How Extreme Cold Turned Into a U.S. Energy Crisis

Feb 16, 2021

First Read

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Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The DePaul University’s Arditti Center for Risk Management’s Annual Risk Conference virtual event will be on February 23rd, 2021 from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM.

The event starts with a market overview by Jeff James, the lead portfolio manager at Driehaus Capital Management and a DePaul MBA. The first panel is the one I am moderating, “Securing a Risk/Finance Internship or Career.” The panelists are Bevon Joseph, President, Greenwood Project, Troy Kane, Citadel Securities and Mike Dennis, CCO ABN AMRO.

The second panel discussion is titled “Managing Organizational Risk In a Work From Home Environment.” On the panel are Michael Phillips CISO, vSEC, Adjunct Professor, DePaul University (Moderator), Alli Brennan, Head Americas CQG, Lamont Black, Associate Professor, DePaul University, Bob Fitzsimmons, Executive Vice President, Wedbush Securities and Nancy Kearney, Allstate Insurance Vice President, Head of Operational Risk.

Panel 3 is titled “Managing Market Risk in 2021.” On the panel is Suzanne Sprague, CME Group (Moderator), Sunil Cutinho, President, CME Clearing, Max Heitner, Head of Risk, Driehaus Capital Management and Dave Zurkowski – Head of Market Risk, KRM22.

Finally, there is a keynote Q&A address b|y Dr. Richard Sandor, Chairman, American financial Exchange. You can register for the event HERE.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) held a virtual Lunar New Year market open ceremony this morning (Tuesday), hosted by HKEX Chairman Laura M Cha and Interim Chief Executive Calvin Tai, to mark its first trading day of the Year of the Ox.

The good people at Goldman Sachs are offering its investing know-how to the masses. They are about to unveil Marcus Invest, a robo-advisory wealth-management platform.

The American Bar Association Derivatives and Futures Law Committee Innovative Digital Products and Processes Subcommittee Jurisdiction Working Group has published a paper titled “Digital and Digitized Assets:Federal and State Jurisdictional Issues”. K&L Gates was one of the firms that contributed to the paper.

A sure sign of March has arrived with McDonald’s iconic Shamrock Shake and Oreo Shamrock McFlurry being available in stores now.

We had no new donations to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign yesterday. We have had 125 donors, including a couple who did not use the GoFundMe app, Support our efforts to preserve industry history by donating to our GoFundMe campaign.

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



Survey Finds Support From Derivatives Markets For Payment For Order Flow Ban In US
Almost half of respondents to the monthly Acuiti Derivatives Insight survey have backed a ban on payment for order flow in the US markets with 29% saying it should not be banned.

*****This is an interesting result. Why would it be popular?~JJL


In the Long Run, Stocks Really Do Go Up; Returns for most investors squirreling money away over a period of years are clearly positive
Mike Bird – WSJ
In the long-term, stocks mostly go up. That single piece of advice has formed the core of many trillions of dollars of investment decisions. But it isn’t without detractors. One of the counterarguments sometimes cited is Japan: The Nikkei 225 hit 30000 for the first time in three decades this week, but still hasn’t reached its 1989 zenith.

****** I can’t run very far, so the long run is a challenge.~JJL


Goldman Sachs to Offer Its Investing Know-How to the Masses; Elite Wall Street firm is set to unveil Marcus Invest, a robo-advisory wealth-management platform
Peter Rudegeair – WSJ
You used to need at least $10 million in investible assets to draw the attention of wealth managers at Goldman Sachs GS 1.32% Group Inc. Now, all it takes is $1,000 and a smartphone. The Wall Street firm on Tuesday is set to unveil Marcus Invest, a low-cost digital platform that allocates and automatically rebalances individuals’ wealth across portfolios of stocks and bonds based on the models developed by the firm’s investment-strategy committee.

*****Maybe my long run has hope.~JJL


One Alaska king salmon is worth the same as two barrels of oil right now
Laine Welch – Anchorage Daily News
Seafood sales “are on fire” in America’s supermarkets and one king salmon from Southeast Alaska is worth the same as two barrels of oil. That’s $116.16 for a troll-caught chinook salmon averaging 11 pounds at the docks vs. $115.48 for 2 barrels of oil at $57.74 per barrel on Feb. 3.

***** The queen salmon is only worth half?~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was Reddit day traders wanted to beat Wall Street to prove the system is rigged. Instead, they did it by losing, from Yahoo!News. Second was Are leveraged Gen Z traders the next systemic risk? from the Financial Times. Third was Clear crypto rules urgently needed as major companies embrace asset: SEC official, from Yahoo!Finance.


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Lead Stories

How Extreme Cold Turned Into a U.S. Energy Crisis
Lynn Doan – Bloomberg
Energy markets have never seen anything quite like this. In a matter of four days, an intensifying cold blast gripping the central U.S. froze natural gas pipelines, sent electricity prices skyrocketing to record levels and ultimately forced Texas’s grid operator to plunge more than 2 million homes into darkness in the first winter weather-related rolling blackouts since 2011. As electricity outages began spreading through a 14-state grid across the southwest, plenty of blame for the crisis was already being assigned.

Amsterdam Is Where It’s At. Can Paris and Frankfurt Stop It? The Dutch city is clocking some early successes in the contest to become the EU’s new financial capital.
Chris Hughes – Bloomberg
Barely weeks after the U.K.’s exit from the Europe Union, Amsterdam is gaining kudos as a major European venue for stocks. It may all be a matter of perception — but perception counts in the markets. The Dutch capital has been chosen for two high-profile listings in recent days. It was also the lead venue for European share trading in January, according to U.S. market infrastructure group Cboe Global Markets Inc.

Should Janet Yellen’s Treasury Take Free Money? The U.S. has avoided selling T-bills at negative rates. It might be tougher to say no this time around.
Brian Chappatta – Bloomberg
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is facing a conundrum that, at first glance, might hardly seem like one at all. Investors may soon be willing to pay more than 100 cents on every dollar for U.S. Treasury bills. But current rules won’t allow it. The main reason for these restrictions is that if the Treasury accepted such a high price, it would effectively be issuing — and perhaps tacitly endorsing — negative-yielding debt. T-bills don’t pay interest but rather are sold at a discount to their face value, which provides a modest yield for investors. That discount has disappeared slowly in auctions this year: Four-week bills were sold at 99.993778 cents on the dollar on Jan. 7, then 99.994167 cents a week later on Jan. 14, then 99.994556 cents, then 99.995722 cents, and finally 99.997667 cents in the past two weeks. The respective yields on those sales: 0.08%, 0.075%, 0.07%, 0.05% and 0.03% (twice).

Blackouts spread beyond Texas as frigid weather knocks out power plants; Millions left without electricity as arctic air sweeps central US
Gregory Meyer, Justin Jacobs and David Sheppard – FT
Close to 3m households in Texas have been left without electricity and blackouts were spreading across the central US, after arctic air caused disruption and outages at power plants just as heating demand has soared.

Industry associations relentlessly protest the SDR buy-in regime; As the consultation period for Europe’s Settlement Discipline Regime concludes, industry associations again step up calls for the removal of mandatory buy-ins.
Jon Watkins – the Trade
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) has joined other industry trade bodies in reigniting its call for regulators to scrap or revise the mandatory buy-in rules under the incoming Settlement Discipline Regime (SDR).

Rosenblatt Announces Upgrades to SORT “Institutional 606” Analysis Tool
Rosenblatt Securities is pleased to announce 2021 improvements to its Streamlined Order Routing Transparency (SORT) tool, which helps institutional investors easily aggregate and analyze new Securities and Exchange Commission-mandated broker venue-selection data in US equities.

LSEG becomes a Business Ambition 1.5° signatory – joins Race to Zero
London Stock Exchange Group
LSEG has committed to ambitious, SBTi-aligned climate targets designed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°; LSEG will become a member of United Nations Climate Change ‘Race to Zero’ – first global exchange group to commit to net zero; LSEG is well positioned to support the transition to the green economy for issuers and investors; London Stock Exchange launches new Transition Bond Segment within its Sustainable Bond Market, supporting issuers with a robust and credible transition strategy aligned to the Paris Agreement
LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group plc) today announces that it has become the first global exchange group to commit to net zero through the Business Ambition for 1.5° and hence becomes a member of the United Nations Climate Change ‘Race to Zero’. The Group’s science-based targets to reduce emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement have also been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Wall Street regulators signal tougher approach to industry after GameStop frenzy
Tory Newmyer and Matt Zapotosky – Washington Post
The Biden administration is sending a clear signal to Wall Street that the industry’s Washington cops are back on the beat. Regulators and federal prosecutors are probing potential misconduct in the GameStop trading frenzy, as the Securities and Exchange Commission moves to restore harsher penalties on wrongdoers.

Ex-CFTC Chair Christopher Giancarlo Stumps for Digital Dollar; “Crypto Dad” made his case for the next evolution of America’s greenback.
Danny Nelson – Coindesk
Former CFTC chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo laid out his case for state-issued digital currencies on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” program Friday morning.

Texas Outages Put Reliability Of Renewable Energy In The Spotlight
Sal Gilbertie – Forbes
Everyone wants clean energy, but reliability is what really counts in a crisis. As renewably sourced energy captures a larger share of the power grid, outages become inevitable. Renewable energy is great, but it just can’t compete with traditional sources. Texas just became the poster child for the consequences of change that happens too rapidly.

Texas’ power grid crumples under the cold; Competition for natural gas and frozen wind turbines are only some of the problems.
John Timmer –
Monday morning, as a jet stream brought frigid air south to the central United States, Texas residents found themselves facing rolling blackouts as the statewide grid struggled to meet demand amid a large shortfall in generating capacity. As the day wore on, many saw these blackouts extend for ever longer periods of the day, and grid authorities are expecting problems to extend into at least Tuesday. As of noon local time on Monday, the Southwest Power Pool, which serves areas to the north of Texas, also announced that demand was exceeding generating capacity.

Biggest Oil Refineries in U.S. Are Going Dark Amid the Cold
Jeffrey Bair and Barbara J Powell – Bloomberg
Motiva, Exxon, Marathon halt curb fuel production in the state; Over 3 million barrels of capacity hit; gasoline futures jump
After creating havoc in the power and natural gas markets, the next commodity sector causing concern in Texas is the state’s enormous oil refining industry, where installations are being forced offline by the big freeze.

Bankers and SPACs Are the New Big Thing; Being an ex-CEO of a giant bank doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to sniff out the best growth opportunities.
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
Investors eager to buy into Europe’s next big thing in financial services are seemingly spoilt for choice. Several former top banking and insurance executives — including Jean Pierre Mustier, Tidjane Thiam and Martin Blessing — are looking separately to exploit the mania around special purpose acquisition companies by raising funds to plough into fintechs and other high-growth businesses. Grabbing SPAC headlines is the easy part.

SPACs Offer European Banking Bosses a Ready Road to Reinvention
Jan-Henrik Foerster – Bloomberg
Blessing, Mustier and Thiam all plotting blank-check companies; Former bank chiefs targeting deals in financial services
For bank chief executives plotting their next move, there’s a new route to staying relevant: SPAC boss. This year, three ex-European bank leaders have launched or started working on special purpose acquisition companies. The latest is recently-departed UniCredit SpA Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier. He joins Martin Blessing, ex-CEO of Commerzbank AG, and Tidjane Thiam, former head of Credit Suisse Group AG, in doing so.

What Really Happened When Robinhood Suspended GameStop Trading; The byzantine world of the public U.S. securities market killed the GameStop pump (sort of).
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Robinhood’s users blamed the brokerage for suspending the trading of GameStop stock and other securities last month, amid a buying frenzy kick-started by retail traders on a Reddit forum. But Robinhood may not have had a choice. Robinhood, after all, is just one player in a public securities market that has been built over decades. In this system, brokerage apps like Robinhood are only the visible tips of an iceberg, but the actual transactions and settlement remain hidden from the public. Much control remains in the hands of a single centralized custodian: the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).

Industry Group Says Hong Kong’s Proposed Crypto Rules Could Drive Traders Underground
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
A cryptocurrency advocacy group has warned that Hong Kong’s proposed rules on digital asset investment could drive traders toward unregulated platforms.

Cities and states begin delaying Covid-19 vaccine distribution because of winter storms
Amir Vera, CNN
Vaccine distribution in states and cities across the US are slowing down because of winter storms that have left more than a third of the continental US with below-zero temperatures Monday.


ImmunityBio Covid-19 Vaccine to Be Trialed in South Africa
Antony Sguazzin – Bloomberg
University of Cape Town researchers will oversee a phase one clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by ImmunityBio Inc. and manufactured by NantKwest Inc. The vaccine is known as hAd5 T-cell and the trial will start this month, the university said in a statement dated Monday. In addition to the spike protein the shot targets the nucleocapsid protein, which is less prone to mutations.

Vaccine Resisters Threaten Israel’s World-Leading Program
Gwen Ackerman – Bloomberg
Teachers without inoculations might have to get tested often; Prime minister wanted to complete vaccine drive in March
Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed spurring Israel’s sputtering coronavirus vaccination drive by “outing” the uninoculated, drawing backlash from critics who call it an infringement on privacy.

Pfizer Herd Immunity Study Stymied by Iceland’s Wins Over Covid
Kristen V Brown and Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir -Bloomberg
Proposal eyed 500,000 shots to quickly go to 70% of population; Pfizer pulled back after seeing too few cases, deCode CEO says
A push by Iceland to get Pfizer Inc.’s backing for a nationwide study on the ability of vaccines to quickly create herd immunity has run into an unexpected snag. The tiny island nation has done too good a job keeping Covid-19 in check.

Europe Prepares a Mutant Covid Vaccine Plan to Fight the Crisis
Alberto Nardelli and Nikos Chrysoloras – Bloomberg
European Commission will seek to accelerate variant research; The EU will unveil a list of proposals Wednesday in Brussels
In an effort to get its inoculation drive on track, the European Union’s executive arm will vow to accelerate research, authorization, procurement and distribution for vaccines that fight variants of the coronavirus, while also asking member states for more money to back the drive.

Registration for Sputnik Vaccine Sought in South Africa
Antony Sguazzin – Bloomberg
The manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine have applied to register the shot for use with South Africa’s health products regulator, the country’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. There are concerns that the adenovirus used in the vaccine may not be suitable for a population with a high prevalence of HIV, the ministry said.

Hong Kong to Relax Social-Distancing Rules as Virus Wave Recedes
Jinshan Hong – Bloomberg
Hong Kong said it will extend restaurant hours, double the number of people allowed to sit at one table, and reopen certain venues beginning Thursday, formalizing its plan to roll back restrictions as cases dwindled during the Chinese New Year.

Why the three biggest vaccine makers failed on Covid-19; GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi are left playing catch-up to upstarts with new technology
Hannah Kuchler and Leila Abboud – FT
As pharmaceutical companies raced to develop Covid-19 vaccines, crossing the finishing line in record time, the world’s three biggest vaccine makers were also-rans. GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi are now left playing catch-up, after upstarts including Moderna and BioNTech demonstrated their mastery of new technologies that will shape the industry for years to come.

A universal Covid vaccine may be our best means of escape; A jab that protects against all Sars-Cov-2 variants — present and future — might be possible
Anjana Ahuja – FT
The clean exit from the coronavirus pandemic promised by Covid-19 vaccines has been sullied by the arrival of new variants. Some of these viral newcomers appear to be putting up a fight against the current crop of jabs.

Johnson voices caution on lockdown easing in England; Prime minister hails vaccination of 15m vulnerable Britons as government hits target
Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and George Parker – FT
Boris Johnson on Monday warned the government was taking a “cautious” approach to lockdown easing, as he hailed the vaccination of 15m people against coronavirus in the UK as an “unprecedented national achievement”. The prime minister urged the public to be both patient and optimistic, saying now was not the time to relax because the overall threat of the virus to the public remained high.

Covid rule-breakers face jail but careless employers go free; There’s an imbalance in the UK government’s attitude to workplace safety and personal transgressions
Sarah O’Connor – FT
The UK government has this year threatened 10-year prison terms for people who lie about their travel history, imposed £800 fines for people who go to house parties and paid for adverts that warn a takeaway coffee or chat on a park bench could “cost lives”. Defending the jail threat, a ministerial aide to the attorney-general said the country faced a “once-in-a-century” public health crisis which justified measures that would not otherwise be contemplated.

AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Cleared for Emergency Use by WHO
Corinne Gretler – Bloomberg
The World Health Organization cleared AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, adding its official approval to a shot that’s expected to speed up inoculations in developing countries.

Scientists Are Trying to Spot New Viruses Before They Cause Pandemics Scientists want to build a weather system for viruses. It would require a big financial investment, plus buy-in from doctors, hospitals and blood banks.
Veronique Greenwood – NY Times
Back in the summer, Dr. Michael Mina made a deal with a cold storage company. With many of its restaurant clients closed down, the firm had freezers to spare. And Dr. Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, had a half-million vials of plasma from human blood coming to his lab from across the country, samples dating back to the carefree days of January 2020.

Plummeting Cases in U.S. Show a Path to Crushing Covid-19
Jill Shah and Emma Court – Bloomberg
Infection immunity, vaccines, careful behavior driving decline; More contagious variants, upcoming holidays pose threats
Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping dramatically across the U.S., suggesting that measures to interrupt transmission are working, at least for now. More than 27.6 million Americans have tested positive, likely giving them some degree of immunity. A rising number — 11.8% of the population — has now received at least one dose of a vaccine. And data gathered from mobile phones suggest people are being more cautious day-to-day. If cases keep falling, it could buy time for the vaccination effort to take hold in the warm summer months ahead, potentially underpinning a long-sought economic recovery.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

HKEX Market Open Ceremony On First Trading Day Of Year Of The Ox
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) held a virtual Lunar New Year market open ceremony this morning (Tuesday), hosted by HKEX Chairman Laura M Cha and Interim Chief Executive Calvin Tai, to mark its first trading day of the Year of the Ox.

The New York Stock Exchange president says the stock market is not a casino. Here’s what academic research says.
Steve Goldstein – MarketWatch
With the wild moves in the stock of GameStop and AMC Entertainment, or last week in cannabis makers, it’s not illogical to think of the stock market as a casino. Here’s what academic research finds.

Euronext names UBS investment banking co-president Novelli chairman; Piero Novelli will step down from all executive positions including his role as co-president at UBS Investment Bank in March to assume the role of chairman at Euronext.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Pan-European exchange operator Euronext?has confirmed the co-president of UBS Investment Bank will assume the role of chairman when he departs the bank next month.

Technip Energies lists on Euronext Paris; MARKET CAPITALISATION OF EUR1.62 BILLION
Euronext today congratulates Technip Energies, a global leader in engineering and technologies supporting the energy transition, for its listing on Compartment A of Euronext’s regulated market in Paris (ticker code: TE).

Huddly lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The technology company Huddly has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: HDLY). “Huddly is all about creating the best possible team collaboration through high-quality video experiences,” says Stein Ove Eriksen, CEO of Huddly.

Pryme lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The cleantech company Pryme has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: PRYME). Pryme converts plastic waste into chemical feedstock for new plastics. The recycling process is developed by Pryme

Unscheduled free float adjustment in MDAX and TecDAX
Deutsche Boerse Group
(Zug, February 15, 2021) – STOXX Ltd., the global index provider of Qontigo, announced an unscheduled adjustment in the MDAX and TecDAX on Monday. As a result of the takeover of Siltronic AG (DE000WAF3001) by GlobalWafers GmbH, the free float of Siltronic AG changes by more than 10 percentage points.

NCDEX to launch Hi-pro soybean meal futures on Feb 17
New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Leading agri-commodity bourse NCDEX on Monday said it will launch futures trading in animal feed ”Hi-pro soybean meal” on February 17. The futures contracts in Hi-pro soybean meal, expiring in the months of March to September will be available for trading at the time of the launch.


FlexNOW, FlexTrade’s Cloud-based EMS, Empowers Global Equity and Futures Trading for Lyxor Asset Management, One of France’s Largest AM
Yahoo Finance
FlexTrade), a global leader in multi-asset execution and order management systems, announces Lyxor Asset Management adoption of FlexNOW EMS, which combines the best of cloud, desktop, mobile and API technology. FlexNOW gives Lyxor’s traders the power and flexibility to transition seamlessly between the different challenges in today’s working conditions. The ability to trade several thousand stocks and futures across scores of brokers and algos in seconds is one of the reasons to transition to the FlexNOW EMS. Regular updates to add automation, more asset classes and the ability to adapt to newer workflows makes this a future proof transition for Lyxor.

EV and Fintech Convergences with Innovative Disruptions, A New Era Unfolds in the World’s Economy
Yahoo Finance
Point Roberts, Washington and Delta, British Columbia–(Newsfile Corp. – February 16, 2021) –, a global news source and leading investor resource covering renewable energy and fintech stocks, presents a two sector snapshot featuring Ideanomics (NASDAQ: IDEX), looking at how innovative companies are blending EV and fintech technology including cryptocurrency, to lead investors and consumers into a new era in the 21st century.

How the GameStop frenzy sabotaged a bid to ‘democratize’ finance
Victoria Guida – Politico
Democrats have long been conflicted over financial technology companies like online lenders, praising the flashy upstarts for their ability to help lower-income Americans build wealth yet wary of the risks they pose to unsuspecting consumers.
But the episode with Robinhood Financial — where armies of small investors used the internet brokerage’s app to pump up GameStop’s stock until Robinhood halted their purchases — has unearthed a growing sentiment on the left: “Fintech” is just a fancy word for everything they already hate about finance.


Bitcoin (BTC) price hits $50,000 for the first time
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Bitcoin’s price broke above $50,000 for the first time in history Tuesday, continuing its blistering rally as major companies appear to be warming to cryptocurrencies.
The world’s largest digital currency by market valuable rose more than 3% to an all-time high of $50,487 at about 7:30 a.m. ET, according to data from Coin Metrics.

Bitcoin’s Ebbing Correlations Boost Its Diversification Benefits
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Largest cryptocurrency climbed fivefold in past year to record; Cornerstone highlights declining correlation with S&P 500
Bitcoin’s correlation with stocks and gold is declining as the token scales fresh peaks, bolstering arguments that cryptocurrencies offer portfolio diversification benefits. The 90-day correlation of the S&P 500 index and Bitcoin has dropped to about 0.21 from a recent peak above 0.50 in October. A comparable measure for the token and bullion is near the lowest in about a year. “In terms of Bitcoin, as well as other digital coins, versus other traditional risky asset classes, the diversification benefits remain intact,” said Benson Durham, head of quantitative global policy analytics at Cornerstone Macro LLC. He and colleague Roberto Perli last year said adding cryptocurrencies to an all-stock portfolio could temper volatility.

China’s Cryptocurrency Stocks Left Behind in Bitcoin Frenzy
Eric Lam – Bloomberg
Local market lacks exposure to key exchange, trading platforms; Gauge of global crypto-linked stocks up 36% this year
China’s blockchain stocks are missing out on the cryptocurrency mania that has pushed their global peers to record highs. A Bloomberg-curated basket of seven key Chinese A-share stocks with ties to the blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies — including Shenzhen Forms Syntron Information Co., Shenzhen Ysstech Info-Tech Co. and Brilliance Technology Co. — has fallen about 16% so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a 36% rise in an Elwood Asset Management index tracking global blockchain-linked shares.

Bitcoin’s credibility boost; Apple-Nissan talks, Zynga’s High Heels! LG’s lighter gram
Chris Nuttall – FT
Bitcoin came close to breaking the $50,000 barrier at the weekend and our Big Read on the cryptocurrency looks at its 350 per cent gain in the past 12 months. Driving the price in the past week has been the Tesla revelation that it had spent $1.5bn on bitcoin. Then BNY Mellon — America’s oldest bank — on Thursday said it would start holding and transferring cryptocurrencies for asset management clients, while Mastercard announced it would soon support “select cryptocurrencies” on its network, allowing more stores to accept them as payment.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are eyeing bitcoin. Here are the big Wall Street names warming to cryptocurrencies
Harry Robertson – Business Insider
A $150 billion investment arm of Morgan Stanley is weighing up getting involved in bitcoin, according to a report, as the soaring price of the biggest cryptocurrency garners attention on Wall Street.

Central Bank Digital Money Won’t Replicate Cash, Sweden’s Riksbank Says
Rafaela Lindeberg and Ott Ummelas – Bloomberg
It would be misguided to expect cash-like features of a central bank digital currency, according to one of the monetary authorities furthest ahead in exploring such a system. Sweden’s Riksbank, which has done more research than most in exploring the feasibility of a digital currency, says users won’t be able to act anonymously in the same way they can with bank notes, according to a report published on Tuesday.

From ‘not money’ to ‘staggeringly great’: What US presidents have said about crypto and blockchain
Turner Wright – CoinTelegraph
In recognition of Presidents Day, Cointelegraph is taking a look at the remarks of current and former leaders of the United States regarding crypto and blockchain.
One of the earliest presidential adopters, Bill Clinton reportedly received his first Bitcoin (BTC) in 2016 — more than 15 years after his two terms in office. Though the Democratic U.S. president accepted the crypto asset gift from venture capitalist Matthew Roszak, seemingly with a smile on his face, he has been largely silent on the ecosystem. However, Clinton gave a keynote speech at Ripple’s Swell conference in 2018, calling blockchain a technology for which the “permutations and possibilities are staggeringly great.”

Thai SEC schedules hearings to address crypto investor qualifications
Helen Partz – CoinTelegraph
A major financial regulator in Thailand is looking to determine qualifications for cryptocurrency traders to ensure investor protection.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand has scheduled a public hearing this month to address specific requirements for investors who want to open a crypto trading account, local news agency The Bangkok Post reported Monday.

Bitcoin’s Volatility Should Burn Investors. It Hasn’t; Wild price swings normally have a way of reversing fortunes. So how do you explain when they don’t?
Nir Kaissar – Bloomberg
Just over 10 years old, Bitcoin might already be the best-performing investment of all time. It might also be the most volatile, and volatility has a way of luring people into ill-timed and costly investing choices. So with all the headlines about Bitcoin’s meteoric rise, it seems reasonable to ask how its investors are doing.


Presidents Have Always Talked About ‘Equity.’ But What Kind? The Biden administration’s emphasis on equity has drawn praise as well as criticism. But he’s hardly the first U.S. president to invoke the word.
Laura Bliss – Bloomberg
Last month, at her confirmation hearing, U.S. secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development nominee Marcia Fudge was asked to define a term by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. “So just to be clear then, it sounds like racial equity means treating people differently based on their race. Is that correct?” he asked.

China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defence industry; Beijing asks industry executives if proposed restrictions will harm western contractors
Sun Yu and Demetri Sevastopulo – FT
China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to people involved in a government consultation.

Luxembourg bets on supercomputers; Investment push is a bid to find coronavirus treatments, fight climate change and optimise manufacturing
Laura Messchendorp – FT
Cyber attacks are unlikely ever to be eliminated, according to some experts. “Prevention of security issues is a lost cause,” says Koen Maris, cybersecurity leader at management consultancy PwC Luxembourg. He says that, for organisations, it is better to detect and eliminate an attack as early as possible, instead of “putting all your money in the prevention basket”.

Citi Says Sunak Can ‘Go Big’ On Stimulus Spending in U.K. Budget
Alex Morales and Andrew Atkinson – Bloomberg
Citigroup says Joe Biden’s program in U.S. could be a guide; Research group says education and health need more funding
Rishi Sunak can afford to follow the U.S. and “go big” on spending to bolster a post-pandemic recovery in the U.K., a Citigroup economist said as the chancellor of the exchequer prepares his annual budget.

Pelosi Outlines Steps to Create 9/11-Style Commission to Investigate Capitol Riot; House speaker says independent commission will probe Jan. 6 attack that was focus of Trump’s second impeachment
Alex Leary – WSJ
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said Congress will establish an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and “relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” She also called for new funding to keep lawmakers safe and secure the Capitol.


Ex-Goldman Analyst, Brother Charged in U.K. Insider-Trading Case
Jonathan Browning – Bloomberg
Analyst’s brother was a lawyer at Clifford Chance, FCA says; Total profit from alleged trading was $198,000, regulator says
U.K. financial prosecutors charged two brothers — a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst and a London lawyer — with insider trading. The pair, Mohammed Zina and Suhail Zina, were charged over trading in six stocks, the Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement Tuesday. Suhail Zina was a solicitor at Clifford Chance, also in London, the FCA said.

Conversation with ASIC: AFIA Risk Summit
A speech by ASIC Commissioner, Sean Hughes, to the Australian Finance Industry Association (AFIA) Risk Summit, Tuesday 16 February 2021.

CBA liable for overcharged interest – Royal Commission case study
The Federal Court has made declarations that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) made false or misleading representations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct on 12,119 occasions when charging a rate of interest on business overdraft accounts substantially higher than what its customers were advised.

ESMA submits IFRS 9 and IAS 20 related questions to IFRS Interpretations Committee
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, submitted questions related to the accounting for the third series of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO III) to the International Financial Reporting Standards Interpretations Committee (IFRS IC).

FCA commences criminal proceedings against brothers for insider dealing and fraud
Following an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority, the FCA has commenced criminal proceedings against Mohammed Zina and Suhail Zina.

Gina Miller calls for independent investigation into ‘shameful’ Woodford scandal; Investors are “losing faith” in FCA
James Baxter-Derrington – InvestmentWeek
Gina Miller has called on the Treasury Select Committee to chair an independent investigation into the collapse of Woodford Investment Management. In an open letter to the committee, Miller said it was “high time” an independent investigation was launched into the Woodford scandal, “along the lines of the recent LC&F and Connaught investigations”, to “avoid the habitual and depressing repetition of such scandals”.

Could New Regulations Hurt Wall Street Hedge Funds – Or Stop Retail Investors from Profiting Like the Pros?
When a band of Redditors sought to change the world — or at least change the way Wall Street operates — it didn’t exactly go as planned. While members of the subreddit r/WallStreetBets did initially drive GameStop stock prices up and cause hedge fund short sellers to lose billions, many retail investors also lost as GameStop plummeted from $483 per share on Jan. 28 down to less than $54 the first week of February, according to a CBS News report.

Finansinspektionen Proposes Approach To Assess Pillar 2 Guidance For Swedish Banks
FI is presenting a proposal for a general approach to assess the size of the Pillar 2 guidance for Swedish banks. The proposal is based on a two-step approach that starts with a sensitivity-based stress test. Comments on the proposal may be submitted to FI no later than 12 March.

Investing and Trading

Stocks Set for Longest Winning Streak in 17 Years: Markets Wrap
Andreea Papuc and Lynn Thomasson – Bloomberg
Brent crude near 13-month high as U.S. energy crisis deepens; Reflation trades are powering markets from copper to Bitcoin
Global stocks are in the midst of the longest run of gains in 17 years as optimism over the economic recovery sweeps across markets. The MSCI benchmark for emerging and developed market stocks has risen for 12 straight sessions, while U.S. equities were set to open higher after a public holiday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average extended its advance past the 30,000 level. European markets steadied after a rally on Monday.

Air France-KLM Shares Risk Plunging to One Euro, Analysts Say
Tara Patel – Bloomberg
Bernstein says carrier is most vulnerable of legacy airlines; French, Dutch governments in talks about fresh bailout package
Air France-KLM is the most vulnerable of Europe’s major legacy carriers to an extended slump in passenger traffic and its share price could fall to one euro, according to analysts at Bernstein. The Franco-Dutch airline is in need of another multi-billion euro bailout and “likely has insufficient liquidity to continue into 2022,” the analysts including Daniel Roeska wrote in a study published Tuesday. “The scale of the hole in AF-KLM’s balance sheet is large, and incremental debt-carrying capacity so small, that a substantial dilution looks highly probable,” they said.

Chip Shortage Poses a Risk to the Global Economic Recovery
Maeva Cousin and Tom Orlik – Bloomberg
Mounting concern about a global chip shortage flags the possibility that industry faces a supply-chain crunch. While getting a handle on what that means for the overall economy is hard to do, Bloomberg Economics used the OECD’s input-output tables to identify which economies have the largest share of gross domestic product coming from sectors that have a high dependence on electronics inputs. With automakers particularly at risk, countries like Germany and Mexico stand out as most exposed among major economies.

Global Bonds Are Suffering the Worst Start to a Year Since 2013
Paul Dobson and Stephen Spratt – Bloomberg
Longer maturities incur heaviest losses as inflation weighs; Lower-rated junk bonds among the few gainers in debt markets
U.S. investors return Tuesday from the Presidents’ Day holiday to find the reflation trade in full force and global bond markets in retreat. How bad can it get for fixed-income investors, and where can they find solace? It’s the worst start to a year for the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index since 2013. Bonds fell in the first months of that year even before the so-called taper tantrum, when then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke triggered a jump in yields by suggesting the central bank could begin to reduce asset purchases.

Mining investors set to enjoy huge cash bonanza; BHP and Glencore announce $6.7bn of dividends as industry enjoys best conditions in decade
Neil Hume – FT
The mining industry underlined its status as one of the hottest spots in a global economy battling back from the pandemic after BHP declared a record dividend and Glencore said it would resume payouts to investors.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Big Oil Invests in Startup That Drills for Clean Energy
Will Mathis -Bloomberg
BP, Chevron invest in geothermal company Eavor Technologies; Geothermal could be used to replace fossil fuels, nuclear
Companies including the venture arms of BP Plc and Chevron Corp. invested $40 million in a startup that aims to use the fossil fuel industry’s drilling experience to expand a technology that harvests low-carbon energy from heat below the earth’s surface.

Oil ‘supercycle’ predictions divide veteran traders; Bullish Wall St banks expect crude to rise as high as $100 as world economy rebounds
David Sheppard – FT
Two of the biggest banks on Wall Street are calling a new “supercycle” in oil, with JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both predicting prices will soar when the pandemic abates.

ESG demand prompts more than 250 European funds to change tack; Repurposing helped push European sustainable AUM to EUR1.1tn by the end of 2020
Elena Losavio – FT
Rising demand for “sustainable” investment prompted managers to change the strategy or investment profile of 253 European funds in 2020, helping to push regional assets invested in funds with an environmental, social or governance tilt to a record EUR1.1tn by the end of December, data from Morningstar show.

Oil’s Missing-Barrel Mystery Stumps Forecasters; Crude prices have made up their pandemic losses, but further gains are clouded by questions regarding where all the excess barrels went
Jinjoo Lee – WSJ
Oil is on the move: Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude prices have broken the $60-a-barrel mark, taking the commodity’s price back to where it was before the pandemic. But a mystery still casts a cloud over its recovery.

A Hidden Hurdle in Efforts to Diversify Boardrooms; Some companies are reluctant to let lower-level managers become outside directors, adding a systemic impediment to the push.
Andrew Ross Sorkin – NY Times
Last spring, Niki Christoff, a senior Salesforce executive, was offered an opportunity to join the board of a publicly traded company alongside her day job. Being a director of a public company is a corporate badge of honor, and the invitation signaled she was poised to break into a club long dominated by men.


Neil Woodford’s Return Defies Darwinism; Investors wary of reputational risk will think twice about investing with this controversial stock picker.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
Neil Woodford, the storied U.K. fund manager who spectacularly crashed 16 months ago, is planning a comeback. If he’s successful in persuading investors to make him the steward of their money once again, it will defy economic Darwinism. Woodford was forced to close his eponymous firm in October 2019 after the administrators of his flagship fund dismissed him as its manager. He’d allocated more and more funds to unlisted and smaller stocks in an effort to turn around the dismal performance of his portfolios. When too many investors demanded their money back in June 2019, he had to suspend redemptions, leaving thousands of small and institutional investors and about 3.5 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) trapped.

BofA Clients With $614 Billion Hike Risk-Taking to New Records
Ksenia Galouchko – Bloomberg
Some 25% of investors with ‘higher than normal’ bullish stance; Fund manager survey comes as Wall Street warns on complacency
Bank of America Corp. clients with $614 billion combined are in the throes of an unprecedented frenzy of risk-taking, as more Wall Street banks sound the alarm on greed across markets. After a week which recorded the strongest-ever inflow into stocks, a record net 25% of investors surveyed by the investment bank this month are taking higher-than-normal risks. Cash levels slumped to the lowest since 2013, while optimism on cyclical risk assets rose to the highest since 2011.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev admits communication failure in GameStop saga
Noah Manskar – NY Post
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev said the investing app could have more clearly explained why it had to block trades of GameStop and other stocks during last month’s Reddit-fueled market frenzy. “I think the challenge was that no doubt we could have communicated this a little bit better to customers,” Tenev said on a recent episode of the financed-focused “All-In” podcast.

Neptune Networks hires BGC broker for sell-side sales role; Ashley Armanno joins Neptune Networks in a sell-side focused sales position after nearly eight years with BGC Partners.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Fixed income data platform, Neptune Networks, has appointed a former broker from interdealer broker BGC Partners, Ashley Armanno, to expand its US sell-side client base.


Swiss Wealth Tax Rakes in Cash as Covid Stokes Global Debate
Catherine Bosley – Bloomberg
Levy captures annual value of assets from Bitcoin to beehives; ‘It doesn’t hurt,’ says farmer with 50 bulls on his tax return
Switzerland’s wealth tax offers a rare real-world example of how a levy on assets can work, just as such ideas gain traction elsewhere in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The measure forces residents in one of the world’s richest nations to tally the value of their investments, real estate, cars, fine art, Bitcoin, and even beehives and cows. A percentage is then skimmed off by cantonal governments, varying in size and method depending on the canton. Switzerland, among only a handful of countries with the levy, can make a claim that it has the most effective one.

Japanese stocks pass 1990 high as economic recovery accelerates; Best day for UK stocks in more than a month, driven by rallying commodities and vaccine rollouts
Hudson Lockett and Leke Oso Alabi – FT
Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rallied past 30,000 points for the first time since 1990 on Monday, reflecting the country’s growing economic momentum and broader optimism among investors.


There Will Always Be an England, But Not a U.K.; A breakup of Britain would be a boon for Northern Ireland, bad for Scotland and Wales, and devastating for England’s place in the world.
Max Hastings – Bloomberg
Britain on the map is an untidily shaped little island that broke off Europe and clings to the eastern shore of the Atlantic. Political reality is more complicated. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as my country is properly called, consists of a cluster of nations and bits of nations that have never lived entirely comfortably together, and are now dangerously close to an existential crisis.

Northern Ireland Is the First Test of the Post-Brexit Order; It only took a blunder from the EU to set off a chain reaction of recriminations and demands.
Therese Raphael – Bloomberg
Trade deals, like peace agreements, aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on without good faith vested in their implementation. Just weeks after the Brexit trade agreement entered into force, intentions over the part of the deal that applies to Northern Ireland have been called into question by both the U.K. and the European Union. Once again, the relationship between the two sides hinges on resolving differences around trade across the Irish border..

Brexit Trade Recovers With Fewer Cross-Channel Cargoes Rejected
Lizzy Burden – Bloomberg
Shipments of goods across the English Channel are recovering, with fewer haulage companies pulling out of jobs in the past week.
The rejection rate for cargo shipped from France to the U.K. fell to the lowest since the last week of November, an indication of reduced friction at the border, according to the the logistics company Transporeon.

Brexit: Musician fears being priced out of touring
Bristol singer Elles Bailey has established a strong European fanbase.
But since leaving the EU, British artists are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel and face higher fees, paperwork and permit issues.


U.S. wine importers are now paying the price for Trump administration’s trade tiff with European Union
Lisa Fickenscher – MarketWatch
Wine vendors battling to survive the coronavirus pandemic are now also getting slammed by the U.S.’s fight with the European Union over aircraft subsidies. Mom-and-pop wine importers are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in added expenses this year due to ever-increasing U.S. tariffs slapped on wines imported from Europe. It’s forcing these businesses to cut pay and staff — and raise prices for customers.

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