Hedge Fund Debuts in Biggest Launch Led by a Woman

Jan 4, 2023

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

Yesterday I experimented with ChatGPT to write a couple of entries on MarketsWiki. The wiki entries it wrote were on Dean Witter Reynolds, Smart contracts and the Woolen Exchange – London

All the entries were short and were what would be called “stub” entries in the wiki. More work is required to tell the story of these subjects. The Dean Witter Reynolds piece was pretty straightforward and accurate as there is plenty of historical information about the firm. The smart contracts piece was also well done, though I need to double check on a couple of claims yet. When I asked for it to write about the Woolen Exchange, it gave me an article about the Woolen Exchange in Belgium from the 12th and 13th centuries. When I asked it today to write about the exchange, it wrote about the Woolen Exchange in Leeds, England in the 19th century. When I asked it to write about the Woolen Exchange in London, it wrote about the one in London.

When I asked it to write an article about John J. Lothian, it said I attended the University of Illinois. YIKES. It also said I was a good student. Ha! It said I was from a family of four offspring. I have two brothers, so it is a family of three offspring. It also said I died in 2020. I believe I am still alive and kicking.

Thus, the tool is useful, but needs some human intervention to double check the facts. The writing itself was very graceful. I think for subjects with lots of data to pull from, the accuracy will be very tolerable. For more obscure topics, not so much. We will continue to monitor this tool as I think it has great potential. And that potential includes the potential to change the world.

This is a controversial subject, even within JLN. Some here did not want me to even mention this while others commented on friends who left advertising jobs because of the impending impact from AI. The question is how will AI impact all of our businesses. I am as interested in that subject as anyone, as I don’t want to get run over by a freight train.

The Guardian has an opinion piece about American chocolate and to say the least, it is not very favorable. The headline is “Why is American chocolate so disgusting? You really don’t want to know.” The subheadline is “It tastes like sawdust that’s been drowned in sugar and soaked with baby vomit – and I’ve finally discovered why.” Evidently, American chocolate goes through a process that produces butyric acid, which is something found in vomit. And just for fun too, The Guardian wants you to know that “Potato-shaped stones are better for skimming, say experts.”

Matt Levine of Bloomberg has an intriguing story about crypto manipulation titled “Crypto Manipulation Has Consequences.” He starts by giving an example of manipulating the nickel markets, but then shifts to the real story of the manipulation of Mango Markets and their MNGO tokens. It is a good read.

The word of the day is “Schadenfreude,” which Bloomberg used in a story titled “There Has Never Been a Better Time for Billionaire Schadenfreude; Welcome to the Great Comeuppance for Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and other titans. Enjoy it while you can.”

I thought with the end of 2022 we would be at the end of the list of best books to read, but the Independent has come up with a story titled “The best books to read in 2023, from Prince Harry’s memoir to Zadie Smith’s new novel; Get ready to race through some thrilling books in 2023, with heavily anticipated memoirs and new releases from big-name novelists. Jessie Thompson picks some of the most exciting upcoming reads.”

Prometheum is hiring a director of business development in the U.S. Details are HERE.

Richard Baker today takes the helm as CEO at Tokenovate, the company he founded in early 2022 with his friend and COO Gerard Banaszkiewicz. Baker is the former CEO of the Cleartrade Exchange, which was acquired by the European Energy Exchange AG in 2016.

CME Group is looking to hire a marketing education manager in London. The details are HERE.

Jennifer Trahant is starting a new position as senior director of operations at Cboe Global Markets in Amsterdam.

In case you missed it, yesterday we buried a story from Travel and Leisure near the bottom of the newsletter about the Boca Resort titled “This Iconic South Florida Resort Just Got a Massive Transformation – With 5 New Hotel Concepts and a $65 Million Pool Club.” The club seems to have completed all its construction and is ready to go from the looks of it in this story.

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

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OCC set a clearing record of 10.38 Billion total contracts in 2022, the clearing organization announced today, with an average daily volume of 41.3 million contracts. Compared to 2021, OCC had a 4.5 percent increase in total contracts cleared. Some of the highlights were: December ETF options cleared contract volume was up 33.5% year-over-year; annual ETF options cleared contract volume was up 48.7%. December index options cleared contract volume was up 34.1% year-over-year; annual Index options cleared contract volume was up 43.3%. Stock Loan transaction volume was up 8.6% year-over-year. ~SR

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Crypto Crash Makes Blockchain a Dirty Word; The stock market’s dalliance with the cryptocurrency world has been a mess.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
The crypto collapse has made Blockchain a dirty word. Bitcoin miner Riot Blockchain Inc., once the poster child for rebranding designed to capture the investment zeitgeist, now wants to be known as Riot Platforms after a near-90% share-price fall in 2022. It’s a symbolic moment that attests to the B-word’s shift to curse from blessing on the stock market, where investors have fallen prey to misguided euphoria and the failure to deliver viable business models. And if there’s one safe bet in 2023, it’s that Riot won’t be the last firm to change tack.
/jlne.ws/3vAbn7d

****** Just wash your mouth out with soap after you mutter the word “blockchain” and you will be all fine with the world again.~JJL

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Want to Succeed on Wall Street? Learn Poker, Not Economics; A new study from the Federal Reserve finds that among professional investors, neither intelligence nor other personality traits and cognitive skills matter much.
Aaron Brown – Bloomberg
Perhaps the most famous trading experiment ever conducted was when commodities investor Richard Dennis bet his partner William Eckhardt in 1983 that he could train a group of amateurs – dubbed “the Turtles” – to be successful futures traders. The bet was to be settled by giving the Turtles real money to trade. In the end, the Turtles compiled an impressive record, handing Dennis the win. Although the experiment settled the issue in popular imagination, it lacked the transparency, controls and statistical rigor demanded by academics. So ever since, researchers have strived to understand trading success through various studies – efforts that have not escaped notice of firms that are in the business of trading financial assets.
/jlne.ws/3GEgolu

***** Why do I think Jennifer Just of Peak6 was the inspiration for this article?~JJL

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How McDonald’s Won Russia-and Then Lost It All; For 30 years the fast-food icon turned meat, bread and potatoes into a display of capitalism that changed the way the country did business. Then Putin invaded Ukraine.
Clint Rainey – Bloomberg
Not long ago, McDonald’s flagship restaurant in Moscow completed a truly ill-timed remodeling. A powerful brand symbol and tourist draw, Russia’s first location and for many years the world’s busiest, the store opened in busy Pushkin Square in 1990, when the plaza was still Soviet. The flagship stayed resolutely Golden Arch-y for decades, until the company announced in 2020 that it would be modernized to commemorate its 30th anniversary.
/jlne.ws/3GBvNTy

***** The Big Mac Flop, Russian style.~JJL

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‘Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street’ Review: Ponzi Scheme of a Sociopath; Extensive interviews and dream-like re-enactments combine to tell the story of the $65 billion Bernie Madoff scandal in Joe Berlinger’s captivating four-part documentary on Netflix
John Anderson – The Wall Street Journal
The subject of director Joe Berlinger’s captivating, penetrating, four-part “Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street” is described by one of its kinder voices as a “financial sociopath.” Later, someone just comes right out and calls him a “serial killer.” All of which may help explain our persistent obsession with the man who perpetrated the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. After so many productions, dramatic and documentary, shouldn’t we be tired of Bernie Madoff? One might as well ask if we’re tired of Charles Manson, or Jack the Ripper.
/jlne.ws/3GG8wA0

****** The headline has me too scared to watch this.~JJL

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Tuesday’s Top Three
Our top story Tuesday was Michael Penick’s post on LinkedIn announcing his retirement after 31 years as an economist at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Second was How Sam Bankman-Fried Negotiated His Way Out of Jail, from The New York Times. Third was Rookie Traders Are Calling It Quits, and Their Families Are Thrilled, from The Wall Street Journal.

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MarketsWiki Stats
27,119 pages; 242,165 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics

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Lead Stories

Hedge Fund Debuts in Biggest Launch Led by a Woman; SurgoCap Partners to wager on how tech enhances productivity; As much as 25% of its assets can be invested in private firms
Hema Parmar – Bloomberg
Mala Gaonkar’s SurgoCap Partners started trading Tuesday with $1.8 billion under management, the largest debut of a woman-led hedge fund in the industry’s history. SurgoCap will use data science to invest around the theme of how technology can enhance other sectors such as financials, industrials, health care and enterprise data, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm, with about 20 employees, will bet on and against stocks and can invest as much as a quarter of its assets in private companies, the people said.
/jlne.ws/3WHAaC0

Happy birthday to a ‘giant Ponzi scheme’, from bitcoin’s accidental co-creator; No, not Satoshi
Bryce Elder – Financial Times
It’s 14 years exactly since the launch of bitcoin and one big mystery remains unanswered: why is the front page headline of a UK newspaper from Saturday, January 3, 2009, baked into the code of the first bitcoin block? January 3 has become Independence Day among those who fear centralisation, with the genesis block their digital Liberty Bell. Hiding a bank bailout reference in bitcoin’s foundation stone was more than a timestamp or lorem ipsum, they reason; it was Satoshi Nakamoto’s way of telling the world that crypto meant freedom. No more reckless government intervention in monetary policy, no more debasement of fiat to save private enterprises, etc.
/jlne.ws/3QbvC4z

Cameron Winklevoss gives crypto baron Barry Silbert one week to come up with a $1 billion solution to make his Gemini customers whole
Christiaan Hetzner – Fortune
Cameron Winklevoss, cofounder of digital token exchange Gemini, has issued Barry Silbert a one-week ultimatum to cough up nearly $1 billion. The crypto baron behind unlisted Digital Currency Group (DCG), owner of entities from Bitcoin ETF fund manager Grayscale to news site CoinDesk, must find a solution to make Gemini users whole, and he has until Jan. 8 to do so.
/jlne.ws/3idsZTe

Hong Kong Stock Exchange Woos Global Companies After Expanding China Link; CEO Nicolas Aguzin says he wants to use China ties to ‘do something great internationally’
Jing Yang – The Wall Street Journal
Hong Kong is making a pitch to multinational companies to list on its stock market, despite heightened tensions between China and the West. The city’s stock exchange hopes a new initiative that allows mainland Chinese investors to trade shares of international companies will present a compelling case for some of the world’s largest businesses to raise funds in the Asian financial hub.
/jlne.ws/3jRw77O

Coinbase Reaches $100 Million Settlement With New York Regulators; The U.S. crypto exchange will pay a $50 million fine for letting customers open accounts with few background checks and spend $50 million to improve compliance.
Matthew Goldstein and Emily Flitter – The New York Times
Coinbase, a publicly traded cryptocurrency trading exchange based in the United States, agreed to pay a $50 million fine after financial regulators found that it let customers open accounts without conducting sufficient background checks, in violation of anti-money-laundering laws.
/jlne.ws/3GiIkJY

US Federal Reserve, Other Agencies Continue to Warn Banks About Crypto
Jesse Hamilton – CoinDesk
The U.S. Federal Reserve and other regulators issued a crypto warning for the banking system Tuesday, though the statement doesn’t extend any new policies about how traditional lenders deal with digital assets. “Given the significant risks highlighted by recent failures of several large crypto-asset companies, the agencies continue to take a careful and cautious approach related to current or proposed crypto-asset-related activities and exposures at each banking organization,” according to the statement from agencies that also included the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).
/jlne.ws/3WLkA8C

US regulators warn banks over cryptocurrency risks
Annabelle Liang – BBC
US regulators have issued their first ever joint warning to banks over the risks associated with the cryptocurrency market. The watchdogs told financial institutions to be wary of potential fraud, legal uncertainty and misleading disclosures by digital asset firms. Banks were also cautioned over the “contagion risk” from the sector. It comes just two months after the collapse of trading platform FTX sent shockwaves through the crypto industry.
/jlne.ws/3VJm7KU

Blackstone’s Hefty Concession Is a Warning to Investors; The terms Blackstone offered the University of California in its BREIT fund are comparable with what Warren Buffett secured when he put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs in the 2008 financial crisis
James Mackintosh – The Wall Street Journal
If you are trying to get your money out of Blackstone’s giant private property fund, the new year brought some bad news, and some potentially very good news. The bad news was that no, you can’t have all your money back right now. So many other people tried to withdraw in December that the 5% quarterly cap will limit the amount that comes out until March, assuming everyone renews their withdrawal requests.
/jlne.ws/3Z7BNdY

Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty as Trial Is Set for October; FTX founder is accused of stealing billions of dollars in customer funds
Corinne Ramey – The Wall Street Journal
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to fraud and other criminal charges Tuesday, as a judge set his trial to begin Oct. 2. Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30 years old, entered his not-guilty plea to all eight criminal counts he faces before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in federal court in Manhattan. It was his second appearance in a U.S. court after the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange.
/jlne.ws/3X8AyJL

Indonesia to Start Crypto Exchange Ahead of Regulatory Shift
Eko Listiyorini – Bloomberg
Indonesia plans to set up a crypto exchange this year before it shifts regulatory powers over such assets to the Financial Services Authority, from a commodities agency. Crypto assets in Indonesia are currently traded alongside commodity contracts under the supervision of the Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency, known as Bappebti. As part of a broader financial sector reform, the FSA will assume regulatory power over the assets over the next two years, by which time the exchange should be set up, said Bappebti acting head Didid Noordiatmoko on Wednesday.
/jlne.ws/3WM5EXC

$3.7 billion was lost to crypto scams and hacks in 2022 – the worst year in the market’s history
Morgan Chittum – Business Insider
Cryptocurrency markets lost $3.7 billion to scams, hacks and exploits in 2022 – the worst year for the industry and up from $3.2 billion in 2021, according to data from blockchain audit firm CertiK. While December was the least harmful month in 2022 with roughly $62 million worth of crypto-based exploits, more than $595 million worth of tokens was stolen in November, CertiK added.
/jlne.ws/3GhidU0

Ex-CFO pleads guilty to stealing from SPACs to trade meme stocks, cryptocurrencies
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
A former chief financial officer of multiple special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $5 million from them, and losing almost all of it trading meme stocks and cryptocurrencies.
/jlne.ws/3jRwNtC

The Genesis Block: The First Bitcoin Block
Benedict George – CoinDesk
The Genesis Block was simply the first block of bitcoin (BTC) to be mined. You might see it called Block 0 or Block 1. It’s still there today and will remain there as long as any computer runs the Bitcoin software. Every node in the Bitcoin network can go and look at it, even though it now sits at the other end of a chain hundreds of thousands of blocks long. That’s the point of the blockchain.
/jlne.ws/3jFuHwS

Sam Bankman-Fried’s Lawyers Ask Court To Redact Identities of $250M Bail Co-Signers
CoinDesk
Court filings reveal that lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried have asked a judge to redact the names and identifying information of the two co-signers, in addition to his parents, for the former FTX CEO’s $250 million bail. “The Hash” panel discusses the latest legal developments ahead of the former FTX CEO’s appearance in a New York City court Tuesday afternoon.
/jlne.ws/3X03ggl

Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to 8 counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy
David Hollerith – Yahoo Finance
Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research.
/jlne.ws/3jQKid0

A judge just blocked Sam Bankman-Fried from accessing FTX and Alameda funds days after reports of transactions from crypto wallets previously associated with him
Leo Schwartz – Fortune
Disgraced crypto founder Sam Bankman-Fried will be prohibited from accessing or transferring funds from his former crypto exchange, FTX, and its sister trading firm, Alameda Research, a judge ordered at his arraignment hearing today in Manhattan.
/jlne.ws/3ZcNbVO

German Power Exports to France Surge to Highest in 30 Years; Coal plants ramp up power output to partly replace natural gas; French nuclear plant outages caused power generation shortage
Petra Sorge – Bloomberg
German power exports to France jumped to their highest level in more than three decades last year as the nation struggled with prolonged nuclear outages. Net exports to Germany’s western neighbor more than doubled to 15.3 terawatt-hours, the most since records began in 1990, according to government data. Overall sales abroad rose by almost 9% to make the nation one of Europe’s leading exporters.
/jlne.ws/3ifM4UL

France Prepares Green Industry Bill Echoing US Climate Law; Finance Ministry will present new tax, regulatory measures; New era in globalization is opportunity for France: Le Maire
William Horobin – Bloomberg
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he will present a “green industry” bill soon as Europe seeks to stop businesses being lured across the Atlantic by billions of dollars of subsidies under the US’s climate law. The new legislation in France would make changes to taxation and regulation to accelerate the creation of low-carbon production, Le Maire said on France Inter radio on Wednesday.
/jlne.ws/3vDHQt4

FTX failure forces rethink on global sports sponsorship; Future of big-ticket sponsorship deals between top-flight clubs and digital assets industry hangs in the balance
Samuel Agini – Financial Times
The collapse of FTX is reverberating beyond the worlds of crypto and finance, as the global sports industry contemplates the future of lucrative sponsorship deals with digital asset companies. Sam Bankman-Fried, the now disgraced founder of the crypto trading shop once valued at $32bn, targeted new audiences through brand-boosting partnerships with top sports teams across basketball, motorsport and baseball.
/jlne.ws/3IrwYpQ

Regulator slaps record fine on H2O over Windhorst-linked investments; Penalty comes as asset manager announces first repayment to investors with frozen funds
Cynthia O’Murchu and Robert Smith – Financial Times
French regulators have imposed a record Euro 75mn fine on asset manager H2O and banned its co-founder Bruno Crastes from the industry for five years over investments in illiquid debt linked to controversial financier Lars Windhorst.
/jlne.ws/3VLbUxN

China ESG reckoning looms for investors; Sustainability rules and standards common in western jurisdictions are at odds with realities in China
Edward White in Seoul and Leo Lewis – Financial Times
Foreign investors in Chinese equities have a problem. China’s growth offers the hope of big returns over the coming decade, but on environmental, social and governance ratings, its companies rank lower not only than western nations, but also below most emerging markets.
/jlne.ws/3X0JL6K

Why Are Energy Prices So High? Some Experts Blame Deregulation; California and the 34 other states that have deregulated all or parts of their electricity system tend to have higher rates than the rest of the country.
Ivan Penn – The New York Times
When California, New York, Texas and other states began deregulating their electricity markets in the 1990s, officials promised that those changes would foster competition and make energy more affordable. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
/jlne.ws/3iazhD7

The TRADE’s Q4 Magazine: Now available online! The latest edition of The TRADE Magazine launches with a wealth of new content: check out the highlights here.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
The final quarter of 2022 brought an end to one of the most volatile years the markets have ever seen after generating swathes of – unprecedented, for the want of a better word – circumstances for traders to navigate.
/jlne.ws/3jQ4EDt

Ukraine Invasion

Ukraine Is Already Paying Us Back; Our investments in Ukrainian democracy are paying off. Now is not the time to pull back.
Daniel Twining – Politico
Ukraine is doing something no one thought possible: defeating the Russian army and, in doing so, crippling one of America’s most dangerous adversaries. This is primarily a credit to the fortitude, patriotism, and skill of the Ukrainian people. But it’s also something Americans can take pride in – and not just because of our decisive role supplying weaponry and training.
/jlne.ws/3ImOPhC

Russia steps up use of kamikaze drones in Ukraine
Christoph Hasselbach – DW.com
Russia is using simply constructed, single-use drones to terrorize civilians in Ukraine. Launching a proper defense against the attacks can be a costly exercise.
/jlne.ws/3jPVzun

Ukraine Has Digitized Its Fighting Forces on a Shoestring
Sam Schechner and Daniel Michaels – The Wall Street Journal
Ukraine has achieved a cut-price version of what the Pentagon has spent decades and billions of dollars striving to accomplish: digitally networked fighters, intelligence and weapons. Kyiv’s improvised web of drones, fighters and weapons, linked through satellite communications and custom software, is giving its soldiers a level of intelligence, coordination and accuracy that has allowed the initially outnumbered and outgunned forces to run circles around Russia’s massive but lumbering armies.
/jlne.ws/3CJVu23

Germany Open to Seizing Russian Assets to Help Ukraine Rebuild
Michael Nienaber and Kamil Kowalcze – Bloomberg
Germany is open to using billions of euros in frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild as long as legal issues can be resolved and allies follow suit. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government supports Ukraine’s demand for war reparations but hasn’t yet taken an official position on seizing assets from the Russian state. The issue is complex and some parts of the ruling coalition are more ardent than others, according to people familiar with the discussions.
/jlne.ws/3VSk8UU

Soldiers’ widows group calls on Putin to order major mobilisation for Ukraine war
Guy Faulconbridge – Reuters
A little known patriotic group which supports the widows of Russian soldiers has called on President Vladimir Putin to order a large-scale mobilisation of millions of men and to close the borders to ensure victory in Ukraine.
/jlne.ws/3GEz2tm

Ukraine Latest: Germany Sees Little Sign of Putin Backing Down
Bloomberg News
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said there’s little sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to end his war on Ukraine anytime soon “despite all international efforts.” “The Russian president started this brutal war of aggression and he alone can end it,” Baerbock said in an interview with news website Table.Media. “If Russia stops bombing and withdraws its soldiers, we will have peace.”
/jlne.ws/3QdI4AI

Frederick the Great’s Advice for Ukraine Negotiations; Kyiv and Moscow both grasp what the 18th-century King of Prussia understood: Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nears its first anniversary, what’s next? In some ways, the Kremlin and Kyiv both seem to be signaling a new openness to begin peace negotiations. In others, they appear to be doing the opposite – ruling out talks by setting implausibly maximalist preconditions, while simultaneously girding for a climactic military showdown. It can’t be both at the same time, can it?
/jlne.ws/3jQNJAq

‘Untrainable’: Russian army faces backlash over conscripts’ death in Ukraine attack; Missile strike in Russian-occupied Makiivka revives questions over military’s capacity to learn from past mistakes
Ben Hall in London and Polina Ivanova – Financial Times
The killing of scores of Russian conscripts in a Kyiv-led missile attack on their barracks in occupied eastern Ukraine has rekindled recriminations in Moscow over the conduct of the war – and raised fresh questions over the military’s capacity to learn from its mistakes.
/jlne.ws/3jRv5Zu

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

OCC Clears Record-Setting 10.38 Billion Total Contracts in 2022
OCC
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, announced today that 2022 set a new annual cleared contract volume record with 10.38 billion contracts cleared and an average daily volume of 41.3 million contracts. Compared to 2021, OCC had a 4.5 percent increase in total contracts cleared.
/jlne.ws/3GFjs0o

CME Group Reports Record Average Daily Volume of 23.3 Million Contracts Traded in 2022, an Increase of 19%; Equity Index ADV grew 39% for the year and 26% in Q4; Interest Rate ADV up 18% annually, driven by record SOFR volume and O1; Highest-ever Q4 ADV
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, today reported its full-year, Q4 and December 2022 market statistics, showing it reached a record average daily volume (ADV) of 23.3 million contracts during the year, an increase of 19% over 2021. ADV increased 6% in the fourth quarter to 21.8 million contracts, and ADV increased 7% in December to 19.2 million contracts. Annual, quarterly and monthly market statistics are available in greater detail at https://cmegroupinc.gcs-web.com/monthly-volume.
/jlne.ws/3VEooqV

Farmer sentiment rebounds at year end on stronger 2022 income
CME Group
Following a two-month decline and a year of weak sentiment, the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer closed out the year on a more positive note, rallying 24 points in December to a reading of 126. U.S. farmers were more optimistic about both their current situation and expectations for the future. The Current Conditions Index jumped 37 points to a reading of 135, while the Future Expectations Index increased 18 points to a reading of 122. The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated each month from 400 U.S. agricultural producers’ responses to a telephone survey. This month’s survey was conducted from December 5-9.
/jlne.ws/3X3N3pI

New Year’s Message from Group CEO Kiyota
JPX
Greetings to everyone for the New Year. As JPX Group CEO, I wish everyone health and prosperity for the year ahead. I would like to begin my New Year’s message by taking a look back over the stock markets in the past year. As you know, we started last year with bright expectations, as the market had been at its highest point since the 1980s bubble in the previous year. However, things changed with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24: the surge in energy and resource prices triggered inflation across the globe, prompting central banks in Europe, the U.S., and around the world to raise interest rates rapidly and on a large scale.
/jlne.ws/3jOoCP1

Warehouse Company Stock Checks
LME
Summary. In accordance with rule 7.4.1.1 of the Warehouse Agreement, would warehouse companies please notify the LME of the date(s) in 2022 of their visual inspection of metal under warrant in their authorised warehouses for every location, together with supporting documentation. Please respond directly to Serena How (serena.how@lme.com), and Tom Edwards (tom.edwards@lme.com).
/jlne.ws/3vimcfa

TradeStation Celebrates 40 Years of Innovation
Cision
TradeStation Group, Inc. (TradeStation), which through its operating subsidiaries provides award-winning*, self-clearing online brokerage services for trading stocks, ETFs, options, futures and cryptocurrencies, is celebrating its 40th anniversary as an innovative fintech company known for its reliable, multi-asset trading platform. Founded in 1982, TradeStation aims to offer the ultimate trading experience.
/jlne.ws/3CmcivK

Fintech

Microsoft Hopes OpenAI’s Chatbot Will Make Bing Smarter; ChatGPT’s accuracy will be key to timing of any rollout
Dina Bass – Bloomberg
Microsoft Corp. is preparing to add OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot to its Bing search engine in a bid to lure users from rival Google, according to a person familiar with the plans.
/jlne.ws/3VHU7r5

Tech Layoffs Are Happening Faster Than at Any Time During the Pandemic
Andrew Barnett and Ming Li – WSJ
Technology-driven companies across industries have been laying off workers at the fastest pace since the Covid-19 pandemic shocked the global economy in 2020, according to one data tracker. Collectively, employers in the slumping tech sector cut more than 150,000 jobs in 2022, based on estimates from Layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks the events as they surface in media reports and company releases.
/jlne.ws/3WYvnfc

The public and private push to track online your every transaction; Your cash ain’t nothing but trash
Eric Rozenman – Washington Times
That $1 bill in your wallet or purse, like any other greenbacks you might be carrying, declares it is a “Legal Tender for All Debts Public and Private.” Not anymore. Breaking the law, more and more businesses reject your Federal Reserve Notes. To paraphrase the banditos pretending to be Federales in the film classic “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” they don’t need no stinking currency laws.
/jlne.ws/3iiNIF3

Cybersecurity

Four cyber concerns looming in the new year
Ines Kagubare -The Hill
Cyberattacks have surged in recent years, with the health care system and other critical sectors increasingly coming under digital assault as the threat of malware like ransomware and foreign spyware continues to evolve. Last year in particular saw officials and lawmakers renew their focus on cybersecurity and seek to secure the country’s critical sectors from rising cyber threats. The issue is expected to continue to take center stage in the coming year, as many of those threats are still escalating while the cyber sector is confronting an ongoing workforce shortage in its efforts to bolster the U.S.’s digital defenses.
/jlne.ws/3iefYZq

Crypto, digital assets account for 69% of online investment scams in Hong Kong
Tom Zuo – Forkast
The Hong Kong Police Force said it received 1,503 online investment scam complaints over the first 10 months of last year, with 69% related to cryptocurrencies, public broadcaster RTHK reported on Tuesday, citing a police press release.
/jlne.ws/3CoaFgV

Hillicon Valley – Cyber concerns to expect in 2023
Ines Kagubare and Rebecca Klar – The Hill
Cybersecurity is expected to be a top priority in 2023 as lawmakers step up their efforts to address evolving threats, including ransomware attacks and foreign spyware. Meanwhile, a Facebook whistleblower blasts the social media giant’s civic integrity, and Google has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement over location tracking.
/jlne.ws/3GAurZ7

Europe’s cybersecurity dance card is full
Tim Starks – The Washington Post
Europe has become a nucleus of cyber policymaking in recent months, taking action on software security and swift disclosure of major cyberattacks. It’s a direct response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Lorena Boix Alonso, the European Commission’s top cybersecurity official, told me in a recent interview.
/jlne.ws/3WHKMRm

Cryptocurrencies

After FTX, Does Gaming on Blockchain Still Stand a Chance?
Sharon Beriro – Bloomberg
The relationship between crypto and gaming isn’t always straightforward. Some gamers, and gaming companies, have rejected all things related to the blockchain and digital assets. They say the environmental considerations haven’t been fully addressed, and that turning games into speculative investment opportunities ruins the fun.
/jlne.ws/3CmtUr7

What’s to Become of Miami’s “Crypto Hub” Status? (Podcast); As crypto winter cools the Miami heat, the city’s ambition to become a center for digital assets is feeling the chill as well.
Sharon Beriro and Beth Williams – Bloomberg
Miami has always been famous for its beaches, beautiful people and glamorous nightlife. More recently, the city grabbed attention for trying to establish itself as a crypto hub, and witnessed an influx of digital-asset startups as entrepreneurs flocked to its palm-tree-lined streets. They were attracted by both Miami’s charismatic, crypto-friendly mayor Frances Suarez and the promise of lower taxes.
/jlne.ws/3Z4bHbT

Indians Moved Over $3.8B to Foreign Exchanges Since Crypto Tax Rules: Research Study; The study says India’s crypto industry is “crippled under the current tax architecture.”
Amitoj Singh – CoinDesk
Indians moved more than $3.8 billion in cumulative trading volume from local to international crypto exchanges after the nation announced stiff crypto tax rules on Feb. 1, 2022, according to a research study by Esya Centre, a New Delhi-based technology policy think tank. A total of $3.852 billion (INR 32,000 crore) was shifted during Feb-Oct 2022. “Of this, cumulative volume of $3,055 million was offshored within six months of the current financial year,” the report said.
/jlne.ws/3idrK6w

Solana Exec Says Platform Still Gaining New Users Despite FTX’s Collapse
Fran Velasquez – CoinDesk
The washout of crypto exchange FTX hasn’t kept the Solana network from attracting users and developers, according to Austin Federa, head of strategy and communications at the Solana Foundation. Federa told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” Tuesday the network has seen an increase in on-chain activity despite the FTX contagion.
/jlne.ws/3ClWWr0

Iranian Courts Order Return of Thousands of Seized Crypto Mining Machines: Reports
Eliza Gkritsi – CoinDesk
Courts in Iran have ordered the government to return thousands of seized crypto mining rigs, local media reported in the past week. In 2021, Iranian authorities banned mining and seized related equipment to deal with power shortages. Last year, the power utility, Tavanir, also clamped down on illegal crypto mining farms as power demand climbed during the summer, according to the reports. The utility has closed 7,200 illegal crypto mining centers and seized more than 250,000 mining computers.
/jlne.ws/3Z4h1fn

Bitcoin Miner Core Scientific Reaches Agreement To Shut Off Celsius Mining Rigs
Alys Key – Decrypt
Core Scientific will shut off thousands of Celsius mining rigs, after the two bankrupt firms finally came to an agreement after months of dispute. One of the world’s biggest Bitcoin miners, Core Scientific has partly blamed its financial woes on its contract with Celsius, after the crypto lender filed for bankruptcy protection in July and stopped covering its share of the electricity bills. At one point, the company’s lawyers said that Core was losing $53,000 per day on the hosting agreement.
/jlne.ws/3WYFH6Q

Twitch Streamer and NFT Founder DNP3 Admits to Gambling Away Investor Funds
Rosie Perper – CoinDesk
Twitch streamer DNP3, who founded several crypto projects, including The Goobers NFT, metaverse platform Gridcraft Network and charity-focused cryptocurrency CluCoin, admitted to gambling away investor funds on Tuesday.
/jlne.ws/3jK2Uvn

Politics

Twitter to Ease Ban on Political Advertising Under Musk
Low De Wei – Bloomberg
Twitter Inc. will relax a three-year ban on political advertising in a continued policy shift after its takeover by billionaire Elon Musk. The company said on Tuesday that it will expand the political advertising it permits in coming weeks to “facilitate public conversation around important topics” and align its advertising policy with those of TV and other media outlets, with further details to be announced.
/jlne.ws/3IhDa3M

Republicans Are Primed to Take on âEUR˜Woke CapitalismâEUR™ in 2023, with Climate Disclosure Rules for Corporations in Their Sights; Conservative politicians argue that environmental, social and governance principles – known as “ESG” – are diverting asset managers from their duties to investors, and may even amount to illegal collusion.
Marianne Lavelle – Inside Climate News
It has only been a decade since climate activists launched campaigns to get financial institutions and money managers to see that dollars pumped into the fossil fuel industry were a risk to both the planet and investor portfolios. That effort has had some success but remains a work in progress. All of Wall Street now talks about environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in investing, and thatâEUR™s a problem. Claims of a commitment to that philosophy are ubiquitous among corporations and investment funds, and investors are left to figure out which declarations amount to mere greenwashing. Only within the last year have government watchdogs moved to set standards on what companies must disclose about climate risks.
/jlne.ws/3WLTy0D

Regulation

Auditors Spurn Crypto After FTX, Misleading Reserve Estimates
Amanda Iacone and Nicola M. White – Bloomberg
In the rush to reassure customers and the markets, crypto exchanges like Kraken and Binance Holdings Ltd. in 2022 touted auditor-provided tests of their reserves testing to show customer deposits were safe. But those reports-point-in time snapshots of reserves that don’t reflect fund volatility or outstanding obligations-failed to reassure jittery customers and regulators, including Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler. Instead of offering a lifeline to crypto firms, the practice of vetting collateral triggered renewed scrutiny from regulators and provided fresh ammunition for auditor critics.
/jlne.ws/3X6V7Ga

Bahamas regulator sticks to estimate of FTX assets
Reuters
The Securities Commission of the Bahamas (SCB) rebuffed on Monday FTX’s claims about the digital assets of its Bahamas unit held by the regulator, saying the debtors of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange had “incomplete information”. Last month, the SCB said it had seized more than $3.5 billion in cryptocurrency from the unit, FTX Digital Markets, which it was holding for future repayment to customers and other creditors.
/jlne.ws/3ZbrANG

Ex-SPAC CFO Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Trade Meme Stocks, Crypto
Austin Weinstein and Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
A former chief financial officer for blank-check firms pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a scheme to embezzle more than $5 million to trade crypto assets and meme stocks. Cooper Morgenthau, 35, who was the top financial official at African Gold Acquisition Corp., admitted to the misconduct that spanned about a year starting in June 2021, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said on Tuesday. The Securities and Exchange Commission said that he committed fraud in a separate complaint, and had agreed to a bar from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company.
/jlne.ws/3G9nCMK

Commissioner Johnson to Participate in a Fireside Chat at the Understanding Financial Products 2023 Conference
CFTC
/jlne.ws/3X0MXze

SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Individual Behind Bogus Tender Offer
SEC
On January 3, 2023, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final consent judgment against defendant Melville Peter ten Cate, whom the SEC previously charged with fraud for orchestrating a phony offer to purchase a major U.S. aircraft, defense, and industrial company.
/jlne.ws/3QbtYjp

SEC Charges Former SPAC CFO for Orchestrating $5 Million Fraud Scheme
SEC
SEC Charges Former SPAC CFO for Orchestrating $5 Million Fraud Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against Cooper J. Morgenthau, the former CFO of African Gold Acquisition Corp., a SPAC or special purpose acquisition company, for orchestrating a scheme in which he stole more than $5 million from the company and from investors in two other SPACs that he incorporated.
/jlne.ws/3ZmVLSf

Investing and Trading

European Debt Defaults Seen Surging in Echo of Covid Turmoil; S&P sees speculative-grade company defaults at 3.25% by Sept.; Fitch expects amend-and-extend transactions as maturities loom
Irene Garcia Perez – Bloomberg
Credit defaults are set to more than double in Europe this year to levels approaching the worst days of the global coronavirus pandemic. That’s the view of S&P Global Inc., which expects the trailing 12-month speculative-grade corporate default rate to reach 3.25% by September 2023, up from 1.4% a year earlier, according to its latest estimate.
/jlne.ws/3Cmk6gQ

There Has Never Been a Better Time for Billionaire Schadenfreude; Welcome to the Great Comeuppance for Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and other titans. Enjoy it while you can.
Max Chafkin – Bloomberg
In late May, Elon Musk took a break from trying to get out of his purchase of Twitter to offer his view of the nation’s economic health. He predicted that the US was careening toward a recession. No worries for him, though. “This is actually a good thing,” he tweeted. “It has been raining money on fools for too long. Some bankruptcies need to happen.”
/jlne.ws/3jOidmX

This Contrarian Stock Market Signal Is Losing Predictive Power; Put/call ratio spikes not a ‘buy’ signal for stocks anymore; Picture is being blurred by large market players, CBOE says
Jan-Patrick Barnert – Bloomberg
A long-watched indicator of which way the stock market is likely to move next has lost predictive power lately, confounding investors who have come to rely on the signal embedded in options trades.
/jlne.ws/3X5Npw2

Foreign Investors Dump UK Gilts at Record Rate Despite Austerity; Bank of England data shows selloff continues for third month; Figures add to concerns about the pound and borrowing costs
Philip Aldrick – Bloomberg
Foreign investors sold off UK government bonds at the fastest pace on record over the three months to November despite the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to stabilize the economy after a disastrous September fiscal plan. Figures from the Bank of England show that overseas investors sold a total of £38.4 billion of government debt between September and November, renewing concerns about the weak pound and rising borrowing costs.
/jlne.ws/3InbB97

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Rethink Climate
BBC Podcast
What personal lifestyle habits are we prepared to give up to stop global warming and who bears responsibility for changing our behaviour? Is it the state or the individual? Amol Rajan discusses why we continue to live the way we do, despite knowing the planet is heating up. Is it ignorance or denial? Perhaps the problems is with the way we talk about climate change. If so, then how does the discourse need to change?Graihagh Jackson, presenter of the BBC podcast ‘The Climate Question’ is with Amol Rajan alongside guests Tom Bailey, Meghan Kennedy-Woodard and George Marshall.
/jlne.ws/3vIlqqx

Green Lending Tops Fossil Fuel as Big Oil Gets Cash Elsewhere; For the first time, more money was raised in the debt markets for climate-friendly projects than for fossil-fuel companies. But there’s a catch.
Tim Quinson – Bloomberg
For the first time, more money was raised in the debt markets for climate-friendly projects than for fossil-fuel companies. Roughly $580 billion was arranged in 2022 for renewable energy and other environmentally responsible ventures, while the oil, gas and coal industries turned to lenders and underwriters for closer to $530 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
/jlne.ws/3X3iRep

France Prepares Green Industry Bill Echoing US Climate Law; Finance Ministry will present new tax, regulatory measures; New era in globalization is opportunity for France: Le Maire
William Horobin – Bloomberg
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he will present a “green industry” bill soon as Europe seeks to stop businesses being lured across the Atlantic by billions of dollars of subsidies under the US’s climate law. The new legislation in France would make changes to taxation and regulation to accelerate the creation of low-carbon production, Le Maire said on France Inter radio on Wednesday.
/jlne.ws/3Z6U238

Tokyo Gas Nears $4.6 Billion Deal to Buy US Shale Driller; Unit of Japan-based company to purchase Rockcliff Energy; This is latest move by Asian firm to secure gas supply
Gillian Tan, Kiel Porter, and Stephen Stapczynski – Bloomberg
A Tokyo Gas Co. unit is in advanced talks to buy US natural gas producer Rockcliff Energy in a deal worth about $4.6 billion, including debt, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
/jlne.ws/3Zaz0AD

Air France-KLM Taps Contentious ESG Market to Repay State Aid; Company starts investor calls for sustainability-linked bonds; SLBs have been criticized for weak targets, small penalties
Priscila Azevedo Rocha – Bloomberg
Air France-KLM is turning to a much-debated part of the ethical bond market to repay state aid that helped it weather the coronavirus pandemic. The airline is presenting its sustainability-linked financing framework to investors from Wednesday, and will then offer at least Euro 300 million ($317 million) of sustainability-linked bonds, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it. The proceeds will be used to partially repay a senior bank loan granted by France in May 2020, the person said.
/jlne.ws/3Ci2Zg3

Record warm winter in parts of Europe forces closure of ski slopes; Resorts open hiking trails and lifts for mountain bikes amid unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow
Jon Henley – The Guardian
Europe’s record-breaking warm winter weather has closed ski slopes and forced resorts to open summer trails or shut altogether, as grass and mud replace seasonal snow from Chamonix in France to Innsbruck in Austria. Skis and snowboards on a rack in Schwarzsee, Switzerland. Forecasters say the weather in some parts of the Alps is ‘worthy of June’. Eight countries across the continent have recorded their warmest January day ever, with temperatures in parts of Switzerland and southern Germany exceeding 20C and 90 monitoring stations in France setting new records over new year.
/jlne.ws/3WYxDTC

China ESG reckoning looms for investors; Sustainability rules and standards common in western jurisdictions are at odds with realities in China
Edward White and Leo Lewis – Financial Times
Foreign investors in Chinese equities have a problem. China’s growth offers the hope of big returns over the coming decade, but on environmental, social and governance ratings, its companies rank lower not only than western nations, but also below most emerging markets. The combination of the world’s biggest consumer market with fast-growing technology and services sectors has attracted global investors willing to look the other way on censorship, surveillance, environmental, labour and other human rights abuses.
/jlne.ws/3X0JL6K

Hong Kong Markets Green Bonds, Adding to Global Debt Bonanza; City is offering notes in dollars, euros and offshore yuan; Global bond markets has started the year with a blitz of deals
Alice Huang and Lorretta Chen – Bloomberg
Hong Kong began marketing green bonds in multiple currencies Wednesday, adding to a global rush of deals, as borrowers take advantage of a recent debt-market recovery. The city is offering benchmark-sized dollar bonds across four tenors, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it. It’s also marketing green notes in euros and the offshore yuan.
/jlne.ws/3GeYjsO

Tesla Faces Higher Lithium Prices as Supplier Amends Deal; Piedmont Lithium to supply Tesla with 125,000 tons of lithium; Pricing will become a floating mechanism based on market price
Yvonne Yue Li – Bloomberg
Tesla Inc. is set to pay more for the lithium that powers its electric vehicles after a supplier amended their deal amid a relentless price rally of the metal. Piedmont Lithium Inc. will now supply an increased 125,000 metric tons of lithium concentrate to the EV giant starting in the second half of this year through the end of 2025, according to a statement Tuesday. Unlike prior agreements where prices are locked in, Piedmont’s deal with Tesla relies on a floating mechanism based on market prices, according to the statement.
/jlne.ws/3VOJhj4

Power Surge: UK’s EV charging rollout gathers pace; Rolling out the public charging infrastructure necessary for a successful EV transition is a mammoth task. Andrew Wade reports on the state of UK progress.
Andrew Wade – The Engineer
Under current plans, the UK is set to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. At that point, the government wants a minimum of 300,000 public chargers installed, supporting what it hopes will be a smooth transition to electric vehicles (EVs), where everyone can charge at will, with a minimum of inconvenience. The latest figures from ZapMap – a digital database/app that tracks UK charging infrastructure – show that there are now around 37,000 public charge points, housing roughly 61,000 total connections. The experience of using these public chargers can differ wildly, depending on your circumstances.
/jlne.ws/3VZrplT

Water, fossil fuels and decarbonising travel: What will be the key climate issues in 2023?
Rebecca Ann Hughes – EuroNewsGreen
Climate change was one of the most significant issues in 2022, both for the pledges made to curb its impact and for the disastrous effects it had on the planet. At COP27, important progress was made with loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries. And at the COP15 biodiversity conference, nations agreed a landmark deal for nature. But the immediacy of the climate emergency was also made brutally clear by the devastating floods, wildfires and storms that battered communities around the globe.
/jlne.ws/3icPd7O

Bill McKibben – HSBC Breaks With Other Banks On Fossil Fuel Financing; Bill McKibben has been a climate champion for many years. He says a small victory happened this week in the world of banking.
Steve Hanley – Clean Technica
Bill McKibben is arguably the most powerful voice for taking climate change seriously of all the people in the blogosphere today – more than Greta Thunberg or António Guterres. If you are not a subscriber to his Crucial Years blog, you are missing out on a great source of information about the fight to preserve the Earth as a place where humans can continue to thrive. In his latest blog post, he reveals how HSBC Bank – Europe’s biggest banking institution by total assets – announced this week that it would no longer provide financing for new oil and gas fields.
/jlne.ws/3i9INpW

CSOP crosslists ETF in Singapore and Shenzhen
Nik Pratt – Funds Global Asia
Hong Kong-based CSOP Asset Management has become one of the first fund managers to avail of the ETF link between the exchanges of Singapore and Shenzhen. CSOP has listed its CSOP CSI STAR and CHINEXT 50 Index ETF on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The ETF Connect scheme was first proposed in December 2021 when the two exchanges signed a memorandum of understanding to offer investors the opportunity to trade the same funds in either venue.
/jlne.ws/3QdwLbK

ESG ETFs Continue Making Inroads as Core Holdings
Tom Lydon – VettaFi
There was a time when environmental, social, and governance (ESG) exchange traded funds were viewed as satellite positions or complements to traditional core holdings, but that moment has passed. As the ESG ETF arena continues evolving, many of these products are credible core equity holdings with a smaller (though rising) amount of ESG ETFs making inroads in the core fixed income space, too. The trend of ESG ETFs becoming core fixtures in investor portfolios has room to run and explains in part why an article by VettaFi reporter Max Chen was one of the most popular on the site this year.
/jlne.ws/3X5BoGW

A World of Opportunity
Emmy Hawker – ESG investor
As investors look to make a positive impact at the nexus of the climate and biodiversity crises, nature-based solutions cover a broader range than is widely understood. In December, COP15 underlined the international consensus that limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2050 is impossible without accelerated action to protect and renew the world’s natural ecosystems and biodiversity. As net zero strategies are taking shape and being implemented, governments, investors and companies are enlisting the natural world in the battle to combat the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
/jlne.ws/3VHYTov

This UK steel bailout requires a hands-on approach; Government should impose conditions on emissions, structure, strategy and governance
Helen Thomas – Financial Times
It gets earlier every year. Christmas is barely over, the new year hangover is still fresh in the head and already we’re into the first UK steel bailout story of 2023. The steel sector asking for support feels less an annual event and more a constant state of affairs. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is being urged by colleagues to find £300mn in subsidies to help China’s Jingye protect the blast furnaces at British Steel in Scunthorpe. India’s Tata is also lobbying for support to keep the country’s other two furnaces burning in Port Talbot.
/jlne.ws/3X3AOJX

Institutions

Five Steps to Stop the Nosedive at Credit Suisse; The troubled financial giant can find a way out of its debacles. Deutsche Bank is proving it can be done.
Paul J. Davies – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG hit rock bottom in 2022, or so anyone involved will hope. Years of lurid scandals and frightful losses finally culminated in a full-blown crisis of confidence that saw its share price hit a record low.
/jlne.ws/3ZaLk3J

Odey’s Hedge Fund Soars 152% in Best Ever Year on Inflation Bet; Several macro hedge funds saw double digit returns in 2022; Odey made short bets on long-dated UK government bonds
Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
Crispin Odey is celebrating his best ever year of gains since he started his hedge fund three decades ago. His flagship European Inc. hedge fund surged 152% last year, powered mainly by his highly leveraged short wagers on long-dated UK government bonds as inflation and political turmoil roiled the British economy, according to an investor document seen by Bloomberg.
/jlne.ws/3WWEU6M

Investing Novices Are Calling the Shots for $4 Trillion at US Pensions; Public-employee plans are underfunded, chasing higher returns and underperforming international peers overseen by professionals
Neil Weinberg – Bloomberg
Canada selects directors to oversee its public pension funds for their financial expertise and pays some six-figure salaries. In the Netherlands, board members must obtain approval from the central bank. In the US, a lineup of unpaid union-backed reps, retirees and political appointees are the vanguards of a $4 trillion slice of the economy that looks after the nation’s retired public servants. They’re proving to be no match for a system that’s exploded in size and complexity.
/jlne.ws/3GD5wUF

New Hedge Fund Soars 163% Betting Everything Is Going Down; Eagle’s View Capital launched fund to catch market downturn; Fund is betting on continued bear market, BOJ tightening
Dani Burger – Bloomberg
A veteran trader’s well-timed bet on the end of easy money has achieved triple-digit returns in his new hedge fund’s first full year. After running Eagle’s View Capital Management as a fund of funds for 16 years, New York-based founder Neal Berger decided to add his own fund to the mix. The Contrarian Macro Fund launched initially with partner capital in April 2021 to load up on bets that the Federal Reserve would unwind a decade of stimulus – even as policy makers were describing inflation as “transitory.”
/jlne.ws/3GDinGF

Wellness Exchange

China COVID outbreak stokes global worries as Beijing rallies citizens
Alessandro Diviggiano and Bernard Orr – Reuters
China’s state media rallied citizens on Wednesday for a “final victory” over COVID-19 as health officials abroad tried to work out the scale of its raging outbreak and how to stop it spreading.n Beijing’s abrupt axing of “zero COVID” curbs last month has unleashed the virus on China’s 1.4 billion people who have little immunity after being shielded since the virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan three years ago.
/jlne.ws/3WK2Mux

China Vows to Hit Back at Nations Imposing Covid Travel Curbs
Bloomberg News
China said it would hit back at nations that placed Covid restrictions on its travelers for “political goals,” showing the coronavirus remains a politically sensitive subject in Beijing even as it lets the virus run rampant. “We believe that some countries’ entry restrictions targeting only China lack scientific basis and some excessive measures are unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing. “We firmly oppose attempts to manipulate Covid prevention and control measures to achieve political goals, and China will take corresponding measures based on the principle of reciprocity in different situations,” she said, without naming any individual countries.
/jlne.ws/3X3rbuF

Social Media Use Is Linked to Brain Changes in Teens, Research Finds; Teens who frequently checked social media showed an increasing sensitivity to peer feedback, although the cause of the changes was not clear.
Ellen Barry – The New York Times
The effect of social media use on children is a fraught area of research, as parents and policymakers try to ascertain the results of a vast experiment already in full swing. Successive studies have added pieces to the puzzle, fleshing out the implications of a nearly constant stream of virtual interactions beginning in childhood.
/jlne.ws/3vCdmHX

Not Drinking Enough Water Linked to Serious Health Risks, Study Warns
David Nield – ScienceAlert
We’re regularly told to drink plenty of water to maintain our health. A new study provides a few more good reasons to stay well-hydrated – including fewer chronic health conditions and a greater chance of living a longer life. This is based on research involving 11,255 adults who were questioned five times across the course of 25 years on factors such as socieconomic status and family medical history.
/jlne.ws/3Ql2zvu

Chinese celebrities’ Covid deaths subvert propaganda push to minimise outbreak; Country mourns prominent academics, opera stars and business figures as virus wave mounts
Ryan McMorrow and Cheng Leng – Financial Times
China is mourning a growing number of public figures lost to Covid-19, from academics to opera singers, whose deaths have complicated the government’s efforts to minimise the scale of the unfolding outbreak sweeping across the country.
/jlne.ws/3jOkCxY

EU set to demand pre-departure Covid testing for travellers from China; Move comes after Italy, France and Spain announced screening of incoming passengers
Andy Bounds and Henry Foy – Financial Times
The EU is expected to impose pre-departure Covid-19 tests on travellers from China within days to try to prevent a surge in infections in that country spreading to Europe. The “overwhelming majority” of the 27 EU members asked for the move at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, a European Commission spokesperson said.
/jlne.ws/3CmammY

Regions

China’s Most International Brokerage Follows Xi’s ‘Common Prosperity’ Drive; CICC last year banned business class to support equality push; Firm cuts hotel budgets; bankers book ‘hard seats’ on trains
Cathy Chan – Bloomberg
China International Capital Corp. has scaled back travel perks for senior bankers to bring the nation’s most international brokerage in line with Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” drive, according to an internal document seen by Bloomberg News.
/jlne.ws/3ZbPsR0

China’s Onshore Yuan Sees Few Trades During Extended Hours; First overnight session accounted for 0.4% of the day’s volume; PBOC extended yuan trading hours until 3 a.m. effective Jan. 3
Bloomberg News
China extended trading hours for the onshore yuan effective Tuesday as it attempts to internationalize the currency, but the move was met with tepid response with only a few local banks equipped to participate during those hours.
/jlne.ws/3IvOt8m

Global Funds Sell Record Amount of Japan Bonds on BOJ Pivot Bets; Foreigners sold Â¥4.9 trillion of debt in week ended Dec. 23; ‘BOJ will have to keep buying bonds,’ said NLI’s Ueno
Masaki Kondo and Tomoko Sato – Bloomberg
Bets for a Bank of Japan policy pivot are gathering pace in the bond market, with global funds offloading a record amount of the nation’s debt in the final days of 2022. Non-resident investors sold a net Â¥4.86 trillion ($37 billion) of the securities in the week ended Dec. 23, the biggest-ever withdrawal according to finance ministry data going back to 2005. The figure surpassed the previous all-time high of Â¥4.81 trillion set in June.
/jlne.ws/3Iio51T

Thailand: Thailand Preparing To Tax Securities Transactions
Auaychai Sukawong – Mondaq
Thailand’s cabinet has approved draft legislation to impose a financial transactions tax (FTT) on securities trading in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). The cabinet’s decision, which came on November 29, 2022, sets Thailand on a path to repeal a tax exemption that has been in place for over 30 years. If the legislation is ultimately passed, the FTT will be applied to transactions starting in April 2023.
/jlne.ws/3vyKUXA

The new Gulf sovereign wealth fund boom; Companies are flocking to the Middle East to raise capital just as they did in 2008. But funds say they are being more strategic about investments
Andrew England and Simeon Kerr and Samer Al-Atrush – Financial Times
The football World Cup in Qatar was not the only show drawing attention to the oil-rich Gulf in recent weeks. In Abu Dhabi, an annual finance conference was so packed that attendees were left with standing room only as the region is increasingly viewed as one of the remaining sources of abundant capital.
/jlne.ws/3ClNOCT

Head of Saudi Arabia wealth fund subpoenaed in case over Elon Musk’s Tesla tweet; Demand comes in litigation brought by Tesla investors unhappy over ‘funding secured’ tweet in 2018
Dave Lee – Financial Times
The head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has been subpoenaed in litigation over a 2018 tweet by Elon Musk claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Tesla’s legal team served papers to an office administrator for PIF governor Yasir al-Rumayyan on December 19, according to court documents filed in California federal court on Tuesday. Defendants in the case, which include Tesla chief executive Musk, are seeking to have al-Rumayyan, who is also the chair of Saudi Aramco, testify at the trial, which is scheduled to start in San Francisco later this month.
/jlne.ws/3vIusUt

Miscellaneous

More Bosses Order Workers Back to the Office as Job Market Shifts
Chip Cutter – WSJ
Employers are losing their patience with empty desks in the office. Companies including investment giant Vanguard Group, workplace technology company Paycom Software Inc. decrease; red down pointing triangle and others have sent directives to employees in recent weeks, urging workers to follow existing hybrid schedules or to come into the office on additional days in 2023, according to internal memos viewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with employees. In some cases, bosses have told those who fail to comply that they could face termination within weeks.
/jlne.ws/3GFdSeP

Pele Was the Most Important Soccer Player of All Time; The Brazilian superstar helped to expand the sport’s appeal and turn it into a multibillion-dollar business.
Bobby Ghosh – Bloomberg
The debate over whether Pelé, who died on Thursday at 82, was the greatest soccer player ever will never be settled. (For what it’s worth, I think that title belongs to Leo Messi.) But there can be no question that he was the most important player in the history of the world’s most popular sport.
/jlne.ws/3Qc6WIY

The best books to read in 2023, from Prince Harry’s memoir to Zadie Smith’s new novel; Get ready to race through some thrilling books in 2023, with heavily anticipated memoirs and new releases from big-name novelists. Jessie Thompson picks some of the most exciting upcoming reads
Independent
Twelve more months, many more books. This year promises juicy memoirs, the return of several heavyweight novelists and some enticing debuts. Read on for our guide to what to read in 2023.
/jlne.ws/3ZaNsIL

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Music financing boom reverberates to markets

Music financing boom reverberates to markets

First Read Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff Yesterday morning I checked the status of my investment accounts after the market opening as I often do and I was like, "WOW!" But then I saw there were problems with some of the opening auctions at the NYSE and...

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