DTCC Building Industry’s First Prototype To Support Digital U.S. Currency In The Clearing & Settlement Process As Part Of Digital Dollar Project Effort

Apr 12, 2022

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

William Knottenbelt, CME Group senior managing director, head of international, will retire at year’s end, the exchange group announced today in a press release, burying the lede, as organizations so often do. CME also announced that Michel Everaert has been named managing director and head of EMEA, a new position based in London, and Russell Beattie will join CME Group in May as managing director and head of Asia Pacific. Also, Serge Marston has been appointed managing director and head of CD&S for EMEA.

Knottenbelt came to the CME in 2011 and replaced Bob Ray as head of EMEA in London. He was appointed senior managing director, head of international in 2014 and has played a key role at the exchange as it has grown its business in the EMEA region since. Congratulations to William on his CME Group retirement and to Michel, Russell and Serge on their new positions.

Covid cases are on the rise in Chicago, Omicron BA.2 is pressuring parts of the U.S., Philadelphia is bringing back masks for inside and universities are bringing back the mask for classes too. In Japan the BA1 and BA.2 omicron strains have mixed to create the XE variant.

However, there is good news in that airports are clogged with passengers again. The bad news is that labor shortages are the cause of the clogging, as an increased number of travelers will be flying this Easter weekend. Bloomberg has the story.

Ed Haravon and Rob Merrilees are real friends of JLN’s, but they are virtual friends too. They are the two co-founders behind Get Real and have published a white paper titled “The Virtual Water Cooler: What Is A Metaverse Watercooler?”

ICE today announced the launch of a new partnership with McLaren Racing with an amplified focus on sustainability and diversity. ICE will become a sponsor of McLaren’s Extreme E Team, the innovative new series featuring all-electric off-road competition with male and female drivers behind the wheel using data to create a competitive advantage. This leverages ICE’s relationship with McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who is one of the featured influencers of the ICE and NYSE “Make the Connection” marketing campaign.

ICE continues to impress me with how they are expanding and leveraging the “Make the Connection” campaign.

There was a protest in the City of London at the Lloyd’s of London headquarters over Lloyd’s financing the fossil fuel industry. As a result, Lloyd’s closed its headquarters. Here is another good reason to work from home.

Our FIA Hall of Fame member to celebrate today from the 2022 inductees is Hiromi Yamaji.

Speaking of the FIA, special rates for the Law & Compliance Conference to be held on April 27 – 29 end on Wednesday. For more information, click HERE.

I am not a fan of Patrick Young’s anymore for a variety of reasons, some professional, some personal, but here is an interview the loquacious Irishman did with the CEO of Vermiculus, Taraneh Derayati, for his IPO-VID. Young has long yearned to have his own derivatives video operation and today he produces a number of different series. I would like him more if he were a little less angry and a lot more humble and he would look up the word kind in the dictionary.

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


New York Lets ‘Fearless Girl’ Hold Her Ground, for Now; Officials voted to extend the sculpture’s permit but are requiring stakeholders to return in six months with plans for a permanent location.
Zachary Small – NY Times
The popular “Fearless Girl” sculpture will continue to stand outside the New York Stock Exchange after city officials voted on Monday to extend the sculpture’s temporary permit for 11 months. This decision comes with the stipulation that the city, the owner of the sculpture and the artist return in six months with a process for deciding the artwork’s ultimate fate.

***** Fearless Girl stands her ground again. Need we say more?~JJL


Inside the covert network sending arms and drones to Ukraine forces
Robert Klemko – Washington Post
They wait in a secret warehouse on the city’s outskirts, lounging in a corner hammock or an idle wheelchair as a red van weaves through small villages and over gravel roads. When it finally pulls into the gated lot, seven bodies spring into action. The drones are here. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for the latest updates on Russia’s war in Ukraine. The volunteers unloading the military supplies are friends from the Ukrainian film and television industry — a longhair bunch of cinematographers, gaffers, set decorators and marketing strategists. They take dozens of boxes of self-heating meals, six thermal rifle scopes, a satellite communications kit and 10 drones worth $8,000 each. All are bound for the front.

***** One of the great stories of this conflict is the amazing number of people involved in bringing supplies of all kinds to Ukraine and the myriad connections Ukrainians have around the world.~JJL


55-acre Lake Geneva site once used as a ski hill listed for $5.7M
Bob Goldsborough – Chicago Tribune
A 55-acre property close to the south shore of Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin — and which once was used as a ski hill — was listed March 20 for $5.75 million. The land has had many uses over the years, but it is probably best remembered for being the site of the Majestic Hills ski area, which operated from 1957 until 1988. The land previously had been a golf course for William Grunow Sr.’s lakefront estate. The Grunow family converted the land to a chicken farm, and in the 1950s, Grunow’s son, William Grunow Jr., converted the site into a ski hill by moving 600,000 yards of earth, he told the Tribune in 1966, to add 80 feet of vertical drop for an intermediate hill and 100 feet for an expert hill.

***** The ski hill where I learned to snow ski has been fallow for many years and is now for sale. It has the best view of Geneva Lake there is.~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was LME chief calls for scrutiny of private deals in nickel probes from The Financial Times. Second was Big commodity traders reap rewards as margin calls squeeze smaller rivals, also from The Financial Times. Third was JLN’s new video interview from FIA Boca, ICE’s Chris Edmonds Dishes on Risk, Messaging and Systemically Important Financial Institutions at Boca 2022.


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Lead Stories

DTCC Building Industry’s First Prototype To Support Digital U.S. Currency In The Clearing & Settlement Process As Part Of Digital Dollar Project Effort; “Project Lithium” prototype will test the ability of U.S. market infrastructure to support a Fed-issued central bank digital currency using a DLT platform
As the U.S. government advances its analysis into the risks and benefits of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the premier post-trade market infrastructure for the global financial services industry, today announced the development of the first prototype to explore how a CBDC might operate in the U.S clearing and settlement infrastructure leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT). The prototype, known as Project Lithium, will measure the benefits of a CBDC and inform the future design of the firm’s clearing and settlement offerings. It will also explore how a CBDC could enable atomic settlement, a conditional settlement that occurs if delivery and payment are both received at the same time.

CME Group Announces New Regional Leadership Structure to Strengthen Focus on International Business Growth and Facilitate Enhanced Service to Clients Outside the United States
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, today announced a new regional leadership structure to support its growing international business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific. The new structure is designed to enhance the company’s ability to provide local expertise and globally relevant products and services that meet the diverse risk management needs of its clients around the world. Reporting to Derek Sammann, Senior Managing Director, Global Head of Commodities, Options and International Markets and a member of the CME Group Management Team, the following executives have been appointed to new roles: Michel Everaert, has been named Managing Director and Head of EMEA, a new position based in London.

International head departure sees CME rethink EMEA and Asia leadership; Head of international, William Knottenbelt, is retiring from CME Group after nearly 11 years, with multiple individuals set to replace him to foster a “local” approach in the regions.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
CME Group has reshuffled its leadership to refocus attention on growing its business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia following the announced departure of its head of international. Several individuals have been selected by the exchange operator to replace William Knottenbelt, who is retiring after 11 years with CME Group at the end of this year.

Nickel Drama Spurs Chicago Bourse Bid to Grab Trade From LME
Joe Deaux, Jack Farchy and Archie Hunter – Bloomberg
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trying to capitalize on the London Metal Exchange’s nickel-trading crisis, is offering incentives to traders to boost its less-popular aluminum futures contract, according to people familiar with the matter. Representatives of the Chicago exchange have approached major physical and financial players in the aluminum market in recent weeks, offering them credits, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The CME is expanding the reach of an existing program, which is mostly limited to brokers, to other market participants like traders and banks, according to one of the people.

‘Staggering’ Crypto Seizures Have Cops Struggling to Keep Up; Some criminals see digital assets as easier to hide and transfer. Law enforcement is learning fast.
Ellen Milligan and David Voreacos – Bloomberg
One spring day in a village just west of London, residents saw a man being muscled into a car in front of a nearby house. He reappeared with cuts and bruises 13 hours later, but the cops had already discovered the house was a cannabis-growing operation. A separate search of the man’s home in a nearby town turned up something more intriguing—some of the first cryptocurrency that would ever be seized by U.K. police.

JPMorgan succession rekindles US debate over ‘imperial’ CEOs; Bank raises prospect of splitting top role with Jamie Dimon staying on as non-executive chair
Patrick Temple-West, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Joshua Franklin – FT
Chief among all the succession questions on Wall Street is what will happen when Jamie Dimon relinquishes the top job at JPMorgan. Last week, the bank offered a rare glimpse of its preparations in a securities filing that said a “substantial majority” of investors wanted him to stay on as non-executive chair when he steps down as chief executive.

If Crypto Can’t Be Used to Evade Russian Sanctions, What Is the Point? Only small sums of money seem to have left Russia via digital currencies, which suggests their chances of ever replacing today’s government-run monetary system are low
Jon Sindreu – WSJ
If cryptocurrencies can’t have their moment in the sun when the entire Western monetary system is called into question, it may be time to call it quits. As new sanctions hit Russia, the price of bitcoin keeps falling and is already 13% below where it was at the start of the year. Other digital currencies like ether and dogecoin have dropped in lockstep as stocks have stumbled, confirming once again that crypto gyrations mostly depend on broader speculative appetite.

Crypto.com Hires Financial Crimes Expert From Western Union; Duncan DeVille, a former regulator and federal prosecutor, will become the cryptocurrency company’s global head of financial crimes compliance
Dylan Tokar – WSJ
Crypto.com has hired a former Washington regulator and federal prosecutor to oversee its efforts to ensure the fast-growing online cryptocurrency platform isn’t used for crimes such as terrorism financing and fraud. Duncan DeVille will serve as the Singapore-based company’s executive vice president for compliance in the Americas region and as its global head of financial crimes compliance, Crypto.com said Monday. He will report to the company’s chief compliance officer, Antonio Alvarez.

Record High Office Lease Expirations Pose New Threat to Landlords and Banks; Rise in office space hitting the market this year is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic
Konrad Putzier, Peter Grant – WSJ
A record amount of U.S. office space is hitting the market this year due to a jump in lease expirations, putting property owners in a bind and threatening to leave banks and other lenders stuck with more troubled loans. Most office building owners have been able to ride out the pandemic because corporate tenants have been locked into long-term leases. They continued paying rent even when their employees stayed home. Now as more leases expire, a growing number of tenants are shrinking their offices because they need less space under hybrid strategies that blend office with remote work, brokers say.

Food Fight Heats Up for Ethanol; Costly gasoline spurs calls to allow higher ethanol-blend of fuel year-round, even as corn prices rise
Jinjoo Lee – WSJ
Can a swig of ethanol help fuel prices go down? The Renewable Fuels Association, a lobbying group, on Monday announced a new campaign pushing for year-round U.S. sales of E15, a blend of fuel that mixes 15% ethanol with gasoline. Most gasoline sold in the U.S. contains 10% ethanol. Elected officials from the Corn Belt have also sent letters seeking such a measure: Last month, senators including Chuck Grassley from Iowa and Dick Durbin from Illinois asked President Biden for year-round sales of E15. Last week, the Kansas attorney general and the Iowa attorney general wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

SPAC Trades May Have Made as Much as 888% Profit—Now, Some Are Drawing SEC Scrutiny; Before many blank-check company merger announcements, there was a curious spike in warrant trading.
Noah Buhayar and Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
A pattern of prescient and potentially very lucrative trading has taken shape on a once-obscure corner of Wall Street—and U.S. investigators are suspicious. The setting is the world of special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, the shell corporations that have flooded onto markets in recent years to raise money from investors and then hunt for companies to buy. The instrument is a stock warrant, which gives holders the right to buy shares at a specified price in the future. SPACs happen to issue a lot of warrants.

Sucden Financial Appoints Michael Bell to Expand Coffee Business
Sucden Financial
Sucden Financial, the global multi-asset execution, clearing and liquidity provider, has hired Michael Bell as a coffee broker to help further expand its soft commodities services. Bell brings extensive market experience, with previous senior positions at several banks and brokers and as a former LIFFE coffee and cocoa grader. Previous roles include nineteen years with Société Genéralé in London as a director and broker in its soft commodities team, ABN Amro, specialising in coffee and cocoa, and Merrill, covering various commodity markets.

Home Workers Are Making Some Offices Redundant; Workplaces are still half-empty, even as restaurants and airports refill. Rising vacancy rates mean building owners may soon have to think about expensive redevelopments.
Carol Ryan – WSJ
Life would be easier for commercial property landlords if white-collar employees would just come back to the office. Instead, they must weigh options to refurbish older workplaces or convert them to entirely different uses. Two years after Covid-19 lockdowns forced a shift to remote working, offices remain much emptier than they were in 2019. Average occupancy in the U.S. is 42%, according to Kastle Systems’ latest Back to Work Barometer, which measures swipe-card access. Expensive cities such as San Francisco and New York are lagging behind, perhaps because some employees have moved to more affordable places or are reluctant to return to long daily commutes, whereas Austin has the highest rate nationwide. Across the Atlantic, London’s occupancy peaked at 42% in mid-March, data from Freespace shows.

Capital Group Is Mystery Seller of Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank; The bank stakes were worth a combined 1.75 billion euros; The trades come weeks after Capital Group sold Barclays shares
Steven Arons and Swetha Gopinath – Bloomberg
U.S. investment firm Capital Group sold its stakes in two of Germany’s biggest banks, depriving the industry of a shareholder that has been seen as a stabilizing force. Capital Group is divesting from Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG just weeks after it sold 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) of Barclays Plc shares, according to people familiar with the matter. The investment firm was previously among the largest shareholders in each of the three companies, Bloomberg data show.

Airports Clogged With Queues as Travel Rebound Strains Resources; Labor shortage after Covid is new headache for aviation sector; Long queues expected as long Easter holiday weekend approaches
Angus Whitley – Bloomberg
Understaffed airports and airlines from Australia to Europe are struggling to cope with a fresh rush of travelers, with long queues and flight disruptions expected to persist as the busy Easter weekend approaches.

Protests Hit Lloyd’s of London HQ Over Fossil Fuel Insurance; police vans seen near insurance underwriting house in the City
Extinction Rebellion calls for end of fossil fuel support
Charles Capel – Bloomberg
Climate change protesters in London have targeted insurance underwriting house Lloyd’s of London for its role in enabling fossil fuel projects. The City of London Police said they were aware of protests at London’s Liverpool Street Station and the Lloyd’s building on Lime Street. At least 10 police vans were seen outside the building, and a helicopter hovered above.

War Requires Rethink of EU Carbon Reform, Market Architect Says; Delbeke says immediate CO2 supply cuts may magnify ; rice hikes
Europe should aim for 60-90 euro price range, Delbeke says
Ewa Krukowska – Bloomberg
The deepest overhaul of the European Union’s carbon market should be adapted to the drastically changed energy landscape caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Jos Delbeke, a key architect of the bloc’s cap-and-trade system.

Lloyd’s of London shuts headquarters after fossil fuel protest; Climate group Extinction Rebellion barricades one of City’s best-known buildings
Ian Smith – FT
Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance marketplace, was forced to shut its headquarters on Tuesday and shift to remote trading after a group of climate activists barricaded one of the City’s best-known buildings. Climate group Extinction Rebellion, which has targeted banks and the Bank of England in previous protests over the financing of the fossil fuel industry, said it was the first time it had compelled a financial institution to close its doors.

Out with the old: abrdn; Following its notorious rebrand, Annabel Smith sits down with global head of investment execution at abrdn, Louise Drummond, to discuss the asset management giant’s plans for the future exploring automation, regulation and changing market structure.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Just outside the window, the Bow Bells chime as abrdn’s global head of investment execution, Louise Drummond, explains how the asset manager has kept its place among the giants. With £532 billion under management the FTSE 100 asset manager gives the bells a run for their money in the age department, spanning back 197 years. Today, the firm has its fingers in many pies, boasting a strong global presence across asset classes and in both passive and active investment strategies.

LCH sees record first quarter across clearing services; SwapClear, ForexClear and SwapAgent all saw record volumes at the start of this year.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
The London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSEG) clearing arm, LCH, has reported record volumes across its clearing businesses in the first quarter of 2022. LCH’s global interest rate swap business, SwapClear, achieved a record in cleared trades which saw $323.9 trillion cleared in notional from 2.05 million trades, an increase of 19% and 7% respectively compared to the same period last year.

Alliance Bernstein weathers storm and bolsters new Equity Capital Markets business; Investment manager is backing an improvement in revenues for the Equity Capital Markets despite suboptimal market conditions causing them to plummet 75% in Europe this year.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Bernstein Research is continuing to bolster its new Equity Capital Markets (ECM) practice with the appointment of new global co-heads of the division despite ongoing market uncertainty and volatility. The sell-side research arm of New York-based investment manager, Alliance Bernstein, has appointed Jonathan C. Biele and Alastair Walmsley to head up its newly launched practice, based in the US and the UK respectively.

Ukraine Invasion

Moscow’s Central Banker Dismantles What She Built; Elvira Nabiullina, who strove to integrate Russia into the world economy, has dropped that mission for a new one—shielding the populace from the fallout of sanctions
Alexander Osipovich, Tom Fairless – WSJ
Elvira Nabiullina spent eight years modernizing Russian monetary policy and forging bonds with global markets. In the past six weeks, she took apart much of what she created for a new task: keeping President Vladimir Putin’s war economy humming. Ms. Nabiullina, governor of the Russian Central Bank, is among the key players in Moscow’s efforts to prevent Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion from causing an economic meltdown. An ally of Mr. Putin for two decades, she is the primary official responsible for stabilizing the ruble and combating inflation—tasks the Kremlin sees as essential in shielding Russia’s population from the fallout of sanctions.

Ukraine’s Crypto Donations Reach the $100 Million Mark
Edith Muthoni – Tradingplatforms.com
More than a decade after the first digital currency came into existence, it’s safe to say that cryptocurrencies are a revolutionary invention, if the many use cases are anything to go by. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February has just proven how useful these currencies can be in times of uncertainty. Since the first attack on 24th February, Ukraine has been receiving digital token donations from all across the world. According to reports by Tradingplatforms.com, crypto donations total to about $100 million, not counting the amount the country raised from its NFT sales.

U.S. Hunt For Russian Oligarchs’ Huge Fortunes Faces Barriers Offshore; Their moves during the past decade to hide billions of dollars could thwart sanctions imposed over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
Greg Miller and Spencer Woodman – Washington Post
Financial monitors at one of New York’s most storied banks were watching as hundreds of millions of dollars moved through offshore accounts. The wire transactions — a dozen in all, totaling more than $700 million — were suspicious enough to officials at Bank of New York Mellon that they submitted a stream of alerts to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general says office investigating thousands of Russian war crime cases
Monique Beals – The Hill
Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said on Monday that her office is investigating 5,800 war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia during Moscow’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

Canadian banks go on hiring spree, defying tight labour market, inflation
Nichola Saminather – Reuters
Canada’s biggest banks started fiscal 2022 on a hiring spree, adding staff despite a tight labour market, especially to boost digital capabilities. Their expansion in the midst of surging inflation could threaten profit margins, particularly as higher interest rates weigh on loan volumes.

Ukraine War’s Most Potent Weapon May Be a Cell Phone; Russia has a big lead in information warfare, but the U.S. is pressing its advantage in global messaging.
James Stavridis – Bloomberg
As the war in Ukraine pushes well into its second month, much of the outcome thus far — including Russian failures in executing their battle plans — is the result of logistics. Moscow has struggled abysmally to get gasoline, ammunition and food to its frontline troops. On the Ukrainian side, the flow of weapons and other materiel from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. has been breathtaking.

A Russian Default Is a Question of When, Not If; The U.S. is smothering Russia’s ability to pay its debts.
Marcus Ashworth – Bloomberg
Unless Vladimir Putin rapidly comes to his senses and pulls out of Ukraine, Russia is on the verge of being cast out of the international capital markets for a very long time. Any bondholders still invested in the nation’s debt are on their own. The Russian government has tried to maintain payments to its creditors, but the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is inexorably and expertly tightening the noose to halt those money flows. All the avenues and back-channels for Russian government-related entities to keep servicing their debts are being shut down. The credit-rating agencies and benchmark bond-index providers are dropping Russia bonds from their businesses. A formal default by the government is likely to be triggered in the next few weeks.

No grand theory can explain the Ukraine crisis; The ‘end of history’, the ‘clash of civilisations’ and realism have all been found wanting
Janan Ganesh – FT
Because the word is more often applied to eveningwear, modernist furniture and a certain kind of footballer, we forget that academic theories can also be “elegant”. If one seems to explain a lot with a little, if it has few moving parts but great sweep, it can be so beautiful as to leave readers wishing it were true. “The a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me”, wrote Charles Darwin’s brother of The Origin of Species, “that if the facts won’t fit in, why so much the worse for the facts.”

Ukraine Desperately Needs Food—and One U.S. Executive Crossed the Globe to Help; The war has decimated Ukraine’s food supply chain, leading to shortages; Stanislas Vilgrain solicited donations and drove them across Europe to Lviv
Alistair MacDonald – WSJ
At a warehouse in western Ukraine, thousands of boxes of foreign meat, cookies and canned goods recently awaited the last leg of their journey across a nation that until recently was one of the world’s biggest food producers. U.S. food executive Stanislas Vilgrain contributed cargo of his own—chicken, pork and duck—surrounded by an army of volunteers working at a frantic pace in an area recently hit by a Russian missile.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

DTCC testing infrastructure to support digital US currency; New prototype will measure the benefits of a CBDC and inform the future design of the firm’s clearing and settlement offerings.
Chris Lemmon – The Trade
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has commenced testing how a central bank digital currency (CBDC) might operate in its US clearing and settlement infrastructure using distributed ledger technology (DLT). Named Project Lithium, the prototype will measure the benefits of a CBDC and inform the future design of the firm’s clearing and settlement offerings. It will also explore how a CBDC could enable atomic settlement, a conditional settlement that occurs if delivery and payment are both received at the same time.

The total trading value with the shares listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange doubles in the first 3 month to over EUR 1 billion
Bucharest Stock Exchange
The value of transactions performed in the first 3 months of this year with the shares of companies listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) exceeds the value from the first 6 months of last year. The total trading value for equity transactions increased in the first quarter of the year by 105% compared to the same quarter last year and exceeded RON 5 billion (over EUR 1 billion). BVB sees 11 new listings of issues of shares and bonds in the first quarter.
BET20: The BET index reaches 20 companies for the first time in its 24-year history.
Romania has become more visible internationally, with 11 companies in the Emerging Market indices.

Intercontinental Exchange and McLaren Racing Launch New Partnership With Amplified Focus on Sustainability and Diversity
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
ICE will Become a Sponsor of McLaren’s Extreme E Team, the Innovative New Series Featuring All-Electric Off-Road Competition with Male and Female Drivers Behind the Wheel
Using Data to Create a Competitive Advantage Underpins Partnership, Exemplified by McLaren CEO Zak Brown’s Participation in New ICE Marketing Campaign
Event at NYSE on Tuesday Will Feature McLaren’s Extreme E Race Car, Press Conference with McLaren’s Zak Brown and ICE CMO Stephanie Dobbs Brown
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE), a leading global provider of data, technology, and market infrastructure, and McLaren Racing today announced that ICE has become an Official Partner of the McLaren MX Extreme E Team, which races in a new all-electric series featuring male and female drivers behind the wheel. This is the first year that McLaren has entered the Extreme E series, now in its second season. The series is designed to focus attention on sustainability and diversity in the sport around the globe.

Equity Index Dividend futures; Harness the Potential of the Dividend Market
CME Group
More QuikStrike tools
Equity Index Dividend futures provide you with efficient tools to hedge or express a view on the U.S. dividend market, regardless of the price movement of the benchmark indices. Quarterly and annual contracts are available on the S&P 500 Index. Annual contracts are available on the Nasdaq-100 and Russell 2000 Indices.

Newest offerings on Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
CME Group
Delayed Binary Data
CME Group supports Delayed Binary Data (10 minutes), allowing customers to use CME Group data under delayed licensing terms. This cloud-based delivery mechanism provides customers with low-cost, flexible, reliable data access without the requirement to delay the content so they can focus on its use. Receipt of the data and licensing removes the requirement of intermediary service providers and the costs associated.

Performance Bond Requirements: Energy and Agriculture – Effective April 12, 2022
To Clearing Member Firms; Chief Financial Officers; Back Office Managers; Margin Managers
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below. The rates will be effective after the close of business on April 12, 2022.

5 key takeaways from Focus Day: Digital Assets & Crypto Derivatives
Our recent Focus Day provided a holistic overview of what institutional investors need to know when trading digital assets and their derivatives. Find out more in the five key takeaways we believe summarize the event.

Fixed Income Market Briefing April 2022
Lee Bartholomew, Head of Fixed Income Product R&D, Eurex
Whenever it is time to reflect on business progress, I find myself looking for all the positive things that have evolved. This time around, it is even more vital to be thankful for the small joys that life brings. Q1 was challenging for many, but the uniting of people across the world has served as a beacon of hope for the future. Together we are stronger.

Market Notices
Easter Holiday and ANZAC Day Operating Hours Introduction FEX Global operating hours for the market over the Easter and ANZAC Day period are as follows:

FEX Global Suspension of ESPO Asian Crude (Argus) Futures and Options Contracts
The Board of Directors of FEX Global have determined to indefinitely suspend for trading all futures and options products referencing the ESPO Asian Crude (Argus) Benchmark. This suspension will come into effect after the close of today’s trading session. A market notice has been published at 9.30am today AEST.

CSDI Newsletter, Volume 33 – Winter 2022; Central Securities Depository of Iran Posted
CSDI has released its quarterly newsletter for winter 2022 covering the period from 21 December 2021, to 20 March 2022.
As well as news about the latest CSDI events, the Volume 33 (Winter 2022) features articles about new developments and statistics. Contents include:Changes in Management, New VPs and Directors at CSDI, New High Records in Dividend Distribution via CIGS, Opening Exclusively Customized Portfolios Faster than Ever, Iran’s Giant Football Clubs’ IPO Shatters Records in Capital Market, Chief Operating Officer: Almost 1650 Symbols Added to CSDI Post-Trade System in Q1 2022

Rollout of Electronic Communication Platform 2.0
Further to the Exchange Circular (Ref No: CT/024/22), the Exchange is pleased to announce that following the successful completion of the practice session, Electronic Communication Platform 2.0 (ECP 2.0) will begin its phased rollout on 25 April 2022 (Monday).

Suspension of CCASS Services on 30 Apr, 7 May and 14 May 2022 (Saturdays)
To facilitate internal drill and upgrade activities, CCASS online services will be suspended on the following Saturdays: 30 Apr 2022, 7 May 2022, 14 May 2022

Nasdaq Announces End-of-Month Open Short Interest Positions in Nasdaq Stocks as of Settlement Date March 31, 2022
At the end of the settlement date of March 31, 2022, short interest in 3,350 Nasdaq Global MarketSM securities totaled 10,049,631,674 shares compared with 10,111,145,146 shares in 3,348 Global Market issues reported for the prior settlement date of March 15, 2022. The end-of-March short interest represent 2.63 days average daily Nasdaq Global Market share volume for the reporting period, compared with 2.55 days for the prior reporting period.

NZX market update for March 2022
SAFE HARBOUR IN A GLOBAL STORM • Strong trading volumes and value across wholesale and retail markets • Equity and debt trading both continue to increase • Significant increases from institutional investors, while retail confidence shows signs of waning • This quarter we also welcomed the Booster Innovation Fund and Southland Building Society as new issuers to the Exchange.

Market update: March 2022 (Infographic)
Total Capital Raised
The goal of the NZX is to provide businesses with access to capital to fuel their growth and contribution to the economy. We have seen a steady upward trend in total capital raised on market over the past five years. 2022 has started strongly, with a total of $1,598m for the first three months.

Review of Nifty 5 yr Benchmark G-Sec Index
The Index Maintenance Sub-Committee – Debt (IMSC) of NSE Indices Limited, as part of its quarterly review, announces the following replacement in Nifty 5 yr Benchmark G-sec Index:

TAIFEX Posted Steady Trading in March and Increased Foreign Participation in Q1
Taiwan Futures Exchange (TAIFEX) reported a steady growth of 3.52% year-over-year (YoY) in March, with a total trading volume of 37,442,794 contracts and an average daily volume (ADV) of 1,627,948 contracts. Single Stock Futures (STF) has remained the growth momentum during the month, with an increase of 26.09% YoY to 5,626,977 contracts. The growth mainly attributed to the surge in trading stocks in Shipping and Transportation, Semiconductors as well as Optoelectronics sectors. Of all, the top 5 contracts are EVA Airways (HSF), Evergreen Marine (CZF), United Microelectronics (CCF), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (CDF) and AU Optronics (CHF), highlighting the market demand for risk management as well as trading opportunities in the industries affected by the pandemic.


U.S. fintech Plaid hires Booking.com exec as head of Europe
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Financial technology firm Plaid has hired Ripsy Bandourian, a long-time Booking.com executive, to head up its European operations.
Bandourian joined Plaid last week and is working out of its Dutch offices in Amsterdam. She’ll be tasked with leading the San Francisco-based start-up’s expansion in continental Europe. Keith Grose, formerly Plaid’s head of international, now focuses largely on running the U.K. business.

Liquidity Group Continues to Utilize its Fintech Machine Learning Tech to Fund Geologie with $5 Million, with a 24 Hour Term Sheet
Yahoo Finance
Liquidity Group has once again leveraged its machine-learning ‘Liquidity Analysis’ platform to deploy $5 million in growth funding to Geologie – a fast-growing, New York City-based D2C men’s skincare line, that’s ridding the planet of its endlessly-prevalent misconceptions that men’s skincare is an unattainable luxury.

Fintech Voyager raises $210 mln to become 2nd Philippine ‘unicorn’
Neil Jerome Morales – Reuters
Philippine technology startup Voyager Innovations said on Tuesday it has raised $210 million in its latest funding round, making the company the country’s second “unicorn” with a valuation of more than $1 billion.
Voyager, which serves 47 million people through its consumer platforms that include e-wallet and digital payments, said the fresh capital will fund its digital banking venture and other services like cryptocurrency and micro-investments.

Fintech Nubank nets $650 mln credit line for Mexico, Colombia expansion
Cassandra Garrison – Reuters
Brazil’s Nubank , Latin America’s star fintech, is fueling its expansion in Mexico and Colombia with the investment of a $650-million line of credit, the digital bank said Monday.


Cybersecurity startup founded by Unit 8200 Commander raises $23 million Seed round
Meir Orbach – Ctech
Sentra was co-founded by Asaf Kochan, the Commander of Unit 8200 until last February, Ron Reiter, co-founder of startup Crosswise which was sold to Oracle for $50 million, Yoav Regev, who headed Unit 8200’s Cyber Department under Kochan, and Yair Cohan, a Senior Product Manager at Datadog

Audit Analytics reports on cybersecurity disclosure
Cooley LLP – JDSupra
These days, with our government warning regularly about the likelihood of breaches in cybersecurity, concerns about cyber threats have only multiplied. Introducing the SEC’s new proposal for cybersecurity disclosure in March (see this PubCo post), SEC Corp Fin Director Renee Jones said that, in today’s digitally connected world, cyber threats and incidents pose an ongoing and escalating threat to public companies and their shareholders. In light of the pandemic-driven trend to work from home and, even more seriously, the potential impact of horrific global events, cybersecurity risk is affecting just about all reporting companies, she continued.


Copper appoints senior team to lead prime infrastructure offering; Copper enhances infrastructure offering with five key announcements
Copper.co today announced the appointments of Michael Roberts, Adam Groom, Paul Barham, Ben Carr and Ross Budgen. The five join Copper with immediate effect, as the company progresses with plans to enhance its prime infrastructure offering. Michael Roberts will lead the new team, bringing the best part of two decades’ experience to his new role, joining from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (“BAML”) where he was a managing director and EMEA head of the bank’s prime platform.

Revealed: Which Crypto Firms May Have to Shut Down in the U.K. Next Week
Connor Sephton – Coinmarketcap
Revolut is one of the companies that would be forced to shut down its crypto services in the U.K. — a well-known fintech brand that boasts more than 18 million users. Sixteen crypto companies may be forced to shut down in the U.K. in one week. The businesses — which include Revolut, Wirex, Copper, Blockchain.com, Cex.io and Coinburp — are only temporarily registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

Meta to start testing money-making tools for its metaverse
Facebook owner Meta Platforms is beginning to test tools for selling digital assets and experiences within its virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds, a key part of its plan for creating a metaverse, it said on Monday. The tools will be available initially to a handpicked set of users who are creating virtual classes, games and fashion accessories within the company’s immersive platform, which is accessible via VR headsets, Meta said in a statement.


Elon Musk’s vision for the internet is dangerous nonsense
Robert Reich – The Guardian
The Russian people know little about Putin’s war on Ukraine because Putin has blocked their access to the truth, substituting propaganda and lies. Years ago, pundits assumed the internet would open a new era of democracy, giving everyone access to the truth. But dictators like Putin and demagogues like Trump have demonstrated how naive that assumption was.

Biden will announce emergency waiver on summer ethanol ban to combat rising gas prices
Donald Judd – CNN
Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden on Tuesday will announce new steps his administration is taking to address rising gasoline prices across the country, including emergency measures to expand biofuel sales, countering rising energy prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

FTX exec launches new Republican PAC with $4 million donation
Kollen Post – The Block
Ryan Salame, co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, has launched a new political action committee. First reported by Politico’s Stephanie Murray, the American Dream Federal Action PAC aims to support “forward-looking conservative leaders who understand the urgency of advancing smart policies that set America up for success.”

China’s Goal in Covid Zero Pursuit Shifts Amid Omicron Outbreak; Authorities focus on “zero community spread” in virus fight; Restrictions expected to ease once community spread is cut off
Bloomberg News
China hasn’t budged in its opposition to living with the virus even in the midst of the country’s worst outbreak, but its leaders are now pursuing an easier containment strategy in the uphill battle to tame the hyper-infectious coronavirus. Omicron’s extensive spread means returning to zero local cases is a tall order, even in cities that repeatedly test all residents, trace close contacts and confine everyone to their homes while the virus rages. Instead, officials have now decided that infections among close contacts already corralled into isolation facilities don’t pose a high risk.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak Fined Over Lockdown Parties
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been told they will be fined as part of a police probe into allegations of lockdown parties held at Downing Street. A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have today received notification that the Metropolitan police intend to issue them with fixed penalty notices.


ISDA’s 2021 Definitions Hit Key Adoption Landmark
ISDA and post-trade services provider OSTTRA have announced that the interest rate derivatives market has overwhelmingly transitioned to the 2021 ISDA Interest Rate Derivatives Definitions, hitting a key adoption landmark six months after implementation.

SIFMA AMG Comments on Proposed Changes to Money Market Rules
SIFMA and SIFMA AMG today summited comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to proposed amendments to rules that govern money market funds under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and related proposed amendments.

Ackman Says Proposed SPAC Rules Suggest SEC Backs Him Against Investor Lawsuit; Pershing Square Tontine tells judge agency’s plan supports it; SPAC sued by Jackson group on whether it’s investment company
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
A Bill Ackman SPAC told a judge that proposed rules for the vehicles support its defense against a lawsuit alleging it is acting illegally as an investment company. In a letter to the court on Monday, lawyers for Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd. said the recent plan by the Securities and Exchange Commission “does not state that all SPACs are — or any existing SPAC is — an investment company” as defined under U.S. securities law.

Investing and Trading

The $400 Million Ponzi Scheme that Suckered San Diego; Gina Champion-Cain was a pillar of the business community. She also happened to be running a massive investment scam.
Henry Baker and Brody Ford – Bloomberg
Gina Champion-Cain was a pillar of the San Diego business community. She also happened to be running one of the largest Ponzi schemes of all time. In this episode of Bloomberg Storylines, we go back to how Champion-Cain got her start as a prominent figure in the city’s once-sleepy real estate scene, and how everything started to go sideways when she sought to branch out and build a commercial empire.

Hedge fund trader who won big on GameStop backs energy stocks; Senvest Management snaps up shares in unloved oil and gas companies
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Oil and gas stocks are on track for further strong gains, as a sector shunned by ethically minded investors regains favour, according to the hedge fund manager who made $700mn betting on meme stock GameStop. Richard Mashaal, co-chief investment officer at New York-based Senvest Management, whose 86 per cent gains in 2021 ranked him among the best-performing hedge funds in the world, said he now has a quarter of his portfolio in fossil fuel stocks.

King Dollar is in no danger of losing its world financial crown; Neither the renminbi nor cryptocurrencies pose a serious threat to the greenback’s supremacy
Megan Greene – FT
Like the swallows of Capistrano, the dollar doomsayers have returned. The sanctions against Russia for its war on Ukraine are built around denying Russia access to foreign currencies, particularly the dollar, which dominates global trade and investment. It therefore must follow that countries wanting to avoid a similar fate would seek to diversify away from the US currency. There is a certain logic to that, but the reality is the dollar can’t be avoided and it will remain the dominant currency in trading and transactions.

The problem of low returns; Investors will have to put more money aside if they want to achieve their targets
Philip Coggan – FT
Global equity markets have proved to be remarkably resilient in recent weeks in the face of higher inflation, increases in interest rates and the economic disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But investors still face a long-term problem, as explained by Antti Ilmanen of quant-based investment firm AQR Capital Management in his new book Investing Amid Low Expected Returns. Investors have enjoyed strong realised returns because of falling yields across asset classes that have translated into significant capital gains. But yields cannot fall forever (indeed, bond and cash yields have started to rise). From these starting yield levels, real returns are likely to be low.

Why retail investors shouldn’t overdiversify; With time and effort, you can do better by focusing your portfolio on 10 stocks
Michael Taylor – FT
Nobel-prize winning economist Harry Markowitz wrote that “diversification is the only free lunch in finance”. A free lunch sounds good, but the reality is often bland sandwiches, a plate of crisps and lukewarm coffee. Private investors do not need to diversify as much as they think.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Banks’ Net-Zero Lending Ambitions Hit Snags in Oil-Rich Canada; Bank of Montreal is only lender to plan absolute emissions cut; Royal Bank lags on setting interim targets for reductions
Kevin Orland – Bloomberg
Canada’s banks have only just started on the path toward zeroing-out the carbon emissions of the companies they lend to, and already they’re running into conflicts between what climate activists and ESG investors want and what Canada’s oil-dependent economy demands of them.

Stripe, Alphabet and Others to Spend Nearly $1 Billion on Carbon Removal; A new fund aims to unlock billions of dollars needed to scale a technology scientists say will be crucial to tackle climate change.
Akshat Rathi – Bloomberg
Some of the world’s largest companies will spend $925 million buying offsets from startups that remove carbon dioxide from the air. The Frontier fund, a public-benefit corporation owned by Stripe Inc., has also received funding from Alphabet Inc., Shopify Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and McKinsey & Co. Inc. It will help fledgling carbon-removal companies scale up and reduce the cost of withdrawing each ton of CO2 from the air, which would benefit all companies in the world looking to buy high-quality offsets.

Murphy Oil Strikes First Oil From New Gulf of Mexico Project; Project can produce as much as 85,000 barrels of oil per day; Murphy is the fifth-largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico
Paul Takahashi – Bloomberg
Murphy Oil Corp. has begun producing oil from a new deepwater Gulf of Mexico project, months ahead of schedule. The offshore and shale oil producer on Tuesday said its King’s Quay floating production platform started generating oil from the first two wells in the Khaleesi, Mormont and Samurai fields off the coast of Louisiana. The company is working to complete the remaining five wells in the project.

EPA Will Allow More Ethanol in Gas This Summer in Bid to Tame Prices
Existing rules ban gasoline made of 15% ethanol in summer to cut pollution from the more volatile mix
Timothy Puko – WSJ
The Biden administration plans to temporarily allow high-ethanol content gasoline to be sold in the hot summer months in a bid to tame high fuel prices at the pump, according to senior administration officials.
The decision will allow gasoline with 15% ethanol to be sold between June 1 and Sept. 15. Normally only a 10% ethanol blend can be sold during that time period to reduce smog caused by the 15% blend’s higher volatility.

Carbon Removal’s Hard Problems Require Hard Tech Fixes; Just because the technology is essential to meeting long-term climate goal doesn’t mean it will automatically find a market.
Nathaniel Bullard – Bloomberg
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report sent a stark alert about the world’s current emissions and temperature trajectory. Within the document is a complex chart that maps out dozens of technologies or practices which can reduce emissions, their potential to do so this decade, and the economics of deploying them.

Goldman Women Pick Big Lawsuit Over Arbitration But Many Abstain
Max Abelson – Bloomberg
Hundreds of women who’ve worked for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were given a choice: remain in one of Wall Street’s biggest gender discrimination lawsuits, or leave for the more secretive system of arbitration.

Universities must wean themselves off fossil fuel funding; Academic institutions confer legitimacy on those from whom they take money
Huw Price – FT
In March, an open letter hit the press with the headline, “Universities must reject fossil fuel cash for climate research, say academics”. As two of several hundred signatories, my colleague the Fields Medallist Sir Timothy Gowers and I wanted to elaborate on the reasoning behind our decision to support this effort.


BlackRock Dismisses Three PE Executives Who Plan to Join Apollo
Silla Brush – Bloomberg
BlackRock Inc. said it dismissed three managing directors from its private equity division because they were coordinating an effort to leave the world’s largest asset manager.

Barclays Sees Muni Market Turnaround This Quarter and for 2022; Strategists say most of the bad news already ‘priced in;
Muni prices low enough to lure buyers, outperform Treasuries
Amanda Albright – Bloomberg
Barclays Plc says the municipal market is due to rebound from a record decline in the first quarter and it’s a good time to start buying. “At current levels, a lot of bad news has already been priced in, and muni valuations are cheap enough to outperform Treasuries for the remainder of the year,” strategists Mikhail Foux, Clare Pickering and Mayur Patel said in a note on Monday. “In our view, current levels present a good entry point to start slowly adding muni exposure.”

ABN AMRO Clearing adds European shares to fractional investment infrastructure
ABN AMRO Clearing
ABN AMRO Clearing adds European shares to fractional investment infrastructure
As of this week, clients of online broker BUX can make fractional investments in European ETFs (trackers). The underlying infrastructure is provided by ABN AMRO Clearing. In the coming months, more and more European products will gradually be added to the range of shares open to fractional investing.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank Shares Tumble After Investor Dumps Major Stakes; Contrarian investors had loaded up on German banks betting that the country’s lending landscape would change
Patricia Kowsmann, Ben Dummett – WSJ
A large investor simultaneously sold major stakes in Deutsche Bank AG DB -6.40% and Commerzbank AG CRZBY -3.14% , Germany’s biggest lenders, causing shares in both to tumble. The undisclosed shareholder unloaded roughly 5% stakes in both banks, generating proceeds of around EUR1.75 billion, equivalent to $1.9 billion, based on the sale prices of the offerings, which were arranged by Morgan Stanley. The shares were offered at around 7% discounts to their previous trading levels.

Citi Names Angel Ng as Head of Asia Pacific for Global Wealth Management; Appointment comes as New York-based bank doubles down on serving wealthy clients in the region
Jing Yang – WSJ
Citigroup Inc. C -0.65% has named a new head of wealth management for Asia Pacific, as the New York-based bank continues its strategic pivot toward serving affluent clients in the region.

U.S. Banks’ Pandemic Hot Streak Is Coming to an End; Analysts expect banks in S&P 500 to report first-quarter profit of about $28 billion, down 36% from a year ago
Charley Grant – WSJ
What goes up must come down. That is likely to be the story of banks’ first-quarter earnings. A sense of normalcy has returned to Wall Street. Offices have once again filled up after two years of working from home. Bonanza profits driven by a white-hot market for deals are returning to earth.

iShares trims management fees on $200bn in emerging market and bond ETFs; New 3 basis point fee for Core US Aggregate Bond ETF comes in below Vanguard’s equivalent fund
Joe Morris – FT
iShares has trimmed expenses on seven exchange traded funds, including its $85.5bn Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) and $73.2bn Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG), the manager said. AGG’s fees fell from 4 basis points to 3bp, disclosures show, while IEMG’s slid 2bp to 9bp.

Wellness Exchange

Shanghai lockdown: traders from Standard Chartered to Citigroup keep markets ticking while stuck at home; Brokers at large investment banks are executing trades remotely from home, with IT staff manning systems in the offices to keep the operations going smoothly
Iris Ouyang, Enoch Yiu – South China Morning Post
Banks in Shanghai have undertaken the unusual step of allowing traders of their treasury operations in a range of asset classes from fixed-income financial products to foreign exchange to trade from home, taking an unprecedented measure to keep China’s financial centre ticking while observing a stringent citywide lockdown amid a Covid-19 outbreak.

Magic Mushrooms Improve Brain Connections to Ease Depression; Patients reported emotional release and increased optimism; Study shows psilocybin works faster than conventional pills
Clara Hernanz Lizarraga – Bloomberg
Magic mushrooms connect regions of the brain that are more segregated in people with depression, paving the way to treat the condition differently than with conventional medications. Psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound present in fungi, helped “open up” and improve communication within the brain for up to three weeks, researchers from Imperial College London found. The result was a liberating effect not seen with the traditional antidepressant Lexapro, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

COVID cases in Chicago rise but hospitalizations and deaths remain low; Chicago’s top health official Dr. Allison Arwady says COVID-19 cases are having a ‘limited impact’ on the city’s health care system.
Katherine Davis – Crain’s Chicago Business
Though cases are on the rise, hospitalizations and deaths across the city continue to decline from the omicron surge seen earlier this year. Chicago Department of Public Health data shows about seven people on average were being hospitalized with COVID on April 6, down 38% from the week before. Chicago is also now seeing less than one death per day.

U.S. Orders Consular Staff To Leave Shanghai Amid COVID Surge And Tight Lockdown; The Chinese government is continuing to pursue its strict “zero COVID” policy to fight the current wave.
APThe U.S. has ordered all non-emergency consular staff to leave Shanghai, which is under a tight lockdown to contain a COVID-19 surge. Many residents in the city of 26 million have been confined to their homes for up to three weeks as China maintains its “zero-COVID” strategy of handling outbreaks with strict isolation and mass testing.

Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection
Devi Sridhar – The Guardian
What do I wish I had known in early 2020? Other than to buy shares in toilet paper, Zoom and vaccine companies, I wish I had known that a safe and effective vaccine against severe disease and death from Covid-19 would arrive within a year – and that reinfection would nevertheless become a major issue in managing the disease. These two facts would have shifted the UK government’s response, and allowed for a more unified scientific front in advising them.

The Unbelievable Stupidity of Ending Global Covid Aid
Michelle Goldberg – NY Times
America’s attempt to vaccinate the world against Covid is about to come to an end. “We are at a point now where without additional funding we are going to have to start winding down our programming,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, the leader of the United States Agency for International Development’s Covid-19 task force. Such funding does not appear to be forthcoming. Our gruesomely dysfunctional politics are going to lead to more illness and death across the globe, and we’re increasing the odds that a new viral mutation will once again upend American life. If it does, we might call it the filibuster variant.


As Malaysia mulls next 1MDB move, will Roger Ng’s US conviction dent Najib’s popularity? US jurors found the ex-Goldman banker guilty of helping to embezzle millions from Malaysia’s state fund, in a verdict observers hope will burst perceptions by Najib backers the case is a political smear job
Hadi Azmi – South China Morning Post
Malaysia’s government is facing calls to step up domestic efforts to bring to justice the people behind the 1MDB financial scandal, after a key figure in the multibillion dollar plunder was last week convicted in a US court. Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng, 49, is a major scalp for the US Department of Justice, which first began investigating the case in 2016, when Malaysian officials were still rebuffing calls to view the corruption case – which spanned from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and Switzerland – as a serious criminal matter.

BlackRock Dismisses Three PE Executives Who Plan to Join Apollo
Silla Brush – Bloomberg
BlackRock Inc. said it dismissed three managing directors from its private equity division because they were coordinating an effort to leave the world’s largest asset manager.

South Africans to Face Chicken Price Surge on Tariffs, Importers Warn; Dropping tariffs could ease pressure on food costs, group says; Tariffs form key part of state’s plan to aid local producers
Prinesha Naidoo – Bloomberg
South Africa should scrap all trade-related tariffs on chicken, introduce a three-year moratorium on new duties and remove value-added tax on the protein to ease pressure on food costs, according to a group that represents importers and exporters of poultry, beef and pork. The removal of tariffs alone could translate into a 33% decrease in prices of bone-in chicken pieces and a drop of as much as 20% on chicken offal, Paul Matthew, chief executive officer of the South African Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, said in an online briefing on Monday.

OPEC Tells EU That Russia Oil Crisis Is Beyond Its Control; Commissioner says OPEC could tap its spare output capacity; Barkindo says Russia losses could one day exceed 7 million b/d
Grant Smith – Bloomberg
OPEC’s top diplomat told European Union officials that the current crisis in global oil markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is beyond the group’s control. Russian oil supply losses stemming from current and future sanctions or a boycott by customers could potentially exceed 7 million barrels a day, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said on Monday. That would be far beyond the group’s capacity to replace, he told EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, who had asserted the cartel’s responsibility to balance the market.

The Irish Are Rich in Foreign Investment; A country’s GDP gives a better sense than GNP of its future economic prospects.
Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
By one measure, Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in Western Europe. By another, it is in the middle of the pack. 1 What is going on, and why does it matter? The different measures are GDP per capita and GNP per capita. GDP (gross domestic product) measures the value of what is produced in a country. GNP (gross national product) picks up how much of that value stays in a country.

Sri Lanka suspends bond payments as ‘last resort’; Finance ministry blames pandemic hit to tourism and rising commodity prices as it looks to IMF for assistance
Chloe Cornish, Hudson Lockett – FT
Sri Lanka’s finance ministry has suspended payments on its government bonds, breaking what it called its “unblemished record of external debt service” in a deepening economic and currency crisis. In a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said keeping up with repayments had “become impossible”, adding that “although the government has taken extraordinary steps in an effort to remain current on all of its external indebtedness, it is now clear that is no longer a tenable policy”. It described the suspension as a “last resort”.


‘Fortnite’ Maker Epic Games Valued at Nearly $32 Billion in Funding Round; Epic raises $2 billion in biggest fundraising for a videogame company in two decades
Denny Jacob – WSJ
“Fortnite” creator Epic Games Inc. raised $2 billion, the most for any gaming company in two decades, from investors including Sony Group Corp. The funding means that Epic is now valued at $31.5 billion, after Sony and Kirkbi A/S, the holding company of the Kirk Kristiansen family, put in $1 billion apiece, according to a statement.

He’s the man who would be king—of weed; Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell took a winding path to the top of a company poised to become the biggest U.S. marijuana company.
John Pletz – Crain’s Chicago Business
As a collegiate tennis player, Charlie Bachtell liked to outlast his opponents by pounding away from behind the baseline. After nearly a decade in the marijuana business, the 43-year-old CEO of Cresco Labs is poised to finally surpass his rivals with a $2 billion acquisition that would give him the largest company in the U.S. market.

Fortune just released its annual list of ‘100 Best Companies to Work For.’ Here are the top 10.
Maria Jimenez Moya – USA Today
Fortune just released its annual ranking of the best companies to work for in 2022. The 100 Best Companies to Work For prioritized employee well-being and places that fostered cultures of inclusion, purpose, listening, caring and empathy, according to Fortune.

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The Spread

Traders Betting on China Easing Boost Bearish Options on Banks

Observations & Insight Miami International Holdings, Inc. (MIH) announced that the SEC has approved MIAX Sapphire LLC's application to become a national securities exchange. MIAX Sapphire, MIH's fourth national securities exchange for U.S. multi-listed options,...

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