Facing a Wheat Crisis, Countries Race to Remake an Entire Market on the Fly

May 3, 2022

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The SEC announced plans to nearly double the size of its crypto assets and cyber unit responsible for protecting investors in the crypto markets and from cyber-related crimes. The unit will be renamed as the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit. It was formerly the Cyber Unit in the Division of Enforcement. The headcount is expected to jump 20 to 50 positions. Somehow I feel if this unit was 500 strong, it still would not be enough.

Deutsche Börse announced it has agreed to provide data from the CME Group via its A7 Analytics platform. Traders will be able to test their strategies against data from both exchange groups via the A7 platform.

The OCC reported that its April 2022 total volume was the highest on record, up 9.4 percent year-on-year. The average daily volume in April was 41.8 million contracts, up 4.2 percent compared to the year-to-date average daily volume through April 2021.

FIA Tech announced today that Gily Gazit joined the technology provider as head of product in a newly created role. Gily joins FIA Tech from Citigroup, where she was director of FX prime brokerage strategy.

The CME Group is going to launch options on Micro WTI Crude Oil futures on June 6, 2022, pending regulatory approval. The Micro WTI Crude Oil futures are approaching 20 million contracts traded, the exchange said in its press release, noting that 40% of the volume came from outside the U.S.

Trayport (a TMX company) is holding a webinar titled “Environmental Strategies and the Rise of Voluntary Carbon Markets” on Tuesday, May 10 at 3 p.m BST, 9 a.m. CST. It will be moderated by IncubEx’s Jim Kharouf with panelists Stephanie Harris of 3Degrees Carbon Markets and Nathan Clark of IncubEx. It will be a 45-minute session, with time for questions at the end. You can go here to sign up.

I have two more radiation treatments to go and then I am done with this phase of my prostate cancer treatment. I still have 14 months of hormone treatments, which will challenge my energy levels and physical strength. But I am sure I can tackle this part of the challenge, assuming we ever get spring weather to arrive in Chicago and I can get outside more. Riding a stationary bicycle only goes so far, so to speak.

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


Eventus continues to be a presence in the crypto field. The company’s director of regulatory affairs and digital assets, Mike Castiglione, was just appointed chair of The Association for Digital Asset Markets’ (ADAM) new National Security Working Group. The working group was created to be a bridge between the public and private sectors. Castiglione, by the way, is also a former CIA officer. See the story under “Cybersecurity.”~SR


John Davidson on OCC’s technology changes, options education, and the challenges of continuing options growth

John Davidson is CEO of the OCC, a position he has held since December of 2018. He spoke with John Lothian at the FIA Boca 2022 conference about how the OCC has handled the “remarkable” growth in options trading volume and the recent increase in retail options participation, and how it continues to educate potential options traders.

Watch the video »


Tesla Stock Plummets after Musk Twitter Takeover; CME Group to Launch Aluminum Options Contract; IDX held in London

“Alex Perry’s Optionstopia” takes a look at this week’s options news highlights: Tesla Stock Plummets after Musk Twitter Takeover; CME Group to Launch Aluminum Options Contract; IDX held in London

TERM OF THE WEEK: This week’s Term of the Week presented by Euronext Knowledge Centre is Intrinsic Value of Cash Settled Options.

Watch the video »


FIA’s International Derivatives Expo is returning to The Brewery in London this coming 6-8 June. Standing still is not an option in today’s evolving cleared derivatives environment. Without adapting to new products, processes, technologies and regulations, your business won’t meet the needs of tomorrow’s industry. We’re bringing together industry leaders, vendors and policymakers to discuss what’s “now” in derivatives, and what lies ahead. Sign up here.


Cboe Global Markets Completes Acquisition of ErisX, Entering Digital Asset Market
Cboe Global Markets
Ownership of ErisX provides Cboe with entry to digital asset spot and derivatives markets, including clearing and settlement; Opportunity to build comprehensive digital asset market data offering, create indices and explore further derivative products; Network of industry partners, intermediaries and market participants of all types expected to contribute to ongoing development of client-driven solutions to increase adoption of digital assets and further mature the market
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), a leading provider of global market infrastructure and tradable products, today announced it has completed the acquisition of Eris Digital Holdings, LLC (ErisX), an operator of a U.S. based digital asset spot market, a regulated futures exchange and a regulated clearinghouse. Ownership of ErisX allows Cboe to enter the digital asset spot and derivatives marketplaces through a digital-first platform developed with industry partners to focus on robust regulatory compliance, data and transparency.

***** Congratulations to Cboe on closing the deal. This is a good deal for Cboe; they get a bunch of crypto assets and one WILD asset, Jessica Darmoni. ~JJL


How To Become Rich As A Business Owner
Melissa Houston – Forbes
Business owners are in a unique position to build their wealth. As a business owner, you can build your wealth through your business. You have more control over the money you bring in, the profit you create in your business, and what to do with that profit. Knowing how to become rich as a business owner is a critical knowledge.

***** Now they publish this. Where was this 20 years ago?~JJL


Putin’s war creates schism in Russian Orthodox Church
CBS News
Last weekend, at a special midnight service in a packed church in Udine, in northeast Italy, a priest led his flock of Ukrainian, Russian and Eastern European immigrants through their usual Orthodox Easter traditions. But recently, he’s also accompanying them on a much less familiar path, sparked by the war in Ukraine. In March, this parish decided to split from its mother church in Moscow, joining instead the Istanbul-based Orthodox Church, whose leader has criticized the war – in stark contrast from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

***** Add holy war and schism to the list of issues impacting the world.~JJL


‘Extremely risky’ and ‘inherently predatory’: Wikipedia organization decides to stop accepting crypto donations
David Meyer – Fortune
The organization that runs Wikipedia has decided to stop accepting donations in cryptocurrency form, for reasons ranging from crypto’s environmental impact to reputational damage for the open-source encyclopedia project. The decision to shutter the Wikimedia Foundation’s BitPay account, announced Sunday, stemmed from a proposal made at the start of the year by long-standing Wikipedia editor Molly White. Over 70% of those voting backed the move.

***** MarketsWiki only takes U.S. dollars, which are extremely risky, but not predatory.~JJL


Google makes $100,000 worth of tech training free to every U.S. business
Paresh Dave – Reuters
Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google will provide any U.S. business over $100,000 worth of online courses in data analytics, design and other tech skills for their workers free of charge, the search company said on Monday. The offer marks a big expansion of Google’s Career Certificates, a program the company launched in 2018 to help people globally boost their resumes by learning new tools at their own pace. Over 70,000 people in the United States and 205,000 globally have earned at least one certificate, and 75% receive a benefit such as a new job or higher pay within six months, according to Google.

***** This is a must do. You don’t get a $100K gift every day.~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was The New Yorker’s The Plan to Make Michigan the Next Space State, which it turns out is about Tom Baldwin, the former CBOT bond and commodities trader who was known for trading two billion dollars’ worth of bonds in a single day. Second was The Washington Post’s Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all. Third was Wall Street Reluctantly Embraces Crypto, from The Wall Street Journal.


MarketsWiki Stats
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MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Facing a Wheat Crisis, Countries Race to Remake an Entire Market on the Fly; With war in Ukraine upending global grain trade, other countries scramble to fill the gap in supplies, but soaring prices threaten to worsen food insecurity in poor regions.
Jesse Newman and Patrick Thomas – The Wall Street Journal
The war in Ukraine was barely a month old when Augusto Bassanini, chief executive of United Grain Corp., received an unusual signal from the global wheat market. The Washington-based grain exporter, owned by Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co., normally routes its products across the Pacific Ocean to Asia. In March, though, an Egyptian importer that hadn’t done business with United in two decades booked 60,000 tons of wheat to be shipped from the Port of Vancouver in Washington through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic Ocean—thousands of miles farther than Egypt’s principal grain suppliers, Ukraine and Russia, and at a far higher cost.

SEC to Hire More Crypto Cops to Fight Digital Frauds; Agency to add 20 staffers to help tighten scrutiny of unregulated $1.7 trillion cryptocurrency market
Dave Michaels, Paul Kiernan – WSJ
The Securities and Exchange Commission will boost the size of its special unit devoted to investigating cryptocurrency frauds and other misconduct, a move that follows the agency’s aggressive push to get the unregulated industry to come under federal supervision. The SEC said it plans to add 20 investigators and litigators to its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, which was created in September 2017 when regulators noticed a surge of new digital coins sold to the public. The commission has positioned itself as the chief government bulwark against fraud in the $1.7 trillion market, which so far has sidestepped most federal consumer- and investor-protection rules.

Citi acknowledges trading error after flash fall in some European shares; Swedish stocks were especially hard hit during sudden plunge on Monday
Joshua Franklin – FT
Citigroup acknowledged an error by one of its traders on Monday hours after some European stocks were hit by a short, sudden tumble. Nordic stocks were particularly hard hit, with Sweden’s benchmark OMX 30 tumbling as much as 7.9 per cent before recovering to close 1.9 per cent lower. Overall, the regional Europe Stoxx 600 index slid as much as 3 per cent before trimming its losses to trade down 1.5 per cent.

The Tale of a Crypto Executive Who Wasn’t Who He Said He Was; The chief operating officer of ZenLedger, a software company, boasted of work for Goldman Sachs and Larry King. Did anyone check to see if it was true?
Ron Lieber – NY Times
When ZenLedger put out word of a deal in March for the Internal Revenue Service to keep using its software, Dan Hannum said he was “thrilled.” It was a big moment for the company, which has the backing of Mark Cuban and other investors as it aims to be a kind of TurboTax for crypto enthusiasts. It was no surprise Mr. Hannum was front and center in ZenLedger’s news release. As its chief operating officer, he had spoken with the voice of the company to The Wall Street Journal, Politico and numerous podcasters.

Deutsche Börse to provide global derivatives market data from CME Group on A7 Analytics platform
Deutsche Börse
Deutsche Börse is expanding the market data offering on its cloud-based online analytics platform A7 to include historical market data from global derivatives marketplace CME Group. The two firms recently reached a licensing agreement, which will enable market participants to test their trading strategies and make highly-informed trading decisions by subscribing to market data sets from either, or both, exchanges via the A7 platform. Historical data from CME Group will be available daily on a t+1 basis, and, initially, will include data from each of its four designated contract markets – the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). The new data sets from CME Group will be available from June of this year.

Top Nomura Trader Admits Lying to Clients But Says Everyone Did
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
James Im, who led Nomura’s commercial mortgage-backed securities trading desk from 2009 to 2014, on Monday took the stand in his own defense against a Securities and Exchange Commission suit accusing him of lying to boost the firm’s profits and his own bonus. Under questioning by his lawyer, Im testified that he sometimes misled clients about the prices at which Nomura had bought or sold bonds or pretended he was negotiating with a fictitious third-party. When he lied about who owned some bonds, he was trying to set a “floor,” or the lowest level at which he would buy a security, Im said.

The Era of Cheap and Plenty May Be Ending; Supplies of goods are coming up short in the pandemic, and prices have jumped. Some economists warn that the changes could linger.
Jeanna Smialek, Ana Swanson – NY Times
For the past three decades, companies and consumers benefited from cross-border connections that kept a steady supply of electronics, clothes, toys and other goods so abundant it helped prices stay low. But as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine continue to weigh on trade and business ties, that period of plenty appears to be undergoing a partial reversal. Companies are rethinking where to source their products and stocking up on inventory, even if that means lower efficiency and higher costs. If it lasts, such a shift away from fine-tuned globalization could have important implications for inflation and the world’s economy.

Gily Gazit joins FIA Tech as Head of Product
FIA Tech
FIA Tech, the futures industry’s leading technology provider, today announced that Gily Gazit has joined in the newly created role of Head of Product. Gily joins FIA Tech from Citigroup, where she was Director, FX prime brokerage product strategy, and led and managed the entire tech stack of the FXPB global business, from front office products to middle office and key vendor products.”We are delighted to welcome Gily to FIA Tech,” said Yossi Leon, Chief Technology Officer at FIA Tech. “Gily will work with FIA Tech’s customers, product advisory committees, partners and internal teams to define the global roadmap across all products. Leading the product requirements processes and directing the roll-out of new services and capabilities, Gily will be driving innovation for our user community of over 8,000 firms trading and clearing exchange traded derivatives.”

NFT Sales Are Flatlining; Is this the beginning of the end of NFTs?
Paul Vigna – WSJ
The NFT market is collapsing. The sale of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, fell to a daily average of about 19,000 this week, a 92% decline from a peak of about 225,000 in September, according to the data website NonFungible. The number of active wallets in the NFT market fell 88% to about 14,000 last week from a high of 119,000 in November. NFTs are bitcoin-like digital tokens that act like a certificate of ownership that live on a blockchain.

Strikes at UK financial regulator due to start this week; Only limited number of Financial Conduct Authority staff expected to take part in industrial action
Kate Beioley – FT
Unionised staff at the Financial Conduct Authority will mount the first strike in the chief UK financial regulator’s nine-year history this week over a dispute about pay and working conditions. Staff will go on strike on Wednesday and Thursday following a protracted battle with management over restructuring plans that Unite claims would amount to pay cuts for many employees.

Horn of Africa ravaged by worst drought in four decades; Up to 20mn people could go hungry as delayed rains exacerbate fallout from war in Ukraine
Andres Schipani and David Pilling – FT
When the last of his 250 goats died, pastoralist Abdullahi Abdi Wali knew it was time to flee what he calls the “worst drought” in his 99 years of life. “This is the first time I was displaced by a drought,” he said, looking back on his near-century in south-eastern Ethiopia. After the death of his animals, Wali walked for five days under a scorching sun to reach a makeshift camp hosting 10,000 Ethiopian pastoralists outside the city of Gode, where they now receive food and water.

The SEC Is Beefing Up Crypto Enforcement. Its Target Is Basically Everything.
Joe Light – Barron’s
Cryptocurrency executives already reeling from rapid-fire probes and enforcement actions brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission just got another thing to worry about. The SEC on Tuesday said it is almost doubling the size of its cyber task force and renaming it as the “Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit” to reflect its growing focus on the crypto industry. Now, the unit will have 50 dedicated positions, instead of 30, and SEC Chair Gary Gensler said the increased manpower would give the unit more bandwidth “to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets while continuing to identify disclosure and controls issues with respect to cybersecurity.”

Wall Street Regulators Consider ‘Staggering’ Curbs on Complex ETFs; Industry pushes back on Finra ideas to control retail access; Potential restrictions are ‘unprecendented,’ ProShares says
Katherine Greifeld and Sam Potter – Bloomberg
Wall Street watchdogs and issuers of “complex” exchange-traded products are headed for a showdown as regulators weigh tough and far-reaching rules to curb retail investor access. Market players are up in arms after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority called for comments last month on whether strict measures should be introduced to raise the barriers to such products. Depending how Finra chooses to define the term, the crackdown could hit everything from leveraged and inverse vehicles to cryptocurrency-linked funds and defined-outcome strategies.

EU is expected to approve a Russian oil embargo in a bid to halt the Ukraine war, a report says
Sam Tabahriti – Business Insider
The European Union is expected to approve a Russian oil embargo in a bid to halt the Ukraine war. The New York Times and other outlets first reported the story. EU ambassadors are expected to meet on Wednesday to finalize the proposal, weeks after EU countries discussed the measure. The move would facilitate a quick approval and avoid the time-consuming process of gathering leaders, the Times reported.

Nasdaq Nordic says investigating price movements after flash crash
Reuters Staff – Reuters
Nasdaq Nordic is looking into an unexplained plunge in equities earlier on Monday, which brokers Nordnet said was a “flash crash” triggered by a brief market panic, a spokesperson said. Nordic stocks had fallen sharply on Monday before partly recovering. “We have noted the very big price movement on our markets which took place during Monday morning and we are now in dialogue with the market about the reason for this,” Nasdaq Nordic spokesperson Rebecka Berntsson said in an e-mail.

Ukraine Central Bank Draws Red Lines for Its Bond Purchases; Bank is among largest contributors to Ukraine wartime funding; Policy makers urge Kyiv to rely on other sources of finance
Volodymyr Verbyany and Maciej Onoszko – Bloomberg
Ukraine’s central bank warned that its financial lifeline to the government has its limits and urged the finance ministry in Kyiv to lean on outside help in efforts to shore up the economy as Russia presses forward with the invasion. The monetary authority, which began direct purchases of Ukrainian government bonds after the war began in late February, added 50 billion hryvnia ($1.65 billion) to its debt portfolio in April, bringing the tally to 70 billion hryvnia. The central bank financing is the third-biggest source of funds behind war-bond proceeds and International Monetary Fund assistance.

Elon Musk’s Twitter deal rewards risk-taking at Morgan Stanley; US bank’s central role in $44bn bid caps long effort to cement ties with the billionaire
Joshua Franklin, Eric Platt, Sujeet Indap, and Miles Kruppa – Financial Times
When Twitter’s board agreed to sell the company to Elon Musk last week, one Wall Street bank was at the centre of the deal: Morgan Stanley.
Its role in the $44bn bid caps a years-long effort to cultivate ties with the world’s richest person. The terms of the financing underscore the risks investment bankers are willing to shoulder in order to win lucrative clients in the technology sector.

Outspoken China Strategist Leaves State-Owned Broker After Social-Media Accounts Are Censored; Bocom International says Hao Hong has left for personal reasons
Rebecca Feng – WSJ
One of China’s highest-profile market strategists, Hao Hong, has left his state-owned employer days after his social-media accounts within China were censored. In recent months, the Hong Kong-based analyst’s research and social-media posts have covered potentially sensitive issues such as U.S. delistings of Chinese companies, the risk of capital flight from China and the economic impact of lockdowns.

Morgan Stanley Raided in Frankfurt in Tax Fraud Investigation; Bank’s offices and homes of two suspects are being searched; Raid comes weeks after Barclays and Merrill Lynch targeted
Karin Matussek – Bloomberg
German prosecutors are carrying out a raid on the Frankfurt offices of Morgan Stanley as part of their wider probe into the controversial Cum-Ex scandal that robbed tax payers of billions of euros. Authorities are searching a bank and the homes of two suspects in a probe over Cum-Ex and related strategies, according to a spokesman for Cologne prosecutors. More than 75 officers are taking part in the action, he said.

Morgan Stanley Names Three Senior Banking Sector Heads in Asia; Tommy Hsu, Justin Zhang promoted to Asia Pacific sector head; Henry Tsai rejoins the bank as APAC head for internet firms
Vinicy Chan – Bloomberg
Morgan Stanley has appointed three senior Hong Kong-based investment bankers as sector heads for Asia, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News. Tommy Hsu, a managing director, has been promoted to head of Asia Pacific consumer retail investment banking with immediate effect. Hsu joined Morgan Stanley in 2007, initially within China investment banking, focusing on consumer and retail coverage in Hong Kong. He moved to the regional sector team in 2013.

The consequences of a marked-to-market world; With more real-time information on tap for retail investors and consumers, impact of falling asset prices can be felt more quickly
Peter Atwater – FT
“The markets are plotting against me,” an international student told me recently. Between the dramatic rise in US used-car prices, the increase in short-term interest rates and the strength of the dollar, the monthly loan payment on the small saloon she had hoped to buy was unaffordable. What caught my attention, though, was she reached her conclusion not because of a recent visit to a dealership, but thanks to her iPhone. At her fingertips, she had the real-time market price for every input.

Gary Gensler sets his sights on fixed income reform; Gensler spoke on the importance of reforming fixed income markets, while providing recommendations to increase transparency, modernise platforms and enhance financial resilience.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
After shaking up the swaps and private funds markets, Gary Gensler, chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is setting his sights on fixed income. Speaking at the City and Financial Global’s City Week 2022 conference, Gensler said greater attention needs to be paid on reforming the fixed income markets by the US regulator, particularly as they become more electronic and potentially cause implications for financial stability.

Cboe Global Markets completes acquisition of ErisX; Acquisition of ErisX will grant Cboe access to the digital asset spot and derivatives markets, including clearing and settlement.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
Cboe Global Markers has completed the acquisition of US-based digital asset spot market, Eris Digital Holdings (ErisX). The move will allow Cboe to access the digital asset spot and derivatives markets using a digital-first platform designed in collaboration with industry partners to focus on regulatory compliance, data and transparency.

People Moves Monday – A string of senior appointments; The past week saw appointments from the DTCC, TP ICAP, the CFTC and Trading Technologies.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has named Francis (Frank) La Salla as its new president and chief executive officer following the announcement of current chief, Michael Bodson’s, plans to retire. La Salla joins from BNY Mellow where he served as chief executive officer of the firm’s Issuer Services business and a member of the BNY Mellon executive committee.

Ukraine Invasion

Russia Dodges Default as Some Investors Receive Dollar Funds; Government is dipping into dollars held locally to move funds; Western sanctions have complicated sovereign bond transfers
Libby Cherry and Giulia Morpurgo – Bloomberg
Russia’s closely watched dollar payments on two bonds are trickling through to investors after the country dipped into its local holdings of the U.S. currency and sidestepped its first foreign default in a century.

Ukraine says it destroyed Russia’s Izyum command center, killing 200 but just missing Russia’s top general
Peter Weber, Senior editor – The Week
Ukrainian officials said an attack on a key Russian command center in the eastern city of Izyum on Saturday evening killed about 200 Russian troops, including Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov, but just missed hitting the chief of the general staff of the Russian military, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who had just concluded a secret visit to the army and airborne command center. Earlier, unconfirmed reports suggested Gerasimov was wounded in the strike.

Ex-NATO commander: Loss of top Russian officers amid invasion unprecedented in modern history
Chloe Folmar – The Hill
Retired Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, claims that the Russian military’s “amazing incompetence” in Ukraine has resulted in a loss of generals and other top officers that is unprecedented in modern history. “In modern history, there is no situation comparable in terms of the deaths of generals. … Here, on the Russian side, in a two-month period, we’ve seen at least a dozen, if not more, Russian generals killed,” Stavridis told John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM in an interview that aired Sunday.

Ukraine formally closes seaports captured by Russia
Ukraine has formally closed its four Black and Azov sea ports, which Russian forces have captured, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Monday. The Azov Sea ports of Mariupol, Berdiansk and Skadovsk and the Black Sea port of Kherson were closed “until the restoration of control”, the ministry said in a statement.

Poland urges EU to slap sanctions on Russian oil and gas
Lorne Cook – AP
Poland urged its European Union partners on Monday to unite and impose sweeping sanctions on Russia’s oil and natural gas sectors over the war in Ukraine, and not to cave in to pressure to pay for their gas in Russian rubles. The appeal came as EU ministers met in Brussels to discuss their response to Russia’s decision last week to cut gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland. Energy giant Gazprom says the two countries failed to pay their bills in April.

BP writes off $25.5 billion on its Russia pullout, but oil and gas profits soar; The energy company said that quarterly profit more than doubled from a year ago.
Stanley Reed – NY Times
BP, the London-based energy giant, on Tuesday reported its highest profit in a decade. The company said that its underlying replacement cost profits were $6.2 billion for the first quarter of 2022, more than double the $2.6 billion of the same period a year earlier. BP attributed the results to higher oil and natural gas prices as well as “exceptional” performance in the buying and selling of those fuels.

How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack? Vladimir Putin has placed the Kremlin’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on ‘high alert’, prompting fears over what could happen next
Isobel Frodsham – Independent
Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on high alert during the first weekend of his war with Ukraine, prompting fears around the world over what could happen next. The Russian president blamed “unfriendly actions in the economic sphere”, a reference to the punitive economic sanctions imposed on his country by the Western allies, and claimed leading Nato members had made “aggressive statements”, forcing his hand.

Putin may soon officially declare war on Ukraine, US and Western officials say
Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Lillis, Jennifer Hansler, Alex Marquardt and Brad Lendon – CNN
Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9, a move that would enable the full mobilization of Russia’s reserve forces as invasion efforts continue to falter, US and Western officials believe. May 9, known as “Victory Day” inside of Russia, commemorates the country’s defeat of the Nazis in 1945. Western officials have long believed that Putin would leverage the symbolic significance and propaganda value of that day to announce either a military achievement in Ukraine, a major escalation of hostilities — or both.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

OCC April 2022 Total Volume Becomes Highest April on Record, Up 9.4% Year-Over-Year
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, announced today that year-to-date average daily volume through April 2022 was 41.8 million contracts, up 4.2 percent compared to year-to-date average daily volume through April 2021. Total volume was 782.8 million contracts, up 9.4 percent compared to April 2021.

AMERIBOR® Suite of Benchmark Interest Rates Reaffirmed to Meet IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks for Fourth Year
The American Financial Exchange (AFX), an electronic exchange for direct lending and borrowing for American banks and financial institutions, announced today that the AFX’s suite of American Interbank Offering Rate (AMERIBOR®) interest rates has been independently reviewed as of March 31, 2022 and has been reaffirmed to meet all nineteen (19) principles set forth by the International Organization of Securities Commission (IOSCO) for Financial Benchmarks for a fourth consecutive year. AMERIBOR and all of its related benchmarks are IOSCO compliant.

The Spanish stock market trades 36.9 billion euros in April, up 28% yoy
BME Bolsas y Mercados Españoles
The Spanish Stock Exchange traded 36.9 million euros in Equities in April, 27.9% more than in the same month of 2021 and 15.9% less than the previous month. The number of trades in April was 3.2 million, 13.6% less than in April 2021 and 40.4% lower than in March 2022.

CME Group to Launch Options on Micro WTI Crude Oil Futures as Futures Volume Nears 20 Million Contracts Traded
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, today announced it will expand its micro-sized energy offerings with the launch of options on Micro WTI Crude Oil futures on June 6, 2022, pending regulatory review.

CME Group Reports April 2022 Monthly Market Statistics
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, today reported its April 2022 market statistics, showing average daily volume (ADV) increased 26% to 20.8 million contracts during the month. Market statistics are available in greater detail at https://cmegroupinc.gcs-web.com/monthly-volume.

Engel & Völkers Digital Invest AG new in the Scale segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange
Deutsche Boerse
Engel & Völkers Digital Invest AG (ISIN: DE000A3DD6W5 ) has been listed in the Scale segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since today. The share’s first price was EUR13.97.
The IPO was accompanied by Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe Privatbank, which also acts as designated sponsor in Xetra trading. Steubing is a specialist at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange trading venue.

Burkhan’s Tempus Network leads GMEX Group investment round
Strategic investment and partnership to jointly develop a range of platforms and projects in innovative digital financial services, commodities and sustainability markets in MENA; Harnesses GMEX’s MultiHub platform, integrating traditional and decentralized finance
Tempus Network USA LLC (‘Tempus Network’), a wholly owned subsidiary of Burkhan World Investments (‘Burkhan LLC’) announced today that it has agreed terms to lead the institutional investment round into GMEX Group Limited (‘GMEX Group’ or ‘GMEX’), a leader in digital business and technology solutions for capital markets players, exchanges and post-trade market infrastructure.

TMX Group Limited Declares Dividend of $0.83 per Common Share
The Board of Directors of TMX Group Limited today declared a dividend of $0.83 on each common share outstanding, payable on June 3, 2022 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 20, 2022.


India Has More Fintech Adopters At 87% Compared To Global Average Of 64%: Report
Gunja Sharan – Inc42
India has the highest number of fintech adopters in the world at 87% compared to the global adoption of 64% owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns. According to a report by NewsVoir, the fintech market is estimated to grow $150 Bn by 2023 with new businesses springing up and global investment pouring in. The Banking, Finance Services, and Insurance (BFSI) industry has suddenly transitioned into fintech products and services that have allowed customers to adopt digital services.

Global Chip Shortage’s Latest Worry: Too Few Chips for Chip-Making; Intel and TSMC are looking to boost chip output amid supercharged demand, but getting the equipment to do so requires increasing patience
Asa Fitch – WSJ
The drought in chip availability that has hit auto production, raised electronics prices and stoked supply-chain worries in capitals around the globe has a new pain point: a lack of chips needed for the machines that make chips, industry executives say. The wait time it takes to get machinery for chip-making—one of the world’s most complex and delicate kinds of manufacturing—has extended over recent months. Early in the pandemic it took months from placing an order to receiving the equipment. That time frame has stretched to two or three years in some cases, according to chip-making and equipment executives. Deliveries of previously placed orders are also coming in late, executives say.

DAOs: A blockchain-based replacement for traditional crowdfunding
Decentralized autonomous organizations are providing relief from some of the problems that plague fundraising.
The crypto space witnessed phenomenal growth in 2021. Buzzwords like nonfungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi) and the Metaverse broke through to the mainstream and culminated in the crypto market peaking at over $3 trillion in November of 2021.

Apple Hit With EU Antitrust Complaint Over iPhone Payments;EU sends a ‘statement of objections’ in Apple Pay probe; Apple says its contactless pay system helps protect users
Stephanie Bodoni and Jillian Deutsch – Bloomberg
Apple Inc. was hit by a formal antitrust complaint from the European Union over how it handles iPhone payment services, an area where regulators say the tech giant favors its own technology over rival platforms. The European Commission sent a so-called statement of objections alleging that the company abuses its control over mobile wallets by limiting how third-party firms can provide services on the iPhone. The move escalates a probe that began nearly two years ago. If confirmed, the company could face hefty fines under EU antitrust rules.


Nobody Knows Where the Red Line Is for Cyberwarfare; Is offense the best defense? Or would threats of retaliation keep an enemy in check?
Katrina Manson – Bloomberg
A common explanation for why the Soviet Union never used nuclear weapons during the Cold War was the expectation that any attack would likely prompt a devastating nuclear response. The fear of mutually assured destruction was enough to keep both the USSR and the U.S. from launching a nuclear attack, even as they spent decades building up huge stockpiles of weapons.

ADAM selects Eventus Director of Regulatory Affairs, Digital Assets as Chair for new National Security Working Group
Former CIA officer Mike Castiglione leads group to bridge public/private sectors on critical blockchain national security issues
The Association for Digital Asset Markets (ADAM) and Eventus today announced that ADAM has just appointed Eventus Director of Regulatory Affairs, Digital Assets and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Mike Castiglione as Chair of its new National Security Working Group. ADAM created the working group to serve as a bridge between the public and private sectors by acting as a go-to resource for the executive and legislative branches to interface with industry experts on blockchain national security issues.

Cybersecurity skills gap contributes to breaches, security pros say
Stephen Weigand – SC Magazine
New research looking at the cybersecurity skills gap shows a direct link between the talent gap and security breaches, leading to the loss of revenue.
A Fortinet survey of security professionals found that 80% of respondents said they had at least one breach that could be attributed to the lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness. Nearly two-thirds of organizations, 64%, experienced breaches that resulted in the loss of revenue, recovery costs and/or fines.

AI-Powered Cybersecurity Protects Businesses from the Inside Out
Los Angeles Business Journal
If you open your news app of choice on any given day, you’ll likely be reading about the latest cyber threat, ransomware attacks, hacktivists and most recently, nation-state actors launching attacks on the cyber battlefield.
While you might perceive this as a threat that would likely never impact your business, the reality is that cyberattacks on organizations increased by 50% in 2021. The same study revealed organizations in North America experienced an average of 502 weekly attacks per organization (a 61% increase).

University of Central Florida wins national cybersecurity competition
Security Magazine
The University of Central Florida competed against nine other student-led teams to become the champion of the 2022 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), presented in partnership with Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business.
More than 1,500 competitors from 171 schools nationwide participated in the 17th annual NCCDC, held in San Antonio from April 21-23.


OKX Announces Major Multi-Year Partnership with McLaren Racing; “OKX is leaning into racing to show people the parallels between investing, trading and racing”
OKX, the world-leading cryptocurrency platform, today announced a major multi-year partnership with McLaren Racing, becoming the Official Primary Partner of the McLaren Formula 1 Team and McLaren Shadow esports Team from 2022. The partnership unites two global brands who value innovation and accessibility. As Official Primary Partner, OKX will be the largest partner to McLaren Racing, the home to one of the most successful Formula One teams and greatest drivers of all time.

FTX Joins the Cryptocurrency Sporting Sponsorship Trend
Andrew Shooks – Centsai
Mercedes-AMG Petronas announced the launch of the first in a series of NFT drops powered by FTX. According to the announcement, eleven digital artwork NFTs will feature Mercedes-AMG Petronas cars. Mad Dog Jones exclusively designed and created each NFT. Several NFTs be available for auction on the FTX platform during the Miami Race Weekend. The remaining NFTs will go to auction later in the F1 season.

Warren Buffett says he wouldn’t pay $25 for all the bitcoin in the world — and Charlie Munger blasts the crypto as ‘stupid’ and ‘evil’
Theron Mohamed – Business Insider
Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger opened fire at bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency industry during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday. “If you told me you owned all the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25, I wouldn’t take it,” Buffett said. “What would I do with it?”

Crypto and the Dollar Are Partners, Not Rivals; The disruptions of Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shown the strength of the Western system and the weakness of China’s.
Niall Ferguson – Bloomberg
“My hope is that it creates world peace or helps create world peace.” That’s what Jack Dorsey, the former Twitter Inc. chief executive and now head of the digital payments company Block Inc., said about Bitcoin at a webinar in July 2021. It is more likely that war creates a bigger global appetite for Bitcoin. Times of tumult are often associated with monetary transformations. A classic example is the way, in the time of the Black Death and the Hundred Years’ War, the English monetary system was fundamentally altered.

Solana Suffers Seven-Hour Outage as NFT Demand Spills Over; Bots flood network with record-breaking number of transactions; Latest blackout adds to ongoing Solana stability woes
Emily Nicolle – Bloomberg
The Solana blockchain is recovering after going dark in a seven-hour outage, caused by a significant rush of bots trying to mint nonfungible tokens on the crypto network. An NFT minting program for Solana called Candy Machine struggled under a tsunami of traffic from bots seeking to push through transactions late Saturday, which caused Solana’s mainnet to fall out of consensus and crash as nodes belonging to validators collapsed under the weight. Validators are computers that verify transactions to maintain the integrity of the blockchain.

Crypto VC Firm Archetype Set to Close $150 Million Fund
Hannah Miller – Bloomberg
Archetype, an early-stage crypto venture capital firm, plans to close a $150 million fund on May 2. It will be the second fund for the year-old firm, which named Katherine Wu as a venture partner earlier this year after poaching her from Coinbase Global Inc. The new fund will focus on startups in a variety of different areas of the crypto industry, said Archetype founder and general partner Ash Egan. Egan said in an interview that crypto is on the brink of greater mainstream adoption.

I’m a financial adviser, and I’d discourage you from putting bitcoin in your 401(k); Only do it if you have a high appetite for risk
Michael J. Garry – MarketWatch
As a financial adviser, I was surprised to see that Fidelity Investments is going to give employers the option to add bitcoin to their 401(k) menus this year. This is a big deal, given that Fidelity is a leading custodian in the retirement space and a dominant player in the investment marketplace. While Fidelity’s move makes some of the details of bitcoin investments easier, I remain hesitant to recommend cryptocurrencies to my clients. Except, perhaps, for those with a high appetite for risk, who are big fans of cryptocurrencies and who can otherwise afford to lose the money.

What Warren Buffett gets right and wrong about bitcoin
Walter Frick – Quartz
Value investor Warren Buffett took his antipathy toward crypto to new heights over the weekend. The Oracle of Omaha was asked about bitcoin at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting over the weekend and claimed he wouldn’t buy it at any price. “If you told me you owned all the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25, I wouldn’t take it because what would I do with it?” Buffett said. “I’d have to sell it back to you, one way or the other. It isn’t going to produce anything… That explains the difference between productive assets and something that depends on the next guy paying you more than the last guy paid for it.”

Coinbase Is on Other Side of Goldman’s First Bitcoin-Backed Loan; Crypto exchange owned $183 million of Bitcoin at end of 2021; Terms of the lending facility haven’t been disclosed
Muyao Shen – Bloomberg
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s first ever lending facility backed by Bitcoin is the latest effort by crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc. to bring money from the Wall Street to the digital-asset space. “Coinbase’s work with Goldman is a first step in the recognition of crypto as collateral which deepens the bridge between the fiat and crypto economies,” Brett Tejpaul, head of Coinbase Institutional, said in an email response. Coinbase did not provide further details about the loan. A spokeswoman from Goldman Sachs said last week the loan was collateralized by Bitcoin owned by the previously undisclosed borrower.

Why a new metaverse ETF wants nothing to do with Facebook’s Meta
Daniel Howley – Yahoo!Finance
Facebook parent Meta (FB) wants to be the first company you think of when you hear the word metaverse, the nascent 3-D virtual world that could be the future of the internet. Heck, it’s why Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed the social media giant’s name to Meta in late 2021. But according to Subversive Capital founder and CIO Michael Auerbach, Zuckerberg’s efforts will fall flat. “We actually believe that Meta isn’t the company that’s building out the Metaverse,” Auerbach told Yahoo Finance Live.

Cryptoverse: Venture capitalists catch crypto fever
Medha Singh and Lisa Pauline Mattackal – Reuters
Venture capital is making a big move on crypto in 2022. Scared of being left in the digital dust, private equity investors are stampeding towards crypto projects – blockchain-based apps and platforms fuelled by cryptocurrencies that are native to the virtual economies of the metaverse and Web3. VC investment in such projects totalled $10 billion globally in the first quarter of this year, the largest quarterly sum ever and more than double the level seen in the same period a year ago, according to data from Pitchbook.


Republicans try to prove they are not the party of climate denial; Lawmakers form congressional group to forge conservative green vision
Aime Williams – Financial Times
When Joe Manchin, the conservative Democratic senator, convened a meeting last week on climate change with Republican lawmakers, the largest US environmental group reacted with dismay. “Just as there’s no negotiating with arsonists on how much of a building they can burn, there’s no negotiating with a party of climate deniers on climate action,” said the Sierra Club. Recognising their bad reputation on climate change among people concerned about the issue, a group of Republicans in the House of Representatives has formed the Conservative Climate Caucus.

Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board; The board, an advisory group with the Department of Homeland Security, has become embroiled in the debate over the government’s role in policing online content.
Steven Lee Myers and Zolan Kanno-Youngs – NY Times
Nina Jankowicz’s new book, “How to Be a Woman Online,” chronicles the vitriol she and other women have faced from trolls and other malign actors. She’s now at the center of a new firestorm of criticism, this time over her appointment to lead an advisory board at the Department of Homeland Security on the threat of disinformation.

Hungary Floats Veto Threat as EU Works to Ban Russian Oil
Zoltan Simon – Bloomberg
Hungary would be ready to veto European Union sanctions on Russia’s oil industry if the measures restricted Budapest’s ability to import energy, according to a senior official in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. The European Commission is set to propose a ban on Russian oil by the end of the year over its war in Ukraine, with restrictions on imports introduced gradually until then, Bloomberg reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter.

EU Plans to Court Africa to Help Replace Russian Gas Imports; EU drafts action plan to cut energy dependence on Moscow; Europe to work with major producers and consumers of LNG
Ewa Krukowska – Bloomberg
The European Union will seek to step up cooperation with African countries to help replace imports of Russian natural gas and reduce dependence on Moscow by almost two-thirds this year. Countries in Africa, in particular in the western part of the continent, such as Nigeria, Senegal, and Angola, offer largely untapped potential for liquified natural gas, according to a draft EU document seen by Bloomberg News. The communication on external energy engagement is set to be adopted by the European Commission later this month as part of a package to implement the bloc’s plan to cut energy reliance on Moscow.

Germany Invites India to G-7 in Bid to Isolate Russia’s Putin; Berlin also asking South Africa, Senegal, Indonesia to meeting; Chancellor Scholz hosted India’s Modi in Berlin on Monday
Michael Nienaber – Bloomberg
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a Group of Seven leaders’ summit next month as a special guest, part of an effort to forge a broader international alliance against Russia. Germany — which currently holds the rotating G-7 presidency — will also welcome the leaders of Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal to the gathering in the Bavarian Alps June 26 to June 28, Scholz’s chief spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said Monday at a regular news conference in Berlin, confirming a Bloomberg report published Sunday.

Germany Backs Looming Swedish, Finnish NATO Membership Bids; Chancellor Scholz hosts counterparts at government retreat; Finland could announce its application as soon as next week
Michael Nienaber, Kati Pohjanpalo, and Niclas Rolander – Bloomberg
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged his support for a potential bid from Sweden and Finland to join the NATO defense alliance as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia will pull out of the International Space Station over economic sanctions: report
John L. Dorman – Business Insider
The head of Russia’s space agency on Saturday said that the country would leave the International Space Station, which Moscow said is the result of economic sanctions imposed as a result of the country’s conflict in Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. Two Russian state news agencies — Tass and RIA Novosti — on Saturday reported that Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview that the decision had already been affirmed.


FINRA Publishes 2022 Industry Snapshot; SPACs, Margin Debt and CAT Among New Data Categories
Ray Pellecchia – FINRA
FINRA today published the 2022 FINRA Industry Snapshot, the annual statistical report on the brokerage firms, registered representatives and market activity that FINRA oversees. This year’s edition adds new data about special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), customer margin debt, the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) and other areas.

SEC Nearly Doubles Size of Enforcement’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the allocation of 20 additional positions to the unit responsible for protecting investors in crypto markets and from cyber-related threats. The newly renamed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (formerly known as the Cyber Unit) in the Division of Enforcement will grow to 50 dedicated positions.

OMWI Reports Highlight Progress in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Agency Seeks Greater Participation from Regulated Entities in Conducting and Submitting Voluntary Self-Assessments of Diversity Policies and Practices
As part of its continuing efforts to educate regulated entities on the benefits and importance of sharing self-assessments of their diversity policies and practices, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a Diversity Assessment Report today that analyzes information received from regulated entities in response to OMWI’s 2020 invitation to conduct and submit voluntary self-assessments of their diversity policies and practices. Although there has been an incremental increase in participation of voluntary self-assessments by SEC-regulated entities since the SEC began collecting voluntary self-assessments in 2018, the SEC continues to focus on encouraging SEC-regulated entities to conduct and share self-assessments of their diversity policies and practices with the SEC.

SEC Charges CEO and President of Synergy Settlement Services with Fraudulent Operation of Special Needs Pooled Trusts; Defendants allegedly used funds from deceased beneficiaries’ accounts on golf tournaments and beach parties
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against Synergy Settlement Services, Inc., CEO Jason D. Lazarus, Esq., both based in Orlando, FL, and President Anthony F. Prieto, Jr. of Tampa, FL, for allegedly defrauding individuals with disabilities into believing that the individuals were placing their funds in a pooled trust managed by a non-profit association. According to the SEC’s charges, the defendants instead used a non-profit trustee as a shell company to profit from disabled personal injury victims.

Investing and Trading

Wall Street’s Warren Buffet reveals ‘sane’ not ‘smart’ investment strategy
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has beaten the broader market so far this year. But the Oracle of Omaha wasn’t willing to declare himself an investing genius during Saturday’s annual shareholder meeting. Mr Buffett simply said that the Berkshire Hathaway strategy is all about making rational decisions and investing for the long haul. “It’s not because we’re smart. It’s because we’re sane,” Mr Buffett said during the meeting of Berkshire investors.

Biggest Treasury Buyer Outside U.S. Quietly Selling Billions
Michael MacKenzie and Chikako Mogi – Bloomberg
Japanese institutional managers — known for their legendary U.S. debt buying sprees in recent decades — are now fueling the great bond selloff just as the Federal Reserve pares its $9 trillion balance sheet. Estimates from BMO Capital Markets based on the most recent data show the largest overseas holder of Treasuries has offloaded almost $60 billion over the past three months. While that may be small change relative to the Japan’s $1.3 trillion stockpile, the divestment threatens to grow.

Should People Combine Their Money After Marriage?; Modern couples have lots of options for handling their finances. What matters most is getting the communication started.
Erin Lowry – Bloomberg
There is one way a married couple is supposed to handle money: jointly. Well, that’s how it used to be — after all, women needed a male co-signer to access credit until 1974. Today’s married couples have more options when it comes to how to manage their money.

The global stagflation shock of 2022: How bad could it get?; The double blow of pandemic and war has caused inflation to surge and growth to slow around the world. But experts do not expect a return to the 1970s
Valentina Romei and Alan Smith – Financial Times
Only last year, many economists were expecting 2022 to be a period of strong economic rebound. Businesses would return to full operation post-Covid. Consumers would be free to splash their accumulated savings on all the holidays and activities they had not been able to do during the pandemic. It would be a new “roaring twenties,” some said, in reference to the decade of consumerism that followed the 1918-21 influenza.

U.S. Treasury to pay down $26 bln in debt in Q2
The U.S. Treasury said on Monday it expects to pay down $26 billion in debt the second quarter, down from a January borrowing estimate of $66 billion, primarily because of an increase in receipts. The second-quarter estimate assumes an end-of-June cash balance of $800 billion. The Treasury has been paring back debt auction sizes since November after ramping up debt issuance in 2020 to pay for pandemic-related spending.

BP Takes $25.5 Billion Hit From Russia Exit; Oil major falls to first-quarter loss despite soaring commodity prices
Jenny Strasburg – WSJ
BP BP 0.49% PLC took a $25.5 billion pretax accounting charge related to its decision to exit its Russia holdings, including its stake in government-controlled oil producer Rosneft, ROSN 2.86% by far the biggest financial hit tallied by companies pulling back from the country after its invasion of Ukraine. The London-based company said Tuesday that the charge dragged it into a $20.4 billion headline loss for the first quarter despite soaring commodity prices that poured cash into major oil companies’ coffers. The loss included a $13.5 billion write-down of BP’s nearly 20% stake in Rosneft that reflected its carrying value as of Feb. 27.

Stocks and Bonds Are Falling in Lockstep at Pace Unseen in Decades; Bonds have long been viewed as a hedge against expected swings in stocks. That hedge has evaporated this year.
Gunjan Banerji – WSJ
Stocks and bonds are falling in tandem at a pace not seen in decades, leaving investors with few places to hide from the market volatility. Through Friday, the S&P 500 was down 13% for 2022 and the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate bond index—largely U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—was off 9.5%. That puts them on track for their biggest simultaneous drop in Dow Jones Market Data going back to 1976. The only other time both indexes dropped for the year was in 1994, when the bond index declined 2.9% and the S&P 500 fell 1.5%.

China’s Covid-19 Outbreak Cools Metals Rally; Lockdowns are seen eroding demand from world’s largest commodity consumer
Hardika Singh – WSJ
The pandemic’s resurgence in China has helped pull metals prices down from highs hit following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Worries that new economic lockdowns will erode demand from the world’s largest commodity consumer have dragged aluminum and tin down more than 17% from their recent all-time highs. Copper, vital to everything from construction to electronics, has lost 8.5% since its March record, while zinc and lead are off 8.7% and 10% from this year’s highs, respectively.

How will boomers draw down their 401(k) balances?
Alicia H. Munnell – MarketWatch
Recent studies have found that past generations drew down their financial assets very slowly in retirement, leaving much of their savings untouched throughout old age. This finding always seemed obvious to me, given that older cohorts had lifetime income from defined-benefit plans to cover their spending and could keep their financial assets for late-life medical expenses or bequests.

Rocky ride ahead for Norway’s $1.2 trillion wealth fund
Gwladys Fouche – Reuters
Norway’s $1.2 trillion sovereign wealth fund is prepared for a rocky ride as it confronts the biggest geopolitical changes in three decades, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Apple employees refuse office return because it will make company ‘whiter, more male-dominated’
Joe Pinkstone – The Telegraph
Employees of the tech giant Apple are revolting against a plan to get staff back into the office for three days a week, claiming it will make the company “younger, whiter and more male-dominated”. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has said his proposed “hybrid working pilot” for US, Europe and UK employees is an attempt to balance the corporate benefits of in-office working with the personal advantages that working from home gives staff members.

Rich Nations Scramble to Seal Coal Transition Deals Before COP27; Talks over multibillion-dollar packages ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November have been hindered by national politics and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Jess Shankleman, Jennifer A Dlouhy, and Archana Chaudhary – Bloomberg
As they prepare for the next round of global climate talks in November, officials from rich countries are trying to pull together a series of multibillion-dollar packages to help poor countries phase out coal. But negotiations have been snarled by national politics and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has made the dirtiest fossil fuel a lucrative commodity to mine and export, according to people familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

The failures of stakeholder capitalism; ESG investing is missing the realities of market power in an age of corporate concentration and rising profits
Rana Foroohar – Financial Times
People who care about creating a fairer and more sustainable market system tend to think about things like “ESG” investing (environmental, social and governance issues) and “stakeholder capitalism”. But what they need to start thinking about is power. Consider Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. Tesla ranks above average on many metrics tallied by JUST Capital, an influential non-profit focused on stakeholder capitalism. But its chief executive is preparing to sell a big chunk of his stock in the electric carmaker, a company that could actually do some good in the world, to buy a social media platform which has arguably made it worse. Musk, who plans to take it private, may, for example, re-enable the former Tweeter-in-chief, Donald Trump.

Renewable electricity powered California just shy of 100% for the first time in history
Janet Wilson – Palm Springs Desert Sun
Renewable electricity met just shy of 100% of California’s demand for the first time on Saturday, officials said, much of it from large amounts of solar power produced along Interstate 10, an hour east of the Coachella Valley. While partygoers celebrated in the blazing sunshine at the Stagecoach music festival, “at 2:50 (p.m.), we reached 99.87 % of load served by all renewables, which broke the previous record,” said Anna Gonzales, spokeswoman for California Independent System Operator, a nonprofit that oversees the state’s bulk electric power system and transmission lines. Solar power provided two-thirds of the amount needed.

India’s Energy Crisis Has Power Giant Rushing Back to Coal; NTPC plans to push ahead with power plant expansion plans; Company previously slowed projects and emphasized renewables
Rajesh Kumar Singh – Bloomberg
India’s state-run electricity giant NTPC Ltd. plans to expand its coal-fired power fleet with a first new project in six years, a policy shift that reflects alarm over the nation’s worsening power crisis. New Delhi-based NTPC will this month award a contract to construct a 1,320-megawatt plant in Odisha, according to a company official with knowledge of the plans.

Bank of England to focus on financial resilience to climate change, says policymaker
The rise in demand for coal following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a setback to reaching a net-zero economy by 2050 but will also help bolster investment in renewable energy, a Bank of England (BoE) policymaker said on Tuesday. Elisabeth Stheeman, a member of the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC), said the impact on the transition to net zero of the increase in energy prices, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was yet to be determined.


BGC Partners Reports First Quarter 2022 Financial Results; BGC Declares Quarterly Dividend
BGC Partners
BGC Partners, Inc. (Nasdaq: BGCP) (“BGC”), a leading global brokerage and financial technology company, today reported its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2022.

Archegos indictment raises fresh questions over banks’ risk management controls; Archegos indictment raises fresh questions over banks’ risk management controls
Elizabeth Dilts Marshall – Reuters
New details revealing how Archegos Capital Management founder Bill Hwang hid his fund’s extreme exposure from its lenders raise fresh questions about the risk management policies at these global banks, former regulators and risk experts said. Hwang and Archegos Chief Financial Officer Patrick Halligan were arrested Wednesday on charges they lied to banks to increase Archegos’ credit lines and used the money to ramp up their exposure to a handful of stocks, which they also manipulated, according to a Justice Department complaint.

Goldman Sachs slashes credit exposure to Russia
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) reduced its total credit exposure to Russia to $260 million in March from $650 million at the end of 2021, the bank said in a regulatory filing on Monday. The bank said market exposure tied to Russia and total exposure to Ukraine were not material.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon says in-person attendance tops 50% after return-to-office push
Hugh Son – CNBC
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s campaign to summon more of his employees back to the office is a work in progress that could take years, he said. In-person attendance at U.S. offices is between 50% and 60%, down from a pre-Covid figure of roughly 80%, Solomon told CNBC’s David Faber on Monday. That figure is higher in European offices and 100% in Asian cities that aren’t on lockdown, Solomon added.

Citigroup Sales Hit European Stock Markets With ‘Flash Crash’; Shares tumble across the region before partly recovering
Anna Hirtenstein and David Benoit – The Wall Street Journal
Several European stock markets suffered a “flash crash” on Monday morning following sell orders by Citigroup Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. Trading was halted momentarily in several markets after major stock indexes plunged for a few minutes just before 10 a.m. Central European time. Stocks in the Nordic region were hit the hardest, though other European stocks also tumbled briefly on a day when share prices around the globe declined.

Bain Capital, Barber Team Up on $500 Million Plan for Cold-Storage Warehouses; The private-equity firm and the real estate developer say they plan to build 10 to 15 storage sites across the U.S. in the coming years
Lydia O’Neal – WSJ
Private-equity firm Bain Capital is teaming up with real-estate developer Barber Partners LLC for a big bet on the hot market for cold storage. Bain and Dallas-based Barber Partners have formed a joint venture aimed at spending $500 million to build 10 to 15 refrigerated warehouses across the U.S. over the next three to five years, the firms said Tuesday, with the average facility spanning roughly 300,000 square feet.

Morgan Stanley’s German branch searched by prosecutors
The German branch of Morgan Stanley was searched by prosecutors in Frankfurt in relation to “past activity” on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. bank said. German prosecutors said earlier Tuesday that they were searching a bank in Frankfurt as well as the private homes of two suspects in relation to the “cum-ex” tax fraud scandal, but they did not name which bank.

Barclays Hires 18 From Credit Suisse in Prime-Brokerage Push
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Barclays Plc has hired 18 people from Credit Suisse Group AG’s prime-brokerage unit as the British bank continues its push to expand in the business. Most of the 18 new hires are located in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing personnel information. Roughly half will work in the sales division for Barclays’s prime brokerage, including in roles across origination sales and account management, the person said.

BNP Paribas benefits from trading surge as profits jump; French lender’s results surpass expectations with 19% increase in net income
Sarah White and Owen Walker – FT
BNP Paribas reported better than expected revenues and profits for the first quarter, boosted by a surge in trading as the push by France’s biggest lender to build out its investment bank showed signs of paying off. Equities and fixed income trading revenues rose sharply in the first three months of the year, as the bank joined rivals including Deutsche Bank and Barclays in capitalising on the turmoil unleashed in markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Earnings from equity trading stood out, jumping almost 61 per cent.

HSBC to leave longtime New York headquarters for new west side tower; Global bank joins others seeking high-end office space outside Midtown district
Joshua Chaffin – FT
HSBC is moving its US headquarters to a new Tishman Speyer-developed tower on the west side of Manhattan, joining a flight of tenants to top-tier office space outside of the island’s central Midtown office district. The bank said on Monday that it had signed a 20-year lease for 265,000 square feet of space across three floors in the Spiral, a 65-story tower at 34th Street and 10th Avenue in a once-faded part of the city undergoing rapid revitalisation.

Wellness Exchange

How the pandemic led to the ‘scamdemic’; Scammers know older people have saved their money, and the increased isolation and loneliness has made seniors more vulnerable to fraud
Ellen Marks – Next Avenue
It might come as an email, disguised as a message from a friend who needs help buying a gift card. It might be a phone call, threatening jail time if you don’t immediately pay a fine for missing jury duty. Or it might be a budding online relationship with someone who promises to be the love of your life. These schemes, and a multitude of others like them, are completely bogus, but they pose a very real threat to those who receive them. And while such scams and fraud are ubiquitous to everyone, they pose specific threats to those who are older.

Supreme Court Asks India to Disclose Vaccine Trial Data; Can’t force Covid vaccinations, review curbs: Court to govt; Ruling upholds India’s vaccination policy, vaccine approvals
Upmanyu Trivedi and Archana Chaudhary – Bloomberg
India’s Supreme Court directed the government to disclose results and data on Covid vaccine trials and ruled that people can’t be forced to take vaccines. Disclosures must include reporting on adverse events, key findings of past trials and all data from future trials, a two-judge panel said Monday. It upheld the government’s vaccination policy and grant of emergency-use approvals to vaccines.

BA.4, BA.5, 2 new Omicron variants detected in the U.S., could spark another COVID wave. Research shows these people will fare best
Erin Prater – Fortune
Two new strains of COVID that appear to be more transmissible than even “stealth Omicron,” and that have the ability to evade antibodies from vaccination and prior infection, have arrived in the U.S.—and they could mean a new wave is coming.

COVID: Can German soldiers defy vaccine requirements?; A top German court is debating the case of two army officers who have refused a mandatory vaccination against COVID-19. The two have cited their right to “physical integrity” under German law.
Germany’s top administrative court in the eastern city of Leipzig on Monday began deliberations over the mandatory COVID vaccination of Bundeswehr personnel after two officers refused to accept the jab. Active soldiers and reservists have been obliged to receive vaccinations against COVID-19 since the end of November.

China is obsessed with disinfection against Covid. But is it causing more harm than good?
Simone McCarthy – CNN
Hazmat suit-clad workers spraying clouds of disinfectant over city streets, building fronts, park benches and even parcels have become a common sight in pandemic-era China. In Shanghai, the epicenter of the country’s largest outbreak, state media report that thousands of workers have been organized into teams to disinfect areas, with a focus on those known to have hosted Covid patients — a move the government sees as key to curbing the spread of the Omicron variant.

Concern Mounts Over Drop in Measles Vaccinations as ‘Epidemic’ Spreads
Ella Pickover – Press Association via Bloomberg
There is an “epidemic” of measles, global health leaders have warned, as cases of the potentially deadly disease appear to be on the rise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the highly infectious disease.


Australia Wealth Fund Posts Biggest Quarterly Loss in Two Years
Matthew Burgess – Bloomberg
Australia’s sovereign wealth fund suffered its largest quarterly loss in two years amid renewed geopolitical and monetary policy risks. Future Fund lost 1.5% in the three months to March 31, the biggest drop since the same period in 2020, causing its main fund to shrink to A$201 billion ($141 billion) from A$204 billion, it said in statement Monday. At the same time, the fund reduced its cash holdings as allocation into Australian and developed market stocks and so-called alternative assets increased, the statement said.

China Cracked Down on Big Tech Companies. Now It Needs Them; Alibaba, JD.com, and Meituan have the distribution networks to supply cities in Covid lockdowns.
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
The regulatory crackdown on Big Tech that started in China in late 2020 sent stocks reeling. Over the past year, tech companies have lost as much as $2 trillion in market value, the equivalent of 11% of China’s gross domestic product, estimates Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Lately, Beijing seems to be relenting a bit. At an April Politburo meeting, the government vowed to support the healthy growth of platform companies. Is it time for investors to give Chinese tech another look?

Qatar Reclaims Crown From U.S. as World’s Top LNG Exporter
Sergio Chapa – Bloomberg
April exports of the superchilled fuel from Qatar surpassed 7.5 million metric tons, edging out the U.S., according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Maintenance at Qatargas reduced the Middle Eastern nation’s exports a month earlier. During the winter months, low temperatures, combined with Europe’s desire to cut dependence on Russian energy, drove up the demand for natural gas and prices of the fuel.

Russia Has Just Over a Day to Pay Two Foreign Bonds and Dodge Default; Sanctions have complicated Russia’s dealings with creditors; 30-day grace period on two debt payments runs out on May 4
Bloomberg News
Russia has just over a day to get payments on two foreign bonds to investors and dodge a default in a closely watched struggle with sanctions. A grace period to transfer $650 million in coupon and principal payments expires on May 4 after the funds were initially blocked in early April. Russia’s first foreign debt default in more than a century had looked all but certain until a shock announcement late last week by the Russian Finance Ministry that the cash was finally moving through the financial system.


Hotel Review: The Strand Palace, London; Natasha Heard stays at the historically significant and luxurious, Strand Palace and discovers its 1900s charm hiding away from the madness of the city
Natasha Heard – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine
The historic Strand Palace hotel has long been one of London’s most sought-after accommodation options for a stay in the capital, with its central location and luxurious feel making it the obvious choice for those seeking style, comfort and convenient access to all that the city has to offer. Enjoying a privileged location on The Strand, right between bustling Covent Garden and the Thames, it offers a quiet hideaway from the madness of the city. Having recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment which has brought this breath-taking building bang up to date yet in a way that has successfully retained much of the 1900s charm for which it has become known and loved, I was pleased to have the chance to experience it first hand on a recent break in the Big Smoke.

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