Investors Are Ignoring a Dangerous Crackdown on Press Freedom

Aug 5, 2021

First Read

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Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

FIA’s Walt Lukken has issued a written midyear update for 2021. —FIA

The subjects he covers in his update are: opening access to clearing venues globally, improving operational resilience, opening China’s markets, strengthening central clearing, advancing sustainability through derivatives markets and connecting our community.

Regarding the latter, about FIA conferences, Lukken writes: “Of course, virtual conferences do not compare to being face-to-face with your clients and team members, so we are preparing to resume in-person events in the coming weeks. This fall, we are bringing back IDX – the International Derivatives Expo – in London and Expo – the Futures & Options Expo – in Chicago. We’re working closely with our venues, vendors, and legal counsel to provide safe environments for reconnecting with the derivatives community. We can’t wait to reconnect with our members in-person.”

Two former Bank of America traders yesterday were found guilty of spoofing by a federal jury. Edward Bases and John Pacilio were found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy charges following a two-week criminal trial in Chicago. The spoofing started in 2008, before the Dodd-Frank Act made the practice illegal, and continued afterward. — WSJ

The World Health Organization wants to stop booster shots from being administered to free up vaccines for COVID-19 for parts of the world that have not received any yet. Not sure that is going to work. — WSJ

FIA Operations Americas division on 10 August will present a panel on physical deliveries processing and settlements. In this webinar, the panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities of processing physical deliveries, managing the differences across products, deadlines and exchanges as well as the settlement process. You can learn more and register HERE.

Eurex posted its July 2021 market statistics, which saw Eurex’s OTC clearing business continue its strong year with notional outstanding in interest rate swaps (IRS) growing 26 percent – from 7,815 billion EUR to 9,856 billion EUR – and average daily cleared volumes in IRS jumping 31 percent from 13 billion EUR to 17 billion EUR. The overall figures for all products show notional outstanding volumes growing by 5 percent – from 19,488 billion EUR to 20,454 billion EUR – and average daily cleared volumes up 11 percent from 99 billion EUR to 110 billion EUR. — Eurex

The New York International Auto Show was scheduled to open its doors on August 20, but it has been canceled because of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Let’s hope this is not the start of another string of canceled conventions and conferences. — CNBC

There were no new donations to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign yesterday.

Today we have part one of our Open Outcry Traders HIstory Project interview with Bruce Williams, a longtime CBOT member who wanted to be a professional tennis player and found his way to the exchange through his tennis instructor, Ray Cahnman

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



Bruce Williams – He Found Love of Open Outcry Trading Through Tennis – Part One

Bruce Williams was a South Side Chicago street smart kid who found his way to the markets through tennis. As a youth, Williams had dreams of being a professional tennis player, and it was through a local tennis professional who was also a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade that he was first exposed to the markets.

Watch the video »


Sponsored Content
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Robinhood Surges as Much as 82% a Day After Surpassing IPO Price
Bailey Lipschultz – Bloomberg
Stock soared as much as 82% amid volatility, spiking volume; Debut of option trading likely drove interest, strategist says
Robinhood Markets Inc. jumped a whopping 50% on Wednesday after a wave of individual investors joined the likes of Cathie Wood to pile on the zero-fee trading platform.

*****You knew this was going to happen.~JJL


Team DASH Financial Technologies; ‘Together, We Are More Effective Than Apart’
Building a strong team culture means more than just empowering employees to excel at their jobs. For DASH Financial Technologies, a leading options trading and execution technology provider, supporting each other as colleagues is at the heart of everything they set out to accomplish – including at a charity bike ride like Wall Street Rides FAR.

*****On Dash!!!~JJL


I Am the Idiot Behind Idiot Coin; Some hype coins mint instant millionaires. Others go bust. Why not take a chance?
David Segal – NY Times
They have names that make them sound delicious, like Cookie Coin. Or headed for outer space, like Pluto Coin. Or space-bound and delicious, like AstroCake, which was described this way: “Created 5 minutes ago. SAFE.”

*****No, I am that idiot!~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
For the second time, our top story Wednesday was the tweet about Gene Hackman still being alive. Second was Plague-infected chipmunks force closures around Lake Tahoe, from The Hill. And third was Quant Shop Jump Trading Buys Blockchain Firm Certus One, from Yahoo Finance.


MarketsWiki Stats
26,500 pages; 234,987 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Investors Are Ignoring a Dangerous Crackdown on Press Freedom; From Hong Kong to the U.S., freedom of expression is under threat.
Iain Marlow, Isabella Steger – Bloomberg
Global press freedom is under spectacular pressure. More journalists than ever were in jail last year and the number of media workers killed rose by a third compared to 2019, with Asia accounting for nearly half of those murdered. With a crackdown on the world’s press comes a more challenging business landscape for investors. Restricted information flows can mask political and regulatory problems as well as potential fraud and corruption, raising the risks of doing business — particularly in more volatile emerging markets where good-quality information may already be scarce. ?

Two Ex-Bank of America Traders Accused of Spoofing Found Guilty; Edward Bases and John Pacilio were convicted of rigging precious-metals prices after a criminal trial in Chicago
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Two former Bank of America Corp. BAC 1.41% traders were convicted Wednesday of rigging precious-metals prices by using an aggressive tactic known as spoofing, the latest win for prosecutors in a yearslong effort to crack down on the practice. A federal jury found Edward Bases and John Pacilio guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy charges after a two-week criminal trial in Chicago. The proceeding was a test of prosecutors’ efforts to punish spoofing activity that predated a law defining the tactic and making it illegal.

SEC Chief Gary Gensler Braces for Clash With Crypto Traders; Gensler wants to regulate digital assets to the same extent as stocks, bonds and commodity-related trading instruments
Dave Michaels and Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler this week declared war on what he called the Wild West of crypto trading, promising a vigorous attack on fraud and misconduct. But progress is likely to be more piecemeal and incremental than wholesale and sudden. Mr. Gensler outlined his desire to regulate digital assets such as bitcoin and other crypto products to the same extent as stocks, bonds and commodity-related trading instruments. He told the Aspen Security Forum on Tuesday that his priorities include newer innovations such as stablecoins and decentralized finance, products that are beginning to draw more mainstream investors.

New Candidate for Top Bank Regulator Sees Risks in Crypto and Fintechs; The White House is vetting Saule Omarova, a Cornell professor, for the role of comptroller of the currency. Her work has highlighted the risks of cryptocurrency for banks.
Emily Flitter – NY Times
The Biden administration is vetting a new candidate for the job of top banking regulator after abandoning two earlier choices because a fight broke out within the Democratic Party. If the candidate — Saule Omarova, a professor of banking law at Cornell University Law School — is nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and secures Senate support, Wall Street’s biggest banks can expect a less cozy relationship with her than they had with recent predecessors.

LCH extends buy-side repo clearing model to Euro debt
Sponsored Clearing from RepoClear now available at LCH SA; Offers buy-side firms access to repo clearing across 13 Euro debt markets and EURGCPlus; Builds on the offering for UK gilts, live at LCH Ltd
LCH, a leading global clearing house, today announces the expansion of its Sponsored Clearing model to include Euro repo clearing. This latest development enables buy-side firms to directly access repo clearing at LCH SA, including EURGCPlus. Members of LCH SA’s RepoClear benefit from increased capacity and access to the service’s deep netting pool, as well as achieving price and settlement efficiencies. LCH’s Sponsored Clearing model is based on open access and has been developed to provide participants with a choice of trading venues and settlement options, Tradeweb is the first trading venue to offer access to the Sponsored Clearing service at LCH SA.

What’s Behind the ETF Feeding Frenzy of 2021?
Joel Weber and Eric Balchunas – Bloomberg
Exchange-traded funds have already broken their annual inflow record, and the summer isn’t even over yet. The pace has jumped from $2 billion a day to more than $4 billion, with over 1,800 ETFs taking in cash. What’s behind this wild flowmageddon into ETFs?

Companies dole out stocks and ETFs as perks to loyal customers; AT&T’s Cricket Wireless ties up with micro-investing app Acorns to reduce churn among pre-paid phone users
Imani Moise and Madison Darbyshire – FT
Fractional shares and exchange traded funds are emerging as loyalty perks from companies looking to cash in on heightened interest in retail investing during a prolonged bull market.

A pay rise will not fix broken workplace culture; Goldman, like other employers, will have to try harder to lure and retain new recruits
Delphine Strauss – FT
Goldman Sachs is acting to stave off a rebellion among burnt-out junior staff in the US — by offering its first-year analysts more money. As a fix for a deep-seated problem with workplace culture, it makes about as much sense as the way the UK is tackling a hiring crunch in the haulage sector: HGV drivers, whose hours are already almost as punishing as those of highly paid bankers, will be allowed to work even longer.

Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates Split Corporate America; With Delta cases rising, Tyson and Walmart are insisting employees get the shot; others are sticking with persuasion and cash incentives
Chip Cutter, Sarah Nassauer and Bob Tita – WSJ
Business leaders broadly agree they need to get more workers vaccinated to keep the U.S. economy humming in the face of the fast-spreading Delta variant. But they’re split over how best to do that. Some are dangling bigger bonuses or other incentives to cajole employees into getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Others have started requiring workers get the shot.

The SEC needs more power from Congress to fully regulate crypto, Chair Gensler says
Thomas Franck – CNBC
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said Tuesday that Wall Street’s top regulator needs Congress to grant it additional powers for overseeing a vast and ever-evolving cryptocurrency market.

FCA chief: Pandemic could be worse than the financial crisis; Nikhil Rathi warns that the regulator will continue to act decisively as the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty
Justin Cash – Financial News
The Covid-19 pandemic could have an even bigger impact than the financial crisis that rocked global markets more than a decade ago, FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi has said. Appearing on the watchdog’s podcast series, Rathi was asked whether he saw parallels between the great crash of 2008/2009 and how the coronavirus crisis has turbocharged shifts in the economy.

SEC Chairman Gensler Agrees With Predecessor: ‘Every ICO Is a Security’
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler said he believes the vast majority of crypto tokens and initial coin offerings (ICOs) violate U.S. securities laws. In a speech at the Aspen Security Forum on Tuesday, Gensler said he agreed with Jay Clayton, his predecessor at the SEC, who once famously said that in his view, “every ICO I’ve seen is a security.”

This crypto scam bilked investors out of $11 million — and paid action star Steven Seagal to promote it
Lukas I. Alpert – MarketWatch
It was a crypto scam straight out of a Steven Seagal movie, featuring the action film star himself, a private eye, a staged kidnapping and millions of dollars that vanished into thin air.

Alchemy Adds Vikram Pandit, Jeffrey Katzenberg as New Investors
Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
Alchemy, a provider of blockchain technology, brought on new investors including former Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the onetime chairman of Walt Disney Co. and the co-founder of Dreamworks Animation LLC.


U.K. Eases Quarantine Rules, Opening Up Travel With France
Emily Ashton and Siddharth Vikram Philip – Bloomberg
Fully vaccinated arrivals from France to avoid U.K. quarantine; India, UAE, Qatar, Germany travel also eases from Aug. 8
Fully vaccinated visitors arriving in England from France will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, a loosening of restrictions that puts them in the same category as travelers from most other European countries.

Why Delta Is Making Herd Immunity Harder to Reach
Jason Gale – Bloomberg
Many countries are counting on vaccines to build sufficient immunity in their populations so that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, isn’t able to find enough people to infect, causing transmission to eventually stop. But even in countries with a high proportion of people inoculated with highly effective vaccines, it’s unclear whether it’s possible to reach the so-called herd immunity threshold anytime soon. Researchers warn that the virus is apt to be circulating among us for a long time, although it’s likely to become a less potent foe.

Europe targets adolescents for Covid jabs to curb Delta spread; Continued push into younger age groups helps EU vaccination coverage overtake US and, soon, the UK
Victor Mallet, Erika Solomon and Daniel Dombey – FT
French President Emmanuel Macron, whose habitual garb in public is a dark suit and tie, switched this week to a black T-shirt to encourage the young to get vaccinated over the holidays.

US considers requiring foreign visitors to be ‘fully vaccinated’; Spread of Delta coronavirus variant leads Biden administration to ‘maintain existing restrictions’
Lauren Fedor – FT
The Biden administration is drawing up plans that will require all foreign nationals visiting the US to be “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19, according to a White House official.

Young people make up a fifth of Covid hospital admissions, says NHS England; New chief Amanda Pritchard urges under-35s to get vaccinated
Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe – FT
The new NHS chief has urged young people to come forward to be vaccinated, as data reveal that 18- to 34-year-olds make up one-fifth of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England.

Delta Variant Increases Demand and Wait Times for Covid-19 Tests; More Americans are being tested as cases rise and places require people to show proof they aren’t infected
Sharon Terlep, Brianna Abbott and Alex Janin – WSJ
More Americans are being tested for Covid-19—and waiting longer for results—as virus cases surge and places from offices to concert venues require people to show proof they aren’t infected. The nation’s Covid-19 testing infrastructure, from health systems and pharmacies to diagnostic labs, are racing to keep up as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads in many parts of the country. Workplace testing requirements and revised federal guidelines recommending that vaccinated people exposed to Covid-19 get tested could be adding to the demand.

Return to Work? Not With Child Care Still in Limbo, Some Parents Say; The rise of the Delta variant and the uncertainty over schools and child care are keeping these parents from applying for jobs.
Claire Cain Miller – NY Times
Brianna McCain left her job as an office manager when the pandemic started, to care for her two young daughters. By last spring, she was ready to go back to work. But she hasn’t been able to, because her children are still at home.

Covid Can Make Kids Very Sick. Why Aren’t More Being Vaccinated? Children have to get vaccinated for less urgent threats—and it works. So why not with Covid?
Riley Griffin, Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
One afternoon in May, Michael Joseph Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, strides in baseball-patterned socks through a Duke University facility in Durham, N.C., to welcome Cameron O’Hara, a 14-year-old vaccine trial subject. Smith has been acting as co-principal investigator at one of the sites that’s been testing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in kids since last winter. O’Hara and his mother have come to the office following the “unblinding” process—in which he’d learned, to his disappointment, that he’s been getting a placebo—to get his first dose of the real thing. He crosses his sneakers and grips his mom’s hand as the needle goes into his arm.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Cboe Global Markets Reports July 2021 Trading Volume
Cboe Global Markets, Inc.
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), a leading provider of global market infrastructure and tradable products, today reported July monthly trading volume statistics across its global business lines.
The data sheet “Cboe Global Markets Monthly Volume & RPC/Net Revenue Capture Report” contains an overview of certain July trading statistics and market share by business segment, volume in select index products, and RPC/net capture, which is reported on a one-month lag, across business lines.

Cboe IBHY Futures Set All-Time Monthly Volume Record, Surpassing $5 Billion Total Monthly Notional Value Traded for First Time; Nearly 40,000 contracts traded during July 2021, representing approximately $5.9 billion in notional value; July was the fourth consecutive record month, with total notional value in IBHY futures up 52 percent over the prior month; IBHY futures are designed to help provide broad exposure to the U.S. corporate bond market through an exchange-traded, centrally cleared vehicle
Cboe Global Markets, Inc
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), a leading provider of global market infrastructure and tradable products, today announced that trading volume in Cboe® iBoxx® iShares® $ High Yield Corporate Bond Index (Ticker: IBHY) futures reached an all-time monthly high in July 2021 and surpassed $5 billion in total notional value traded for the first time. A total of 39,919 contracts were traded during the month, representing approximately $5.9 billion in notional value, up 52 percent over the prior month. The previous record was set in June 2021 with a total of 26,490 contracts traded, representing approximately $3.9 billion in notional value.

July 2021 monthly figures at Eurex; Growth in OTC Clearing and European interest rate derivatives volumes at Eurex in July
Eurex’s OTC Clearing business continued its strong year with notional outstanding in interest rate swaps (IRS) growing 26 percent – from 7,815 billion EUR to 9,856 billion EUR – and average daily cleared volumes in IRS jumping 31 percent from 13 billion EUR to 17 billion EUR. The overall figures for all products show notional outstanding volumes growing by 5 percent – from 19,488 billion EUR to 20,454 billion EUR – and average daily cleared volumes up 11 percent from 99 billion EUR to 110 billion EUR.

Goldman Sachs executes first E-mini ESG index derivatives trades on CME
The first E-mini ESG Europe 350 ESG Index futures took place as a block trade valued at EUR4m notional.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Goldman Sachs has become the first institution to trade CME Group’s newly launched E-mini S&P Europe 350 ESG Index futures.
The new futures product, which are aligned with the upcoming requirements under article 8 of Europe’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), was launched by CME Group in May earlier this year.

LCH adds Euro repo to buy-side clearing model; Through the extension buy-side firms using RepoClear will now have access to clearing across 13 Euro debt markets and LCH’s basket repo clearing service, EURGCPlus.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
LCH has extended the scope of its buy-side repo clearing model, RepoClear, to include clearing of Euro debt. Buy-side users of the RepoClear model can now clear across 13 Euro debt markets and LCH’s tri-party basket repo clearing service, EURGCPlus, and at LCH SA, its continental Europe clearing house, building on the scheme originally launched in 2017.

Specification of the tax exemption for connection fees
With reference to Eurex circular 053/21, the present circular specifies the connection fees that will generally be treated as VAT-exempt as of 1 July 2021. The changes are made subject to further coordination with the tax authorities.

Amendment of GTC to the Connection Agreement and GTC to the Provider Connection Agreement: Removal of limit for owned and/or used 10Gbit/s ETI connections
To allow its customers further growth but to also have enough network capacity to serve new customers, Eurex Exchange has decided to take the following actions:
a. Removal of the limit for owned and/or used 10Gbit/s ETI connections of currently 36
b. Keeping the limit for owned and/or used 10Gbit/s ETI connections of currently 4 per Access Point (Switch)

ASX Group Monthly Activity Report – July 2021

TMX Group Limited Declares Dividend of $0.77 per Common Share
The Board of Directors of TMX Group Limited today declared a dividend of $0.77 on each common share outstanding. This dividend is payable on September 3, 2021 to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 20, 2021.

TMX Group Limited Reports Results for Second Quarter of 2021
TMX Group Limited [TSX:X] (“TMX Group”) today announced results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2021.

ICE Benchmark Administration Publishes Feedback Statement on the Consultation on the Potential Cessation of ICE Swap Rate® based on GBP LIBOR®
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading global provider of data, technology, and market infrastructure, today announced that ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (“IBA”) has published a feedback statement on its intention to cease the publication of ICE Swap Rate® settings based on GBP LIBOR®

SGX receives long-term Aa2 rating, the highest assigned to any exchange group by Moody’s
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today announced it has obtained first-time credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s). Moody’s has assigned to SGX Aa2 long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings with a stable outlook. The Aa2 rating is the highest credit rating assigned to any exchange group by Moody’s.

SGX reports FY2021 net profit of S$447 million
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today reported FY2021 adjusted net profit of S$446.9 million (S$482.1 million). Revenues of S$1,056.0 million (S$1,052.7 million) were comparable to record revenues set in FY2020, with underlying business revenue up 7% excluding the decline in treasury income, amidst a low interest rate environment.

– EBS Market Integration onto CME Globex — [[|CME]]
– CME STP Notices: August 5, 2021 — CME
– CME Globex Notices: August 2, 2021 — CME


Millennials Should Beware of Rising Payment Apps; Younger consumers may be wary of credit cards. But “buy now, pay later” apps could encourage bad spending habits.
Alexis Leondis – Bloomberg
Earlier this week, the digital-payments platform Square Inc. said it agreed to acquire Afterpay, one of the main players in the burgeoning industry that lets online shoppers buy things immediately and pay for them later. If the deal goes through, buying clothing, jewelry, home goods and, yes, exercise bikes with installment payments is likely to become more widespread. That’s not necessarily a good thing for consumers.

Overbond partners with IPC to automate fixed income voice trading; The partnership will see Overbond and IPC introduce technology that translates voice transactions data into artificial intelligence algorithms.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Analytics provider Overbond has teamed up with communications specialist IPC to automate fixed income trading using AI algorithms. Through the partnership, the FinTechs will introduce technology that allows voice transaction data to be translated into algorithms for executing automated trades in fixed income.

Calif. fintech, founders settle SEC crypto fraud claims
Jody Godoy – Reuters
A California-based fintech company with an app aimed at “under-banked” communities settled claims by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it misrepresented the technology and illegally sold unregistered digital tokens.
The SEC said in filings in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday that Uulala Inc and founders Oscar Garcia and Matthew Loughran raised $9 million from investors between 2017 and 2019 through an unregistered initial coin offering.

Square-Afterpay Deal Puts Fintech Stocks Back In Focus
Our Fintech Stocks Theme – which includes digital payments and lending players, card networks, and insurance technology players – remains down by about 1% year-to-date, compared to the broader S&P 500 which has gained 17% year-to-date. The underperformance comes as investors rotate out of technology and high-growth names into cyclical stocks to play the reopening following the Covid-19 lockdowns. However, the theme should come back into the spotlight following fintech major Square’s recent announcement that it would buy Afterpay, an Australian buy now, pay later company in a $29 billion, all-stock transaction. The deal is significant for Square SQ -1.1% (and for the broader fintech space), as it brings together Square’s popular consumer applications and merchant solutions with a financing component, as it looks to take on banks and credit card companies for a larger share of the payments market. The deal also comes at a time when younger customers are moving away from traditional credit, with “pay later” products gaining share.

Interview with Fintech Leader Tariq Bokhari
Erin Jane Illman and Lyndsay E. Medlin – National Law Review
As part of Bradley’s continuing coverage of the North Carolina Sandbox Act, we wanted to know what community members and NC fintech aficionados thought about this proposed legislation. We posed six questions to Tariq Bokhari, an influential leader in the financial technology (fintech) industry, who serves as the executive director of the Carolina Fintech Hub (CFH). Read more of our conversation below on how this regulatory sandbox will impact North Carolina’s fintech industry.


48 million malware messages: Proofpoint reveals the reality of today’s threat landscape
Catherine Knowles – IT Brief Australia
2020 proved to be a significant year for cyber threats and attacks. In fact, Proofpoint’s latest Human Factor report reveals the reality of millions of ransomware-loaded emails, malicious threat actors and new sophisticated attack methods.

The Cybersecurity 202: The year’s biggest cybersecurity conferences are back, but limited
Joseph Marks and Aaron Schaffer – The Washington Post
The Black Hat and Def Con conferences, which are typically crowded and bustling summer highlights for the cybersecurity community, are far more muted this year. Often dubbed “hacker summer camp,” the events were significantly rejiggered in recent weeks in response to the rapid spread of the delta variant — a dramatic example of how the coronavirus is still upending daily life in general and the cybersecurity industry in particular.

Black Hat: Let’s All Help Cyber-Immunize Each Other
Tom Spring – Threat Post
In his address, Moss asked the audience to consider how participants can work together to help address today’s most pressing cybersecurity problems in the same way that present-day doctors, healthcare policymakers and individuals can help mitigate COVID-19.

Ransomware Volumes Hit Record Highs as 2021 Wears On
Tara Seals – Threat Post
Ransomware has seen a significant uptick so far in 2021, with global attack volume increasing by 151 percent for the first six months of the year as compared with the year-ago half. Meanwhile, the FBI has warned that there are now 100 different strains circulating around the world.

Ransomware Gangs and the Name Game Distraction
Brian Krebs – Krebs on Security
It’s nice when ransomware gangs have their bitcoin stolen, malware servers shut down, or are otherwise forced to disband. We hang on to these occasional victories because history tells us that most ransomware money making collectives don’t go away so much as reinvent themselves under a new name, with new rules, targets and weaponry. Indeed, some of the most destructive and costly ransomware groups are now in their third incarnation.

Scammers exploit surge in online activity to target younger victims
James Pickford – FT
In a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Barclays and conducted in July by Mortar Research, 34 per cent said they had been the victim of a scam in the past three months. Younger people were defrauded more often than older groups, countering the assumption that elderly people are both more vulnerable and more heavily targeted by fraudsters.

Microsoft Exchange Used to Hack Diplomats Before 2021 Breach
Kartikay Mehrotra – Bloomberg
Late last year, researchers at the Los Angeles-based cybersecurity company Resecurity stumbled across a massive trove of stolen data while investigating the hack of an Italian retailer. Squirreled away on a cloud storage platform were five gigabytes of data that had been stolen during the previous three and half years from foreign ministries and energy companies by hacking their on-premises Microsoft Exchange servers. In all, Resecurity researchers found documents and emails from six foreign ministries and eight energy companies in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe.


Senators move to exempt bitcoin, crypto miners from proposed U.S. tax rules
Chris Matthews – MarketWatch
Supporters of the crypto industry in the U.S. Senate filed an amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure bill to make clear that miners and providers of crypto services would not be required to follow new tax-reporting rules on crypto brokers.
The amendment would “clarify that ‘brokers’ mean only those persons who conduct transactions on exchanges where consumers buy, sell and trade digital assets,” according to a press release.

French Fund Manager Unveils EU-Regulated Bitcoin-Stocks ETF
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Melanion Capital’s new fund meets the UCITS standard; Firm says the ETF addresses risk of loss or piracy of tokens
Paris-based alternative investment manager Melanion Capital received regulatory approval for an exchange-traded fund seeking to track the Bitcoin price and which satisfies key European Union rules.

French fund manager to launch first EU-regulated bitcoin tracker; Melanion Capital seeks to tap into booming crypto interest with new Ucits vehicle
Laurence Fletcher – FT
A French asset manager is set to launch an EU-regulated fund that closely tracks the price of bitcoin, marking one of the first times that investors will be able to access the hyper-volatile asset through mutual funds across the bloc.

JPMorgan Pitching Bitcoin Fund to Wealthy Clients, CoinDesk Says
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is pitching a Bitcoin fund to wealthy clients, according to CoinDesk. The firm is offering customers of JPMorgan Private Bank a passively managed fund in partnership with NYDIG, CoinDesk said, citing two people familiar with the matter. It doesn’t yet have any investments from clients, but the bank held a call with advisers recently, the people told CoinDesk. NYDIG is a Bitcoin-focused institutional-grade platform for secure custody, execution, asset management and more, and is a subsidiary of Stone Ridge, an alternative asset manager.

Jump Trading acquires DeFi infrastructure firm Certus One;The deal follows continued support from Jump Trading for decentralised finance initiatives including becoming a member of the Pyth Network in April earlier this year.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
Quantitative trading firm Jump Trading Group has acquired decentralised finance (DeFi) infrastructure firm, Certus One. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

What to know about the Ethereum London hard fork EIP-1559 upgrade
Taylor Locke – CNBC
Ethereum, the blockchain that runs ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency under bitcoin, will undergo a major upgrade this week.
Slated for Thursday, the upgrade, called London, includes Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559, which aims to change the way transaction fees, or “gas fees,” are estimated.


SoftBank’s Arm Sale Tests Brexit Britain’s Mettle; The U.K. may wish it never let the chip designer fall into foreign hands, but blocking this takeover would hurt efforts to lure foreign investment.
Chris Hughes – Bloomberg
We all have regrets. For the U.K., letting Arm Ltd. fall into foreign hands in 2016 is probably high on the list. A potential government veto of SoftBank Group Corp.’s onward sale of the Cambridge, England-based chip designer to Nvidia Corp. is best viewed through the prism of British remorse.

Political inaction is dragging the UK deeper into the climate crisis; Global warming is the defining issue of our times, but among policymakers there is no urgency
Henry Mance – FT
The first histories of the pandemic have been written, and they converge on a single truth. In March 2020, the scientific evidence became so overwhelming that conscientious western political leaders declared an emergency. They acted more radically than they had ever imagined.

FinCEN Names New Acting Director, Begins Search for Permanent Chief; Himamauli Das, a national security expert with broad government experience, will replace Michael Mosier, who served for four months as acting head of the anti-money-laundering unit
Dylan Tokar – WSJ
The U.S. Treasury Department’s anti-money-laundering unit is undergoing its second leadership change this year, as current acting director Michael Mosier prepares to leave at the end of the week.


ASIC update: Compensation for financial advice related misconduct as at 30 June 2021
Six of Australia’s largest banking and financial services institutions have paid or offered a total of $1.86 billion in compensation, as at 30 June 2021, to customers who suffered loss or detriment because of fees for no service misconduct or non-compliant advice.

Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements for Security-Based Swap Dealers, Major Security-Based Swap Participants, and Broker-Dealers; Correction

FCA stops BDSwiss offering contracts for differences (CFDs) to UK customers
The FCA has acted to stop a Cypriot-based firm, BDSwiss Holding Plc, and other members of the BDSwiss Group from offering high risk contracts for differences (CFDs) to UK investors. The BDSwiss Group trades using the brands BDSwiss, Swissmarkets and BDS Trading.

Investing and Trading

Europe Faces an Energy Shock After Gas and Power Prices Rocket
Josefine Fokuhl, John Ainger, and Isis Almeida – Bloomberg
Prices hit records in many countries even though it’s summer; Consumers will start to feel impact as utilities put up bills
After lockdowns forced Basel Hamzeh to close his cafe in a trendy Berlin neighborhood for months, the 53-year-old is confronting a fresh crisis: high energy bills. The cost of natural gas and electricity has surged across Europe, reaching records in some countries, as businesses re-open and workers return to the office. In Germany, wholesale power prices have risen more than 60% this year, leaving the owner of the Frau Honig cafe in Friedrichshain with no option but to raise prices of everything from cappuccinos to cinnamon rolls.

No, Really, TikToks and Tweets Could Make You a Smarter Investor; How Lily Francus, Kyla Scanlon, and other breakout stars of financial social media are cutting through the noise.
Katherine Greifend – Bloomberg
When you think of the places where Internet culture mashes up with finance, you might imagine Reddit boards where bro-ish posters who call themselves “apes” gang up to push shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. to the moon. Or YouTube personalities pumping crypto coins and get-rich-quick schemes. But there’s also a loose circle of posters on Twitter—affectionately known to its denizens as FinTwit—trading real ideas, along with plenty of jokes and esoteric memes, plus links to their Substack newsletters and TikTok skits.

Wall Street urges GM and Ford to keep spending in Tesla ‘arms race’; Investors welcome electric vehicle overhaul that will cost billions of dollars in plants and engineers
Claire Bushey – FT
Investors are urging on plans by General Motors and Ford to spend tens of billions of dollars on electric vehicles, even as the carmakers capitalise on booming revenues from cars and trucks with traditional engines.

US sets stage for first Treasury sales reduction in five years; Government says it may cut back on issuance in November amid easing borrowing needs
Kate Duguid – FT
The US has said it could begin cutting the size of government debt sales this autumn as funding needs for economic relief efforts ease, in a move that would pave the way for the first reductions in five years.

Robinhood soars after retail traders flock to shares; Venue that helped power the ‘meme stock’ rally gains favour on social media as options trading debuts
Madison Darbyshire and Eric Platt – FT
Robinhood, the trading app used by many retail investors to drive the furious rally in “meme stocks” early this year, has gained characteristics of a meme stock itself.

Robinhood: meme-cry; Who would have guessed?
Jamie Powell – FT
Robinhood, the app that steals from the poor to give to the rich, had a pretty poor IPO debut last week. After opening at $38 a share, the bottom of the target range for the listing, it slid almost 12 per cent in its first day trading before ending the day down some 8 per cent at $34.

Grill Maker Weber’s IPO Goes From Sizzle to Fizzle
Crystal Tse – Bloomberg
Weber Inc., showing the limits of barbecue grill makers going public, cut the size of its initial public offering by more than half and priced it below a marketed range to raise $250 million.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Raging Wildfire Destroys Much of California Gold Rush Town
Noah Berger – Associated Press
A wind-driven wildfire tore through a Northern California mountain town, leaving much of the downtown in ashes as crews braced for another explosive run of flames in the midst of dangerous weather.

Exxon Considers Pledging ‘Net-Zero’ Carbon by 2050; Chief Executive Darren Woods faces pressure from investors to take a more decisive approach to reducing emissions
Christopher M. Matthews and Emily Glazer – WSJ
Exxon XOM -2.34% Mobil Corp. is considering a pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would amount to a significant strategic shift by the oil company.


Credit Agricole Profit Beats as Bad Loan Provisions Decline
Alexandre Rajbhandari – Bloomberg
French bank set aside 67% less for souring loans in quarter; Investment bank sees quieter trading after pandemic surge
Credit Agricole SA’s profit came in above expectations as it joined European peers in posting lower provisions to reflect the improving economy. The Paris-based lender said net income jumped to 1.97 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in the second quarter, more than double the same period last year and above the 1.2 billion euros anticipated by analysts polled by Bloomberg. Provisions to cover potentially souring loans fell 67% to 279 million euros, which was also far better than estimates.

SoftBank to invest $100m in former partner’s fund; Jeff Housenbold aims to win deals by providing counsel to consumer tech start-ups
Miles Kruppa – FT
SoftBank’s second Vision Fund plans to invest $100m in a new fund started by one of its former top partners, Jeff Housenbold, the latest move by the technology investor as it continues its rapid dealmaking pace.

Hedge fund Odey lines up bets against ‘meme stock’ favourite AMC; Asset manager says surge in retail buying has generated ‘major distortions’ in cinema chain’s share price
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Odey Asset Management, the London hedge fund firm set up by trader Crispin Odey, has put on a bet against the shares of pandemic-hit cinema chain AMC Entertainment, one of the most popular “meme stocks” this year.

Hedge funds betting on bond market anomalies hit $1tn in assets mark; Strategy blamed for turmoil in sprawling US Treasury market remains subdued even as broader assets rise
Robin Wigglesworth and Kate Duguid, Colby Smith and Joe Rennison – FT
Hedge funds that exploit bond market dislocations, such as those blamed for exacerbating the US Treasury ructions of March 2020, have swelled to more than $1tn of assets for the first time.

Glencore to return an extra $1.2bn to investors; Miner and commodities trader cashes in on rising prices of copper, zinc and thermal coal
Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume – FT
Glencore will return an additional $1.2bn to shareholders after reporting record half-year earnings, as the miner and commodities trader cashed in on surging commodity prices.


SPACs Target Emerging Markets as U.S. Competition Mounts; The number of blank-check companies focused on developing countries has almost tripled in 2021 as investors look for better value overseas
Matt Wirz – WSJ
Blank-check companies are venturing to far-flung locales such as Brazil, Israel and Turkey to find attractive merger targets these days. Special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, explicitly pursuing companies in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa remain a small part of the overall market. But they are growing at a faster clip than their conventional counterparts, according to The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of data from SPAC Research.


Rugby League World Cup postponed until 2022; Decision follows Australia and New Zealand’s abrupt withdrawal from tournament last month
Samuel Agini – FT
The organisers of this year’s Rugby League World Cup in England are delaying the international tournament until 2022, after two of the sport’s top ranked countries pulled out last month over coronavirus concerns.

Why graduates don’t want careers in gas and oil; Some major professions — and the boomers in them — are becoming taboo for young people
Simon Kuper – FT
In the undying scene from the 1967 film The Graduate, the young Benjamin Braddock is at a gruesome party hosted by his parents when he is ambushed by the besuited middle-aged Mr McGuire. Throwing an arm around Benjamin, McGuire guides him through the suburban splendour of the house to the pool. “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word,” begins McGuire. Then, with the air of initiating Benjamin into the great grown-up secret: “Plastics.” A silence falls. Benjamin (played by Dustin Hoffman) eyes McGuire as if he’s deranged and asks, politely: “Exactly how do you mean?” McGuire urges, “There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

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