Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff
Thank you to all who have paid for your 2021 JLN subscriptions and all who have yet to pay and are going to soon. We at JLN greatly appreciate your support for our efforts. We could not do what we do without your support. The cost of the annual subscription is $200 for an individual reader and $145 for an Enterprise Subscriber at a firm with five or more subscribers. But you can also subscribe for just $17 per month. You can pay on our payments page or request an invoice by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MarketsWiki has been on a roll since we passed the 200 million page mark, but also since we moved the server and greatly improved the response time. Investments in technology can pay off big.
The good people at Vinson & Elkins have a CLE event webcast scheduled for my birthday, March 4, on recent developments in U.S. offshore wind energy. This is appropriate as I was born during a tornado. The webcast will explore how “the United States has tremendous offshore wind energy resource potential with the ability to provide thousands of highly-skilled jobs and large amounts of renewable energy in close proximity to many of the country’s largest population centers.” The webcast starts at 12:00 PM CT and runs until 1:00 PM. You can register HERE.
Thomas Krabbe is the latest to give to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Thomas is an exchange executive who is currently a senior advisor to Bain & Company. He previously was with CME Group for 12 years and before that was with Eurex US and Deutsche Boerse. He is also married to the uber-talented Stephanie Hammer, who has many stories to tell for the Path to Electronic Trading. The consummate gracious ambassador for Germany, Thomas offered me some great advice a year ago about my now cancelled trip to Oberammergau and where else to visit in Bavaria.
Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL
US passes ‘unimaginable’ milestone of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths; Officials urge caution as new variants threaten to undermine vaccination campaign
Peter Wells and Hannah Kuchler – FT
The US death toll from coronavirus has surpassed 500,000, underscoring the pandemic’s devastation as officials raced to roll out vaccinations as quickly as possible to prevent another surge.
*****At the time of the U.S. election, there were 231,353 deaths in the U.S. from the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.~JJL
The Beach Bum Who Beat Wall Street and Made Millions on GameStop; Mike McCaskill spent years scouring the stock market and betting on long shots. Then he found the opportunity that changed his life—and helped spark the mother of all short squeezes.
David Hill – The Ringer
JimJim Cramer, the normally amped-up host of CNBC’s Mad Money, a stock market show complete with sound effects and wacky props and flashy graphics, looked subdued and serious during his January 14 broadcast. “I want to talk about some very important shortages that are going on in the market that you probably don’t know about,” Cramer said. He looked directly into the camera and explained a short squeeze—a concept everyone in America now seems to understand but that was still fairly obscure just a couple of weeks ago. “I don’t normally discuss these issues. … It’s a nightmare.”
*****This story is from a site called The Ringer. It is a long and compelling story about one of the investors behind the GameStop story. Well worth the read.~JJL
Singapore Trading Festival turns ideas into actions with virtual summit and trading challenge
The inaugural Singapore Trading Festival (STF) will feature a strong lineup of industry experts at a full-day virtual summit on 27 February 2021, to discuss trading strategies and opportunities amid an environment reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. STF is jointly organised by Singapore Exchange (SGX) and InvestingNote, Southeast Asia’s largest community-driven platform for investors and traders.
*****A proactive exchange reaching out to connect with retail traders. I like it.~JJL
Marex Spectron Adds Energy Futures Group In New York; Experienced brokerage and clearing team from ED&F Man led by Martin Timmins serves commercial hedgers, institutional investors
Marex Spectron today announced the addition of a new energy futures trading and clearing group to its Marex North America franchise, operating out of New York. The team, composed of seven seasoned exchange-traded energy market professionals led by Martin Timmins, joined from ED&F Man Capital Markets, Inc to service a broad range of commercial hedgers and institutional investors.
*****Marex Spectron’s ascent continues.~JJL
Space Commodities Exchange Launches First Products
The US-based Space Commodities Exchange Inc (SCX) has started designing the first products that would signify a new age of commerce in space: Tradable commodities. The SCX expects to sell the first units of propellant in Q4 of 2021.
*****If you ever wanted to hedge your moon rocks, now is your chance.~JJL
Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was Bloomberg’s Fintech Firm Apex Clearing Agrees to Go Public Via SPAC. Second was This is Money’s Former JP Morgan star is Britain’s cryptocurrency queen after making a £360m personal fortune, about Blythe Masters. Third was Bloomberg’s Citi Executive Pulls James Bond Stunts to Woo China’s Rich, about a Citi marketing campaign.
200,999,165 pages viewed; 25,469 pages; 230,623 edits
|CryptoMarketsWiki, our archive of the cryptocurrency and blockchain world, is going strong and keeping pace as this area of finance grows and evolves.Recently Updated Pages
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‘Flat out false’ — Ken Griffin says Citadel doesn’t use personal information from retail investors
Maggie Fitzgerald – CNBC
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin dismissed as “flat out false” the accusation that his firm improperly uses information it garners from its market-making operation. Griffin spoke in an interview with CNBC on Friday, one day after Citadel and other market makers came under scrutiny from Congress about their role in last month’s GameStop mania.
As Wall Street Migrates to Florida, Hedge-Funders Move to Offload Manhattan Homes; Wealthy financiers are trying to sell their properties as the city’s luxury market begins to recover from the Covid crisis
Katherine Clarke and Cara Lombardo – WSJ
Three Manhattan listings—a downtown penthouse asking $39.5 million, a sprawling co-op seeking $40 million and a pair of Upper West Side condos on the market for $25 million—share one thing in common. Their sellers are among the top brass at Elliott Management, a hedge fund that announced last year it is moving its headquarters from New York City to Florida.
A Star Trader Turns Star Witness in $12 Billion Tax Scandal
Donal Griffin, Gaspard Sebag, Karin Matussek, and Ellen Milligan – Bloomberg
Former trader was busiest in dividend season, colleagues say; Junior employee faces extradition to Germany in probe
For an employee who raked in millions each year, one of Duet Group’s top traders maintained fairly irregular desk hours. Some days he wouldn’t set foot at all inside the office on the fourth floor of Al Fattan Tower in Dubai’s financial center, according to former colleagues who asked not to be identified discussing corporate life. But for a few weeks each spring, when European companies dole out dividends, the trader — whom Bloomberg is choosing to call A. for legal reasons — would log long days at his desk and generate huge profits for his firm.
ICE Reports Record Futures Open Interest of 46.9 Million Contracts; OI record in Brent Futures of 2.76 million; Sterling Futures and Options OI record of 19.9 million
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services, announced record Total Futures Open Interest on February 19, 2021. ICE’s Brent futures contract, which serves as the global benchmark for crude oil, reached an all-time Open Interest record of approximately 2.76 million contracts on February 19, exceeding the previous record set in April 2020. Approximately 80% of the world’s traded crude is priced relative to Brent.
Ether’s 50% Selloff Was Genuine, Not an Error, Kraken CEO Says
Lynn Thomasson – Bloomberg
Coindesk said Ether prices fell as low as $700 on Monday; There’s no evidence of a trading malfunction, Kraken CEO says
A plunge of more than 50% in Ether’s price on cryptocurrency exchange Kraken was probably caused by extreme selling, and not by a trading-engine malfunction, the bourse’s CEO said. Crypto prices tumbled across the board on Monday, with many tokens falling more than 20% during the trading session. Ether, the second-biggest digital coin, sank as low as $700 from about $1,600 on Kraken, according to a report from Coindesk.
Bitcoin Tumbles Below $50,000 as Caution Sweeps Over Crypto
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Prices sank 15% after skeptical comments from Gates, Yellen; Bitcoin’s technical indicators look stretched, analysts say
Bitcoin’s losses accelerated, with prices tumbling below $50,000, as investors started to bail on the market’s frothiest assets. The cryptocurrency was down 15% on Tuesday and traded around $46,000. While the selloff only puts Bitcoin prices at the lowest in about two weeks, investors will be wondering whether it marks the start of a bigger retreat from crypto or simply represents volatility in an unpredictable market.
Should the UK change its listing rules to attract more overseas companies? Two experts debate the future of IPO regulations and the wider capital market ecosystem
Lorna Tilbian and Chris Cummings- FT
Yes — Free float and dual-class share structures need reform
Late last year, the UK launched a review of its rules for stock exchange listings as part of a broader effort to strengthen London’s “position as a leading global financial centre”, writes Lorna Tilbian.
Virtu Increases Diversity With ‘Winternship’
Virtu Financial is about to make its first full-time hire from its Wintership program for women as the market maker, broker and technology provider aims to make the scheme global across the company.
US oil to join North Sea crude price basket; Inclusion intended to smooth out production declines in the region
David Sheppard – FT
US-produced oil will join Europe’s pricing benchmark, reflecting the changing shape of the global market more than four decades after an American company brought the first North Sea crude ashore in the UK.
IG Group suspends leveraged trading in 900 shares; UK broker makes move in response to new wave of retail trading in volatile stocks
Madison Darbyshire – FT
UK broker IG Group has suspended margin trading in 900 shares, as brokers around the world adjust to surging demand from self-directed retail investors in highly volatile markets. The listed broker has withdrawn certain types of trading on just under 8 per cent of equities it covers, in companies including insurer Hiscox, malls operator Hammerson and clothing brand Superdry.
China’s Robinhoods are Doing Just Fine, Thanks; The GameStop frenzy created problems for U.S. online brokers, but Nasdaq-listed brokers helping Chinese people punt on U.S. stocks are doing well
Jacky Wong – WSJ
In a gold rush, sell shovels. In a U.S. stock-trading mania, be an online broker—a Chinese one, that is. The day-trading craze fueled by platforms such as Robinhood reached a climax last month as individual investors pushed stocks like GameStop through the stratosphere. Investing in closely held Robinhood is tough, but investors have jumped into Chinese online brokers, which have also been riding the frenzy.
Women in Economics Face Hostility When Presenting Research; Studies have found that the field is plagued by a singular problem of gender bias. The latest evidence comes from the types of questions posed at seminars.
Ben Casselman – NY Times
A few years ago, the economists Alicia Sasser Modestino and Justin Wolfers sat at the back of a professional conference and watched Rebecca Diamond, a rising star in their field, present her latest research on inequality. Or at least she was meant to present it — moments after she began her talk, the audience began peppering her with questions.
World’s top 10 hedge fund managers earn $20.1 billion in 2020
Maiya Keidan – Reuters
Millennium Management’s Israel Englander earned $3.8 billion last year, landing him the biggest payday of any hedge fund manager in 2020, showed data from Institutional Investor.
Englander more than doubled his $1.5 billion payday in 2019 and made $2 billion more than the previous year’s rich list leaders Chris Hohn and Jim Simons, while making gains of 26% for his investors.
Britain’s Summer of Freedom Could Be Great; Boris Johnson’s cautious reopening looks prudent, and promising, even if a lot of things still need to go right.
Therese Raphael – Bloomberg
While Britain’s vaccination program has been going full-tilt, life in the country remains in suspended animation. A new strategy was overdue, but which one? Many lawmakers in Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have been demanding that he lift lockdown restrictions and reopen the economy. Infections, hospitalizations and deaths have been on a downward slope, helped by social distancing and perhaps seasonal effects. The argument is that Britain has plenty of headroom to lift restrictions and can’t afford to prolong a lockdown that has produced the deepest recession in three centuries and threatens to leave major economic and social scarring.
China and Russia Are Beating the West at Vaccine Diplomacy; While the West hoards Covid-19 jabs like rocket fuel, Russia and China are deploying them strategically around the world.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
It was encouraging to see G7 leaders including France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and the U.K.’s Boris Johnson all on the same page when it came to Covid-19 vaccines last week. With the U.S. back in the fold of global health cooperation as a member of the 92-country Covax initiative, they all agreed to help distribute doses around the world to start healing a pandemic divide between rich and poor.
Death Toll Hits 500,000 in U.S. as Vaccinations Race Virus
Reg Gale and Ros Krasny – Bloomberg
Hospitalizations, deaths have fallen as mutations pose threat; About 657,000 people in the U.S. died during pandemic of 1918
A half-million Americans are now dead as a result of the novel coronavirus that first hit U.S. shores just a little more than a year ago, a sad milestone that’s left families mourning nationwide. U.S. deaths passed the 500,000 mark on Monday. Global deaths related to Covid-19 have surpassed 2.46 million, with the U.S. leading all countries with more than twice the number recorded by the next closest, Brazil, according to Bloomberg’s virus tracker.
Greece presses EU to ‘move more quickly’ on vaccine passports; Idea that could allow foreign travel to resume will be debated at this week’s EU summit
Alice Hancock and Michael Peel – FT
Greece’s tourism minister has called on EU leaders to “move more quickly” to embrace the vaccine certificates that could allow mass travel to resume, as Athens seeks to repair a holiday industry that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
See How Covid-19 Has Tested the Limits of Hospitals and Staff
John Keefe, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas and Sheri Fink – NY Times
In hospitals, intensive care units treat critically ill patients with life-support technology and close monitoring by specially trained doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and other professionals.
Yes, the Vaccines Will Stop the Spread; How to understand the difference between vaccination to prevent Covid-19 and shots to halt infection.
Angela L. Rasmussen – NY Times
Vaccines that do not prevent virus infection can still stop epidemics.Credit…Karen Ducey/Getty Images
The purpose of the Covid-19 vaccines is to prevent death and serious health complications that strain our overburdened health care system. All the vaccines authorized for emergency use do this, and their safety and effectiveness in clinical trials have surpassed expectations. But most people, quite understandably, want to know something more: Will being vaccinated stop the spread of Covid-19 so they can socialize outside their bubbles and dine indoors with abandon? Eventually, yes.
Future Vaccines Depend on Test Subjects in Short Supply: Monkeys; Veterinary techs distribute food every morning to more than 5,000 monkeys at the Tulane University National Primate Research Center outside New Orleans.Credit…
Sui-Lee Wee – NY Times
Mark Lewis was desperate to find monkeys. Millions of human lives, all over the world, were at stake.
Deadly Texas blackout shows our vulnerability to coming climate extremes; The event provides a glimpse of a ‘hellscape’ future if we don’t build resilience
Andrew Freedman – Washington Post
The cold snap that gripped the central and southern United States last week has ended, giving way to more seasonable temperatures. However, extensive damage to lives and property has been done, with at least 58 lives lost, the majority in Texas, as a result of the extreme cold, snow and ice.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
CME Group Chief Financial Officer and Global Head of Financial and OTC Products to Present at Credit Suisse Virtual Financial Services Forum
CME Group announced today that John Pietrowicz, Chief Financial Officer and Sean Tully, Global Head of Financial and OTC Products, will present virtually at the 22nd Annual Credit Suisse Virtual Financial Services Forum on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at 12:10 p.m. (Eastern Time). The virtual conference is designed to showcase publicly traded financial services companies for institutional investors. The presentation will be available for livestreaming via CME Group’s investor website at http://investor.cmegroup.com. Please allow extra time prior to the presentation to visit the site and download the streaming media software required to listen to the online broadcast. An audio webcast will be available for replay at the same address approximately 24 hours following the conclusion of the conference.
Euronext distinguishes capital market participants
Lisbon – February 23, 2 021 – Euronext today announced the list of nominees and winners of the 10th edition of the Euronext Lisbon Awards. Created in 2011, the Euronext Lisbon Awards seek to distinguish issuers, financial intermediaries, and other institutions and people who, in the year prior to the award, stood out in the capital market.
Eurex EnLight: EnLight Building Block (EBB) amendments
We would like to amend the EnLight Building Block (EBB) fulfilment criteria and add further details for existing measurement in order to support more competitive pricing and better liquidity provisioning on the platform through the EnLight Building Block (EBB).
Eurex Exchange Readiness Newsflash | New section “Support” to be launched on the Eurex website – changelogs
We are pleased to announce that Eurex Exchange and Eurex Clearing will introduce the new section “Support” on the website www.eurex.com as of 1 March 2021.
Application for Silver Regularity
Notice is hereby given that Loomis International (US) Inc. has applied to become an Approved Depository for silver at the following location:
Application for Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium Regularity
Notice is hereby given that Loomis International (US) Inc. has applied to become an Approved Depository for gold, silver, platinum, and palladium at the following location:
March 2021 Delivery Date Memo
Important dates and events through the month relevant to delivery and clearing procedures.
Amendments to the Spot Month Position Limits for the 3-Year U.S. Treasury Note Futures, Long-Term U.S. Treasury Note Futures (6½ to 10-Year), and 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note Futures Contracts
Effective on March 8, 2021 and commencing with the September 2021 contract month and beyond, the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. (“CBOT” or “Exchange”) will decrease the spot-month limit for 3-Year U.S. Treasury Note Futures and increase the spot-month limits for the Long-Term U.S. Treasury Note Futures (6½ to 10-Year) and 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note Futures contracts (collectively, the “Contracts”) as noted below and in Exhibits A, B, and C of CBOT Submission No. 21-078. Please note that the spot month limits in the March 2021 and June 2021 contract months remain unchanged.
POSTPONED: Exercise & Assignment and Clearing Transformation Trade Types Project Phase 1
Please be advised that the change to start posting Exercise and Assignment results as trades in FECPlus, and on the Trade Registers has been postponed. As per the previous CH Advisory, 21-016, the Production date had been scheduled for Monday February 22, 2021. Once a new Production date has been determined, another CH Advisory will be published.
Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network Aims For Global Coverage
The Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network is aiming to increase coverage in the US and Asia as demand for data grows from investors with environmental, social and governance strategies.
Apex Clearing, ‘the Fintech for Fintechs,’ Is Going Public Via a SPAC
Avi Salzman – Barron’s
A behind-the-scenes operator that has helped enable the growth of stock trading over the past few years is going public through a SPAC merger. Apex Clearing, which offers custody and clearing services for a variety of financial companies, said on Monday it will merge with Northern Star Investment Corp. II (NSTB), a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company. The deal accords the company an enterprise value of $4.7 billion. It is expected to raise $850 million in cash to help Apex grow. Technology and zero-commission platforms have transformed stock trading, allowing a new generation to make stock and cryptocurrency trades from their phones. More than 10 million people signed up to trade at U.S. brokerages last year, a record.
Not Bitcoin, but fintech is biggest COVID-19 story, says JP Morgan; JP Morgan analysts feel bitcoin has many issues that may not allow it to become a mainstream asset
JP Morgan has said that the recent rally in the market prices of bitcoin is nothing more than an “economic sideshow”. The investment bank and financial services company added that fintech innovation was the real COVID-19 story and it would dominate the financial services sector in the near future. Despite the world’s first cryptocurrency hitting a market capitalisation of $1 trillion on February 19, analysts at JP Morgan point out several issues with bitcoin, which could not allow it to become a mainstream asset, CNBC reported.
How Digital Transformation Is Driving The Fintech Industry
Manju Mohan – Forbes
The “new normal” is a phrase that has become rather common today, and no prizes for guessing what initiated this. The Covid-19 pandemic has forcibly ushered in a transformation in not just how we live our lives but also in how businesses operate. With strict mandates in place across the globe, the need for businesses to transition online has become the norm. Startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have had to reorient their strategies and look in the direction of lending or loan management organizations for instant funding to restart and adapt to a digital ecosystem. At Ionixx, we’ve been working with many of these companies, providing a custom loan management solution with a digitized experience for lenders, thereby enabling a seamless and hassle-free lending process.
Former Fidessa chair joins PwC spin-out; John Hamer, the former chief executive and chairman of trading software giant Fidessa, has joined LikeZero
Lucy McNulty – Financial News
John Hamer, the former chief executive and chairman of trading software giant Fidessa, has joined LikeZero as the fintech firm’s new chair. LikeZero, which was sold by Big Four accountancy firm PwC in November amid increasing regulatory scrutiny on conflicts of interests within the sector, automates regulatory risk analysis for around 10 of the City’s largest finance firm
FundGuard Closes $12 Million Series A Funding Round to Accelerate Growth of First AI-Powered Investment Management Enterprise SaaS Platform; Investment will drive product development, entry to new markets and grow the executive team
FundGuard, the AI-powered SaaS investment management and asset servicing enterprise platform, today announced that it has closed a $12 million Series A funding round. The financing is being led by Team8 and existing investors Blumberg Capital and LionBird Ventures.
NY AG’s $850M Probe of Bitfinex, Tether Ends in an $18.5M Settlement; In a closely watched case with wide-ranging implications for the crypto market, Tether has admitted no wrongdoing and will provide reports on USDT’s reserve composition for two years.
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
A closely watched legal case involving Bitfinex and Tether with major implications for the cryptocurrency industry has been resolved. The New York Attorney General’s office (NYAG) has settled with Bitfinex over a 22-month inquiry into whether the cryptocurrency exchange sought to cover up the loss of $850 million in customer and corporate funds held by a payment processor. The NYAG’s office announced the settlement Tuesday, formally ending the inquiry that kicked off in April 2019. Under the terms of the settlement, Bitfinex and Tether will admit no wrongdoing, but will pay $18.5 million and provide quarterly reports describing the composition of Tether’s reserves for the next two years. More significantly, these reports will match information Tether already provided the NYAG about its reserves. The NYAG will bring no charges as part of the settlement.
*****See also: “Bitfinex, Tether settle with New York’s Attorney General for $18.5 million” by Yogita Khatri.~MR
Bitcoin Needs a Safe Space for Redditors to Play; Exchange-traded funds are ideal vehicles for testing investment hypotheses, including cryptocurrencies.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
Fervent demand for the Purpose Bitcoin exchange-traded fund launched in Canada last week is no surprise. But it does highlight that the Securities and Exchange Commission looks increasingly anachronistic in blocking similar products in its domestic market. The regulator should relax and let a thousand cryptocurrency products bloom in the U.S.
Crypto Traders Could Be Forced to Prove Income Under Thai Rules
Anuchit Nguyen – Bloomberg
Digital-asset investors may have to show crypto knowledge; Individuals will be able to invest through licensed advisers
Thailand plans to introduce new rules to curb individuals’ cryptocurrency trading after a surge in inflows from young people sparked concern from regulators.
Yellen Signals Interest in Backing Digital-Dollar Research
Christopher Condon – Bloomberg
Digital currency could increase access to financial services; Yellen says could help deliver payments faster, safer, cheaper
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen signaled the Biden administration supports research into the viability of a digital dollar, a shift from the lack of enthusiasm shown for the concept under her predecessor, Steven Mnuchin. “It makes sense for central banks to be looking at” issuing sovereign digital currencies, Yellen said at a virtual conference on Monday hosted by the New York Times. She said a digital version of the dollar could help address hurdles to financial inclusion in the U.S. among low-income households.
Elon Musk’s Bitcoin Tweet Hurts Tesla’s Own Bet in Currency
Esha Dey – Bloomberg
Tesla likely had $1 billion profit on Bitcoin before comment; Bitcoin dropped as much 17% after setting another record high
Elon Musk has upped his Twitter game, sending holders of Bitcoin and Tesla Inc. scrambling during another bout of self-reflection. The world’s richest man helped to send the prices of both tumbling Monday in the wake of his weekend comments that the prices of Bitcoin and smaller rival Ether “do seem high.” The tweet came two weeks after Tesla announced it has added $1.5 billion in Bitcoin to its balance sheet, triggering a 50% price jump in the already surging digital asset. Bitcoin climbed off its lows of the day, while Tesla closed down 8.6%.
Former head of digital assets for TD Ameritrade is now the Fed’s chief innovation officer
Aislinn Keely – The Block
TD Ameritrade’s former head of digital assets is headed to the Federal Reserve. Sunayna Tuteja is now the central bank’s chief innovation officer, according to a LinkedIn update. Tuteja took up the role in February. Tuteja had been at TD Ameritrade since 2014 prior to the transition. During her time there, she worked with emerging technologies, eventually as Head of Digital Assets and Digital Ledger Technology. Tuteja headed TD Ameritrade’s dedicated crypto team. Her position built out the brokerage’s crypto offerings, building blockchain and crypto partnerships. TD Ameritrade’s crypto offerings include bitcoin futures through CME Group. It’s also an investor in crypto exchange ErisX.
MoneyGram says it has ‘suspended’ use of Ripple’s platform amid SEC lawsuit
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Publicly-traded remittance firm MoneyGram announced Monday that it suspended its use of Ripple’s payments solution in light of the distributed ledger company’s ongoing legal fight with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “Due to the uncertainty concerning their ongoing litigation with the SEC, the Company has suspended trading on Ripple’s platform,” said Nasdaq-listed MoneyGram. The Ripple-MoneyGram partnership began in June 2019 and was scheduled to expire in July 2023.
Monday market decline triggered second-highest amount of liquidations in DeFi space’s history
Saniya More – The Block
Monday morning’s market fall triggered the second-highest amount of DeFi-related liquidations in the ecosystem’s history, according to available data. In total, out of the more than $24.1 million worth of liquidations, approximately $13.7 million came from DeFi protocol Compound. Aave saw the second-highest number in liquidations, making up about $5.4 million of the total. The highest liquidation occurred November 26, 2020, when a momentary price increase in DAI led to Compound liquidating over $88.4 million worth of collateral.
Ethereum mining’s monthly revenue reaches all time high over $1 billion in February
Michael McSweeney – The Block
Data collected by The Block Research shows that, for the first time, Ethereum miners have brought in more than $1 billion in revenue for the month of February. That includes approximately $541 million in the form of transaction fees, which miners earn with every new block they successfully create. The fee income has been buoyed by elevated transaction fees on the Ethereum network as well as all-time-high price increases this month.
Square’s $50M Bitcoin Buy Is Now Worth $253M; The value of Square’s bitcoin investment from October 2020 has increased five-fold.
Nathan DiCamillo – Coindesk
Square’s Cash App deals in bitcoin operationally but a $50 million investment from the publicly traded firm’s cash reserves has grown significantly since being announced last fall. Square’s 4,709 bitcoins were worth $50 million when the company announced the purchase in October 2020. Now that BTC (-7.62%) is worth a whopping $253 million. Along with MicroStrategy, Square was an early entrant in the corporate bitcoin sweepstakes. Such treasury management plays inspired Elon Musk’s Tesla to invest $1.5 billion in bitcoin earlier this month.
Bitcoin dips below $48,000 as nearly $6 billion in crypto futures are liquidated
Yogita Khatri – The Block
The price of bitcoin has dipped below $48,000 from nearly $57,500 on Monday as derivatives positions worth almost $6 billion get force liquidated by crypto exchanges. In the last 24 hours, $5.65 billion worth of open interest was liquidated by crypto exchanges, according to tracker Bybt.com. In other words, crypto exchanges liquidated traders’ overleveraged positions. Traders overleverage, or trade on margin, thinking that bitcoin’s price would go up and they would benefit more. But when bitcoin’s price goes below the liquidation price of their positions, exchanges force liquidate or close their positions because traders cannot fulfill margin requirements of their leveraged positions.
The new politics of climate change; Global warming has made environmentalists of us all. Yet debate still rages over what is the best solution
Pilita Clark – FT
A billionaire, a novelist and a professor all write a book about climate change. That may sound like the start of a joke but it is not, especially for philanthropist Bill Gates and author Jonathan Franzen. Their books have come out just as Michael E Mann, one of the world’s best known climate scientists, has published a book accusing each of abetting new forces of inactivism slowing efforts to tackle climate change.
HSBC offers lesson in corporate realpolitik; Bank’s pivot to China is a recognition of the country’s decoupling from the west
The editorial board – FT
Ever since it started life as a single branch on the Hong Kong waterfront in 1865, HSBC has successfully straddled the divide between east and west. Founded by a Scotsman, the bank made its money from the giant flows of trade and capital between Asia and the west. It is headquartered in the UK but its shares are listed on both the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges. In recent years, however, the bank has made more and more of its money in the east.
Et Tu, Ted? Why Deregulation Failed; Even Senator Cruz realizes kilowatt-hours aren’t like avocados.
Paul Krugman – NY Times
Nobody is ever fully prepared for natural disaster. When hurricanes, blizzards or tsunamis strike they always reveal weaknesses — failure to plan, failure to invest in precautions. The disaster in Texas, however, was different. The collapse of the Texas power grid didn’t just reveal a few shortcomings. It showed that the entire philosophy behind the state’s energy policy is wrong. And it also showed that the state is run by people who will resort to blatant lies rather than admit their mistakes.
IRS Postpones April 15 Tax Deadline for Texas Residents, Businesses; Agency cites disaster in extending deadline for filing and payment to June 15
Richard Rubin – WSJ
The Internal Revenue Service extended the April 15 tax-filing and payment deadline to June 15 for all residents and businesses in Texas, citing the damage caused by the recent winter storms and power outages in the state.
Private Equity May Face Return of Attention-Getting SEC Fines Under Gensler; Chairman-Designate Gary Gensler is expected to be tougher on investment firms
Chris Cumming – WSJ
The largest U.S. financial regulator has turned its focus away from private equity in recent years, but new agency leadership could mean tougher enforcement and heavier fines for buyout firms, attorneys and lobbyists say.
Criminal charges laid against Allianz and AWP alleging the making of false statements
Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz) has been charged with seven counts, and AWP Australia Pty Ltd (AWP) with one count, of making false or misleading statements regarding the sale of Allianz domestic and international travel insurance products.
ASIC sets five-year sunset date for litigation funding legislative instrument
ASIC has revised the duration of relief relating to litigation funding schemes. ASIC Corporations (Amendment) Instrument 2021/116 (amending instrument) amends ASIC Corporations (Litigation Funding Schemes) Instrument 2020/787 (primary instrument) by changing the sunset date of the primary instrument. The primary instrument will now sunset on 22 August 2025.
Webinar Series: Registration System Changes
As FINRA’s industry technology developments continue, the systems and work processes used by firms — and industry professionals — to manage registration-related information are also changing. Join us during this webinar series as we discuss topics related to the following areas:
TRAQS and Reference Data API Parallel Production Access
As previously communicated effective Monday, April 19, 2021, FINRA will replace digital certificates with Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) for access to the TRAQS website and will also institute system infrastructure changes for TRAQS and the API reference data software.
FCA launches guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published final guidance clarifying its expectations of firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.
Investing and Trading
Tesla Sinks Below the Price at Which It Entered S&P 500 Index
Siddharth Vikram Philip and Esha Dey – Bloomberg
Electric-car maker became part of key index in December; Declines follow Musk comments on high Bitcoin valuation
Tesla Inc. shares are trading below the level where they were when the electric-car maker entered the S&P 500 Index in December. The stock dropped as much as 9% to $650 premarket in New York, after falling a similar amount on Monday. Through Monday’s close, the stock was down 21% from its Jan. 25 record intraday high. If these declines hold in regular trading, the shares would wipe out all their gains so far this year.
When is stimulus too much for markets? What is good for more inclusive economic growth may not be positive short-term for investors
Mohamed El-Erian – FT
For many years, the operational simplicity of positioning investment portfolios has contrasted sharply with the complexity of national and global economic outlooks.
Key Short-Term Bond Spread Hits Lowest Level in Nearly a Year; Treasury prices rally, but traders worry about a reversal if inflation picks up
Julia-Ambra Verlaine – WSJ
The spread between the two-year Treasury yield and a key interest rate set by the Federal Reserve is the narrowest since the depths of the coronavirus market selloff, a potential sign of financial-system stress. The two-year Treasury yield, which closed Monday at 0.113%, is 0.013 percentage point above the interest rate on excess reserves, or IOER. It traded as low as 0.105% earlier in February. The Fed pays banks on the reserves held above and beyond those required by central-bank regulatory policy as part of its effort to maintain liquidity in the financial system.
Puerto Rico Rides Muni-Bond Rally to Bankruptcy Deal; Creditors owed roughly $11.7 billion agreed to settle with Puerto Rico, expecting that its court-supervised bankruptcy is nearing an end
Andrew Scurria – WSJ
Puerto Rico moved closer to resolving the largest municipal-debt default in U.S. history after creditors owed roughly $11.7 billion backed a settlement framework, the most Wall Street support yet amassed for a restructuring of the territory’s core public debts.
What the Bond Market Is Telling Us About the Biden Economy; A recent rise in interest rates hints that a recovery is on the way, but it could also mean harder choices ahead on spending.
Neil Irwin – NY Times
While Washington debates the size of a new economic rescue plan, the bond market is sending a message: A meaningful acceleration in both growth and inflation in the years ahead looks more likely now than it did just a few weeks ago.
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance
ESG funds’ growth is dependent on improved data, experts say
Bradley Saacks and Rebecca Ungarino – Business Insider
A new administration, including a passionate new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler, has the asset management industry hopeful for meaningful progress on a longtime issue: data for environment, social, and governance-focused funds.
‘Portfolio Warming’ Is the New Climate Anxiety for Fund Managers; Axa leads investors’ efforts to gauge the rate at which businesses are warming the planet.
Alastair Marsh – Bloomberg
All good money managers expect to outperform their benchmark, and by one such metric the French insurer and investor Axa SA recently scored a market-beating success. Not by delivering higher returns, but by generating a lower level of global warming.
Ercot’s 711-Page Training Manual Tells a Power-Grid Horror Story; The worst-case scenario is “uncontrolled breakup of the transmission system” from “cascading outages.”
Peter Coy – Bloomberg
Up until mid-February, the Fundamentals Training Manual of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas would have been no one’s idea of an exciting read. It’s 711 pages long, including self-test sections, and covers topics ranging from the physics of electromagnetism to the trigonometry of alternating current. It teaches more than you’d ever want to know about impedance, phasors, and droop curves.
World Bank’s Pandemic Fight to Bring New ESG Issuance Record
David Caleb Mutua – Bloomberg
International Finance Corp. is on track to sell a record amount of environmental and social bonds as part of its global response to the pandemic.
The World Bank Group’s arm for the private sector expects its sustainable bond sales this year will likely surpass the previous high of $2.3 billion it set in 2017, according to John Gandolfo, vice president and treasurer at IFC. Issuance will come in different currencies, and proceeds will to go to clients globally, including small businesses, low-income households and poor and fragile nations, he said.
HSBC Has a Problem of Belonging, With No Easy Fixes; The bank can’t easily extricate itself from the China-West conflict. The only clear thing is where the money’s coming from: Hong Kong.
Andy Mukherjee – Bloomberg
Where does HSBC Holdings Plc really belong? Never satisfactorily answered, this question has swirled inside and outside the bank for nearly three decades. When the global institution moved its headquarters to London ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to China, it was for all practical purposes the quasi-central bank of the Asian financial hub. The only control the city’s newly established monetary authority had over interbank liquidity was via HSBC.
Bank of Montreal Tops Estimates on Decline in Loan-Loss Reserves
Kevin Orland – Bloomberg
Bank of Montreal posted fiscal first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates, helped by an improving credit outlook that allowed it to reserve less to protect against potential loan losses.
HSBC shifts ‘heart of business’ to Asia in latest strategy revamp; Dividends restart but quarterly profit drops 50% at Europe’s largest bank amid coronavirus
Stephen Morris and Tabby Kinder – FT
HSBC unveiled a further strategic shift to Asia and retreat from the west, pledging to invest $6bn to expand in Hong Kong, China and Singapore, while confirming it would sell its US retail arm and soon exit its French consumer bank.
Wells Fargo agrees sale of asset management arm to private equity for $2.1bn; GTCR and Reverence Capital to buy division with $603bn of client assets as consolidation sweeps across industry
Laura Noonan and Chris Flood – FT
Wells Fargo has agreed to sell its asset management arm to US private equity firms GTCR and Reverence Capital for $2.1bn, in the latest of a string of deals sweeping across the US fund management industry.
HSBC Sharpens Focus on Asia, Retreats From U.S.; Banking giant plans to shift assets to Asia, where it makes the bulk of its profit
Simon Clark and Quentin Webb – WSJ
HSBC Holdings HSBC 1.42% PLC, a global bank ensnared by tensions between China and the West, is doubling down on Asia, shifting capital, jobs and investment to the region as it pulls back from the U.S. and Europe.
HSBC plans to nearly halve office space over long term
Lawrence White – Reuters
HSBC plans to nearly halve its office space globally over the long term as part of a cost-cutting drive set out on
Tuesday, in a further sign the pandemic could mean permanent changes to working patterns.
The Bird Flu Virus That Has Infected People in Russia
Jason Gale – Bloomberg
New strains of influenza are constantly emerging. Although the virus is associated with winter epidemics of respiratory disease in people, wild migratory birds are flu’s main target — and are responsible for much of its global distribution. An avian flu variant that’s been spreading in wild birds and occasionally spilling over and killing poultry for years recently caused the first reported human infections in southern Russia. Authorities have found no sign this particular virus is being transmitted from person to person. But new strains capable of infecting people raise concern because of the potential for them to mutate and become better suited to human respiratory tracts, potentially sparking dangerous epidemics.
Helicopter Cash Listed as Tool to Consider by Riksbank Official
Ott Ummelas – Bloomberg
Breman urges central bank to be open to ‘new thinking’; Speech urges ‘courage to use new and untested tools’ if needed
Sweden’s central bank must be ready to innovate if monetary policy needs to be more expansionary, and shouldn’t rule out new tools from helicopter money to deeply negative interest rates, Deputy Governor Anna Breman said. “Current monetary policy is not necessarily appropriate in a changing society,” Breman said in a webcast speech on Tuesday. “We need to be open to innovation and new thinking.”
Oil group Petrobras plunged into turmoil after CEO’s dismissal; Investors fear the return of political meddling at Brazil’s largest company
Bryan Harris and Michael Pooler – FT
When Roberto Castello Branco took the helm of Brazil’s state-controlled oil group Petrobras just over two years ago, he knew precisely what message he had to send: the days of government meddling were over.
Taiwan’s global bond ETF market suffers sharp reversal in 2020; Investors withdrew assets and poured them into domestic stock ETFs
Rebecca Feng – FT
Taiwan’s bond exchange traded fund market ended years of strong growth last year amid disappointing performance and the appreciation of the local currency.
Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Former Saudi Oil Minister, Dies at 90; As Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister, he was architect of the Arab world’s drive to control its own energy resources in the 1970s.
Robert D. McFadden – NY Times
Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister and architect of the Arab world’s drive to control its own energy resources in the 1970s and its subsequent ability to affect oil production, fuel prices and international affairs, died in London. He was 90.
Brexit Border Friction Boosts Shipping Costs From France to U.K.
Lizzy Burden – Bloomberg
The cost of shipping goods from France to Britain has surged in the past year both because of Brexit and the coronavirus, high-frequency data show.
Cargo rates into the U.K. from France has risen 44.7% in the year through February, according to TimConsult, a unit of global logistics platform Transporeon. That reflects lower capacity to move goods and increasing reluctance of trucking companies to take shipments across the border.
SMMT, ADS and Honda execs say Brexit poses ‘systematic’ issues to UK manufacturing
Oscar Williams-Grut – Yahoo Finance
MPs have been told of “systematic” issues facing UK manufacturers post-Brexit, many of whom are struggling under a mountain of new paperwork.
Industry bosses told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee that Brexit had pushed up shipping costs, increased paperwork, and created confusion over border regulations and enforcement.
Brexit’s Climate Gift To The U.K.: A Burnished Image
Scott Carpenter – Forbes
This November, U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson will crow about the benefits of Brexit once again.
That is when the U.K.’s Glasgow, in Scotland, will host this year’s UN climate conference, effectively handing a megaphone to Johnson to boast about his country’s climate ambitions. And thanks to Brexit, he will have something considerable to brag about: a formal pledge by the U.K., under UN guidelines, to cut greenhouse gas emissions 68% by 2030, well above the EU’s pledged 55% cut.
Thousands of UK language students left in limbo as Brexit hits travel plans; Universities say they have received inadequate guidance on red tape and costs for academic years abroad
Rachel Hall – The Guardian
Thousands of UK students hoping to spend the year abroad are caught in limbo after facing major disruption to their travel plans due to post-Brexit red tape and costs, in respect of which universities say they received inadequate guidance from the government. Coordinators of academic years abroad who spoke to the Guardian said there had been limited information from the Foreign Office ahead of Brexit on the onerous requirements that the shift in their status would incur in EU countries. Current advice differs according to the consulate and often conflicts with information from local embassies, with the result that many students have had to cancel or postpone placements, the academics said.
Brexit Border Friction Boosts Shipping Costs From France to U.K.
Lizzy Burden – Bloomberg
The cost of shipping goods from France to Britain has surged in the past year both because of Brexit and the coronavirus, high-frequency data show. Cargo rates into the U.K. from France has risen 44.7% in the year through February, according to TimConsult, a unit of global logistics platform Transporeon. That reflects lower capacity to move goods and increasing reluctance of trucking companies to take shipments across the border. The figures are the latest to indicate friction at the U.K. border slowing trade following the end of the country’s membership in the European Union. It’s also part of a broader global surge in shipping costs that’s prompting manufacturers and their customers to seek cheaper solutions, such as buying their own shipping containers and chartering vessels.
UK pet food industry hurt by Brexit checks and red tape; Survey shows only one-third of businesses managed to get products through to EU since start of 2021
Peter Foster – FT
The UK’s pet food industry is struggling to export to the EU because of red tape, vet shortages and hauliers refusing to accept animal-based products in case they are stopped at the border. According to a survey of the industry carried out by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, concluded in mid-February, only one-third of businesses that attempted exports to Europe in 2021 had been successful. Michael Bellingham, chief executive of the PFMA, said that confusion over paperwork and a lack of detailed knowledge from government officials was hitting the EU export sector worth £285m a year. “Two-thirds of members are not getting their product through. It’s a big issue,” he said.
Stellantis Deciding Fate of U.K. Car Plant in Matter of Days
Tara Patel – Bloomberg
Stellantis NV will in the coming days decide on the future of its Ellesmere Port plant in England after an extended period of Brexit-related uncertainty. A decision on future investment at the site is imminent, a spokesman for the automaker that owns Vauxhall and Opel said by phone Tuesday. The factory employs about 1,000 workers making Astra compact cars. Stellantis Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares has been assessing whether it makes sense to invest in the U.K. due to the potential for additional costs and bureaucracy resulting from Britain leaving the European Union. He also said last month that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to ban gasoline and diesel cars from 2030 could be “a problem.”
Analysis: Vaccine rollout a shot in the arm for soaring sterling
Tommy Wilkes, Ritvik Carvalho – Reuters
Sterling looks set to extend its rally beyond $1.40, thanks to the pace of Britain’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and signs that investors are flocking back to assets out of favour during years of Brexit turmoil. The signing of a post-Brexit accord on Christmas Eve, while leaving Britain more distanced from the European Union than investors had hoped, ended years of uncertainty. That alongside a vaccination campaign running well ahead of most countries has helped the pound become this year’s best-performing G10 currency, with a 3% gain versus the dollar. With sterling hitting a three year high, that is a major turnaround from September/October, when the pound fell below $1.27 and overseas investors fled.
Giving Keats new life 200 years after his death; Starring actors including Damien Lewis, a film streaming tonight imagines the poet’s last weeks in February 1821
Suzi Feay – FT
It would have been a strange sight, if anyone had been there to witness: actor Damian Lewis, up a tree in his garden, reciting Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” against a cacophony of banging and shouting from builders working next door. “Trying not to fall out of the tree or drop my laptop, talking about the melodious this, that and the other?.?.?.?very low-tech!”
You Should Go Ice Fishing. Here’s Why.; It’s interesting, outside, and a real winter adventure, especially for city slickers like our columnist and his fishing-obsessed son
Jason Gay – WSJ
It was the week after the week after the Super Bowl, a gloomy spot on the sports calendar, and back at home, my 7-year-old son, Jesse, was climbing the walls with pandemic-era boredom. So was I. We decided to bundle up and head north for a different rush of sporting excitement: Ice fishing.