Failed Crop Rattled the Chocolate Industry. Then Speculators Came

May 10, 2024

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

I want to apologize to IncubEx Chairman Neil Eckert for taking so long to publish the videos we published today. There are too many reasons to list why they were delayed. We shot this in 2023 as part of The History of Environmental Trading video historical video series. Both parts of the two-part video are released today in this one post on

Yesterday I created a new editorial workflow spreadsheet for JLN and listed all of the unpublished videos, podcasts and print stories we have in the works that I could find. There were 49 projects listed, which included 20 Boca videos (before the one we published today), 18 OIC videos, 4 news videos, 4 John Lothian Profile videos and more. Needless to say, Patrick Lothian and Robby Lothian have a lot of work to do. Plus, I am headed to London for IDX to shoot a bunch more there, I hope.

We are going to try to speed up publication of these projects to lighten the backlog.

Looking at the statistics from, over the last 12 months the top 10 countries coming into the site are the U.S., China, Russia, U.K. Germany, Singapore, India, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.

Over the last week, the top five cities coming into have included such places as Ashburn, VA, just outside of Washington, DC. That was the top site. Not set was number two. Strangely, Coffeyville, KS is number three. It is a small town in southeastern Montgomery County, Kansas. Chicago and Los Angeles round out the top five.

Tradier is hosting a free virtual Options Summit on May 22nd at 10 AM ET, designed to help participants navigate market volatility and enhance their understanding of options trading. The event, sponsored by Cboe, features 12 speakers across an 8-hour schedule, covering topics such as timing trades during volatility, using options for portfolio protection, and spotting opportunities in fast-paced markets. Notable sessions include a keynote by Tradier CEO Dan Raju, insights into bot trading from Kirk DuPlessis of Option Alpha, and an exploration of the VIX curve by Andrew Giovinazzi. Other highlights include strategies from Rob Hoffman and Mandy Xu on navigating volatile markets, as well as insights into thriving during volatility from Markus Heitkoetter and Luis Silva. The summit will conclude with discussions on the impact of technology on finance and closing statements from Dan Raju and Lex Luthringshausen.

Also, Cboe Global Markets and Metaurus Advisors yesterday announced their collaboration to launch three new US equity indices by the end of 2024: the Cboe US Large Cap 100 Index, Cboe US Large Cap Lead 50 Index, and Cboe US Large Cap Lag 50 Index. These indices will leverage Cboe’s expertise in derivatives-based indexing and Metaurus’ Dynamic Reassignment technology. Additionally, plans are underway to develop tradable futures products based on these indices, pending regulatory approval.

It’s official; I am not one of the smartest people in the room. At least according to the standards of Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal, who today wrote “The Smartest People in the Room Are All Listening to the Same Podcast.” The subheadline for the story is “How did Acquired become the business world’s favorite show?” Cohen writes, “It’s a wonky podcast about business history and strategy with four-hour episodes that drop once a month. And people from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are completely obsessed with it.” My question is, if I start to listen to the podcast, do I become one of the smartest people in the room?

The New York Post has a highly valuable story, especially for single guys, titled “How to find out if a woman is a psychopath – there’s one obvious tell, experts say.” According to the story, “Using an automated detection algorithm, the research team determined that women who hold their heads perfectly still or with “minimal movement” while in conversation, possess high levels of psychopathic propensities.” No similar story on psychopathic guys was found in today’s NY Post. Ladies, remember to wiggle your head.

Mark Yallop is starting a new position as co-founder and deputy chair at QantX, he shared on LinkedIn. Yallop previously served as UK Group chief executive at UBS and group COO at ICAP.

I am headed in today for a medical procedure to use radio frequency ablation to burn the nerves between the facets in my lower back that are compressed and causing me back pain. I have had this procedure a couple of times before and it has worked well. Amazingly, the burned nerves grow back about 1 mm per year, so the procedure has to be repeated from time to time.

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


Quantitative futurist Amy Webb headlines the conversation on the latest episode of Brene Brown’s podcast, “Unlocking Us.” Brown and Webb discuss the three technologies that make up the “super cycle” that is occurring right now: artificial intelligence, wearable devices, and biotechnology. On the podcast Webb says: “We are collectively Gen T(ransition). … everybody alive today is going to go through an unprecedented amount of change faster than we are probably capable of managing….the reaction is going to be to think very short term and to not be a futurist, but now the answer is to engage both sides of the mind, think fast and slow.” Listen to the podcast HERE.~SAED

Our most read stories from our previous edition of JLN Options were:
Retail traders are using 0DTE options again – and this is what they’re doing from MarketWatch.
Hedge Funds Pile Into Option Bets Yen Will Weaken Back to 160 from Bloomberg.
Miami International Holdings Reports Trading Results for April 2024 from MIAX. ~JB

Subscribe to the JLN Options Newsletter HERE (it’s free).


IncubEx Chairman Neil Eckert Discusses the Evolution of Environmental Markets

In an early 2023 interview with John Lothian News for the video series “The History of Environmental Trading,” Neil Eckert, the chairman of IncubEx, shared his insights on the growth and future potential of environmental markets. The interview is in two parts, with part one initially focusing on Eckert’s background and the career progression that led him to partner with Dr. Richard Sandor to start the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Watch the video »


Don Byron of FIA Discusses Efforts to Enhance Interoperability and Standardization in Derivatives Markets

At the FIA International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, FL in March, Don Byron, senior vice president at FIA, discussed the organization’s initiatives to address interoperability challenges and drive standardization across derivatives markets. Byron spoke to John Lothian News as part of the JLN Industry Leader video series sponsored by Wedbush.

Watch the video »


LaSalle Street, West Loop offices rife with vacancy are in play
Danny Ecker – Crain’s Chicago Business
A handful of downtown office buildings with lots of empty space are in position to be sold or seized by lenders at sharp discounts to their pre-pandemic values, more data points showing the malaise of the local office sector. Among the group is a mostly empty 16-story office building at 550 W. Washington Blvd., which owner MetLife has hired brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle to sell, according to a marketing flyer. A venture of New York-based MetLife bought the building just west of the Ogilvie Transportation Center for $111 million when it was almost full in 2013, a stark difference from just 31% leased today after the recent departure of anchor tenant CME Group.

***** Losing an anchor tenant like the CME Group would hurt any building.~JJL


Beverly Hills 90210 Mansions Lose Fire Coverage as Insurers Flee; State Farm is discontinuing fire insurance policies in wealthy California areas. It’s part of a nationwide trend fueled by climate change.
Nadia Lopez, John Gittelsohn, and Ann Choi – Bloomberg
Peter Mac was closing the sale of a home in the Hollywood Hills, a four-bedroom, five-bath estate with an infinity pool perched above the lights of Los Angeles. The new house had been on the market for two years, with the price tumbling to $25.6 million from an original listing of $48 million. But before the final sign-off in February, Mac presented the buyer with a fire insurance quote: $200,000 a year. “She almost fell off her chair,” said Mac, a broker with The Agency. “She wanted to renegotiate.”

***** We need a Congressional task force on insurance to look at new ways to make this work for people. The whole idea of insurance mutualized risk. Maybe we need a bigger pie to mutualize the risk and the proper incentives for pie making. ~JJL


Undeveloped Arctic Land the Size of Manhattan Lists for $323 Million; The 14,830-acre plot in Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole, is consequential to the climate and geopolitics. All bidders welcome.
Sarah Rappaport – Bloomberg
In the High Arctic, a Manhattan-size piece of land with geopolitical implications has hit the market for EUR 300 million ($323 million). The sale comes as the Arctic experienced its warmest summer in 2023, and the Svalbard region has had less sea ice, more rain and higher temperatures because of climate change. The sea-ice loss is a boon to Russia, which has been gaining access to additional shipping routes and energy reserves as the territory opens up.

*****$24 worth of beads and cloth won’t buy you this plot of land.~JJL


Severe Solar Storm Threatens Power Grids and Navigation Systems; US issues its first severe storm warning since January 2005; Large sunspot is responsible for this week’s solar bursts
Brian K Sullivan – Bloomberg
A severe solar storm this weekend threatens to trigger blackouts, disrupt navigation systems and knock out high-frequency radios around the world. This is the first time since January 2005 the US Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G4 geomagnetic storm watch – the second-highest on a five-step scale – as multiple waves of solar energy bear down on the planet. Five eruptions of material from the sun’s atmosphere are forecast to arrive starting late on Friday and persist through Sunday. “Watches at this level are very rare,” the Space Weather Prediction Center said.

****** I believe a tin hat is in order for a solar burst.~JJL


In photos: The scene after storms caused damage across the U.S.
The Washington Post
Tornadoes have hit the United States every day for two weeks straight. The nonstop barrage of storminess has culminated in multiple deadly tornado outbreaks.

***** In the first video of Neil Eckert today, he mentions that 2005 was a historical year in that we ran through the alphabet of hurricane names for the first time. He also said he could tell the impact of climate change by reading the balance sheet of his insurance company. Insurance companies feel the impact of climate change and things like storms, tornadoes and hurricanes like a canary in the coal mine, which was a question I asked him.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was New York Magazine’s The Package King of Miami Matthew Bergwall was a gifted coder who could have gotten a job at any tech company. He decided to go in another direction. Second was the MIAX press release Miami International Holdings Reports Trading Results for April 2024. Third was the web page for Hot Topics & Current Trends in Federal Criminal Law, an event from the Federal Bar Association of Chicago taking place Thursday, May 16.



Lead Stories

Failed Crop Rattled the Chocolate Industry. Then Speculators Came; After a production shortfall in West Africa, cocoa prices rose to $4,000 a metric ton from $2,500. Then they went nuts.
J. Edward Moreno – The New York Times
A failed crop, followed by a wave of financial speculation, put cocoa prices on a roller coaster this year, rattling an industry reliant on inexpensive crops and labor. This is not how things normally go in the cocoa market. For much of the past decade, the price of cocoa in one key global benchmark hovered around $2,500 per metric ton. Last year, after poor harvests in West Africa, the price began to creep up – rising to $4,200 a ton by December, a threshold that hadn’t been crossed since the 1970s.

Mad Cow Disease Found at Scottish Farm in Risk to Meat Exports
Rodney Jefferson – Bloomberg
Mad cow disease was found at a farm in Scotland, prompting authorities to limit animal movement while they investigate and risking trade disruptions. An incident of classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, was confirmed in Ayrshire in the west of the country, according to a statement from the Scottish government. The last UK case was detected in England in September 2021 and there have been five over the past decade, not including the less severe “atypical” variety. The animal didn’t enter the food chain and the case was identified through routine surveillance, the government said. Still, disease outbreaks can raise the risk of import restrictions abroad. The government emphasized that British beef remains safe and can be traded as before.

Regulators at last have oil-price fixing in their sights; The FTC’s ruling on Exxon-Pioneer deal shines a spotlight on the workings of Opec and industry executives
Gillian Tett – Financial Times
Half a century ago, a renowned energy analyst called Philip Verleger became embroiled in an antitrust battle as an adviser to American manufacturers that wanted to sue the mighty Opec oil cartel over price fixing. That failed. So did a second anti-Opec initiative that Verleger advised on in 2000. Now, however, at the age of 79, he is wondering if a third attack might finally – and unexpectedly – bear fruit.

The Dow Is a Terrible Index. But It Is Telling Us Something Important; Though anchored in the past, the Dow Jones Industrial Average captures something about the way the market change
James Mackintosh – The Wall Street Journal
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a relic. It is also having its worst period of underperformance of the S&P 500 since the dot-com bubble, and before that, the soaring inflation and interest rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Dow’s terrible performance could be a sign that we’re at another turning point for the markets. In one sense, it definitely is a turning point. The Dow is a measure of companies that used to be considered great, while the S&P is dominated by companies that are currently considered great. In times of change, the two move apart, as the S&P rebalances toward the newest companies, and the Dow doesn’t.

Singapore oil trader convicted of abetting forgery and cheating HSBC; Octogenarian founder of Hin Leong Trading hid huge losses in futures markets from banks
Mercedes Ruehl – Financial Times
An octogenarian oil trader has been convicted of “cheating” HSBC and abetting forgery after a lengthy trial in Singapore, drawing a line under an oil dealing scandal that left banks facing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential losses. Lim Oon Kuin, the 82-year-old founder of Hin Leong Trading, was found guilty on Friday of two charges of cheating HSBC and one of encouraging a Hin Leong contracts executive to forge a document. A sum of US$111.7mn was involved.

Private Equity Scrambles to Find an Alternative to IPOs to Unlock $3 Trillion; Buyout firms, exchanges, bankers scramble for IPO alternatives; Number of public companies in US has almost halved since ’90s
Bailey Lipschultz, Swetha Gopinath, and Vinicy Chan – Bloomberg
As the market for initial public offerings bounces back after two lifeless years, investors who’ve been impatiently waiting for their payoff are finally getting some returns. But the revival hasn’t come fast enough: Behind the scenes, the private equity shops saddled with bulging portfolios – and the banks and exchanges that make millions helping companies go public – are still scrambling to come up with alternative exit strategies.

Largest US public pension plan weighs vote against Exxon CEO over climate lawsuit; Calpers concerned oil supermajor is seeking to muzzle activist shareholders
Attracta Mooney and Josephine Cumbo and Myles McCormick – Financial Times
Calpers, the US’s biggest public pension plan, is weighing a vote against ExxonMobil chief executive Darren Woods’ re-election to the company board as shareholder discontent brews over a lawsuit it filed against two climate-focused investors. Exxon sued Dutch shareholder group and US investment adviser Arjuna Capital to block a resolution they introduced demanding it do more to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. The oil supermajor has persisted with the lawsuit in US federal court even after the duo withdrew their proposal.

Trading on Crypto Exchanges Fell for First Time in Seven Months
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Trading volume on major crypto exchanges fell in April for the time in seven months while market bellwether Bitcoin retreated from a record high. Spot trading volume on so-called centralized exchanges such as Coinbase Global, Binance and Kraken tumbled 32.6% to $2 trillion last month, according to data from researcher CCData. Derivatives trading volume also declined for the first time in seven months, falling by 26.1% to $4.57 trillion. While trading volume skyrocketed earlier in the year on the introduction of US exchange-traded funds investing into Bitcoin, it slackened amid a tightening of financial conditions in the US, where the Federal Reserve faces the challenge of overcoming sticky inflation. The April 19 Bitcoin halving – when supply of new coins minted on the network dropped in half – was a catalyst for market excitement beforehand.

Fireside Friday with… Ninety One’s Sally Bartunek; The TRADE sits down with Sally Bartunek, trader at Ninety One, to discuss the key talking points on the firm’s trading desk, the expected implications of the shift to T+1 later this month, and the current liquidity landscape and ways to navigate it.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
What’s been the main topic of conversation on your desk over the last month? One topic is that US data has been surprising to the upside and the economy has remained resilient. We’re watching economic data closely because they can give indications on when the Fed could act on their rates decision. While a cut is clearly not happening at the next meeting, the stronger than expected data has caused volatility in rates, therefore filtering down to other markets that impact our investment decisions.

Ukraine Invasion

Russian forces attack Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, opening new front
Sergiy Karazy and Tom Balmforth – Reuters
Russian forces launched an armoured ground attack on Friday near Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv in the northeast of the country and made limited gains, opening a new front in a war that has long been waged in the east and south. Ukraine sent reinforcements as fighting raged in the border areas of the region, the defence ministry said, adding that Russia had pounded the frontier town of Vovchansk with guided aerial bombs and artillery.

Russia’s jamming of American weapons in Ukraine is showing the US what it needs to be ready for in a future fight
Chris Panella, Jake Epstein – Business Insider
Russian electronic warfare has created problems for some American-made precision weaponry in Ukraine, but Moscow is also showing its hand and telling the US what it needs solutions for to be ready for future fights. Ukraine has employed US precision weapons, such as the HIMARS-fired Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and air-launched Joint Direct Attack Munitions, throughout the war, but widespread Russian electronic warfare is regularly diminishing the effectiveness of these weapons. Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto, who’s serving as the commander of Security Assistance Group-Ukraine, addressed the problem in December, saying electronic warfare directed at some of the US’s “most precise capabilities” was “a challenge.” Other US officials have identified these issues as well, adding that the US and Ukraine were working on solutions.

Russia is covering armored vehicles with elaborate anti-drone ‘cope cages.’ Video shows them getting hit anyway.
Mia Jankowicz – Business Insider
Video released by a Ukrainian battalion appears to show drones getting through increasingly complex “cope cages” installed on Russian armored fighting vehicles, to devastating effect. In a video posted on Monday by the 8th Separate Mountain Assault Battalion – part of the famed “Edelweiss” brigade – heavily protected Russian vehicles are seen to be targeted and, it appears, destroyed by Ukrainian drones.

Putin’s victory parade a sign of Russia’s ‘degraded’ armoured supplies
James Rothwell – The Telegraph
A solitary Soviet tank led Vladimir Putin’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow as soldiers patrolled with anti-drone guns amid fears of Ukrainian attacks. The Soviet T-34 was the only Russian tank passing through the streets, marking victory over Nazi Germany 79 years ago, as was the case last year. Analysts said it was a further sign that Russian armoured supplies have been severely degraded since the start of the war. At least 20 tanks took part in the pre-war 2020 victory parade.

Inside a Ukrainian Vampire Drone Squad’s Mission to the Front Lines; WSJ accompanies a four-man team on an operation to replenish front-line troops’ essential supplies
Ian Lovett and Nikita Nikolaienko – The Wall Street Journal
For 48 hours, as the soldiers fought to hold a trench on Ukraine’s eastern front, their stores of water had been dwindling. Now, they had only a few sips left. The roads to resupply them were effectively cut off-made impassable by attack drones. The Russians were just 200 yards away.

Israel/Palestine Conflict

More than 100,000 flee Rafah, the U.N. says, as Israeli bombardment intensifies.
The New York Times
With fears rising that Israel will move ahead with a long-planned full-scale invasion of Rafah, the United Nations said Friday that more than 100,000 people had fled since Israel ordered people to leave parts of the city and intensified a bombardment that Gazan health officials say has killed dozens of people. As Israeli troops continued to exchange fire with Palestinian fighters near Rafah on Friday, according to both the Israeli military and Hamas, people were packing up their tents and leaving the southern Gazan city and its surrounding areas where more than a million Palestinians had sought shelter in trucks, cars and donkey carts.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Japan’s Stock Market Is Booming. It Isn’t All About the Weak Yen. Although some prominent companies such as Toyota are benefiting from a weaker Japanese currency, the broad impact is mixed
Jacky Wong – The Wall Street Journal
Is a weak currency good for Japan’s stock market? It is complicated. A lower yen is traditionally seen as positive for Japanese stocks as it should make its exports more competitive. And this is certainly still true to some extent. More than half of the companies in the Topix index are exporters, according to Bank of America. The broker estimated that every additional yen to the dollar in the exchange rate might boost operating profit for companies in the Topix 500, which tracks the largest Japanese companies, by 0.5%. Indeed, Toyota and Honda this week reported record profits for the fiscal year through March, partly helped by the cheaper yen.

Cboe Global Markets and Metaurus Advisors, LLC Announce Plans to Launch Three New Innovative Equity Indices
Cboe and Metaurus collaborate to develop three new US equity indices: the Cboe US Large Cap 100 Index, the Cboe US Large Cap Lead 50 Index, and the Cboe US Large Cap Lag 50 Index. Leverages combined strengths of Cboe’s derivatives-based indexing capabilities and Metaurus’ Dynamic ReassignmentSM technology. Plans to develop tradable futures products based on indices, subject to regulatory review. Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), the world’s leading derivatives and securities exchange network, and Metaurus Advisors, LLC (Metaurus), an asset management company focusing on financial innovation, today announced plans to collaborate on three new US equity indices: the Cboe US Large Cap 100 Index, the Cboe US Large Cap Lead 50 Index (the Cboe Lead 50), and the Cboe US Large Cap Lag 50 Index (the Cboe Lag 50). The indices are targeted to launch by the end of 2024.

Performance Bond Requirements: Agriculture and Interest Rate Margins- Effective May 10, 2024
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 May 10, 2024.

ICE Clear Credit Adds Royal Bank of Canada as a Clearing Member
Intercontinental Exchange
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE), a leading global provider of technology and data, today announced that Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Canada’s largest bank by capitalization and designated as one of the global systemically important banks, has become a clearing member at ICE Clear Credit LLC, the leading global clearinghouse for credit default swaps.

[Attention] Suspicious Email Sent from JPX Email Address
Japan Exchange Group
We have confirmed that a suspicious email was sent from an email account used by one of JPX’s overseas representative offices ( on May 8, 2024 at around 23:00 JST. If you receive a suspicious or unusual email, please delete the email and refrain from opening attachments or accessing links. The email account in question has been suspended following the incident. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to those who received the email.

TMX Group Prices $300 Million Private Placement Debenture Offering
TMX Group
TMX Group Limited (“TMX Group”) today announced that it has priced a Canadian private placement offering (the “Offering”) of $300 million aggregate principal amount of 4.747% Series J Senior Unsecured Debentures due May 26, 2026 (the “Debentures”) to accredited investors in Canada. The Debentures will be direct senior unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of TMX Group and will rank pari passu with all other senior unsecured and unsubordinated indebtedness of TMX Group. TMX Group expects the Offering to close on May 24, 2024 and the Debentures are expected to receive a credit rating of “AA (Low)” with a Negative Trend from DBRS Limited.


Broadridge’s LTX integrates with fixed income trading connectivity provider MultiLynq to enhance its platform; Currently, more than 35 dealers and 90 asset managers operate on LTX’s AI-powered corporate bond trading platform.
Claudia Preece – The Trade
Broadridge Financial Solutions’ LTX has integrated with electronic fixed income trading connectivity and integration provider, Multilynq, as it seeks to accelerate trading connectivity to the LTX platform. Jim Kwiatkowski, chief executive of LTX, explained: “Most dealers and asset managers are challenged prioritising their scarce technical resources to complete multiple critical technical projects.

Apple to Power AI Tools With In-House Server Chips This Year; Company puts Mac-grade chips in data centers for fall launch; Apple to offer features using on-device and cloud approaches Mark Gurman – Bloomberg
Apple Inc. will deliver some of its upcoming artificial intelligence features this year via data centers equipped with its own in-house processors, part of a sweeping effort to infuse its devices with AI capabilities. The company is placing high-end chips – similar to ones it designed for the Mac – in cloud-computing servers designed to process the most advanced AI tasks coming to Apple devices, according to people familiar with the matter. Simpler AI-related features will be processed directly on iPhones, iPads and Macs, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan is still under wraps.

TSMC’s April Sales Jump 60% on Sustained Demand for AI Chips
Jane Lanhee Lee – Bloomberg
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. saw April sales jump 60% to NT$236 billion ($7.3 billion) as sustained artificial intelligence demand was helped by the beginnings of a recovery in consumer electronics. The world’s largest contract chipmaker is running well ahead of estimates for revenue growth in the current quarter, after sales increased by 34.3% in March, buoyed largely by insatiable appetite for AI semiconductors. The global smartphone industry returned to growth over the first three months of the year, including in the highly competitive Chinese market, which may drive orders for TSMC’s traditional mainstay of mobile chips.

Where Is the AI Boom Taking Us? Business Leaders Disagree on Outlook; The technology’s promises and perils were a central focus of the WSJ’s CEO Council Summit
Josh Mitchell – The Wall Street Journal
Artificial intelligence has fueled a stock-market boom and boosted hopes of a step-up in productivity. But the technology also drew skepticism at a Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit on Thursday-about its ability to transform industries, as well as the dangers it will pose. AI will do everything from choose your shampoo to halve the hours that doctors spend transcribing notes, said Aidan Gomez, the chief executive of Cohere, which sells AI software to build conversational apps.

‘It’s a Money Loser’: Tax Breaks for Data Centers Are Under Fire; Lawmakers in US states that gave up hundreds of millions in revenue are having doubts about whether the incentives pay off.
Saijel Kishan – Bloomberg
For years, US states have dangled tax breaks to help lure data centers, eager for the investment and jobs-and also the cachet of reeling in big-name tech companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Google. Now, in the midst of an artificial-intelligence-fueled building boom, those incentives are coming under greater scrutiny from politicians of both parties. At issue is that these nerve centers of the digital age typically employ just a few dozen workers. To run one, all that’s needed is a skeleton crew that includes technicians, security personnel and building-control specialists, whereas a factory of similar size would have hundreds if not thousands of workers.

ChatGPT maker OpenAI to unveil Google search competitor on Monday: sources
Reuters via NY Post
OpenAI plans to announce its artificial intelligence-powered search product on Monday, according to two sources familiar with the matter, raising the stakes in its competition with search king Google. The announcement date, though subject to change, has not been previously reported. Bloomberg and the Information have reported that Microsoft-backed OpenAI is working on a search product to potentially compete with Alphabet’s Google and with Perplexity, a well-funded AI search startup.


White House to Push Cybersecurity Standards on Hospitals; Anne Neuberger didn’t spell out time line for directive; Announcement follows massive cyberattack on Change Healthcare
Katrina Manson and Jake Bleiberg – Bloomberg
The Biden administration intends to require hospitals to meet minimum cybersecurity standards after a single hack exposed the data of 100 million Americans.

The Growing Cybersecurity Disconnect Leaves Enterprises Exposed
Eyal Benishti – Forbes
Cybersecurity has always been a dynamic field. Malicious actors work tirelessly to devise new types of attacks, while tech vendors and security professionals work round the clock to develop new strategies and solutions to stop them. However, with the recent emergence and rapid evolution of generative AI (a.k.a. GenAI), this age-old game of cat and mouse has reached a fever pitch-and the good guys are struggling to keep up.

Cybersecurity in a Race to Unmask a New Wave of AI-Borne Deepfakes; Kevin Mandia, CEO of Mandiant at Google Cloud, calls for content “watermarks” as the industry braces for a barrage of mind-bending AI-generated fake audio and video traffic.
Kelly Jackson Higgins – Dark Reading
Everyone’s talking about deepfakes, but the majority of AI-generated synthetic media circulating today will seem quaint in comparison to the sophistication and volume of what’s about to come.


Why Almost Everyone Was Wrong About the Bitcoin ‘Halving’
Adam Clark – Barron’s
Bitcoin was falling Thursday and other cryptocurrencies were mixed, with momentum still lacking following a surge in prices earlier this year. Bitcoin has fallen 0.7% over the last 24 hours to $62,106. The largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin hit a record high near $74,000 in mid-March amid a surge of interest from new spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, but its price has since dropped.

Meme Coin Demand Is Stronger Than Ever With Fast Money Chasing Pepe and WIF: Analyst
Omkar Godbole – CoinDesk
The meme coin season continues to march forward, undeterred by the stalled rally in bitcoin {{BTC}}. Data tracking website CoinMarketCap listed a record 138 meme coins this April, extending the parabolic rise from April 2023’s tally of just 18, according to pseudonymous analyst Crypto Coryo. The number could be much higher, as CoinMarketCap reportedly lists only 10% of all tokens, Crypto Coryo said on X.

Crypto, CBDCs and Stablecoins Are the Future, Says Former CFTC Chair; Executive chairman of non-profit U.S. CBDC organization, the Digital Dollar Project, outlined the future of digital currency.
Ryan S. Gladwin – Decrypt
Despite heading the Digital Dollar Project as a co-founder and executive chairman, J. Christopher Giancarlo believes that CBDCs aren’t the only way forward in finance.

CBDCs, stablecoins must ensure liberty-based values – former CFTC chair; J. Christian Giancarlo has stressed the importance of upholding values of liberty, privacy and economic freedom in a keynote address in London.
The former head of the United States Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has urged central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and stablecoins to uphold values based on liberty by design. J. Christian Giancarlo, who chaired the CFTC between 2014 and 2019, stressed the need for CBDCs and stablecoins to ensure privacy and censorship resistance during a keynote address at the FT Live Crypto and Digital Assets Summit.


Corporate America Is Sitting Out the Trump-Biden Rematch; Business leaders felt in 2020 that they couldn’t afford to stay silent on social and political issues. In 2024, many hope to take a quieter approach.
Chip Cutter and Ray A. Smith – The New York Times
What election? In the midst of what many expect to be the most toxic presidential campaign in modern history, American businesses are going to extraordinary lengths to stay off the political radar. Some CEOs are privately drawing up plans to tell employees not to expect comments on political matters in all-hands sessions. Others are reconsidering common election initiatives, such as get-out-the-vote drives, fearing those could be viewed in the current moment as partisan. A number of companies are also taking a harder line on workplace activism after long tolerating dissent.

Biden Urged to Halt Oil Export Projects After Terminal Approved
Ari Natter – Bloomberg
Climate activists who successfully pushed President Joe Biden to halt new US liquefied natural gas exports are setting their sights on proposed crude oil shipping facilities, after the administration approved a massive petroleum terminal last month. The administration should stop approvals of deepwater oil export facilities and reevaluate its approval process, the Sierra Club wrote on behalf of nearly 20 environmental and community groups in a letter Thursday to the White House and the Department of Transportation.

US Republican attorneys general sue to stop EPA’s carbon rule
Clark Mindock – Reuters
Republican attorneys general from 27 U.S. states and industry trade groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, seeking to block a landmark rule requiring sweeping reductions in carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants and new natural gas plants. The rule, finalized by President Joe Biden’s administration last month as part of an effort to combat climate change, was challenged in multiple lawsuits filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, including one by 25 states spearheaded by West Virginia and Indiana and another by Ohio and Kansas. Electric utility, mining and coal industry trade groups also filed lawsuits.

House Votes to Erase SEC Crypto Policy While President Biden Vows Veto
Jesse Hamilton – CoinDesk
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a resolution rejecting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cryptocurrency accounting guidance that the industry said has deterred banks from handling crypto customers, but President Joe Biden is already promising he’ll veto the effort if it hits his desk. The SEC’s Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 121 – also known as SAB 121 – has been a focus of criticism from digital assets businesses and Republican lawmakers since its arrival. The bulletin was meant to clarify accounting treatment for crypto assets, directing a bank holding customer’s digital tokens should do so on its own balance sheet, potentially incurring massive capital expenses. But the policy guidance has since been found in one government review to have been handled badly, though the agency and Chair Gary Gensler have defended it.

Corporate America Is Sitting Out the Trump-Biden Rematch; Business leaders felt in 2020 that they couldn’t afford to stay silent on social and political issues. In 2024, many hope to take a quieter approach.
Chip Cutter and Ray A. Smith – The Wall Street Journal
What election? In the midst of what many expect to be the most toxic presidential campaign in modern history, American businesses are going to extraordinary lengths to stay off the political radar. Some CEOs are privately drawing up plans to tell employees not to expect comments on political matters in all-hands sessions. Others are reconsidering common election initiatives, such as get-out-the-vote drives, fearing those could be viewed in the current moment as partisan. A number of companies are also taking a harder line on workplace activism after long tolerating dissent.

HSBC, StanChart Press Sunak to Ease Clampdown on China Business
Alex Wickham, Katherine Griffiths and Harry Wilson – Bloomberg

Lithuania holds a presidential vote as anxieties rise in the Baltics over Russia and war in Ukraine
Liudas Dapkus – Associated Press

Europe Greens Fight to Save the Climate Plan They Helped Launch; Bas Eickhout, Dutch member of the European parliament and the party’s lead candidate in upcoming elections, says the challenge is reconnecting with people who feel left behind by economic forces beyond their control.
John Ainger and Akshat Rathi – Bloomberg

Exiled Russian Opposition Leader Launches Blockchain-Based Referendum on Vladimir Putin’s Election Win
Amitoj Singh – CoinDesk

Putin reappoints his prime minister, a technocrat who has kept a low political profile
Associated Press

Brazil’s Floods Pose Pivotal Test for Lula’s Leadership
Travis Waldron – Bloomberg

The World’s Biggest Displacement Crisis Is Not in Gaza
Simon Marks – Bloomberg

Asian family offices switch focus as geopolitical risks rise; World is ‘different animal today’ in terms of geopolitics, say wealth managers
Yuri Bender – Financial Times


Singapore oil trader convicted of abetting forgery and cheating HSBC; Octogenarian founder of Hin Leong Trading hid huge losses in futures markets from banks
Mercedes Ruehl – Financial Times
An octogenarian oil trader has been convicted of “cheating” HSBC and abetting forgery after a lengthy trial in Singapore, drawing a line under an oil dealing scandal that left banks facing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential losses. Lim Oon Kuin, the 82-year-old founder of Hin Leong Trading, was found guilty on Friday of two charges of cheating HSBC and one of encouraging a Hin Leong contracts executive to forge a document. A sum of US$111.7mn was involved.

Big Tech regulatory crackdown spreads to Asia and Australia; Tokyo, Seoul and Canberra follow EU and US in trying to rein in dominance of Apple and Google
Kana Inagaki, Christian Davies, Song Jung-a and Nic Fildes – Financial Times
Japan, South Korea and Australia are tightening rules to rein in the market power of big tech groups, posing fresh regulatory challenges for Apple and Google following a similar crackdown in the EU and US. The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently approved landmark legislation aimed at preventing the largest online platforms from using their dominance in mobile software to thwart the entry of new rivals.

Canada fines Binance $4.38 mln for money laundering violations
Canada’s anti-money laundering agency on Thursday said it had imposed a nearly C$6 million ($4.38 million) fine on cryptocurrency exchange Binance for violating the money laundering and terrorist financing laws. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) said Binance had failed to register as a foreign money services business with the intelligence body despite several deadlines.

“Adam Smith, the SEC, Data, and the Public Good” Prepared Remarks Before the 11th Annual Conference on Financial Market Regulation
Chair Gary Gensler – SEC
Since antiquity, finance has been about the pricing and allocation of money and risk throughout the economy. There are those who have money who want to invest it. Others need money to fund good ideas, buy a house, or help get through life’s inevitable challenges. There are those who have risk but don’t want to bear it, and others willing to take on that risk. Finance sits in the middle, like the neck of an hourglass whose grains of sand are money and risk. Finance depends on data.

Brett Paul Trevillian pleads guilty to making false documents
Metal Alpha Pty Ltd director Brett Paul Trevillian has pleaded guilty to forging portfolio performance verification reports when he was the investment manager of AlphaThorn Pty Ltd. Between April 2019 and October 2019 Mr Trevillian created four forged portfolio performance verification reports relating to two investment products offered by AlphaThorn, the Secured service product and the Enhanced service product. AlphaThorn intended to provide these reports to potential investors. The forged reports falsely verified or claimed a history of investment returns by AlphaThorn.

AML/CFT customer due diligence: trusts
Financial Markets Authority
A trust is an arrangement where a person (the settlor) gives money or property to another person (the trustee), to be held in trust for the benefit of either the trust’s beneficiaries, or a purpose recognised by law.

Taheer Sardar convicted for providing a forged document to FCA investigators in a £1.3m boiler room fraud investigation
Taheer Sardar has today been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for perverting the course of justice at Southwark Crown Court. Mr Sardar pleaded guilty on 7 May 2024. Mr Sardar was interviewed by the FCA as part of an investigation it was conducting into a sophisticated boiler room scam that had defrauded 120 investors of £1.3m. Three individuals, Mr Mirza, Mr Solaja and Mr Vickers were subsequently convicted and sentenced to 23 years for that fraud following prosecution by the FCA.

Investing and Trading

Why trends are so intoxicating for investors – and dangerous: Morning Brief
Julie Hyman – Yahoo Finance
Shares of Roblox plunged yesterday after the gaming platform company gave disappointing bookings guidance. You’d never know Roblox isn’t doing well in my house. My teenager and my tweenager bounce around between games like Blox Fruits and Pet Simulator X. My younger son’s birthday presents mostly consisted of a stack of gift cards for Robux (in-game currency), although they might have been evenly split with V-Bucks (for Epic Games-owned Fortnite). On the other hand, the majority of people reading this are about to google “what is Roblox,” as they do every quarter, before forgetting. (It’s an online gaming platform where users can build and play games.)

EU Bonds Lure Investors Betting on Entry to Sovereign Indexes
Sujata Rao and Greg Ritchie – Bloomberg
Money managers are piling into the European Union’s bonds in anticipation of a major shift in their status that would open up the bloc’s debt to a bigger pool of investors. MSCI Inc. this week started a consultation on whether EU debt should be added to its sovereign bond indexes, following a similar proposal by Intercontinental Exchange Inc. last month.

BP and Shell go back to basics to boost shareholder returns; FTSE 100 energy majors want to improve valuations and close discount with US rivals
Malcolm Moore – Financial Times
Shell and BP had a simple message for investors at their latest results: boring is back. After years of headline-grabbing management changes, splashy deals and ambitious attempts to woo ESG investors with forays into low carbon businesses, the two UK-listed oil majors have promised to focus on their core business and return as much cash as they can to shareholders. “We’re return-driven,” said Murray Auchincloss, the low-key Canadian former finance chief who stepped up to run BP in January after Bernard Looney was fired for serious misconduct. “We’re really, really driven by returns,” he emphasised in BP’s first-quarter earnings call this week. “It’s all going to be return and cash flow-focused.”

Have fees forced you to switch investment platform? FT Money wants to hear from readers
Sally Hickey – Financial Times
Have you recently changed investment platforms because of high fees? Did you know the full breakdown of fees when you invested or were you taken by surprise when you saw the costs? Since last summer, investment platforms have been subject to new regulations focusing on good consumer outcomes.

Isa season flows rise fivefold; Investors plough £1.93bn into equity funds between February 15 and April 5
Sally Hickey – Financial Times
UK Isa savers flooded back into equities this year as they rushed to take advantage of booming stock markets. Some £1.93bn was invested in equity funds between February 15 and April 5, the end of the 2023-24 Isa season, according to funds network Calastone. This was five times the amount invested in the same period last year, and the highest level in the past 10 years.

The bond market liquidity ‘trilemma’; Once more unto the breach
Robin Wigglesworth – Financial Times
Good sellside research is like busses; you wait for ages for something interesting to turn up, and then a bunch rolls into your inbox all at once. This was the case late last month, when Barclays published the 69th instalment of its annual Equity Gilt Study, with several fascinating chapters. We’ve already written up the sections on the impact of a consolidated tape on European credit and the flood of Treasuries hitting the market, so let’s make it a hat-trick and dive into the chapter on

‘There’s money everywhere’: Milken conference-goers look for a dealmaking revival; Packed finance event highlights a power shift to the Middle East and warier views on China
Brooke Masters, Harriet Agnew, Jennifer Hughes, Eric Platt, Antoine Gara and Stephen Morris- Financial Times

Japan’s Stock Market Is Booming. It Isn’t All About the Weak Yen; Although some prominent companies such as Toyota are benefiting from a weaker Japanese currency, the broad impact is mixed
Jacky Wong – The Wall Street Journal

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

UK shelves plan for country’s biggest hydrogen home heating trial; Decision deals blow to efforts to use the gas in move to net zero
Rachel Millard – Financial Times
The UK government has shelved plans for Britain’s largest trial using hydrogen to heat people’s homes, in the latest blow to prospects for using the gas in the shift to net zero. Ministers said they were stopping preparatory work on a project to heat up to 10,000 homes with hydrogen instead of fossil fuels. They will review the move in 2026 after making a formal decision on what role, if any, they expect hydrogen to play compared with alternative low carbon heating options, such as electric heat pumps.

UK Considers Delaying Some Carbon Capture Projects as Costs Soar; Government may support fewer projects this year, people say; Support for some projects could be delayed to a later date
Will Mathis – Bloomberg
The UK is considering delaying support for some carbon capture projects until after this year as costs rise for the fledgling technology that’s critical to the country’s climate goals. The government is still committed to backing a roll-out of projects that will trap CO2 from industrial sites and store it under the sea. But the first major stage could be smaller than previously planned, with some projects potentially delayed, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Australian Startup Mimics Trees to Make Cheaper Green Hydrogen; Hysata raised $111 million from investors including BP to scale its technology, which could help lower the cost of the clean-burning fuel.
Akshat Rathi and Will Mathis – Bloomberg
For emissions-free hydrogen to become a widespread climate solution, it has to get much cheaper. A startup in Australia claims it has a way to do that. Hysata, based in Wollongong, south of Sydney, has raised $111 million from investors to scale up its technology to produce hydrogen from electricity. The company’s advantage is the energy efficiency of its electrolyzer, a machine that separates hydrogen out of water.

Polish farmers march against ‘green poison’ EU climate change rules
Kuba Stezycki – Reuters
Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw on Friday to show their opposition to European Union environmental regulations that farmers say are driving them out of business. Farmers were joined by representatives of other branches of the Solidarity trade union, which organised the protest, such as miners and workers from the automotive sector. Farmers in Poland and elsewhere in the bloc have been protesting in recent months, opens new tab against cheap food imports from Ukraine and restrictions placed on them by the EU’s Green Deal to tackle climate change.

Youth-led climate lawsuit against EPA dismissed
Clark Mindock – Reuters

Poor-sighted Indian bird flies into row over power lines in desert; Supreme court expected to reverse measures designed to protect endangered bustard from development
Chris Kay and Benjamin Parkin – Financial Times


US banks face climate risk data challenges, Fed analysis shows
Isla Binnie and Michelle Price – Reuters
U.S. banks face significant data and modeling challenges in predicting the impact of climate change on their loan books, the Federal Reserve said on Thursday after its first analysis on the issue. In the exercise, undertaken over several months in 2023, the central bank aimed to understand how lenders would manage the risks of rising temperatures and changing external policies. They found a wide range of approaches, the report said. In many cases, the lenders relied on external vendors to fill in gaps in data and modeling.

Record-breaking increase in CO2 levels in world’s atmosphere; Experts issue warning after finding global average concentration in March was 4.7ppm higher than same period last year
Oliver Milman – The Guardian
The largest ever recorded leap in the amount of carbon dioxide laden in the world’s atmosphere has just occurred, according to researchers who monitor the relentless accumulation of the primary gas that is heating the planet. The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in March this year was 4.7 parts per million (or ppm) higher than it it was in March last year, which is a record-breaking increase in CO2 levels over a 12-month period.

‘One hundred banking hubs to be open this year’; Cash Access UK makes pledge after criticism over speed of rollout
Akila Quinio – Financial Times
The organisation tasked with setting up physical “banking hubs” in areas where high street banks have retreated has opened its 50th hub and renewed its pledge to launch 100 by the end of the year, after facing scrutiny over the speed of the rollout. Cash Access UK, which was set up last year and is funded by nine of the country’s major lenders, on Friday announced its latest hub was open to consumers in Jedburgh in Scotland. Banking hubs are shared banking spaces on the high street that offer counter service jointly operated by lenders and the Post Office where customers of major banks and building societies can pay their bills, seek banking advice, and deposit cash and cheques.

Hedge Funds Draw Pension Money to Riskiest Corner of a $1.3 Trillion Credit Market; Conservative investors are moving into riskier assets; Money managers are launching dedicated strategies to tap funds
Laura Benitez and Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
A high-stakes trade in the riskiest corner of a $1.3 trillion credit market is enticing some of the world’s most conservative investors, raising concerns that in their aggressive hunt for higher yields they may be discounting some pitfalls. Pension plans and insurers have been piling into funds that invest in equity tranches of collateralized loan obligations in recent months, according to several asset managers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The inflows have helped a slew of hedge funds and other money managers, including GoldenTree Asset Management, Sculptor Capital Management, Carlyle Group Inc. and CVC Credit Partners, to raise at least $3.1 billion in less than a year for strategies solely dedicated to these investments.

Work & Management

Long Covid at Work: A Manager’s Guide; It’s time for organizations to be inclusive of employees with chronic illnesses. Here’s how.
Katie Bach, Ludmila N. Praslova, and Beth Pollack
Before the pandemic, Dara was a research engineer, thriving in a job that involved complex technical design and problem-solving. (Names in this article have been changed for privacy.) She was also an avid baker and a voracious reader. Then in March 2020, she got Covid-19. Even after the acute illness had passed, many symptoms remained: Dara struggled to sit up for more than half an hour, was too breathless and lightheaded to walk even short distances, and had severe brain fog that left her unable to hold a conversation or write an email. She used all of her paid and unpaid leave to rest and try to recover. Eventually she improved enough to return to work – but she knew her job needed to change.

Jira Software and Work Management to become single Atlassian solution
Craig Hale – TechRadar
At its Team ’24 event in Las Vegas, and in a supporting blog post entitled ‘The next era of Jira,’ Atlassian announced that it would be bringing Jira Software and Jira Work Management together to create a single, comprehensive product, that will go by the name Jira. Initially deigned for software development and issue tracking, Jira has evolved over the years to cater to diverse team needs, and the strategic move aims to address this evolution.

Wellness Exchange

‘Rage rituals’ are the latest wellness trend among women; The hottest new wellness ritual requires participants to embody their rage through primal screams
Olivia Hebert – The Independent
“Rage rituals” are the latest wellness trend among women on TikTok. A new trend is gaining traction online, where women are paying a fortune to go to the woods and smash things, which wellness experts have dubbed “rage rituals”. Some exclusive wellness retreats now include these stress-relieving ceremonies, where participants scream and beat large sticks on the forest’s ground. Since the forest is far away from residential areas, participants have the freedom to fully embody their rage.

China’s latest wellness trend? Marathons. But good luck getting a spot; It’s now almost impossible to get into the big running races, so smaller cities are coming up with inventive ways to attract athletes – and their cash.
Christian Shepherd and Vic Chiang – The Washington Post
The runners were entering the final stretch on a recent Saturday morning. The air was muggy but the atmosphere was electric, not least because elementary schoolchildren were banging out Queen’s “We Will Rock You” on traditional Chinese cowhide drums nearly as big as them. The runners had already passed locals in traditional attire performing dragon dances or playing the guzheng, the Chinese zither.


Microsoft to shut Africa development centre in Nigeria
Microsoft is closing down its Africa Development Centre in the continent’s most populous nation Nigeria, which will lead to job losses, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. The centre, based in the commercial capital Lagos was opened in 2022 as part of Microsoft’s push to deliver high-end engineering and innovation solutions for the company.

A company that hauled $43 million in silver bars from the ‘Indian Titanic’ wasn’t even given a salvage fee by a court
Mia Jankowicz – Business Insider
A company that hauled 2,364 silver bars from a shipwreck on the ocean floor has lost a legal case with the South African government over the treasure. A UK Supreme Court judgment, seen by Business Insider, ruled that salvage company Argentum Exploration doesn’t have a salvage fee claim for recovering $43 million of silver from the wreck of the SS Tilawa. Argentum Exploration is majority-owned by British hedge fund manager Paul Marshall.

UK exits recession with fastest growth in nearly three years
Suban Abdulla and David Milliken – Reuters
Britain’s economy grew by the most in nearly three years in the first quarter of 2024, ending the shallow recession it entered in the second half of last year and delivering a boost to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of an election. Gross domestic product expanded by 0.6% in the three months to March, the Office for National Statistics said, the strongest growth since the fourth quarter of 2021 when it rose by 1.5%.

China’s green aluminium ambitions hit by erratic rains, power cuts
Erratic rainfall in China’s southwest is frustrating a multibillion-dollar push to green an aluminium industry that accounts for almost 60% of global output and, by some estimates, emits more carbon dioxide than Australia. Lured by official promises of cheap hydropower, China Hongqiao Group (1378.HK), opens new tab and a handful of other coal-reliant smelters several years ago began moving 6.56 million metric tons of capacity – about 15% of China’s total – from the northern rust belt to the mountainous and ethnically diverse Yunnan province, known for tea, coffee and wild mushrooms.

Philippines eyes boost to nickel processing capacity
Mikhail Flores and Karen Lema – Reuters
The Philippines said on Friday it aimed to add three more processing plants in the effort to develop a downstream industry for its abundant nickel resources, after nations such as China and the United States expressed interest in the mining sector.
The Southeast Asian nation is looking to follow neighbouring Indonesia, which lured major investment in processing plants for its huge deposits of nickel ore after banning unprocessed exports in 2020.

Rio Tinto had considered a bid for BHP-target Anglo American, AFR reports
Mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), opens new tab had considered an offer for British miner Anglo American (AAL.L), opens new tab, which is now BHP Group’s (BHP.AX), opens new tab $39 billion takeover target, the Australian Financial Review reported on Friday. Rio “management had not ruled out making a play for part or all of the mining group and continued to study the day-to-day situation”, the AFR reported, citing sources close to Rio.

CNBC’s Inside India newsletter: A disconnected stock market
Ganesh Rao – CNBC
Warren Buffett once bet that an investment in an S&P 500 tracker would outperform most hedge funds. Yet, that wager by the “Oracle of Omaha,” who held Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting over the weekend, would have also outperformed many other indexes too, including the BSE India Sensex and the Nifty 50. For local investors, Indian stocks would have underperformed the U.S. benchmark by more than 45 percentage points since Buffett’s 2008 bet. For foreign investors, returns would have been worse in U.S. dollar terms with a 280 percentage point gap between the two indexes.

Hungary and China sign strategic cooperation agreement during visit by Chinese President Xi
Bela Szandelszky – AP
Hungary and China signed a number of new agreements on Thursday to deepen their economic and cultural cooperation during a visit to the Central European country by Chinese President Xi Jinping, a trip meant to solidify China’s economic footprint in the region.

Russia Crops Flip From Heat to Frost, Damaging Fields Further; Several grain-producing regions have declared an emergency; Estimates of damage yet to be made but seen as ‘significant’
Bloomberg News
Russia is assessing crop damage after an unseasonal sub-zero snap hit key wheat and oilseeds areas this month following an early and unusually warm spring. Some crops in the so-called black soil belt, including the Voronezh, Tambov and Lipetsk regions, have already died due to the freezing temperatures, local authorities reported. In Voronezh alone, as much as 265,000 hectares (654,830 acres) were damaged by May 9, according to officials.

Mexico’s Bankaool plans US stock market debut by 2026
Mexican lender Bankaool expects to debut on the U.S. stock market by early 2026, a top executive said, as parent company Grupo OMNi looks to raise money to fund the lender’s growth. Bankaool, a small lender which currently holds some 0.1% of the country’s financial assets, has focused on its business-to-business segment but is now betting on rapid growth from consumer borrowers through a mobile application.


The Smartest People in the Room Are All Listening to the Same Podcast; How did Acquired become the business world’s favorite show?
Ben Cohen – The Wall Street Journal
It’s a wonky podcast about business history and strategy with four-hour episodes that drop once a month. And people from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are completely obsessed with it. Acquired is the unlikely hit show hosted by Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal, whose ability to understand companies deeply enough to describe them simply makes listeners want to spend time with them. Lots and lots of time.

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The Spread

The Stock Market Has Rarely Been This Sleepy

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

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