Coronavirus Measures Put New Limits on Daily Life; With unprecedented force and speed, a global recession is likely taking hold

Mar 16, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By John Lothian & JLN Staff

Blessed are those who flatten the curve is the theme of the day, both from a virus impact and an interest rate curve basis. Schools, trading floors, churches, restaurants, bars and much of everyday life is being shut down across the United States and many cities and nations around the world. The U.S.’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said we should “hunker down.”

The news keeps getting so bizarre, some people are worried about an alien landing on Earth coming next.

Late Friday, news broke that the Tabb Group board of directors voted to wind down the research firm effective immediately, citing the impact of the coronavirus on the event business and the difficulties of the research sector. Larry Tabb has set up an independent research consultancy, Tabb Advisors

Stores are being bought out of key staples as soon as the shelves are restocked. Some stores are rationing some of those staples as well, in what is being described by some as a war-time economic environment. Consumers are stockpiling food and toilet paper because the length of time we are hunkered down is unknown. Some factories are focusing on producing staples to meet demand. Economic activity is expected to contract in the first quarter as the impact of people hunkering down and avoiding being in large groups hits the economy. Big banks are pledging to stop buying back shares and instead preserve capital to lend to customers.

While schools and restaurants are being closed, and store shelves are being emptied, questions arise about how to feed the millions of children who get key meals from now closed schools.

The Federal Reserve on Sunday lowered rates to near zero, and pledged to buy $700 billion in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed and other central banks are focused on maintaining normally functioning Treasury Markets. Stock index futures on Sunday night after the Fed move tumbled to limit down

Late Friday, the Cboe Global Markets announced they would close their Chicago trading floor indefinitely due to the impact of the coronavirus. On Sunday afternoon, Nasdaq joined the parade and closed their Philadelphia trading floor, leaving the NYSE as the only major trading floor still operating. Why? Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman turned to LinkedIn to issue an explanation

Since the trading floors are closed, this will be the first time in 106 years that an R.J. O’Brien employee won’t be on a trading floor in Chicago while the markets are open.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control issued a recommendation for events and meetings of more than 50 people to be delayed for two months. Travel restrictions are being expanded around the world. Sweden advised non-essential international travel should be avoided. The airline SAS halted most flights and laid off 90% of their staff temporarily. The good news is that the U.S. TSA will now allow travelers to bring a larger bottle of hand sanitizer on airplanes.

United Airlines cut flights by 50%, Ryanair shut down most of its fleet and the major airlines will be bankrupt by the end of May without some kind of government intervention or help.

The Vatican is proceeding with plans for Holy Week, but with no people in attendance. Even the crypto geeks are turning to a virtual conference for Consensus 2020


Something good amid all the bad news: In Italy, as a way to lift people’s spirits during the coronavirus quarantine, people are performing balcony concerts. Here is another, also in Italy (Sicily). And here is a fitness instructor in Spain leading people in exercises on their balconies. I have a balcony, but my singing would be more likely to cause people to jump.~JB

Since the museums in Chicago are closed, the penguin caretakers at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago took the penguins out for a walk around the museum to see other exhibits. (Scroll down a bit for a short video of a penguin checking out the sights.) ~JB

In the “headline I never expected to read” department, the Oregon police department asks public not to call 911 if they run out of toilet paper. ~JB


Federal Reserve cuts rates to zero and launches massive $700 billion quantitative easing program
Steve Liesman – CNBC
The Federal Reserve, saying “the coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” cut interest rates to essentially zero on Sunday and launched a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the virus. The new fed funds rate, used as a benchmark both for short-term lending for financial institutions and as a peg to many consumer rates, will now be targeted at 0% to 0.25% down from a target range of 1% to 1.25%.

*****The Fed panicked and the market sensed it and tumbled limit down.~JJL


Exclusive: Fed is ‘throwing money in the wrong place,’ says Sheila Bair, former top banking regulator
Joy Wiltermuth – MarketWatch
Sheila Bair, a top U.S. banking regulator during the 2007-’08 global financial crisis, said the Federal Reserve needs to quickly shift its focus to getting credit flowing to U.S. businesses crippled by the spreading coronavirus and workers losing their jobs.

*****Agreed, this move by the Fed does nothing for small businesses.~JJL


Wise Guidance: Sound practices for algorithmic trading from HKMA
As markets have evolved rapidly over the past two decades, regulators have faced the difficult task of adapting to the new realities brought about by the emergence of electronic trading. New trading practices, particularly with algorithmic trading, have dramatically altered the structure of the market and introduced new risk factors that were never envisioned when market rules were first established. At times the results have been catastrophic, as with the quick demise of Knight Capital Group in 2012 when a rogue algorithm led to over $440 million in losses in less than an hours time. However, regulators have generally responded to these new challenges in helpful and constructive ways. The latest example of this comes from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in an advisory letter that details best practices along with areas of concern with regard to algorithmic trading.

*****There are other issues than coronavirus.~JJL


COVID-19; Remote Offices; Bank of England Digital Currency; Climate-Related Disclosures
Gary DeWaal – Bridging the Week
Last week, financial services firms and regulators worldwide continued to anticipate and try to mitigate potential issues related to the expected increase in remote working in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unrelatedly, the Bank of England began considering the rollout of a central bank digital currency and issued a discussion paper itemizing issues it’s evaluating in connection with such a potential project.


Friday’s Top Three
Our most read story Friday was the Financial Times’ opinion piece, Exchanges and data groups get swept up in market storm. Second was the Chicago Tribune’s CME trading floor to close Friday as precaution to prevent spread of coronavirus. Third was our MarketsWiki Page for the Cboe, which also temporarily closed its trading floor.


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Lead Stories

Coronavirus Measures Put New Limits on Daily Life; Tighter restrictions are part of an effort to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed 6,065 and infected more than 162,600
Xie Yu, Talal Ansari and Brianna Abbott – WSJ
People around the world on Sunday were adjusting to a new reality of life during the coronavirus pandemic, as states and businesses restricted travel, closed shops and postponed religious services and other events. Governments have imposed a series of measures to limit gatherings of large numbers of people in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. It has now killed 6,065 people and infected more than 162,600, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, as the pandemic continues to spread into previously unaffected countries.

With unprecedented force and speed, a global recession is likely taking hold
David J. Lynch and Heather Long – Washington Post
The United States is suffering the most abrupt and widespread cessation of economic activity in its history, hurtling toward a recession that could mean lost jobs, income and wealth for millions of Americans.

Nightmare on Wall Street Was All About Liquidity
Emily Barrett, Liz McCormick, and Chikako Mogi – Bloomberg
Stresses everywhere as virus triggers unprecedented repricing; Havens stop performing as investors, companies hoard cash
Ian Burdette stared at his computer screens on Thursday afternoon in New York and could hardly believe his eyes. Everywhere that the head of term-rates trading at Academy Securities Inc. looked, there were massive anomalies and signs of unprecedented stresses in markets.

‘Everything Is a Black Hole’: Mounting Dread in the Age of Coronavirus; Isolation, uncertainty and confusion set in as the pandemic grips the United States.
Dan Barry – NY Times
In a Harlem cafe late last week, a woman reading her cellphone sneezed without covering her mouth. On an ordinary day, the fleeting moment would pass barely noticed. But these are not ordinary days.

‘They Blew It’: Wall Street Reacts to Fed’s Emergency Cut
Andreea Papuc, Sarah Ponczek, and Anchalee Worrachate – Bloomberg
JonesTrading’s O’Rourke points to market, says Fed ‘blew it’; UBS Global Wealth reckons economies can recover this year
The Federal Reserve’s shock interest-rate cut and bond-buying program rippled through global markets on Monday, with S&P 500 Index futures falling by the most allowed and Treasury yields plunging at the start of what promises to be another volatile week.

The ‘greatest bankers’ won’t save us this time; While Trump and Wall Street’s great and good patted each other on the back, the central figure to thank was missing
Tom Braithwaite – FT
At the White House this week, Donald Trump told us that he had assembled “the greatest bankers in the world” to discuss the coronavirus and the economy. They notably did not include JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, who was recuperating from emergency heart surgery or Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman. Nor did they include any non-American bankers, many of whom, hours later, would be barred from the country altogether.

How coronavirus became a corporate credit run; Central bankers are going to have to keep the money taps on
Rana Foroohar – FT
It was only hours after US president Donald Trump told us, in an address from the Oval Office last week, “this is not a financial crisis”, when markets began acting very much as though it was.

Years Going Past in a Day for S&P 500 Traders in History’s Grip
Vildana Hajric and Claire Ballentine – Bloomberg
Friday’s reversal hearkens back to rough periods in markets; The S&P 500 had 16 different 1% swings in week’s last session
To get a handle on how volatile stocks are right now, take a look at a chart of the S&P 500 on Friday. Sixteen different times the index reversed ground and swung 1%, en route to the biggest rally in a decade.

Europe Widens Virus Lockdown, Moves to Limit Economic Damage
Nikos Chrysoloras, Viktoria Dendrinou, and Alberto Brambilla – Bloomberg
Schengen nations consider closing Europe’s external borders; Germany restricts borders with five neighboring countries
Europeans faced increasingly draconian restrictions on public life, as governments tightened border controls to check the spread of the coronavirus and moved to limit damage to the continent’s fragile economies.

The Fed Put Has No Clothes; The coronavirus concern in equity markets has been sharpened by a realization that the Fed can’t save our portfolios
Justin Lahart – WSJ
In the widespread disruption sown by the novel coronavirus epidemic, investors find themselves facing an economic problem the Fed can’t solve for them. Because rates were already so low, the central bank’s ability to help bolster the economy using conventional tools is severely limited.

‘Bazookas’ cannot stop coronavirus becoming a financial crisis; Despite policymakers’ efforts there are growing signs that investor confidence is cracking
Patrick Jenkins – FT
A big question looms. We know that the coronavirus will spread, possibly infecting the majority of the global population in time. We know that the economic disruption it may cause has spooked every stock market in the world. And we know that in an effort to conquer the panic, the world’s most powerful policymakers have fired off “bazookas” by the bucketload.

Traders Question Value of Stock-Market Circuit Breakers; The mechanism, which some complain does little good, was triggered twice last week during a coronavirus-fueled selloff, offering traders a breather
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
Decades of little-noticed efforts to build guardrails for wild market moves got a rare workout last week when circuit breakers halted trading in all U.S. stocks for the first time since 1997. Were they effective? The jury is still out.

In Market Rout, ETFs Are Where the Action Is; In the first week of March, exchange-traded products powered more than a third of equities trading on U.S. exchanges
Dawn Lim and Mischa Frankl-Duval – WSJ
Exchange-traded funds have become the tool of choice for many investors grappling with the market tumult sparked by the spread of the new coronavirus. In the first week of March, exchange-traded products powered more than a third of equities trading on U.S. exchanges, up from 24% in the month-prior period, according to Cboe Global Markets.

Traders learn to adapt in biggest homeworking shift since 9/11; Remote connections to typically bustling trading floors pose liquidity problems
FT Reporters
For the asset management arm of one European bank this week, the back-up plans appeared to be running smoothly. The firm had listened to the medical advice, told some of its bond traders to work from home and dusted off its little-used business resilience plan.

Coronavirus Tally May Be Tip of Iceberg as Sick Go Untested
Naomi Kresge and Corinne Gretler – Bloomberg
Slowing infections in Asia suggest broad testing helps; Doctor warns it’s ‘disastrous’ to seek out only severe cases
Nizana Brautmann found out her 6-year-old son had been exposed to coronavirus via a note on the locked door of his Berlin daycare center on Monday morning. It told parents to take their kids home and wait.

High-Speed Trains, International Flights: How the Coronavirus Spread; China is far more mobile than it was during the SARS outbreak in 2003, giving new viruses a ready route to the world at large.
Yasufumi Saito, Andrew James and Rosa de Acosta – WSJ
When a new coronavirus appeared around a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it didn’t have far to go to make it to the rest of the world. The city in central China has direct flights to Dubai, New York and Paris—more than 30 destinations in all. High-speed rail lines fanned out in all directions. Businesspeople in the city, dubbed the Chicago of China, were more globalized than ever.

Financial markets are being humbled by real life; The coronavirus crisis is more dangerous than anything previously seen by frontline financiers
Katie Martin – FT
The uniquely arrogant Masters of the Universe who dominate the financial sector have long assumed that markets themselves would provide the source of the next big crisis. For years, investors and analysts pored over the intricacies of financial markets, hunting for canaries in coal mines, particularly when the ageing (and now expired) bull run in stock markets started to smell past its sell-by date.

Wall Street Gets Blindsided by the Coronavirus Meltdown; “Most people were like me. They were like, ‘Yeah, whatever, it’s not that big a deal.'”
May Abelson, Sridhar Natarajan, Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
Some of the world’s most famous hedge fund managers gathered on Sunday night at the Capital Grille near Rockefeller Center, a steakhouse where the double-cut lamb chops with mint gremolata run $53. There was John Paulson, who made his billions from the housing collapse that helped trigger the last financial crisis. And David Einhorn, who came out on top when the dot-com bubble burst. And Dan Loeb, who got rich by baring the sharpest teeth.

As Wall Street reels, veterans recall ’87 while the young look to textbooks
Noel Randewich, Ross Kerbe – Reuters
As U.S. financial markets reel from a week of historic swings, industry veterans are drawing on memories from their earliest years on Wall Street, while younger professionals are looking to lessons from history books.

How the longest bull run in history ended in pandemic panic
Tom Westbrook, Scott Murdoch – Reuters
As a collapse in the oil price unleashed chaos in financial markets, Madrid money manager Diego Parrilla phoned a colleague who agreed: they had better head to work early in the morning.

China’s Economy Suffers Historic Slump Due to Virus Shutdown
Bloomberg News
Industrial output drops 13.5% in Jan.-Feb. from 2019; Both retail sales and investment decline more than 20%
China suffered an even deeper slump than analysts feared at the start of the year as the coronavirus shuttered factories, shops and restaurants across the nation, underscoring the fallout now facing the global economy as the virus spreads around the world.

Cliff Asness Tweets: ‘I Am Not a Libertarian About Coronavirus’
Justina Lee – Bloomberg
AQR founder storms back to Twitter to plea for fiscal action; Wall Street calling for more drastic government action
The coronavirus has dragged billionaire investor Cliff Asness back from his Twitter break — and away from his libertarian orthodoxy. The founder of AQR Capital Management LLC resurfaced on the social-media platform Sunday with a series of missives calling for fiscal intervention to relieve consumers and businesses hit by the deadly outbreak.

Australia orders trading cutback as exchanges start to struggle; Watchdog fears systems could be overloaded with more staff trying to work from home
Philip Stafford – FT
The ability of the world’s biggest stock and futures markets to cope with huge trading volumes while many employees work remotely has come under further scrutiny after Australia ordered its most active traders to step back a little in order to ease the pressure.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

NZX Response To Coronavirus (COVID-19)
NZX has considered the Government’s announcement on 14 March 2020 of new border controls to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19, and advises that we do not foresee any impact from these measures on the continued full operation of our markets, regulatory function, or services to customers.

ASX Confirms Normal Market Operations After A Positive Case Of COVID-19, And Asks Employees To Work From Home
ASX reports that one of our employees has tested positive to COVID-19. The advice was received on Saturday 14 March. In line with ASX policy and the recommendations of health authorities, the employee self-isolated as soon as symptoms were displayed and will remain at home for a period of 14 days.

Nasdaq Statement on North American Operations; All electronic equities, options, and fixed income markets remain fully operational
New listings and Initial Public Offerings continue as scheduled; PHLX Options Market trading floor transitions to electronic-only trading
Nasdaq, Inc. (Nasdaq: NDAQ), issued the following statement regarding its North American operations as part of the company’s business continuity plan in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus:

Nasdaq PHLX To Suspend Open Outcry Trading And Operate Fully Electronic
Nasdaq PHLX (PHLX) will suspend open outcry trading on the PHLX Trading Floor (Trading Floor) beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Trading will continue to be available, on PHLX, in an electronic-only trading model until open outcry trading resumes. This decision was made as a precautionary measure to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and, currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 on the PHLX Trading Floor.

NYSE Trading Floors to Remain Open
As all companies work to address the fast-changing circumstances brought on by the spread of COVID-19, we want to reiterate and share an update on the steps the New York Stock Exchange is taking to address the needs of issuers and investors, safeguard the health and safety of our colleagues and members of our floor community, and ensure that our markets continue to operate in an orderly fashion.

The additional trading session starts later for Derivatives market on 2, 9, 15, 16, 23, 27 and 30 April 2020
Please note that the Derivatives Market evening trading session will begin five minutes later, i.e. at 7:05 pm MSK, on 2, 9, 15, 16, 23, 27 and 30 April 2020, as these are the last trading days for options contracts (in accordance with clause 7.2 of the Rules of organized trading for the Moscow Exchange Derivatives Market).

A message from TMX regarding COVID-19
I am writing to update you on some of the measures TMX has undertaken in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While we continue to closely monitor the latest developments, I want to emphasize that as we assess the rapidly evolving situation and work to anticipate the next turn, TMX’s number one priority will remain consistent in all our decision-making: the health and safety of our people, our clients and the entire capital markets community.

ASX supports ASIC’s steps to ensure equity market resiliency; ASX’s supports the steps ASIC has announced today to ensure stability and resiliency across the industry.
ASX Managing Director and CEO Dominic Stevens said: “The action is sensible and measured. Recent trading volumes on both ASX and Chi-X have been unprecedented. This has presented operational challenges for the industry – albeit the industry has worked together to ensure it has been able to
function in these extraordinary circumstances.

ASX confirms normal market operations after a positive case of COVID-19, and asks employees to work from home
ASXSGX introduces S$5 million Care Package to provide support amid COVID-19
Package includes contribution to Community Chest’s The Courage Fund, support for listed companies and staff; Part of broader efforts to reinforce Singapore’s resilience as global marketplace
Singapore Exchange (SGX) has rolled out a S$5 million care package to provide support and relief measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak, bolstering efforts by the financial community to reinforce the city-state’s resilience as a global marketplace.

ASX reports that one of our employees has tested positive to COVID-19. The advice was received on Saturday 14 March. In line with ASX policy and the recommendations of health authorities, the employee self-isolated as soon as
symptoms were displayed and will remain at home for a period of 14 days.

Further Guidance on the Joint Statement in relation to Results Announcements in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange) are releasing further guidance for listed issuers with 31 December financial year end on the publication of their preliminary results and annual reports.


CloudMargin Appoints Miriam Marascio Head of Client Services
Press Release
CloudMargin, creator of the world’s first and only collateral and margin management solution native to the cloud, announced today the appointment of Miriam Marascio as Head of Client Services for the London-based global firm. Marascio has extensive client services leadership experience at global post-trade technology giant Clearstream Banking S.A., part of the Deutsche Boerse Group.

ChartIQ Appoints Rajiv Shah as Global Head of Institutional Sales
Business Wire
ChartIQ Appoints Rajiv Shah as Global Head of Institutional Sales
ChartIQ, a financial technology company that delivers software to help the finance world work smarter, announced today the appointment of Rajiv Shah as Global Head of Institutional Sales. In his role, Mr. Shah will spearhead the company’s sales strategy globally, and help to expand ChartIQ into new channels of business across finance and other industries.


CoinDesk Takes Consensus 2020 Virtual
Michael J. Casey – Coindesk
With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening throughout the world, CoinDesk is taking immediate action on Consensus 2020. As the organizers of Consensus and Blockchain Week NYC, our goal has always been to bring the community together to educate, grow and create meaningful connections in a safe location. It is no longer possible to do that in a physical location.

Derivatives market liquidations push BitMEX’s insurance fund to all-time high, cut Deribit’s by almost half
Celia Wan – The Block
Two major crypto derivatives markets have seen significant liquidations this week – but while one saw its insurance fund hit an all-time high, the other experienced a dramatic decline.

US Woman Gets 13 Years in Jail After Funding ISIS With Cryptocurrency
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
A woman from New York State committed various financial frauds in order to fund terrorist organisation ISIS, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). Zoobia Shahnaz has now been sentenced to 13 years in prison by Judge Joanna Seybert at the District Court in Islip, Long Island, for providing material support worth over $150,000 to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to travel to join ISIS, the DoJ said in a news release Friday.

Daily transaction fees on Ethereum hit $564,000 amid network congestion on Thursday
Aislinn Keely – The Block
Thursday’s ethereum network congestion – perhaps unsurprisingly – resulted in a significant uptick in the total number of fee payments during a 24-hour period. According to data collected The Block, roughly $564,000 in ETH was paid by transactors over the course of March 12. A transaction fee is paid in order to give users transaction priority on the network; the higher your fee, the higher its likelihood of being included in the next block.

Bitcoin’s big moment proves shortlived as it crashes, again
Jemima Kelly – FT
It was meant to be bitcoin’s big moment. At 5pm Eastern Time (9pm here in the UK) on Sunday, the Fed slashed interest rates to zero and announced it would be carrying out an additional $700bn-worth of asset purchases, along with deploying a whole host of other tools that it has not used since the global financial crisis. The bastard child of post-financial crisis unconventional monetary policy, bitcoin, it seemed, was guaranteed to thrive. This, after all, was in fact the whole point of bitcoin! Those evil central bankers might be able to print money and bring about nasty old inflation in the land of fiat (or at least try to), but cryptoland couldn’t be manipulated. No, cryptoland lives by its own rules.

Buffett’s Dinner Date Clashes With Devotees of Steemit Website
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Controversial Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun, who paid $4.57 million for a charity dinner with Warren Buffett, is facing a revolt over a niche company he recently purchased. In the past few weeks, the 29-year-old Sun has been called “a dictator” and worse on Twitter and in more than 1,500 comments. A boycott of the blogging company Sun acquired is in full swing, and a number of its employees have resigned. Two of the world’s largest crypto exchanges are distancing themselves from Sun. That has the crypto sphere debating the growing role of exchanges, and whether some types of digital ledgers called blockchains are secure enough.

Bitcoin Slides Toward $4,000 as Global Risk Aversion Surges
Dave Liedkta – Bloomberg
Bitcoin tumbled as much as 18% with risk aversion the dominant theme across asset classes amid the coronavirus outbreak. The largest cryptocurrency was down 16% to $4,525 as of 7:08 a.m. in New York, after dropping as low as $4,463. It has slumped about 57% from the $10,500 high for the year set Feb. 13. Other alt coins tumbled, with Ether down about 20% and Litecoin off more than 17%.

Crypto Prepped Before Coronavirus Went Global
Daniel Kuhn – Coindesk
Market meltdowns, a failure of leadership at both the state and corporate level and a disruption to human civility are all built into the crypto mindset following the recession of 2007-2008. It explains why the relatively small enclave of Crypto Twitter was weeks ahead of the global pandemic, with crypto’s thought leaders urging people to prepare for the worst.
Now that the worst is here, these harbingers of doom feel vindicated.

SEC Proposal Could (Eventually) Unleash Security Token Sales
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Companies looking to raise funds via security token offerings (STOs) might soon get some relief from regulatory burdens in the U.S. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a proposal to amend its capital formation rules for early-stage startups of all stripes earlier this month. If adopted, the modified rule would raise the cap on proceeds to $75 million from $50 million for security offerings sold under Regulation A+ and to $5 million from $1 million for Regulation CF (crowdfunding). These rules, which put the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 into practice, allow companies to raise funds from the public without having to register as a public company.

India Can Use Yes Bank Debacle to Chase China in Crypto
Andy Mukherjee – Bloomberg
Confidence in the Indian financial system has been breaking down for some time. Instead of trying to restore trust, it may be time to require less of it — with the help of an official rupee cryptocurrency. The last straw was the collapse of corporate lender Yes Bank Ltd., which failed in slow motion in full view of authorities. Depositors have been assured that their $20 billion-plus in stuck funds will be released after a rescue by the government-controlled State Bank of India.

Does Crypto Need Circuit Breakers? Last Week’s Price Crash Ignites a Debate
Lawrence Lewitinn – Coindesk
Traders in cryptocurrencies have long extolled the virtues of their market’s 24/7/365 nature. Now, after a brutal week of sell-offs and flash crashes, some players are calling for what would have been unmentionable, if not unthinkable, even during the cryptocurrency market’s near-collapse in 2018 – “circuit breakers.” These are automatic stoppages put in place should prices fall below specified levels. Implemented at stock exchanges after the “Black Monday” crash in 1987, circuit breakers are meant to essentially throw sand in the gears of a plummeting market.

Bitfinex lists first-ever crypto hedge fund for ‘accredited’ investors
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has listed its first-ever cryptocurrency hedge fund. Announcing the news on Monday, Bitfinex said the $280 million hedge fund, Fulgur Alpha, will be accessible only to institutional investors. “The minimum investment size of the fund is $10 million for accredited investors,” Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Bitfinex, told The Block. Fulgur Alpha is a Bahamas-based absolute returns crypto hedge fund, said Bitfinex. Absolute return funds are usually designed to provide a steady return irrespective of market conditions and are most suitable for conservative investors.

Price Drop Casts Pall Over Bitcoin Miners’ Equipment Upgrades
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
Bitcoin’s price crash last week has cast a shadow over mining firms, which have spent over half a billion dollars overhauling equipment over the last six months in preparation for the network’s next so-called halving. Large bitcoin (BTC) mining farm operators in three countries told CoinDesk they’ve been on a buying spree to upgrade or expand facilities since September, reflecting a shared commitment to staying in the mining game for the long haul. In May, the amount of freshly minted bitcoin awarded to a successful miner every 10 minutes or so will be programmatically split in half, hitting these firm’s top line.

Coinbase volumes hit yearly highs after Thursday’s market sell-off
The Block
Coinbase registered yearly record-breaking volumes on Thursday and Friday amid a market sell-off in crypto. On Thursday, the volume on the San Francisco-based exchange surpassed $1.1B, a 280% increase from the prior day. Yesterday’s volume surpassed $1.5B, a record high for the year of 2020 for the exchange.


‘I Don’t Take Responsibility,’ Trump Says of Virus Test Shortage
Josh Wingrove and Justin Sink – Bloomberg
President blames ‘set of circumstances’ for lack of tests; Some other countries did immediate, widespread testing
President Donald Trump said he doesn’t accept responsibility for a scarcity of coronavirus tests available in the U.S. after state officials complained patients with symptoms couldn’t get screened.

Trump congratulates Fed for rates cut, calls action ‘terrific’
U.S. President Donald Trump said the Federal Reserve’s decision on Sunday to cut interest rates was “good news” and “makes me very happy” as he congratulated the central bank for taking further action aimed at helping shore up the U.S. economy amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

White House Seeks Financial Crisis-Era Powers to Buttress Economy; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he’ll ask Congress to reinstate authorities that were scaled back by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
Alan Rappeport and Jeanna Smialek – NY Times
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that he would ask Congress to reinstate powers that were used during the 2008 financial crisis to support the economy as the coronavirus threatens to grind business activity in the United States to a halt.

U.S. Treasury Says Coronavirus Bill to Support Small Businesses
Jihye Lee – Bloomberg
The U.S. Treasury will be able to support smaller businesses impacted by the coronavirus through an economic relief plan that the House passed late Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Trump Says No Plans to Demote Fed’s Powell But Asserts Right To
Justin Sink, Anna Waters, and Matthew Boesler – Bloomberg
President Donald Trump said he has no plans to demote Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell but asserted — as he has in the past — that he has the right to. Trump spoke at a press conference after a meeting of his coronavirus task force at the White House, revisiting his regular complaints about the U.S. central bank.

Journalism’s Market Failure Is a Crisis for Democracy
Victor Pickard –
Local journalism is failing in the United States. Many of us learn in school that a free society requires a free press, but we rarely reflect on what it actually means to lose the fourth estate. Democracies need independent, fact-based journalism to provide a voice for a diverse range of people, to watchdog the powerful, and to keep members of a society informed. Study after study has found that without access to local news, people are less civically engaged and less likely to vote. The demise of local newspapers — which are still by far the main source of original reporting in their communities — is also linked to a rise in local corruption and an increase in polarization, as news consumers rely more on partisan-inflected national outlets for their information.

The Ugly History of Blaming Ethnic Groups for Outbreaks; Turning coronavirus into a “Chinese” disease will only aid and abet its spread.
Stephen Mihm – Bloomberg
As the coronavirus outbreak grows in scale and scope, a nasty side effect spreads: discrimination. Inside China, people from Wuhan have been treated like lepers. Outside, we’re seeing numerous reports of verbal and physical abuse aimed at ethnic Chinese, and an aversion to Chinese restaurants and other places associated with the country.

The Trump Presidency Is Over; It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.
Peter Wehner – The Atlantic
When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent?

A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus; He could have taken action. He didn’t.
David Leonhardt – NY Times
President Trump spoke at the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit in Washington on March 4.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Trump made his first public comments about the coronavirus on Jan. 22, in a television interview from Davos with CNBC’s Joe Kernen. The first American case had been announced the day before, and Kernen asked Trump, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” The president responded: “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Shock and Awe Fails to Stem Coronavirus Fears
Rosalind Mathieson – Bloomberg
The U.S. Federal Reserve deployed some unscheduled shock and awe against the coronavirus yesterday, slashing its benchmark rate back to a record low. Global markets slumped.


SEC Takes Targeted Action to Assist Funds and Advisers, Permits Virtual Board Meetings and Provides Conditional Relief from Certain Filing Procedures; SEC Is Closely Monitoring the Impact of the Coronavirus on Investors, Funds, and Advisers
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced regulatory relief for funds and investment advisers whose operations may be affected by the coronavirus. The relief provided today covers in-person board meetings and certain filing and delivery requirements for certain investment funds and investment advisers. The impacts of the coronavirus may delay or prevent funds and advisers operating in affected areas from meeting certain regulatory obligations due to restrictions on large gatherings, travel and access to facilities, the potential limited availability of personnel and similar disruptions. Today’s relief is designed to enable funds and advisers to meet those obligations and to continue their operations, while recognizing that there may be temporary disruptions outside of their control.

Cboe Options Exchange Temporarily Shifts to Fully Electronic Trading – SEC Enables Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change to Facilitate Continued Operations in Light of Temporary Suspension of Cboe Physical Trading Floor
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission noticed for immediate effectiveness a proposed rule filing submitted by Cboe Exchange, Inc. to facilitate the continued operation of Cboe’s options exchange in light of Cboe’s decision to temporarily suspend open outcry trading on its Chicago trading floor.

ASIC tells brokers to reduce up to 25% of Australian share trading
John Lang –
Following the intense volatility on the Australian share market and S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO), the financial markets watchdog and overseer, Australia Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), told share brokers and other share market participants to slow trading.

BOE Starts Post-Carney Era With Another Crisis Veteran at Helm
David Goodman and Lucy Meakin – Bloomberg
Andrew Bailey takes over as the coronavirus hits the economy; Central bank joined in global liquidity boost late Sunday
Andrew Bailey knows a few things about crises, which should put him good stead on Monday when he takes the helm of the Bank of England as it tries to stave off recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

ESMA requires net short position holders to report positions of 0.1% and above
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a decision temporarily requiring the holders of net short positions in shares traded on a European Union (EU) regulated market to notify the relevant national competent authority (NCA) if the position reaches or exceeds 0.1% of the issued share capital after the entry into force of the decision.

Coronavirus Update—NFA Branch Office Requirements
NFA Interpretive Notice 9002 – Registration Requirements; Branch Offices requires a Member firm (other than a swap dealer) to list as a branch office on its Form 7-R any location other than the Member’s main business address from which APs are engaged in activities requiring registration. The Interpretive Notice further requires that each branch office location must have a branch office manager, who under Compliance Rule 2-7, must have successfully completed the Branch Manager Examination (Series 30).

Investing and Trading

Wuhan Virus and the Markets – WTF?
Streetwise Professor
What a helluva few weeks it’s been, eh boys and girls? By way of post mortem (hopefully?) rather than prediction, here’s my take. Under “normal” circumstances, two factors drive asset valuations: expectations of cash flows, and the rate at which investors discount those cash flows. COVID-19 – Wuhan Virus, to call it by its proper name – has has profound influence on both.

Coordinated Central Bank Action To Enhance The Provision Of U.S. Dollar Liquidity
The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the Swiss National Bank are today announcing a coordinated action to enhance the provision of liquidity via the standing U.S. dollar liquidity swap line arrangements.

Federal Reserve Actions to Support the Flow of Credit to Households and Businesses
U.S. Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve is carefully monitoring credit markets and is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals. In addition to actions taken by the Federal Open Market Committee, including actions taken in coordination with other central banks, the Federal Reserve Board announced a series of actions in support of these goals. These actions are summarized below.

Coordinated Central Bank Action to Enhance the Provision of U.S. Dollar Liquidity
U.S. Federal Reserve
The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the Swiss National Bank are today announcing a coordinated action to enhance the provision of liquidity via the standing U.S. dollar liquidity swap line arrangements.

Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement
U.S. Federal Reserve
The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States. Global financial conditions have also been significantly affected. Available economic data show that the U.S. economy came into this challenging period on a strong footing. Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that the labor market remained strong through February and economic activity rose at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Although household spending rose at a moderate pace, business fixed investment and exports remained weak. More recently, the energy sector has come under stress. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation have declined; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.

Oil crash only a foretaste of what awaits energy industry; The end of hydrocarbons as a lucrative business is a real possibility
Pierre Noel – FT
The oil-price crash of March 2020 will probably not last long. As in 2014, when the oil price dropped below $50 from $110 in a few weeks, this one will trigger a temporary collapse of the US shale industry. Unless the coronavirus outbreak causes Armageddon, cheap oil will also support policymakers’ efforts to help the global economy.

Global Oil Use Heads for Record Annual Drop as Virus Spreads
Javier Blas and Grant Smith – Bloomberg
Government action to stop travel and socializing cuts demand; Analysts say this year could see bigger drop than in 1980
Global oil consumption is in free-fall, heading for the biggest annual contraction in history, as more countries introduce unprecedented measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Something Else Troubling Is Going Around: Dubious Investments; As markets plunge, investors are likely to see more pitches from annuity brokers peddling complex products. Buyer beware.
Tara Siegel Bernard – NY Times
Shortly after the stock market began its initial descent, Rob Phelan, a high school math teacher in Maryland, received an email sales pitch: “The Coronavirus may be Fatal — to Your Retirement Savings!”

Here’s how copper has weathered the COVID-19 economic storm
Myra P. Saefong – MarketWatch
Copper, known as a leading indicator of economic activity, has suffered along with many other commodities on the heels of the coronavirus epidemic. Futures prices were trading well below a January peak but faring better than other markets, like oil.

How Short Sellers Become Targets During Market Routs
Lisa Pham – Bloomberg
During times of market turmoil, short sellers become a target. After prices plunged in a stock market rout on Thursday, March 12, regulators in various countries attempted to bring stability by restricting equity short selling, or betting with borrowed shares. Shorts, as these bettors are known, say their trading helps keep markets functioning smoothly. Critics say their actions can blur into market manipulation. Regulators keep a wary eye on them during periods of acute market distress, such as now during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trading in 401(k) Accounts Spikes With Savers Seeking Safety
Suzanne Woolley – Bloomberg
In what feels like another era, President Donald Trump tweeted, “STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH! HOW ARE YOUR 401K’S DOING? 70%, 80%, 90% up? Only 50% up! What are you doing wrong?”

Another Day, Another $2 Trillion Has Stock Traders Shuddering
Vildana Hajric and Claire Ballentine – Bloomberg
The last time the S&P did this was the middle of October 2008; VIX message comes true as surging volatility begets a bounce
Here’s something to ponder as you consider Friday’s roaring rebound in equities. To undo the worst stock market crash since 1987, it took the biggest rally since October 2008. That’s right: The last time shares surged this much, it came smack in the middle of the worst month in 33 years, one the S&P 500 finished down 17%. So while Wall Street was naturally thrilled to finish its most volatile stretch since the financial crisis on an up note, nobody was ready to call the bottom.

The Six Days That Broke Wall Street’s Longest-Ever Bull Market
Sam Potter – Bloomberg
How an old-school shock rippled through a financialized world; Anatomy of a sell-off that sent U.S. stocks into a bear market
Investors had long grown used to records in the great stock bull market that ended this week. Longest. Calmest. Highest. It was almost inevitable that the finish would be dramatic.

Amazon says running out of popular household staples, sets up $25 million fund to support delivery workers
Ciara Linnane – MarketWatch Inc. said it is running out of popular brands and items, especially in the household staples area, as more people shop on line in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. In a blog post, the company said it’s working with sellers to ensure availability of important items. Delivery times are also being extended, because of the extra demand.

Stock market rout doubles pain for energy firms that took shares for deals
Liz Hampton – Reuters
Energy investor EnCap Investments pulled off a rarity in the U.S. shale business earlier this month, the $2.5 billion sale of oil producer Felix Energy to rival WPX Energy Inc, striking a deal at a time when energy mergers have all but dried up.

VIX Futures Flash Market Fear With Jump to Highest Since 2009
Yakob Peterseil – Bloomberg
Generic front-month contract climbs to highest in 11 years; VIX not quoted as S&P 500 products in trading delay, says Cboe
A measure of fear in U.S. stocks surged to the highest since 2009, surpassing last week’s peak as an emergency move by the Federal Reserve to ease policy did little to calm markets on edge over the spreading coronavirus.

What Caused a Junk-Muni ETF to Go Into Freefall? In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, no dealer wants to catch a plummeting knife.
Brian Chappatta – Bloomberg
No one seems to know quite what to make of the stunning price drop in the largest high-yield municipal-bond exchange-traded fund. The VanEck Vectors High Yield Municipal Index (ticker HYD), with $3.6 billion in assets, was the picture of tranquility for much of the past three years. From the start of 2017 through February, its share price traded in a range of less than $7, starting at $59.26 and climbing to as high as $66.14 on Feb. 26.

Globalists May Soon Become an Extinct Species; The disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus mean supply chains will be moved closer to home rather than in foreign lands.
A. Gary Shilling – Bloomberg
The coronavirus’s depressing effects on the global economy and disruptions of supply chains is no doubt driving the last nail into the coffin of the globalists.

Coronavirus Could Bankrupt Most Airlines by End of May, Consultant Warns
Anurag Kotoky – Bloomberg
Many carriers are already technically bankrupt, CAPA warns; Governments, industry need to act to avoid catastrophe: CAPA
The coronavirus pandemic will bankrupt most airlines worldwide by the end of May unless governments and the industry take coordinated steps to avoid such a situation, an aviation consultant warned.


$54 Billion Manager Says He Now Fears a Global Credit Crunch
Kati Pohjanpalo – Bloomberg
Financial conditions have clearly tightened worldwide: Varma; Varma’s investment chief calls for substantial fiscal stimulus
One of the biggest Nordic fund managers says he’s worried that credit might stop flowing across the globe if governments don’t step up their game. Reima Rytsola, chief investment officer at the Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Co. in Helsinki, says he can see clear signs that financial conditions have tightened despite efforts by central bankers to provide emergency liquidity.

Fund managers spot rich pickings in wealth market; Clients are accustomed to paying higher fees for personalised service and are less skittish
Owen Walker – FT
When asked by a journalist why he targeted banks, notorious robber Willie Sutton replied: “Because that’s where the money is.” Slick Willie might equally have been describing why investment groups are charging into wealth management.

H2O bond funds lose up to 50% of their value within weeks; Sustained losses include Allegro fund down by 25% in a day
Robert Smith – FT
H2O Asset Management’s flagship bond funds have lost as much as half their value in a matter of weeks, after the London-based fund manager experienced another day of severe losses on Thursday.

Fed speeds up purchase of Treasuries to ease market strains; Central bank to spend $37bn, nearly half its total for March and early April, in a single day
Colby Smith and Brendan Greeley- FT
The Federal Reserve signalled on Friday it is accelerating its purchases of US Treasuries, further stepping up its effort to ease strains in the world’s largest and most liquid government debt market.

Goldman Sachs Reports Two Coronavirus Cases in London, Sydney
Harry Wilson – Bloomberg
Worker at European headquarters tests positive, bank memo says; Sydney-based worker already in quarantine after falling ill
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has confirmed to staff its first two cases of coronavirus as the Wall Street bank steps up plans to split up teams and allow more employees to work from home.

Morgan Stanley Capital Partners to Sell Vet Hospital Business; Deal marks the latest private-equity investment in the pet-care industry, an increasingly popular sector among private investors
William Louch and Laura Cooper – WSJ
The North American private-equity arm of Morgan Stanley Investment Management has agreed to sell veterinary clinic chain Pathway Vet Alliance LLC to consumer-focused buyout firm TSG Consumer Partners, according to people familiar with the matter.

‘Psychological Torture’: The Alleged Extortion of a Venture Capitalist; Threats to publicize unsubstantiated incidents of sexual impropriety unnerved Michael Goguen and other Valley luminaries, according to a federal indictment.
Lizette Chapman – Bloomberg
Last November, the U.S. Attorney in Missoula, Montana, indicted a 56-year-old man named Bryan Nash on 10 charges of stalking and extortion. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation had gathered evidence they said showed that Nash sent hundreds of messages threatening recipients and their immediate families with public humiliation, veiled threats of violence and criminal prosecution. The indictment passed mostly unnoticed, but hundreds of miles away, some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful leaders exhaled. For more than a decade, in some cases, prosecutors say the alleged targets and their families had endured Nash’s threats to publicize unsubstantiated claims of illicit affairs, sex trafficking, pedophilia, and the hiring of prostitutes unless they paid him millions of dollars.

Dalio’s Macro Fund Plunged About 20% This Year as Market Tanked
Hema Parmar – Bloomberg
Bridgewater’s Pure Alpha II slid 13% in March through Thursday; Firm oversees about $160 billion, with half in macro strategy
We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and the global response. Sign up here for our daily newsletter on what you need to know. Ray Dalio’s macro fund dropped about 20% this year as the billionaire fund manager found himself on the wrong side of a market rout caused by the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

JPMorgan’s Worldwide Staff Will Start Working From Home
Michelle F Davis – Bloomberg
JPMorgan Chase & Co. told employees worldwide that they will start working from home on a rotating basis, as the biggest U.S. bank intensifies its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Louis Bacon Gains Double Digits After Calling Virus Shakeout
Katia Porzecanski and Katherine Burton
Moore Capital’s macro fund benefits from cautious market view; Founder hasn’t quit trading as crisis roils global stocks
Louis Bacon’s plans to step back from trading haven’t panned out, and the legendary manager is instead making money in the market meltdown.

JPMorgan Trading Platform for Rich Clients Froze During Rout
Sridhar Natarajan and Michelle F Davis – Bloomberg
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s wealthy clients suddenly found themselves shut out from trading at the height of this week’s drama in stock markets — just as prices cratered into the worst rout since 1987.

Deutsche Bank to Split Teams Globally as Coronavirus Spreads
Steven Arons and Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
Deutsche Bank AG will operate in split teams globally from Monday as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Employees should also observe the separation in their free time, the lender said in a memo to staff.

World’s three biggest fund houses shed $2.8tn of assets; Global sell-off signals end of boom years for asset managers
Peter Smith – FT
The world’s three biggest fund managers have seen their assets shrink by an estimated $2.8tn this year as a global sell-off in financial markets heralds a decisive end to the industry’s golden era of growth.

Crude price crash hits oil-linked exchange traded products; WisdomTree forced to close its three-times leveraged Brent and WTI oil ETPs
Chris Flood and Attracta Mooney – FT
Saudi Arabia’s decision to launch an oil price war caused carnage last week for highly leveraged exchange traded products run by WisdomTree, UBS, Société Générale and Janus Henderson.


Germany wields ‘bazooka’ in fight against coronavirus; Package expands loans to companies as EU warns of ‘major shock’ to economy
Guy Chazan and Sam Fleming – FT
Germany pledged unlimited cash to businesses hit by the coronavirus, in what finance minister Olaf Scholz described as a big “bazooka” to avert a crisis in the eurozone’s largest economy.

South Korea Wants to Show the World How to Tackle the Coronavirus
Jihye Lee – Bloomberg
We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and the global response. Sign up here for our daily newsletter on what you need to know. South Korea has been praised for its effective response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now it wants to share its lessons with the world.

Sweden Advises Against All International Travel as Virus Spreads
Veronica Ek – Bloomberg
Sweden’s foreign ministry said non-essential travel should be avoided because of the vast spread of the novel coronavirus and the “rapidly changing and uncertain situation.”

By Pumping at Will, Saudi Arabia Hurts Oil Investment; Low oil prices will hurt spending on long-term oil projects everywhere, including in the Gulf.
Julian Lee – Bloombewrg
It’s just become a lot harder to make long-term investment decisions in the oil industry. And no, I’m not talking about the need to transition to a low-carbon economy, or the backlash from climate activists and investors. Any veneer of certainty about the future path of oil prices has evaporated.

Latin America Announces Partial Lockdown Amid Coronavirus
Philip Sanders – Bloomberg
Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay all outline new measures; Venezuela’s Maduro to shut down work places in next few days
Latin America is ratcheting up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, with governments across the region announcing a series of new measures. Presidents in Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay went on national television Friday to report the partial closure of borders, quarantine measures, and the banning of large public events.

Saudi Arabia’s Economy Can Ill Afford Oil-Price War It Began
Abeer Abu Omar – Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has just started an oil-price war. Winning it will come at a cost he might not be ready to pay for long.

We’re All Japan Now as Virus Drives Low-Rates World Toward Zero
Enda Curran and Ben Holland – Bloomberg
Tapped-out central banks can’t get private sector to borrow; Fear politicians will spend gives way to panic that they won’t
There aren’t many precedents for the trauma that financial markets have suffered this week, as the coronavirus crisis drove U.S. stocks into a bear market and briefly sent yields on every Treasury bond crashing below 1%.

Coronavirus: Polls Show Many Japanese Want Tokyo Olympics to Be Postponed; A public-opinion poll published by Kyodo News showed 70% of respondents said Olympics couldn’t go ahead as planned
Alastair Gale – WSJ
Many Japanese people favor postponing this summer’s Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, polls show, adding to pressure on organizers to consider a delay or cancellation just days before the Olympic flame arrives in Japan.

Johannesburg Stocks Crash as Coronavirus Response Worsens Woes
Adelaide Changole – Bloomberg
South Africa’s benchmark stock index plummeted to the lowest in more than six years after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a national state of disaster over the coronavirus outbreak stoked investor concern about its impact on an already fragile economy.


Brexit means coronavirus vaccine will be slower to reach the UK; And it will cost more here because of the UK pulling out of the European Medicines Agency on 30 December
Toby Helm – The Guardian
The UK faces having to wait longer and pay more to acquire a coronavirus vaccine because it has left the EU, health experts and international legal experts warn today.

Boris Johnson Pressed to Move Brexit Deadline Amid Coronavirus Threat
Mark Landler and Stephen Castle – The New York Times
As leaders on both sides of the English Channel batten down the hatches for the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain is coming under rising pressure to ask the European Union for an extension in its negotiations to reach a trade agreement — in effect, putting off the next stage of Brexit until the virus exits. Under the terms of its withdrawal agreement with the bloc, Britain legally left the European Union on Jan. 31, but is now in a transition period that preserves most of the old relationship, and has until Dec. 31 to strike a new deal. European officials, and many in Britain, have already said that timetable was hopelessly compressed.

Brexit: coronavirus sparks calls to extend EU transition period
Michael Savage – The Guardian
Britain and the EU are facing calls to back away from a “game of chicken” and extend the Brexit transition period immediately, as both respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Boris Johnson, however, has insisted there will be no change to the transition period – during which the UK follows EU regulations, including its free movement laws. It is scheduled to finish at the end of the year. However, with parts of Europe in lockdown and the UK government expecting the peak of the crisis in Britain in late spring and early summer, some experts are calling for immediate agreement to delay.


The Coronavirus Will Usher in a New Era of Entertainment; Americans are going to need some useful distractions over the next few months.
Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
First the NBA postponed its season, with no immediate resumption in sight, and then March Madness was canceled. Broadway has been shuttered, along with other public entertainments across the country, Disneyland included. These are prudent if belated steps. Nonetheless a question arises: If every empire needs bread and circuses, where will Americans turn for the latter? Which public spectacles will keep us all distracted?

As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Fake News; Facebook’s new new “physical harm” standard is one that Twitter and Google ought to adopt.
Bhaskar Chakravorti – Bloomberg
The news about the Wuhan coronavirus is bad and is getting worse. In terms of its potential for devastation, the current virus is in close competition with its 2003 cousin, the SARS coronavirus. Infections have already surpassed that of SARS cases, and while the new disease doesn’t seem as deadly as SARS, fatalities are edging upward. The human toll also comes with an economic one, and China’s economy is far more essential to the global economy now than it was in 2003, giving new meaning to the old nostrum, when China sneezes, the world catches a cold.

A War Plan for the Next Coronavirus Starts Now; How the military and other government institutions can use this pandemic to create a playbook for future crises.
James Stavridis – Bloomberg
History tells us that every century or two, there is a particularly virulent pathogen that poses a significant global threat to humans. We don’t know if the coronavirus will have the transmission rate of the Spanish Influenza of a century ago — which infected more than a third of the world’s population — and it hasn’t had anything like the 60% lethality of the Avian Flu of 1997. But what if someday we face a biological opponent that combines both?

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