffin’s Citadel made a $16bn profit for investors last year, the biggest dollar gain by a hedge fund in history and a haul that establishes his firm as the most successful of all time. Citadel, which manages $54bn in assets, made a 38.1 per cent return in its main hedge fund and strong gains in other products last year, equating to a record $16bn profit for investors after fees, according to research by LCH Investments, run by Edmond de Rothschild. The profit, which was driven by bets across a range of asset classes including bonds and equities, surpasses the roughly $15.6bn made by John Paulson in 2007 through his bet against subprime.
Ken Griffin crowned king of the hedgies; Plus, passives beat active funds again and the Oscars nominations are coming
Brooke Masters – Financial Times
A new king of the hedge fund industry
Ken Griffin’s Citadel has officially displaced Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater as the most successful hedge fund of all time according to LCH Investments, whose closely watched league table of lifetime dollar gains made by hedge funds for investors is out today.
How the U.S. Government Amassed $31 Trillion in Debt
Jim Tankersley – The New York Times
America’s debt is now six times what it was at the start of the 21st century. It is the largest it has been, compared with the size of the U.S. economy, since World War II, and it’s projected to grow an average of about $1.3 trillion a year for the next decade. The United States hit its $31.4 trillion legal limit on borrowing this past week, putting Washington on the brink of another fiscal showdown. Republicans are refusing to raise that limit unless President Biden agrees to steep spending cuts, echoing a partisan standoff that has played out multiple times in the last two decades.
The Offshore Oil Business Is Gushing Again; Rigs that haven’t been used in years are setting out to sea as demand for energy surges. ‘Everyone started drilling again.’
Bob Henderson – The Wall Street Journal
The $1.2 billion Deepwater Titan sat idle in a Singaporean shipyard for five years, looking like an abandoned cruise ship with a derrick attached to its deck. Soon this vessel that spans nearly three football fields will depart for the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where its crew will be able to drill 8 miles below the seafloor in search of oil for Chevron Corp. The hunt for offshore petroleum is on again, fueled by a surge in global demand for energy, supply disruptions triggered by the war in Ukraine and crude prices that remain above prepandemic levels.
The First ETF Launched 30 Years Ago, Revolutionizing Investing; Industry is bringing more exotic trading strategies to the masses
Jack Pitcher – The Wall Street Journal
Thirty years ago, the launch of the first exchange-traded fund ushered in a new era of investing. Now, the industry is bringing exotic trading strategies to the masses. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, which tracks the benchmark U.S. stock index, gave investors the ability to buy and sell hundreds of stocks through a single, publicly traded share for the first time. The SPDR ETF and the funds that followed popularized the idea of simply following the market, a strategy known as passive investing.
EU plans reform to make power bills less tied to fossil fuel prices
Kate Abnett – Reuters
Upcoming European Union proposals to overhaul the bloc’s electricity market will attempt to make consumer energy bills less tied to short-term swings in fossil fuel prices, the European Commission said on Monday. The EU is reforming its power market to attempt to avoid a repeat of last year, when cuts to Russian gas supply drove European electricity prices to record levels, hiking bills for households and forcing some industries to close.
US fund managers turn away from China and look to Europe for growth; American groups are embarking on a hiring spree as they look to expand their operations in the region
Adrienne Klasa and Brooke Masters – Financial Times
Top US investment management firms are going on a hiring spree in Europe as draconian anti-Covid measures and rising geopolitical tensions have pushed them to redouble their search for growth outside China. Major American firms – such as Capital Group, JPMorgan Asset Management, T Rowe Price and BlackRock – are planning to expand longstanding offices in Europe as they hunt for growth outside their home market.
State Street boss says facts ‘left aside’ in attacks on ESG funds; Ron O’Hanley calls incorporating climate into corporate governance ‘a matter of value, not values’
Brooke Masters – Financial Times
Republican politicians leading a backlash against climate-conscious investing “have left facts aside” and lost sight of the needs of long-term shareholders, according to the head of State Street, one of the world’s largest index fund managers. State Street is among the financial firms under pressure from US Republican politicians over its use of environmental, governance and social factors in investing.
US general: It will be ‘very difficult’ to remove Putin’s forces from Ukraine this year – video
Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters at the US Ramstein Air Base that he did not believe it was realistic to expect Ukraine to push Russian troops out of its internationally recognised territory. ‘From a military standpoint, I still maintain that from this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine,’ he said, adding the caveat that he didn’t believe it was impossible.
No need for German, U.S. tanks to be sent to Ukraine simultaneously -defence minister
Germany’s new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said he did not know of any requirement that Ukraine receive U.S. and German tanks simultaneously, before a meeting on Friday at which future supplies to Kyiv will be discussed. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has not so far authorised the export of German-made Leopard tanks to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia, with sources saying Berlin would move if Washington agreed to send its Abrams tanks.
Ukraine Latest: Official Calls Tank Indecision ‘Disappointment’
No decision was made on the provision of Germany’s Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine at Friday’s meeting on Friday at Ramstein Air Base, although Berlin ordered a review of its tank inventories that could be a prelude to an offer. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also had no news to share on M1 Abrams main battle tanks from the US. Even so, Austin warned that Ukraine needs advanced weapons before an expected new Russian offensive. “We have a window of opportunity here between now and the spring, whenever they commence their operation,” Austin said.
What Europe Risks With Wider Sanctions on Russian Oil
Jack Wittels – Bloomberg
The campaign by western nations to defund the Kremlin and force President Vladimir Putin to abandon his war in Ukraine is reaching a delicate phase. From Feb. 5, the European Union will join the UK and the US in banning seaborne imports of Russian diesel and other oil products. The measure, coupled with a price cap on Russian fuel exports, is designed to blow a sizable hole in Moscow’s energy revenues. The flip side: If European buyers are unable to find alternative supplies, the sanctions risk heaping new costs on diesel-reliant industries such as farming and road haulage and make it harder for governments to rein in inflation.
Putin ally says new weapons for Kyiv will lead to global catastrophe
A close ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv that threaten Russia’s territories will lead to a global catastrophe and make arguments against using weapons of mass destruction untenable. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma – Russia’s lower house of parliament – warned that the United States and NATO’s support of Ukraine is leading the world to a “terrible war”.
Ukraine Latest: Germany Signals Approval for Poles to Send Tanks
Russia’s defense ministry claimed advances in the Zaporizhzhia region, where fighting has intensified after a lull. Offensive operations “have resulted in taking more advantageous lines and positions,” the ministry said. Ukraine’s general staff said over 25 settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast area came under artillery fire in the past day. Germany’s foreign minister suggested it wouldn’t “stand in the way” if Poland decided to send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Also, the German defense minister acknowledged for the first time that Ukraine will need battle tanks to regain territory.
Russia’s Biggest Firms Bypass Wall Street to Service Debt Sold Before Sanctions
Russia’s biggest companies, even those that haven’t been directly targeted by recent sanctions, are bypassing Wall Street to repay their outstanding debt after the crackdown broadly disrupted the financial plumbing needed to service bonds.
‘Free the leopards!’: Tank row heightens Germany’s isolation over Ukraine; Allies attack Scholz over reluctance to allow German-made heavy armour to be used in fight against Russia
Guy Chazan and Laura Pitel – Financial Times
“Free the Leopards now!” the crowd chanted outside Olaf Scholz’s office on Friday evening. It is a demand that is being made with increasing urgency across Europe, as pressure mounts on Germany to send its prized tanks to Ukraine.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
ICE Launches Carbon-Neutral U.S. Electricity Futures Index; Leverages innovative index methodology from Carbon Neutral Investment Company
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., a leading global provider of data, technology and market infrastructure, today announced the launch of the first carbon-neutral U.S. electricity futures index. With the market focused on the build out of North American renewable generation and its impact on U.S. power prices, the ICE U.S. Carbon Neutral Power Index provides investors with a benchmark that contains exposure to the critical North American power markets.
Schedule for Setting up Systems at New Secondary Data Center
Based on the “Second Report of the Technical Committee on Exchange Transaction” published by the BCP Forum of the Japan Securities Dealers Association on April 20, 2017, Japan Exchange Group, Inc. (JPX) has been constructing a new secondary data center (Kansai DC) in the Kansai region, which is a good distance from the Greater Tokyo Area, in order to prevent simultaneous disruption in the event of a large earthquake under the capital.We hereby announce the completion of the construction of equities and derivatives trading systems that accept orders and execute trades, and a clearing system that handles clearing after trades are executed, as indicated in the schedule below.
Tehran Stock Exchange To Launch Professional Investors Market
The proposal to launch a “Professional Investors” market was sent to Securities and Exchange Organization (SEO); and more IPOs are on the way. Strengthening the primary market, a proposal has been submitted to SEO regarding creation of a “professional investors” market. If the stock market goes through a promising trend, we should act differently than the previous years, and take this opportunity to support the primary market. Companies are not supposed to be listed in the “professional investors” market; rather, the public joint-stock companies will be helped to finance their investment projects in this new market, explained Mr. Mahmoud Goudarzi, Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE)’s CEO.
Cyprus Stock Exchange Monthly Bulletin For December 2022
Cyprus Stock Exchange – Mondovisione
The total value of transactions during the month in review reached EUR22,59 million, with an average of EUR1,08 million per trading session.
NSE Academy signs MoU with Commissionerate of Collegiate Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh for skill development courses to students
NSE Academy Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Stock Exchange, has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Commissionerate of Collegiate Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh, for skilling UG students from Commerce and Management streams for enhancing employability in areas of banking, capital markets, financial services, insurance and financial technology. Under this collaboration, NSE Academy is offering Skill Development Courses in six specialized streams which is introduced by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, under the NEP 2020. The students have the flexibility of opting for the courses of their interest and all undergraduate students of commerce stream across the state are expected to benefit by this collaboration.
Elon Musk defends his old tweets in securities fraud trial in San Francisco
Lora Kolodny – CNBC
Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Friday to defend tweets he posted to his tens of millions of followers in August 2018. The tweets said he had “funding secured” to take his electric vehicle company private for $420 per share, and that “investor support” for such a deal was “confirmed.” Tesla’s stock trading initially halted after the tweets, then shares were highly volatile for weeks. Musk later said that he had been in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and felt sure that funding would come through at his proposed price. A deal never materialized.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Tweets Could Cost Him Billions More – in Court; Investor lawsuit alleges deception about take-private plan; His lawyers say pretrial ruling could turn jurors against him
Joel Rosenblatt – Bloomberg
It took only a couple of tweets to plunge Elon Musk into the morass of a securities fraud trial that could cost him billions of dollars from his rapidly diminishing fortune. The Tesla Inc. chief executive officer is set to be the star witness at a jury trial that starts Tuesday in San Francisco federal court over his infamous tweets 4 1/2 years ago about a plan to take the electric-car maker private with “funding secured.”
Nvidia to Win Big From ChatGPT Hype, Predicts Wall Street
Jeran Wittenstein and Ian King – Bloomberg
In the weeks since the ChatGPT artificial intelligence tool took the world by storm, Nvidia Corp. has emerged as Wall Street’s preferred pick for traders seeking to profit from its potential.
Signature Bank Halts SWIFT Transactions Under $100,000 for Crypto Users, Says Binance
Andrew Asmakov – Decrypt
Signature Bank’s customers facilitating fiat operations with Binance will not be able to make SWIFT transfers of less than $100,000, according to the crypto exchange. “One of our fiat banking partners, Signature Bank, has advised that it will no longer support any of its crypto exchange customers with buying and selling amounts of less than 100,000 USD as of February 1st, 2023,” a Binance spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Decrypt. “As a result, some individual users may not be able to use SWIFT bank transfers to buy or sell crypto with/for USD for amounts less than 100,000 USD.”
Banks Plan Payment Wallet to Compete With PayPal, Apple Pay; Financial institutions behind Zelle are working on a wallet for consumers to use at online checkout
AnnaMaria Andriotis – The Wall Street Journal
Big banks are teaming up to launch a digital wallet that people can use to shop online. Wells Fargo WFC 2.26%increase; green up pointing triangle & Co., Bank of America Corp., BAC 1.87%increase; green up pointing triangle JPMorgan Chase JPM 0.24%increase; green up pointing triangle & Co. and four other banks are working on a new product that will allow shoppers to pay at merchants’ online checkout with a wallet that will be linked to their debit and credit cards. The digital wallet will be managed by Early Warning Services LLC, the bank-owned company that operates money-transfer service Zelle. The wallet, which doesn’t have a name yet, will operate separately from Zelle, EWS said.
They thought their crimes were untraceable. Then their dark-web empire collapsed.
When Bitcoin was first created, it was believed to be an untraceable form of currency. This promise attracted tons of bad actors – and it turned out to be untrue. Apple News In Conversation host Shumita Basu spoke with journalist Andy Greenberg about his new book, Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency. Greenberg lays out how U.S. authorities used cryptocurrency tracing to take down some of the most prolific criminals on the dark web.
This ‘Cryptoqueen’ scammed investors out of $4 billion, the FBI says. Then she boarded a plane and disappeared
Faith Karimi – CNN
Ruja Ignatova strode onto the stage in a flowing burgundy ball gown adorned with black sparkles. Beams of light flashed, fireballs erupted and Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” blared through the speakers. “Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame. So bright, she can burn your eyes – better look the other way,” the song crooned as a beaming Ignatova thanked the cheering crowd at London’s Wembley Arena.
Cybersecurity ETFs are struggling, despite their resilient promise
Jesse Pound – CNBC
Tech stocks have had a strong start to the year despite slowing growth and layoffs hitting the sector, but one sub group within the sector that was supposed to be relatively sheltered from such macroeconomic concerns finds itself stuck in neutral instead. Through the first three weeks of the year, the exchange traded funds tracking cybersecurity stocks are underperforming the rest of tech sector. The iShares Cybersecurity and Tech ETF (IHAK) , for example, has returned just 1% in January, well behind the tech and communication services funds that are also sponsored by BlackRock. IHAK outperformed those funds in 2022, but still dropped nearly 26%.
The No-Fly List Has Been Leaked, Pokemon Briefly Involved
Luke Plunkett – Kotaku
The Transportation Security Administration’s No-Fly List is one of the most important ledgers in the United States, containing as it does the names of people who are perceived to be of such a threat to national security that they’re not allowed on airplanes. You’d have been forgiven then for thinking that list was a tightly-guarded state secret, but lol, nope.
Bankman-Fried Assets of Almost $700 Million May Be Forfeited; DOJ seizes millions in cash from accounts linked to FTX; Prosecutors will seek forfeiture of three Binance accounts
Ava Benny-Morrison – Bloomberg
Sam Bankman-Fried’s assets valued at almost $700 million will be subject to forfeiture if he’s found guilty of fraud, according to federal prosecutors leading the case against the FTX founder. In a court filing Friday, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, outlined 10 accounts, with a mix of shares, cash and cryptocurrency subject to forfeiture.
Feds seized nearly $700 million from FTX founder Bankman-Fried
Dietrich Knauth – Reuters
Federal prosecutors have seized nearly $700 million in assets from FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried in January, largely in the form of Robinhood stock, according to a Friday court filing. Bankman-Fried, who has been accused of stealing billions of dollars from FTX customers to pay debts incurred by his crypto-focused hedge fund, has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. He is scheduled to face trial in October.
Crypto Banks Borrow Billions From Home-Loan Banks to Plug Shortfalls; Signature and Silvergate turn to government-chartered lenders after customer withdrawals surge
Eric Wallerstein – The Wall Street Journal
Two of the biggest banks to cryptocurrency companies are rushing to stem a flood of customer withdrawals by borrowing billions of dollars from Federal Home Loan Banks, the system originally designed to support mortgage lending in the 1930s. Signature Bank tapped its local home-loan bank for nearly $10 billion in the fourth quarter, among the largest such borrowings by any bank since early 2020, according to securities filings. Silvergate Capital Corp., a competing lender that shifted its business toward crypto a decade ago, received at least $3.6 billion.
U.S. seizes $170 million linked to FTX and Bankman-Fried; Money comes on top of $525 million in Robinhood shares the government has seized
Steven Zeitchik – The Washington Post
The Department of Justice said Friday it has seized $170 million in cash with links to FTX as part of the criminal case into disgraced cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried. Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a court filing Friday that the money has been taken over the past several weeks from accounts in a global brokerage firm, a crypto bank and a tiny Washington state-based bank that has ties to FTX’s management. All of it was in U.S. dollars, not cryptocurrency, and is being held by the government as the criminal case against Bankman-Fried proceeds.
Cryptocurrency is now the 2nd most widely held financial asset among women, survey shows
Carla Mozee – Markets Insider
Cryptocurrencies have driven up in the ranks of financial assets held by women, an eToro survey shows, with a jump in ownership in 2022 taking place despite a sharp downturn in the market. Crypto has become the second most widely owned asset class for women, running just behind cash, the trading platform said this week in its Retail Investor Beat survey. In the fourth quarter, 34% of women owned crypto, up from 29% in the third quarter. The increase in the pace of ownership was faster than that of men, as their rate edged up to 43% from 42%.
Crypto Lending Teeters on Brink of Extinction After Genesis Collapse; Lenders have been at the heart of digital-asset distress; Sector must adapt if it wants to survive, say experts
Emily Nicolle – Bloomberg
The bankruptcy of crypto’s marquee lender, Genesis Global Capital, may be one more blow than the industry can withstand, at least in its current form. The list of bull-market stars laid low now includes nearly every major player to have captured the public’s attention by offering market-beating returns for the simple act of depositing tokens. Genesis joins BlockFi Inc., Celsius Network and Voyager Digital among firms whose collapse have left countless clients angry and unlikely to risk more money on their daredevil exploits.
FTX scandal rocks Florida school district; victims may include high school teens
Eleanor Terrett and Charlie Gasparino – FOX Business
As prosecutors and FTX’s bankruptcy trustee comb through the wreckage of Sam Bankman-Fried’s ill-fated crypto empire, many questions remain unanswered. Among the biggest: How did the man known and respected in the crypto industry as “SBF” commit what government officials believe was a multiyear fraud? Who else aided and abetted in the alleged scheme, where billions of dollars in customer money from his FTX exchange were looted to cover losses from an affiliated hedge fund?
Meme, Crypto Revival to Hit a Wall as Recession Risk Looms: Q&A; Keith Lerner sees chance of economic contraction later in year; Truist’s co-CIO says investors should remain defensive for now
Vildana Hajric and Michael P. Regan – Bloomberg
The S&P 500 is off to a great start this year. Meme stocks are rip-roaring. Crypto is busting higher. Does that mean it’s time to take on more risk? One Wall Street veteran, who’s sticking with a resolutely defensive stance, says not so fast. Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist Wealth, joins this week’s “What Goes Up” podcast to talk about what he sees on the horizon. Here are some highlights of the conversation, which have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. Click here to listen to the full podcast on the Terminal, or subscribe below on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.
FTX lawyers accuse Sam Bankman-Fried of ‘assault by Twitter’; Collapsed crypto exchange’s founder has been critical of Sullivan & Cromwell’s role in bankruptcy process
Joshua Oliver, Sujeet Indap and Joe Miller – Financial Times
Lawyers for FTX have accused Sam Bankman-Fried of trying to disrupt the bankruptcy process of his crypto empire through an “assault by Twitter”. In recent weeks, Bankman-Fried has in numerous tweets and blog posts accused Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm representing FTX in its Chapter 11 proceedings, of putting him under pressure to rush the companies into bankruptcy, including the US arm of FTX, which the former billionaire claims was solvent. The firm has denied those claims.
Genesis faced trouble long before the collapse of FTX and this week’s bankruptcy filing, with a stream of exec departures and exposure to defunct Three Arrows
Morgan Chittum – Business Insider
Genesis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, the lasest casualty of the widespread fallout from the collapse of FTX. But a number of issues were working against the crypto lender long before the FTX blowup, including executive departures, big lending exposure to beleaguered firms, and internal confusion which left many employees in the dark.
Solo Bitcoin Miner Solves Block With Hash Rate of Just 10 TH/s, Beating Extremely Unlikely Odds
Max Koopsen – Decrypt
A solo Bitcoin miner with an average hashing power of just 10 TH/s (terahashes per second) won the race to add block 772,793 to the Bitcoin blockchain on Friday. At the time the block was added, Bitcoin’s total hash rate was just over 269 exahash per second, meaning the solo miner’s 10 TH/s hash rate represented just 0.000000037% of the blockchain’s entire computational power.
Binance Says Signature Sets Transaction Minimum Amid Pullback; Signature has been reducing crypto industry exposure; Binance says no other banks impacted by Signature move
David Pan – Bloomberg
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, said Signature Bank will only handle user transactions of more than $100,000 as the bank decreases its exposure to digital-asset markets. “One of our fiat banking partners, Signature Bank, has advised that it will no longer support any of its crypto exchange customers with buying and selling amounts of less than 100,000 USD as of February 1, 2023.
How I accidentally threw away Â£107 million in bitcoin
Steve Boggan – The Times
For a man who has lost $40 million in the past week, James Howells seems really rather jolly. “Pah!” he says. “That’s nothing. I used to be worth half a billion. Today it’s only $130 million [Â£107 million], but it doesn’t bother me. If I thought about it too much I’d go crazy.” Funny he should mention going crazy, because that’s exactly how I’d imagined him. Not just crazy, but totally barking. Mad as a box of frogs. Completely certifiable. And I’m a bit disappointed that he isn’t.
‘Nightmare’: collapse of leading crypto lender traps investors
Nikou Asgari – Financial Times
David* is constantly lying to his mother. When she asks about the savings he is managing for her, he tells her not to worry. In reality, the $100,000 “nest egg” from the sale of her house is trapped at a crypto lending company. “If I tell her, she’s going to have a heart attack,” says the 37-year-old from New York. “This was her everything.” Eager to avoid rising inflation eroding his mother’s life savings, the television director last year placed the money with Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins.
Even ‘Sam Coins’ Have Soared in Crypto’s Swift $250 Billion Jump
Sidhartha Shukla – Bloomberg
The crypto rebound has gained so much speculative vigor that even tokens torpedoed last year by their dependence on discredited mogul Sam Bankman-Fried have rallied, with some more than doubling this month. The likes of FTT, Solana, Serum, Maps and Oxygen have surged despite doubts about their viability following Bankman-Fried’s arrest on charges including fraud. FTT, the token of his FTX exchange until the latter imploded, is up 160% in January after losing nearly all its value in 2022, CoinGecko data shows.
Genesis Demise Marks End of Era for Crypto’s Pseudo-Banks; Risk in crypto-lending sector was poorly managed, subjecting users to heavy losses after epic boom
Alexander Osipovich – The Wall Street Journal
The late-night bankruptcy filing of Genesis Global Capital LLC last week marked the end of an era for crypto lenders that tried to bring the centuries-old business model of banking to the digital-currency space. Many of the biggest names in crypto lending have failed in the past half-year, highlighting the shaky foundations, risky practices and lack of regulation in the sector. Now, millions of depositors who parked savings with such lenders are in limbo as they hope to get back some portion of their money in slow-moving bankruptcy proceedings.
Genesis’s trading arm moving funds on blockchain, bankrupt units reveal extent of liabilities
Lachlan Keller – Forkast
According to on-chain data, the trading arm of bankrupt crypto lending firm Genesis is operating and moving tokens on blockchain after three of the company’s entities – Genesis Global HoldCo, Genesis Global Capital LLC and Genesis Asia Pacific Pte. – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday.
Metaverse: What Matters? Episode 1
Julia Streets and Dr. Catriona Wallace – Streets Consulting
“Welcome to Metaverse: What Matters? A regular fireside chat between me, Julia Streets, and Dr. Catriona Wallace, who is the founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance.”
Manchin’s Plan to Avert a Debt Crisis Just Might Work; The moderate Democrat from West Virginia has again put himself at the center of Washington’s main debate – and this time it’s Republicans who need to listen.
Matthew Yglesias – Bloomberg
As part of a deal to increase the debt ceiling, Joe Manchin wants Congress to appoint a bipartisan commission on entitlement reform. I know what you’re thinking: Another debt ceiling crisis? Another bipartisan commission? Another session of Congress dominated by what Joe Manchin wants?
The Man Enforcing Texas’ Crackdown on Wall Street Over ESG; Republican anger over woke investing puts focus on Glenn Hegar; He’s a gatekeeper for $330 billion of state investment assets
Danielle Moran – Bloomberg
The crackdown started last year with a letter from a little-known Texas politician. Sent to more than 100 of the world’s largest financial firms, the missive demanded they make clear whether they restrict business with the fossil-fuel industry. If so, they’d risk getting shut out of working with the fastest-growing US state. The responses pushing back poured in from BlackRock Inc., the Vanguard Group and other industry titans, addressed to someone who’d likely never crossed their desks before: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar, the chief financial officer for the world’s ninth-largest economy.
Janet Yellen Says Treasury Can’t Prevent Default if U.S. Breaches Debt Limit; Missing a payment on any government obligation would constitute default, Treasury secretary says
Andrew Duehren – The Wall Street Journal
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to prevent a default if the federal government breached its debt ceiling and cautioned that Treasury’s systems weren’t designed to give priority to payments to bondholders after the borrowing limit is exceeded. Ms. Yellen, speaking at the Senegalese presidential palace, where she was meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall during a three-country tour through Africa, said that missing a payment on any of the federal government’s obligations would constitute a default.
Top Republican calls FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried a “world-class sociopath”
Arden Farhi – CBS News
The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Patrick McHenry, thinks FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is a “world class sociopath” who “represents what is [the] absolute worst about the world of crypto.” Earlier this month, Bankman-Fried entered a not guilty plea on a host of fraud charges stemming from the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange. Bankman-Fried operated FTX from the Bahamas. He was extradited to the U.S. in December.
‘We don’t know his real name’: George Santos’s unravelling web of lies
David Smith – The Guardian
“He didn’t just steal from a service dog. He didn’t just steal from a dying service dog. He stole from a disabled homeless veteran’s dying service dog. Oh my God. You evil and stupid!” That was how Leslie Jones, guest host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, summed up just one of this week’s revelations about George Santos, a US congressman whose shameless fabulism has stunned Washington, a capital that thought it had smelt every flavour of mendacity from politicians.
U.S. Treasury’s Yellen says IRS needs to be ‘completely redone’
Andrea Shalal – Reuters
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said rebuilding the Internal Revenue Service would be one of her top priorities in coming years, putting her squarely at odds with Republicans who have taken control of the House of Representatives. Yellen told Reuters in an interview on her way to Zambia that she was thrilled that Congress had approved $80 billion in new funding to help the agency reduce a huge backlog of tax returns and better hunt down $600 billion in unpaid tax bills.
Janet Yellen Dismisses Minting $1 Trillion Coin to Avoid Default; Treasury Secretary says the Federal Reserve would likely not agree to such a scheme
Andrew Duehren – The Wall Street Journal
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Federal Reserve likely wouldn’t accept a $1 trillion platinum coin if the Biden administration tried to mint one to avoid breaching the debt limit, dismissing an idea that has been floated to circumvent Congress on the issue. Some Biden administration officials and Democrats on Capitol Hill have discussed the possibility that the Treasury could use an obscure law authorizing platinum coins in the event of a potential default. Under the proposed scheme, the Treasury would mint a $1 trillion coin and deposit it at the Fed, and then draw the money to pay the country’s bills.
Canada’s energy jobs transition bill sparks discord in oil heartland
Nia Williams and Steve Scherer – Reuters
In Canada’s western oil patch, controversy is raging over federal government legislation intended to help the fossil fuel labour force transition to a greener economy, but union and community leaders are warning politicization of the Just Transition bill obscures the needs of workers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is expected to table its long-awaited workforce transition bill this spring, ahead of economic changes expected as they pursue ambitious goals to slash climate-warming emissions.
UK Activates Coal Reserve to Boost Supply During Cold Snap; Three units are warming and may be used on Monday, grid says; Wind generation is falling at the same time as demand surges
Rachel Morison – Bloomberg
The UK’s grid operator asked three coal-fired power units to be ready to generate on Monday as it boosts electricity supplies during a cold snap. It would be the first time this winter National Grid Plc uses the reserve. The units are warming up and will be ready to generate electricity early Monday if needed. Demand is set to surge during a spell of freezing weather in the UK just as wind speeds drop – curbing supply.
Sunak and UK Tories Undermined by Chairman’s Tax Affairs; Cabinet minister Zahawi said he was ‘careless’ over taxes; Questions emerge as workers strike over public sector pay
Adam Blenford – Bloomberg
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing questions over the tax affairs of a senior figure in his ruling Conservative Party, a growing distraction for the UK government as ministers attempt to head off a new wave of public sector strikes over pay. Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi said on Saturday that he had been “careless” with his tax affairs, following a report that he’d paid a Â£4.8 million ($6 million) bill to His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, including a 30% penalty for not settling the correct amount at the time.
Nadhim Zahawi’s Position ‘Untenable’ After Tax Penalty Reports, Says Labour
Sophie Wingate – Bloomberg
Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s position is “untenable”, Labour has said after reports that he paid a penalty as part of a multimillion-pound tax settlement. The former chancellor, who attends Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet, has been under pressure since it was reported that he paid HM Revenue & Customs a seven-figure sum to end a dispute. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab defended his colleague, saying Mr Zahawi “has been very clear that he’s paid all the tax that he’s owed” and “if there’s further questions… I’m sure there’ll be the proper transparency”.
The dangers of magical thinking on health policy
Martin Wolf – Financial Times
The UK has been suffering from an identity crisis, a growth crisis and a health crisis. The identity crisis lies in the lack of a consensus on its place in the world. The growth crisis lies in the stagnation in real incomes. The health crisis lies in the plight of the National Health Service. Alas, the response of the government and many supporters has been magical thinking. Brexit and tax cuts are magical thinking for the identity and growth crises. Changing funding of the NHS from general taxation to health insurance is the equivalent for the health crisis.
EU Sugar Crop at Risk After Ruling Against Pesticide Exemptions; Top court rules against derogations for neonicotinoids use; Decision threatens entire sector, French farming group says
Mumbi Gitau and Stephanie Bodoni – Bloomberg
A European Union court ruling reinforcing a ban on neonicotinoids – a type of pesticide considered harmful to bees – threatens to worsen Europe’s sugar deficit. The EU’s top court on Thursday ruled that derogations – approved by some of the bloc’s member states – allowing the use of neonicotinoids were not in compliance with a 2018 ban on the controversial insecticides.
Germany and France Push for Huge Spending to Compete With US; Scholz and Macron met in Paris to discuss European industry; EU leaders will discuss the Inflation Reduction Act next month
Ania Nussbaum, Samy Adghirni and Michael Nienaber – Bloomberg
Germany and France warned that European businesses will need to unleash investments on a nearly unparalleled scale to keep from falling behind US and Chinese firms as countries revamp their economies to make them more climate friendly. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Paris Sunday to discuss how the European Union should respond to President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which includes roughly $500 billion in new spending and tax breaks over a decade to benefit US companies.
How Europe Needs Freight Trains to Cross Russia From China; Weapon systems rely on rare earth elements controlled by China; EU data show Russian rail a key conduit for strategic metals
Jonathan Tirone and Alberto Nardelli – Bloomberg
Giving Ukraine modern tanks remains a key question facing Kyiv’s allies after a meeting of top defense officials in Germany on Friday yielded little progress. But perhaps the most exposed link in supply chains for producing such weapons runs on train tracks through the foe they’re trying to defeat. Russia is at the center of a rail cargo route supplying Western arms manufacturers with a steady supply of metals needed to make the microchips, electronics and ammunition used in modern weaponry. Most of the so-called rare earth elements are mined in China. Russian Railways JSC and other carriers are hauling a rising volume of critical metals needed for Europe’s defense industry.
EU’s Looming Gas Price Cap Could Trigger Abrupt Market Changes; ESMA to say that more trading could move over the counter; Initial assessment says effect so far difficult to disentangle
John Ainger – Bloomberg
The European Union’s temporary gas price cap could result in a reduction of market liquidity, yet significant effects on trading activity couldn’t be identified so far, according to conclusions from the bloc’s financial market regulator seen by Bloomberg. The European Securities and Markets Authority will say on Monday that while effects of the cap – due to start from Feb. 15 – can’t be enumerated, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any. It’s likely trading could move off-market when the cap is put in place, they added.
The Global Economy Needs a New Powerhouse. India Is Stepping Up
Kai Schultz and Vrishti Beniwal – Bloomberg
India’s economic transformation is kicking into high gear. Global manufacturers are looking beyond China, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepping up to seize the moment. The government is spending nearly 20% of its budget this fiscal year on capital investments, the most in at least a decade. Modi is closer than any predecessor to being able to claim that the nation – which may have just passed China as the world’s most populous – is finally meeting its economic potential.
US-India Relations Aren’t Playing Out Like a Bollywood Movie; A simplistic script, and the lack of a strong cast, have undermined US efforts to woo the world’s largest democracy.
Bobby Ghosh – Bloomberg
In American foreign policy circles, where lazy hegemonic assumptions still abound, there is a widespread conviction that the US-India relationship will play out like a Bollywood film: There may be some resistance at the beginning, some friction in the middle and plenty of song and dance along the way, but in the end the protagonists will overcome all hurdles and live happily ever after.
FTX’s Venture Capital Backers Face ‘Serious Questions,’ CFTC Official Says; Investors should’ve seen ‘red lights,’ Goldsmith Romero says; Collapse raises concern about funds’ due diligence, conflicts
Allyson Versprille – Bloomberg
The failure of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX crypto empire raises “serious questions” about how well venture capitalists and money managers scrutinized his operations before investing client funds, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission official said. “What kind of due diligence did they conduct?” Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero said Friday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Why did they turn a blind eye to what should have been really flashing red lights?”
The SEC Seeks to Supplant the Market; Its mandate doesn’t include telling CEOs how to run their companies and investors how to invest.
Phil Gramm and Hester Peirce – Wall Street Journal (opinion)
When the financial crisis ended in the summer of 2009, economic prognosticators were virtually unanimous in predicting a strong, sustained recovery. But Obama-era regulatory policy smothered that recovery and made it the weakest since the Great Depression. Now, with the economy expected to slip into recession, the coming regulatory tsunami far exceeds the excesses of the post-financial-crisis period. Nowhere are the current regulatory excesses more evident than at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
SEC charges Eisenberg with manipulating Mango Markets to steal $116 million
William Watts – MarketWatch
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged DeFi trader Avraham Eisenberg with orchestrating an attack on Mango Markets by manipulating the crypto trading platform’s MNGO token and draining $116 million in crypto assets. The SEC contends that MNGO is a security. Known as a governance token, MNGO allows holders to vote on the platform’s operations.
SEC Charges Avraham Eisenberg with Manipulating Mango Markets’ “Governance Token” to Steal $116 Million of Crypto Assets
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Avraham Eisenberg with orchestrating an attack on a crypto asset trading platform, Mango Markets, by manipulating the MNGO token, a so-called governance token that was offered and sold as a security. Investigations into other securities law violations and into other entities and persons relating to the alleged misconduct are ongoing.
SEC Seeks Candidates for Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee
The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking candidates for appointment to the Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations on Commission rules, regulations, and policy matters relating to small businesses, including smaller public companies.
The Committee was established by the SEC Small Business Advocate Act of 2016. Committee members represent a diverse spectrum of leaders, investors, and advisors who work with early stage private companies and smaller public companies, including minority- and women-owned small businesses.
SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Former Head of Investment Banking At Defunct Broker-Dealer
On January 20, 2023, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final consent judgment against Abraham “Avi” Mirman, the former head of investment banking at now-defunct New York broker-dealer John Thomas Financial, Inc. (JTF). The SEC charged Mirman and another defendant in 2017 with involvement in a scheme concerning Liberty Silver Corp., a penny stock, in which Mirman aided and abetted others to artificially inflate Liberty Silver’s stock price while failing to disclose the sale of 6.6 million Liberty Silver shares to JTF’s retail customers, and substantially participated in non-exempt unregistered offerings of additional Liberty Silver shares.
SEC Charges Two Former Brokers for Recommending Frequent-Trading Strategies Without a Reasonable Basis
On January 12, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged two former New York-based brokers with making unsuitable recommendations that resulted in substantial losses to customers and hefty commissions for the brokers. One of the brokers agreed to pay more than $324,000 to settle the charges.
UK begins post-Brexit review of EU’s investor fund regulation; Divergence on two sides’ rule books could add bureaucracy and cost
Laura Noonan – Financial Times
Britain has started evaluating whether the EU’s offshore financial centres are fit to oversee the more than Â£2tn of UK investors’ cash held there, amid concern that Europe is not moving fast enough on appropriate safeguards. The extent of the UK’s exposure to offshore centres was highlighted in September, when turmoil at pension fund vehicles largely based in Ireland and Luxembourg forced the Bank of England into an emergency intervention to halt a sharp fall in government bond prices.
Steven Cohen’s Point72 finally gains UK regulatory approval; Financial Conduct Authority had twice rebuffed applications from billionaire trader’s hedge fund firm
Laurence Fletcher and Laura Noonan – Financial Times
Steven Cohen’s Point72 has finally won approval to operate directly in the UK, a decade after the US trader’s previous firm pleaded guilty to insider trading and paid a record $1.8bn in fines. Point72, a former family office that opened to outside investors in 2018 and which manages $26.7bn in assets, succeeded in its years-long attempt to receive regulatory authorisation last week, according to the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.
JP Morgan Asset Management wins approval for expansion into China; The asset manager plans to take full ownership of China International Fund Management, which will be integrated into the firm’s global operating model.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
JP Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM) has received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to complete its acquisition of China International Fund Management (CIFM). The move will allow JPMAM to expand operations into China as it takes full ownership of CIFM, in which it currently holds a 49% stake.
Investing and Trading
When the Stock Market and Jay Powell Are Frenemies
Jason Zweig – The Wall Street Journal
Maybe bad news isn’t good news anymore. For the first couple of weeks of 2023, financial markets were partying as if New Year’s Eve had never ended. Traders took every message from the Federal Reserve that it would keep raising interest rates until inflation was snuffed out as another signal that the worst was over. This week, all that changed. After peaking on Jan. 13, stocks have stumbled, with the S&P 500 sinking nearly 3% in three days and many of January’s hottest stocks suffering severe losses.
A Growing Bullish Crowd May Supercharge China’s Stock Market
Sofia Horta e Costa – Bloomberg
Timing a strategic (rather than tactical) re-entry into Chinese stocks continues to split ultra-bullish strategists and wounded investors wary of another regulatory grenade from Xi Jinping’s government. While the buy China idea might be crowded, the trade itself definitely isn’t, as I wrote this week. Positioning among non-Asia funds remains light, with long-only investors still significantly underweight China. People aren’t really putting their money where their mouth is. Not yet, anyway.
Why do we allow investors to deduct stock market losses from their taxes?
Janet Nguyen – MarketPlace
Listener and reader John Wang from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, asks: Why are stock market losses tax deductible? It seems like we the people are providing insurance or indirectly funding private investors’ risky bets. We’ve just exited Wall Street’s worst year since the Great Recession. By the fall, U.S. households had lost nearly $9 trillion in wealth as stocks declined amid decades-high inflation and rising interest rates.
White Americans Collect 92% of Benefits From Investor Tax Breaks
Ben Steverman – Bloomberg
The US Treasury Department’s first-ever analysis of tax return data by race and ethnicity shows White Americans disproportionately benefiting from a variety of tax breaks, including those aimed at investors. Non-Hispanic White Americans, who make up two-thirds of US families, receive 92% of the benefit from the lower tax rate on dividends and capital gains, and about the same share for deductions of charitable gifts and pass-through business income, according to the Treasury study, which looks at the impact of several major tax breaks. Some other provisions, like the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, are more evenly distributed.
FIA December 2022 SEF Tracker
FIA – Mondovisione
Trading volume on swap execution facilities reached $748.4 billion in average notional value per day during December 2022. This was down 3.6% from the previous month but up 35.5% from the same month of the previous year. Compared to November 2022, trading was down in every sector except for non- FRA trading. Trading of interest rate swaps and other non-FRA rates products was $578.2 billion per day in December. This level was up 2.5% from November 2022 and up 35.2% from December 2021. FRA trading reached $89.5 billion in average daily trading in December. This amount of daily trading was down 18.8% from the previous month but up 127.8% from a year ago.
Active Fund Managers Beat Michael Jordan, For Once; Was 2022 a single rebound, or the beginning of a dynasty to snap the losing streak against passive index investing?
John Authers – Bloomberg
Time for Action? 2022 was a great year for active fund managers, at least when it came to confronting the passive aggression from the growing ranks of index-following funds. Most of them, according to various Wall Street researchers, actually beat their benchmarks over the 12 months. Even if they didn’t make money, they at least managed to limit losses for their clients, after a decade in which most active managers, year after year, had failed to beat their index. But does that matter? To answer that question, let’s look at the chances of beating Michael Jordan in a free-throw contest. (For non-basketball aficionados: Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest player ever, and a free throw is a little like a penalty in soccer, in which a player stands on the designated spot and makes an uncontested attempt to put the ball through the basket.)
BOE Says Insurers Are Too ‘Optimistic’ About Ability to Ditch Assets
William Shaw – Bloomberg
The Bank of England warned that life insurers are taking an “optimistic” view of how easily they could ditch sub-investment-grade assets in tough times. The Prudential Regulation Authority, part of the BOE, made the comments as it issued the results of its 2022 stress test for the industry. Most firms assumed they could sell such assets within six to 12 months but “this could be optimistic, especially as other investors would also be taking similar actions,” Charlotte Gerken, executive director of insurance supervision at the PRA, said in a letter to insurance bosses.
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance
Wall Street Climate Tactic Called ‘Engagement’ Yields Results; Companies asked by investors to disclose their environmental impacts were twice as likely to do so than those that weren’t asked directly
Alastair Marsh – Bloomberg
Wall Street’s preferred tool for pushing portfolio companies to decarbonize is getting some results, according to a report from environmental nonprofit CDP. Companies that were asked by investors to disclose their environmental impacts were 2.3 times more likely to do so than those that weren’t asked directly, CDP said. The findings are from CDP’s 2022 Non-Disclosure Campaign, an initiative that saw 260 financial institutions with about $30 trillion in assets-including HSBC Holdings Plc and Schroders Plc-encourage 1,466 global companies to report environmental data.
Fine Print on Labor in US Climate Bill Complicates Rush for Tax Credits; Claiming the full value of the credits hinges on pay and hiring rules that are unclear or hard to meet, companies say.
Ari Natter and Lin Noueihed – Bloomberg
The historic US climate bill boosted tax credits for clean energy sources ranging from hydrogen to nuclear power, offering subsidies worth hundreds of billions of dollars. But there’s a catch buried in the law: Projects that don’t meet certain new wage and labor requirements only get a fraction of the credit. In order to get the full value of a 30% investment tax credit for the construction of solar power, fuel cell and other clean energy projects, developers must pay workers at least a wage level set by the US Department of Labor and use a minimum share of labor from workers who are in registered apprenticeship programs.
Iberdrola Weighs Sale of Stake in US Renewables Business; Spanish power group seeks partner for green energy projects; Iberdrola recently struck similar deals in Spain and Germany
Rodrigo Orihuela and Dinesh Nair – Bloomberg
Iberdrola SA is weighing the sale of a stake in its US renewables operation, people familiar with the matter said, as part of plans to bring in new investors across its business. The Spanish power company is considering seeking a financial partner for its existing green energy projects in the US and to help fund future initiatives, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.
ESG Investing Keeps Pace With Conventional Investing in 2022
Leslie Norton – Morningstar
Sustainable investing generated returns similar to those of the overall market in 2022. The broad Morningstar US Sustainability Index fell 18.9% in 2022, outperforming the 19.5% decline of its parent, the Morningstar US Large-Mid Cap Index. Over the same time, the S&P 500 fell 19.4%.
Carbonbase CEO on Using Blockchain to Fight Climate Change
Carbonbase CEO Max Song discusses using blockchain to empower enterprises, individuals and communities to offset carbon emissions and create a more sustainable world. Plus, insights on China’s potential pivot in the digital asset space.
Gas Stoves Have a Pollution Problem; Studies digging into the impacts of gas cooking span decades, but gas stoves seem to get a free pass as a source of air pollution.
Zahra Hirji – Bloomberg
The science is overwhelmingly clear: Gas stoves are a source of air pollution located inside your home. They can emit climate pollution, as well as pollution linked to asthma and other health problems. They can release pollution when turned on, and even when they’re off. In some cases, the exposure to pollution is low; in others, the exposure rivals what can occur outside, such as from traffic on busy intersections and highways.
Global Warming Is Testing California’s Innovative Spirit
Faye Flam – Bloomberg
Can California adapt to both too much and too little water? Preparing for a future with either flooding or drought would be hard enough, but it’s worse to lurch between the two. And the latest deluge won’t even officially end the drought. The scientific term for California’s weather problem is climate whiplash, which is getting worse in a warming world. But the state is adapting by summoning its famous powers of innovation, turning to a new form of water management known as green infrastructure: restoring nature preserves and using strategically placed ponds and trees to mitigate the damage.
Investors Plow Into Renewables, but Projects Aren’t Getting Built; Potential $40 billion spending spree for renewable-energy projects hits slowdown in wind and solar installations
Jennifer Hiller – The Wall Street Journal
Even as developers plan an unprecedented number of grid-scale wind and solar installations, project construction is plummeting across the U.S. Despite billions of dollars in federal tax credits up for grabs and investors eager to fund clean energy projects, the pace of development has ground to a crawl and many renewables plans face an uncertain path to completion. Supply-chain snags, long waits to connect to the grid and challenging regulatory and political environments across the country are contributing to the slowdown, analysts and companies say.
Portal Exclusive: The booming impact of ESG in business; Whether companies look at consumer engagement, risk management, or profitability, it is amply clear that the ESG revolution is the future of business, writes Prakash Rao, deputy director, SIIB
In recent times, companies and organisations across the world have increasingly aligned their business operations towards the philosophy of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). The shift towards ESG in business and industry is not only being seen as a demonstration of achieving the true value of sustainable development but also to ensure profitability in the long term. Further, entrepreneurs themselves, much like consumers, are also increasingly interested in the ongoing ESG movement.
Bill Gates Is Backing an Aussie Startup Trying to Stop Cows Burping Methane; Breakthrough Energy part of seed funding round for Rumin8; Rumin8 is developing livestock additive to cut down on methane
Keira Wright – Bloomberg
Bill Gates has joined a slew of billionaires investing in an Australian climate technology startup that has plans to disrupt the methane-emitting animal agriculture industry with a lab-grown feed additive.
Europe’s Biggest Pension Fund Issues Warning to Banks Over CO2; Lenders that finance new fossil-fuel projects face divestment; Dutch pension fund ABP gives banks three years to fix CO2 risk
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
One of Europe’s biggest investors is putting banks on notice and may start exiting the sector unless it sees proof that claims of portfolio decarbonization are matched by action. “The financial sector has really lagged,” said Dominique Dijkhuis, a member of the executive board and head of investments at ABP, Europe’s biggest pension fund with about $600 billion under management. “If you say you’re committing to a climate course and then still actively granting loans to new fossil products, that’s just not aligned.”
The Wind Industry’s Success Has Become Its Biggest Threat; Rising interest rates, competition from oil companies, and demand for ever-lower priced renewable electricity are putting wind-power champions in a bind.
Will Mathis and Akshat Rathi – Bloomberg
The head of one of the world’s biggest developers of renewable energy, Denmark’s Orsted A/S, worries that the energy transition could see a slowdown as rising competition and interest rates squeeze returns and upend the case for investment. Orsted is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, which it helped pioneer from a niche technology into one of the fastest-growing forms of renewable energy. Offshore projects can use much larger turbines – the size of skyscrapers – and are able to tap into stronger and more consistent winds off the coasts. Europe, China, and the US plan to rapidly increase their offshore wind fleets to reach their climate goals.
Barclays Sees Real Risk of Greenwashing in ESG Debt-Swap Market; Allocations to green projects can fall ‘well short’: Barclays; Debt-for-nature-swaps market set to exceed $800 billion
Natasha White – Bloomberg
As cash-strapped emerging-market countries explore the option of debt relief in exchange for commitments to preserve nature, researchers at Barclays Plc say that some of the labeling smacks of greenwashing. “At first glance, this is a win-win solution – heavily indebted countries can reduce debt and interest burdens, while resources can be directed towards conservation projects that support overarching nature-related goals,” Barclays analysts including Charlotte Edwards and Maggie O’Neal said in a client note on Monday. “However, tackling debt burdens and climate goals together is not always ideal.”
Wind Turbines Taller Than the Statue of Liberty Are Falling Over; Breakdowns of towers and blades have bedeviled manufacturers in the US and Europe.
Ryan Beene and Josh Saul – Bloomberg
On a calm, sunny day last June, Mike Willey was feeding his cattle when he got a call from the local sheriff’s dispatcher. A motorist had reported that one of the huge turbines at a nearby wind farm had collapsed in dramatic fashion. Willey, chief of the volunteer fire department in Ames, 90 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, set out to survey the scene.
The Conflict Within ESG
ESG Now Podcast – MCSI
What if there is a water utility that saves a city millions of gallons worth of water a day, but also increases its carbon emissions by a large amount? What if a company makes a product that saves people, but it allegedly uses forced labor to do so? Do you avoid these companies and products? Are you a follower of the Ethics of Ambiguity in that the means of production is the same as the ends? In this episode, we discuss the conflicts that arise for investors, impact investors especially, due to the inherent conflicts that are present in the operations of some companies.
A world in disruption; Look Forward
The world has reached a unique moment. In my 40-plus years in business, I’ve never seen a time quite like the one we’re living through now. This is a period marked by uncertainty. Households, the private sector and governments around the globe face an energy security crisis and climate change, food shortages, high inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, volatility in financial markets and a host of geopolitical risks.
Milan Luxury Real Estate Booms as Bankers Leave London for Italy
Antonio Vanuzzo, Sonia Sirletti and Luca Casiraghi – Bloomberg
The market for luxury flats in Milan is booming as bankers, fund managers and private equity investors are flocking to Italy’s financial capital. Thousands of foreigners and Italian nationals have relocated to the country since the government started granting generous tax breaks in 2017 to lure new arrivals. That has helped tilt Milan’s real estate market toward the high-end, especially as the city has become a popular landing spot for finance workers leaving London in the wake of Brexit.
Morgan Stanley Cuts CEO Gorman’s Pay 10% to $31.5 Million; Bank cites challenging economic environment in CEO’s 2022 pay; Compensation and bonuses are in focus amid dealmaking slump
Steve Dickson – Bloomberg
Morgan Stanley cut Chief Executive Officer James Gorman’s compensation by 10% to $31.5 million for 2022, a year in which profit tumbled and the shares sank. The package includes $1.5 million in salary and a $7.5 million cash bonus, the firm said in a filing Friday. The vast majority is in the form of $22.5 million in equity-linked awards, which pay out in shares.
Exclusive-Goldman Sachs to cut asset management investments that weighed on earnings
Saeed Azhar – Reuters
Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s asset management arm will significantly reduce the $59 billion of alternative investments that weighed on the bank’s earnings, an executive told Reuters. The Wall Street giant plans to divest its positions over the next few years and replace some of those funds on its balance sheet with outside capital, Julian Salisbury, chief investment officer of asset and wealth management at Goldman Sachs, told Reuters in an interview.
‘P.R. job’ or antidote to ‘groupthink’? Bank of Canada to offer policy-meeting minutes
Steve Scherer – Reuters
The Bank of Canada will offer minutes from its policy-setting meeting this week for the first time in its history, a move some analysts say will help restore credibility lost last year amid soaring inflation and encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Annual inflation shot to 8.1% in June, the highest in 39 years and four times the Bank of Canada’s 2% target. In December, inflation slowed to 6.3%. The BoC began hiking rates in March when its benchmark interest rate stood at 0.25%, and most analysts expect another quarter-point rate increase to 4.5% when the six-member governor council meets on Wednesday.
How Charlie Javice Got JPMorgan to Pay $175 Million for … What Exactly?
Ron Lieber – The New York Times
When JPMorgan Chase paid $175 million to acquire a college financial planning company called Frank in September 2021, it heralded the “unique opportunity for deeper engagement” with the five million students Frank worked with at more than 6,000 American institutions of higher education. Then last month, the biggest bank in the country did something extraordinary: It said it had been conned.
‘Breakout’ ETF provider Pacer’s assets race past $20bn; Flagship COWZ fund AUM surged to $10.3bn at the end of 2022 from $1.3bn at the start of the year
Chris Flood – Financial Times
Pacer ETFs saw assets under management race past the $20bn milestone this month after the Pennsylvania-based boutique attracted record annual inflows for its cash flow-focused tracker funds during 2022. Cash flow is a key measure of the health of a company that is also employed as a metric for stockpicking by some active managers, such as Terry Smith at Fundsmith, but it has largely been overlooked by ETF providers which usually focus on market capitalisation values when constructing index-tracking ETFs.
Work & Management
Google is cutting 12,000 jobs, adding to a series of Big Tech layoffs in January
Mary Yang – NPR
Google is slashing 12,000 jobs and is the latest tech giant to announce sweeping layoffs amid recession fears. Google is the latest tech giant to announce a massive layoff: the company announced on Friday that it is slashing about 12,000 jobs.The company already has notified affected employees in the United States, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to all Google employees. Layoffs will take longer in other countries due to local laws, Pichai said.
Former Employees Are Sharing Company Secrets Now That They No Longer Work There, And These Are Fascinating
Hannah Loewentheil – BuzzFeed
Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite stores, fast food restaurants, companies you interact with, or brands you purchase goods from often? Well, Redditor u/broadway96 asked, “Whats a company secret you can share now that you don’t work there?” And personally, I’m fascinated by some of the responses. Here’s what people said.
Layoffs Often Leave Companies Worse Off; Job cuts alienate customers and sap morale among employees who have to pick up the slack.
Sarah Green Carmichael – Bloomberg
Employers these days seem to feel they have plenty of employees – maybe even too many as the economy slows down. That’s what’s driving layoffs of tens of thousands of workers in tech, banking and other industries. But executives should be careful about making deep cuts. Because as the last three years have reminded us, having too few workers is almost always worse than having too many. When organizations are shorthanded, morale plunges and profits suffer. And companies often end up investing immense time and effort to rebuild their workforces not long after whittling them down.
Freezing Weather Sends Some UK Workers Back to the Office; One in five workers surveyed changed work plans due to weather; Heating, electricity bills amid factors affecting work pattern
Prejula Prem – Bloomberg
Freezing temperatures across the UK in recent days have forced one in five professionals to change their working patterns and head back to the office, often to save money on heating. A survey of 1,700 UK workers by the independent job board CV-Library found that 20.5% of the respondents decided to return to office instead of working from home due to extreme wintry conditions.
Almost 30% of Professionals Say They’ve Tried ChatGPT at Work; Drafting emails and generating pieces of code are some of the most popular uses among white-collar workers.
Jo Constantz – Bloomberg
Some early adopters are already experimenting with the generative AI program ChatGPT at the office. In seconds, consultants are conjuring decks and memos, marketers are cranking out fresh copy and software engineers are debugging code. Almost 30% of the nearly 4,500 professionals surveyed this month by Fishbowl, a social platform owned by employer review site Glassdoor, said that they’ve already used OpenAI’s ChatGPT or another artificial intelligence program in their work. Respondents include employees at Amazon, Bank of America, JPMorgan, Google, Twitter and Meta. The chatbot uses generative AI to spit out human-like responses to prompts in seconds, but because it’s been trained on information publicly available from the internet, books and Wikipedia, the answers aren’t always accurate.
What is FoMO slang for? How the fear of missing out might be tanking your mental health.
Anna Kaufman – USA Today
Social media has, in many ways, authored a new world. Our ways of connecting with one another are evolving faster than ever. Social movements, dating, advertisement – it can all be done online now. That shift does not come without challenges, however. So, how are our brains faring with the transition?Sometimes not so well, it turns out. Over the past three decades the advent of social media has birthed a whole host of terms meant to describe the new feelings networking apps drum up: some good, and some not so much.
Get Some Rest! Science-Based Secrets to Better Sleep; Sleep isn’t just for the weekends.
Sarah Rappaport – Bloomberg
Hi there, it’s Sarah in London. Prior to joining the Pursuits team, I used to have my daily alarm set for 4 a.m. No, not for fun or to run ultra-marathons or because I’m one of those people (liars) who say they don’t need sleep, but so I could get to the office to produce a morning news program for Bloomberg TV. The news didn’t sleep and neither did I.
Omicron subvariant gains more ground in U.S. to account for 49.1% of new COVID cases, CDC data show
Ciara Linnane – MarketWatch
The XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant that became dominant in the U.S. last week has gained more ground, according to data from the nation’s main health agency, accounting for 49.1% of new cases in the latest week, up from 43% a week ago. The subvariant is pulling further ahead of BQ.1.1 and BQ.1, the former dominant strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rural China runs short of Covid drugs over lunar new year holiday; Officials row with Pfizer over price as villages struggle to obtain antiviral medication
Eleanor Olcott and Xueqiao Wang – Financial Times
Wu, a 54-year-old retiree in China’s south-western Sichuan province, struggled to get hold of antiviral medication when her 92-year-old mother came down with Covid-19 this month. “By the time I realised my mother had Covid, it had been two days since she had eaten or drunk anything,” she said.
Iran’s Oil Gushes Into Global Market as China Imports Surge; Tanker tracking firms say Iran oil exports surged late 2023; Much of the crude appears to be going to China via Malaysia
Iran’s oil exports are surging, offering solace to both Tehran and a global market fretting over the prospect of sanctions squeezing Russian supply. Much of it appears to be finding its way to China. The Persian Gulf country’s oil exports climbed to about 1.3 million barrels a day in November, and last month held near the highest in four years, according to data from Vortexa Ltd. and Kpler, two well-known shipping analytics firms. FGE, an energy-market consultant, forecasts that Iran will boost its shipments of crude and refined products by as much as 200,000 barrels a day this year.
All bets are off on Japan’s sports gambling craze; As the country recovers from the pandemic, screen-oriented activities hold less appeal
Leo Lewis – Financial Times
Kyoko has just become the first woman to secure the supreme prize in a traditionally male sport. A brooding ex-champion rues these changing times and will redress them by training up a former footballer and a fop. But the lads will meet their match when they race against a finishing school coquette and a stoical cat lover.
London’s Historic Smithfield Market Meets a New Chapter
Feargus O’Sullivan – Bloomberg
Any early morning visitor to London’s Smithfield Market area in 2023 can’t fail to notice the change: Gone – for the first time in more than 800 years – is the heady stench of raw meat. The dense knot of ancient lanes at this heart of the complex is now largely silent; the market’s gates are padlocked and the rumbling refrigerated trucks have vanished. The silence, however, is only temporary. Shuttered since November 2022, the historic market site will soon come back to life. By 2025, Smithfield’s 1960s Poultry Market and annex will reopen as the home of the Museum of London, while its elaborate Victorian Central Market will subsequently relaunch as a combined food hall/conference center/co-working space, in a redesign led by Studio Egret West.
Netherlands Plans to Shut Europe’s Largest Gasfield in 2023: FT
Heesu Lee – Bloomberg
The Netherlands seeks to shutter Europe’s biggest gasfield this year because of safety concerns, the Financial Times reported, citing government officials. The Dutch government plans to close the earthquake-prone Groningen gasfield by Oct. 1, but will monitor to see if there’s a gas shortage in Europe after this winter, the FT cited Hans Vijlbrief, state secretary for mining, as saying. If needed, it could remain operating until October 2024, Vijlbrief added.
Dutch government aims to close Europe’s largest gasfield this year; Earthquake-prone Groningen ‘unviable’, but Netherlands will assess EU storage levels before making final decision
Andy Bounds – Financial Times
The Netherlands wants to close Europe’s largest gasfield this year because it is “very dangerous” to keep operating it, according to a government official. Hans Vijlbrief, state secretary for mining, who is responsible for the earthquake-prone Groningen gasfield, said he aimed to shut it by October 1 but would wait to see if there was a shortage of gas in Europe after the winter. If necessary, it would remain open until October 2024.
Germany Still Years Away From Replacing Russian Gas Capacity
Petra Sorge – Bloomberg
Germany is still years from substituting Russian pipeline gas imports with liquefied natural gas capacities, according to estimates by the country’s Economy Ministry. Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Bloomberg last week that the country had learned its lesson from being too dependent on Russia. The goal now was to build capacity that gives Germany the chance to have as much gas as it had before the invasion without importing from Russia, he said.
Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc and Gunvor extend talks to reach investment deal; National oil group is seeking a minority stake in commodity trader as it looks to diversify its revenue stream
Leslie Hook, Tom Wilson, David Sheppard and Arash Massoudi – Financial Times
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Gunvor, the energy trading house, are extending an exclusivity period for deal talks as they try to reach an agreement over a possible investment. People close to the deal say discussions could lead to Adnoc taking a minority stake in Gunvor, whose net profits soared to $841mn in the first half of last year – higher than its full-year profits in 2021 – as energy markets were roiled by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Brazil and Argentina Are Discussing Whether to Combine Currencies; Argentina faces high inflation in lead-up to October election; Request for common currency came from Argentina, official says
Daniel Carvalho and Maya Averbuch – Bloomberg
Argentina and Brazil are in the preliminary stages of renewing discussions on forming a common currency for financial and commercial transactions, reviving an often-discussed plan that would face numerous political and economic hurdles. South America’s two largest economies have considered options to coordinate their currencies for decades, often to counter the influence of the dollar in the region. The persistent macroeconomic imbalances of both countries, together with recurrent political obstacles to the idea, has resulted in little practical progress.
More than 8 inches of snow reported in portions of New England on Friday
Taylor Ward and Steve Almasy – CNN
A winter storm that dumped up to a foot of snow across parts of the Midwest this week coated the northeastern US with flakes on Friday with some areas in Maine and New Hampshire receiving more than 8 inches. The village of Madison in New Hampshire reported 8.5 inches, the highest total as of Friday evening. A widespread area of 3 to 7 inches of snow has fallen across eastern New York, northern Connecticut, Vermont, southern Maine and other ares of New Hampshire. The storm will wind down Friday evening, and winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are schedule to expire after dark.
Peak Gasoline Heralds Price Shocks for Drivers, Inflation Headaches
Chunzi Xu – Bloomberg
Gasoline demand in the US has peaked, with a surprise slowdown last year signaling that consumption is unlikely to ever again return to pre-Covid levels. This long-awaited milestone shows that climate-friendly initiatives put into place more than a decade ago are finally taking the US across the threshold. American drivers are traveling more miles on less fuel than ever thanks to a generation of cars with more efficient engines as well as new electric vehicles. The government forecasts further declines for gasoline demand this year and next.
Worst Avian Flu in U.S. History Is Hitting Poultry, Wild Birds, Even Bears; Egg-laying flocks in Nebraska, Colorado and elsewhere have been decimated
Dan Frosch – The Wall Street Journal
Nearly a year after it began, the worst avian-influenza outbreak in U.S. history is continuing to decimate poultry flocks across the Midwest and Colorado, frustrating efforts to keep the virus from affecting the nation’s egg prices and supply. In South Dakota, the highly contagious bird flu, typically transmitted by the feces, mucus and saliva of wild birds, first hit commercial poultry farms in March 2022 and has continued to affect flocks. Within the last month, egg-laying hens and turkeys at several local farms were infected, leading to the deaths of more than 1.3 million poultry over that period, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Nearly four million poultry have died in the state since the start of the outbreak.
California’s vineyards were thirsty. Historic rains were ‘a dream come true.’
Reis Thebault – The Washington Post
This region’s vintners have been turning very little water into very good wine year after year during an unrelenting drought. So when recent rainstorms wreaked chaos across California, growers in the heart of the state’s iconic wine country did not grumble about the dangerous and disruptive weather. Instead, they welcomed the downpours like a godsend.
Most valuable bills selling for between $4,600 and $7,400 – exact details to look for in your wallet
Anthony Russo – The Sun
While Americans have transitioned into digital currency, certain banknotes could be quite valuable. This could be for a multitude of reasons including grade and condition. For example, similar to coins, bills are assigned a grade between 1-70 by a certification service – normally the higher the number the more it’s worth. And if a bill is rated between 1-58 that means the bill is in circulation, which is intended for use in daily transactions.
How Fixing Notifications Changed My Relationship With My Phone; Culling notifications, batching alerts and disabling red badges quelled the madness
Nicole Nguyen – The Wall Street Journal
Until recently, I was stuck in phone-notification hell. Unread texts and emails piled up. Apps pinged me so frequently that I began to feel phantom vibrations in my pocket. I’d turn on Do Not Disturb, only to be met with a long list of alerts once I was ready to be disturbed. I wanted to throw my phone into the sea and go off the grid. That all changed after I decided which notifications I really needed and tried a few key settings to restore my phone-life balance.