Japan Exchange Appoints Hiromi Yamaji as Head of Tokyo Bourse

Feb 22, 2021

First Read

$29,676/$300,000 (9.9%)
Gabriella Kusz and Patrick Troy


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The artist who deposited an illegal charging bull sculpture in lower Manhattan has died at the age of 80. Arturo Di Modica, the Sicilian-born sculptor of the ‘Charging Bull’, installed the artwork in Lower Manhattan without permission, but an outpouring of public support persuaded the city to keep it. What would the Wall Street area be without the Charging Bull?

Former Montreal Exchange executive Brian Gelfand is now a senior advisor at EY. Congratulations to Brian on the new job.

In two years there is another Senate race in Georgia. In what is perhaps a subtle hint of former Senator Kelly Loeffler‘s future electoral intentions, the http://kellyforsenate.com/ website is available for sale. The @SenatorLoeffler Twitter account is still online, but the last post was the day before she left office, January 19, 2021. The last post to her Instagram account, kloefflerga, was on January 7, the day after the election.

Bloomberg has a story titled, “Billionaire Peterffy Says N.Y. Rich in Florida Are There to Stay.” Wait until hurricane season and we will see how they feel.

Ford is now asking its dealers in Texas to lend out the new 2021 Ford F-150 trucks equipped with power generators. This is one of those moments to gain good will and create future demand for its F-150 pickups and Ford recognizes it.

BGC Partner’s Pat Troy and IFAC’s Gabriella Kusz are the latest to give to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Pat is a longtime executive with Cantor Fitzgerald and then its offshoot, BGC Partners. He spent four years with Nasdaq after Espeed was sold to Nasdaq, but then returned to BGC Partners. He has some incredible electronic trading stories to tell, as Cantor was a leader in the development of OTC electronic trading of bonds, which allowed the pit traders in the Chicago markets to play the arbitrage between cash and futures. The success of Cantor’s electronic trading efforts after Troy moved to Chicago and established an office there for Cantor led to a reduction in the headcount of phone brokers in New York at the time of the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The success of electronic trading helped save lives. Gabriella is a longtime executive with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and a contributor to the Global Digital Asset & Cryptocurrency Association, and she is a former World Bank and FDIC executive. She has also worked for Grant Thornton, among other firms. Thank you to Pat and Gabriella for this gift and thank you to all who have given and all those who have yet to give. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by donating to our GoFundMe campaign.

Who is going to be the donor to put us over the $30,000, or 10% level of our goal, on the GoFundMe app?

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


After a long freeze, it appears there is some movement in the processing of Illinois’ social equity licenses for cannabis dispensaries, but it’s complicated. The state finally sent out deficiency notices late last week, giving applicants 10 days to reply with a corrected application, according to Jon Loevy, an attorney who has represented many of the applicants. That’s a quick turnaround deadline, but Loevy said Justice Grown, a multi-state cannabis company operator, has teamed up with the Denver-based cannabis consultancy Harvest 360 to provide assistance to the social equity teams. The service will be provided without charge in conjunction with Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford’s office, Loevy said. Loevy is co-owner of Justice Grown. More information here. ~SC


The Spread: Can’t Stop GameStop

A number of people appeared before Congress on Thursday to discuss the GameStop trading phenomenon, including Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood. Tenev, who apparently donned his best John Wick costume for the hearing, defended his company’s innocence while apologizing to customers.

Watch the video »


Hemp In ‘Year of Transition,’ PanXchange CEO Says

Julie Lerner, CEO of PanXchange, recently sat down with JLN’s Thom Thompson for an in-depth discussion of the industrial hemp market. Her view of current supply vs. demand may surprise you.

Listen to the podcast »



Wind power is not to blame for Texas blackout; Outage shows perils of underestimating the impact of extreme weather
The editorial board – FT
It would be a relief if the critics who blamed frozen wind turbines for last week’s crippling Texas power outage were correct. If they had been, it would be easy to understand why people in the second most populous US state had to sleep in their cars and burn belongings to stay warm after icy winter weather sent temperatures plunging to -18C. Unfortunately, early indications suggest the reasons are far more complicated.

*****I had an older conservative gentleman at the dog park on Saturday try to blame Texas’ problems on windmills. I politely explained to him why that was not the case.~JJL


You’re Waiting Too Long to Change Your Business Plans; Treat work more like an experiment, and find people in your life who will challenge your assumptions, a new book says.
Arianne Cohen – Bloomberg
Too often, we stubbornly hitch our futures to bad ideas, University of Pennsylvania organizational psychologist Adam Grant says. In his new book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, he writes that many people fail to reassess their careers and investments quickly enough and don’t make changes until it’s too late. Here’s his cheat sheet on how to make timely pivots—and what to do when you’re not the one who needs to adjust.

*****Managers and bosses just love having their assumptions challenged.~JB


Citi Executive Pulls James Bond Stunts to Woo China’s Rich
Bloomberg News
Citi among few global banks offering credit cards in China; Digital acquisition of clients helps foreign banks narrow gap
A man in a tuxedo sits at a mountaintop bar. His phone buzzes and he springs into action, stepping into ski boots and racing down the slopes. He is Buckley, Darren Buckley, head of consumer banking for Citigroup China, and also the star of the bank’s James Bond-inspired marketing campaign. In a dozen short videos posted on CitibankChina’s official account on Douyin, the Chinese iteration of TikTok, Buckley’s 007-style character rides motorcycles, masters kung fu and pulls fire out of thin air. He’s often in pursuit of a glamorous, dark-haired woman, played by Buckley’s real-life wife, Aphitchaya Boonkhong.

*****Who wouldn’t do this if they could?~JB


Friday’s Top Three
Our top story Friday was The New York Times’ ‘Something Very Wrong Happened Here’ about the House committee hearing on Robinhood and GameStop. Second was JLN’s Thom Thompson’s No, Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus; He Was Demutualized, about Acuiti’s newest report on market data. (Those two stories were actually tied for first place, with the exact same number of clicks.) Third was Yahoo!Finance’s We were ‘dangerously close’ to collapse of ‘entire system,’ says Interactive Brokers founder ahead of GameStop hearing, about Thomas Peterffy.


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Lead Stories

Japan Exchange Appoints Hiromi Yamaji as Head of Tokyo Bourse
Shoko Oda and Ayaka Maki – Bloomberg
Miyahara resigned as president in November over all-day outage; Yamaji currently serves as the president of Osaka Exchange
Osaka Exchange Inc. President Hiromi Yamaji will take the top post at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, filling the gap left by the former head who resigned after the equity market had its worst-ever outage in October. Yamaji, 65, who started his banking career at Nomura Securities Co. in 1977, will take on the role from April 1, according to the Tokyo bourse’s operator Japan Exchange Group Inc. Yamaji joined Japan Exchange in 2013 as a company director and president of the Osaka Exchange.

The Texas Freeze: Why the Power Grid Failed; The state’s electricity system was considered a model. This week’s outages revealed shortcomings in the market structure.
Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold – WSJ
A fundamental flaw in the freewheeling Texas electricity market left millions powerless and freezing in the dark this week during a historic cold snap. The core problem: Power providers can reap rewards by supplying electricity to Texas customers, but they aren’t required to do it and face no penalties for failing to deliver during a lengthy emergency.

Fintech Firm Apex Clearing Agrees to Go Public Via SPAC
Crystal Tse – Bloomberg
Transaction, valued at $4.7 billion, could be announced Monday; Former Cosmopolitan magazine editor Joanna Coles to join board
Apex Clearing Corp., a financial technologies firm that focuses on securities custody and clearing, has agreed to go public through a merger with the blank-check company Northern Star Investment Corp. II, according to people familiar with the matter. The transaction, which could be announced as early as Monday, will be valued at $4.7 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private

JPX announces top-level changes to Tokyo bourse; Moriyuki Iwanaga has been proposed to become director of JPX, while Hiromi Yamaji has been appointed head of its Tokyo bourse, the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Japan Exchange Group (JPX) has named Moriyuki Iwanaga as its new executive officer and appointed Hiromi Yamaji as president and CEO of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). The appointment of Moriyuki Iwanaga as director will be proposed at the annual general shareholders meeting in June this year, and he assumes the role of executive officer on 1 April.

Bond trading finally dragged into the digital age; Shift of fixed-income markets from analogue to electronic speeds up
Robin Wigglesworth – FT
Some trends quietly fizzle out without leaving a mark. Others implode, with everyone wondering what on earth we were thinking — like Tamagochis or fidget spinners. Occasionally, a halting, haphazard trend suddenly hits a point where it starts spreading like wildfire, and its success feels like it was always preordained. Electronic bond trading fits the latter category.

UK banks push for ambitious financial services strategy; Sector calls on ministers to boost exports and improve access to overseas markets
Daniel Thomas – FT
The UK’s top banks have urged ministers to develop an ambitious strategy to boost exports of financial services after the sector was largely left out of the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. A report published on Monday by UK Finance, which represents British banks, argues for a strategy of “regulatory diplomacy” in which UK financial regulators such as the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority work with counterparts in other countries to improve market access.

Ken Griffin blasts ‘insane conspiracy theory’ that he helped tank ‘Reddit Rally’
Thornton McEnery – NY Post
Ken Griffin brushed off accusations that his massive hedge fund Citadel Investments had a hand in spoiling the “Reddit Rally,” calling it an “insane conspiracy theory.” Fresh off his Thursday testimony on Capitol Hill on last month’s surprise surge in shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment, the Wall Street billionaire pushed back Friday on the idea that he was playing both sides of the chaotic short squeeze.

Touching the Third Rail: The Dangers of Electricity Market Design
Streetwise Professor
In the aftermath of the Texas Freeze-ageddon much ink and many pixels have been spilled about its causes. Much – most? – of the blame focuses on Texas’s allegedly laissez faire electricity market design.

Brazil’s Free-Market Flirtations May Be Over
Karl Maier – Bloomberg
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is pivoting to shore up his public support. His decision to replace the head of the state-controlled oil company after a feud over rising fuel prices shows the far-right leader is willing to sacrifice the market-friendly policies sponsored by his star economy minister for a more interventionist tilt. Firing the University of Chicago-educated economist running the company caught even Bolsonaro’s inner political circle by surprise, Simone Iglesias, Martha Beck and Rachel Gamarski report.

Weak Grids Expose Risks for the Electrification of Everything
Rachel Morison – Bloomberg
Blackouts are growing as extreme weather events increase; Global investment in grids will reach $28.7 trillion by 2050
Home heating systems shutting down. Hospitals facing water shortages. Oil refineries going offline. The freezing, snowy weather in Texas exposed how quickly an energy system can be brought down and how widespread the chaos can be. That raises questions about the vulnerability of power grids around the world just as more parts of our everyday lives electrify.

The Lessons of Texas; Millions of Americans struggled without heat and water in brutally cold conditions the past week. It didn’t have to be this way.
Brooke Sample – Bloomberg
Those of us in the northern U.S. who are inured to the vagaries of winter — icy roads, frozen pipes, briefly losing electricity — might have had a chuckle or two early last week at the expense of Texans who were struck by an unusual blast of Arctic air. Any laughter was quickly silenced: The death toll from the deep freeze has continued to rise as millions were left without stable heat or electricity, and the weaknesses of Texas’ power system have been exposed for the threat they pose to Texans and the nation’s grid as a whole. Most of all, the frigid, not-that-unusual weather has hastened our need to confront climate change. One thing we’ve learned: This crisis belongs to all of us.

Gas Traders Pleaded for Cash as Texas Cold Upended Their Market; The winter storm boosted demand, slashed production and sent prices haywire in a way that even veteran traders had never seen before.
Naureen S Malik, Gerson Freitas Jr, and Michael Tobin – Bloomberg
The urgent phone calls came over the holiday weekend: traders of natural gas needed more money, and fast. Temperatures were starting to plummet across the central U.S. Prices for the heating fuel had skyrocketed 300-fold to levels nobody had thought possible. This would later prove to be the precursor of one of the worst energy crises the nation had seen, plunging millions into darkness for days amid a deadly deep freeze.

The medieval German town at the heart of the fight against Covid; BioNTech’s vaccine facility in Marburg will produce 750m doses a year
Joe Miller – FT
Tucked in a valley on the outskirts of a medieval town in central Germany, the entrance to the vaccine plant that has relieved the pressure on European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is marked by a simple, white road sign. The facility, acquired by Germany’s BioNTech in September from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, was brought online this month and will produce 250m Covid-19 vaccine doses in the first half of 2021.

It Isn’t Just Robinhood. GameStop Mania Is Helping Brokers Add Clients.
Avi Salzman – Barron’s
The GameStop surge late last month was profitable for many investors, particularly if they got out of the stock at the right time. Now, more data is coming in to show that the upswing in retail trading that powered those gains was lucrative for brokers too.

Banker Bonuses Always Send a Powerful Message; The ECB is right to rein in Deutsche Bank’s 2020 rewards, but Wall Street and London will try to exploit any sign of curbs on top-level European pay.
Marcus Ashworth – Bloomberg
The message the European Central Bank has sent by objecting to Deutsche Bank AG’s proposed bonus pool is unmistakable in the midst of a pandemic, but the banking regulator needs to be careful about unintended consequences.

Texans Slammed by Thousand-Dollar Power Bills After Storm
Yueqi Yang and Naureen S Malik – Bloomberg
Electricity bills skyrocketed for customers of Griddy in Texas; Governor Abbott working on solutions to address huge charges
After enduring a wretched week of Arctic storms, hunger and cold, several Texans lucky enough to have power were handed another pain point — massive electricity bills.

How Texas’ Drive for Energy Independence Set It Up for Disaster; Texas has refused to join interstate electrical grids and railed against energy regulation. Now it’s having to answer to millions of residents who were left without power in last week’s snowstorm.
Clifford Krauss, Manny Fernandez, Ivan Penn and Rick Rojas – NY Times
Across the plains of West Texas, the pump jacks that resemble giant bobbing hammers define not just the landscape but the state itself: Texas has been built on the oil-and-gas business for the last 120 years, ever since the discovery of oil on Spindletop Hill near Beaumont in 1901.

London holds firm as financial services centre of Europe
Hannah Godfrey – City AM
Many European financial services firms are applying for permission to operate in the UK, signifying London will continue to be a leading player on the global financial stage post-Brexit. Nearly 1,500 EU-based financial services firms have applied for permission to operate in the UK, with around 1,000 of those planning to establish their first UK office, according to a freedom of information request.

Former JP Morgan star is Britain’s cryptocurrency queen after making a £360m personal fortune
Daily Mail City & Finance Reporter
A British woman who created the credit default swap has emerged as one of the world’s richest cryptocurrency and blockchain tycoons. Blythe Masters, formerly head of commodities at JP Morgan, was boss of Digital Asset Holdings, a start-up funded by some of the world’s largest banks, between 2015 and 2018.

How Ken Griffin’s Citadel transformed financial markets
Roya Wolverson – Quartz
Hedge fund boss Ken Griffin is more than a little paranoid. He’s been panned by reporters for the barrage of security checks needed to get to Citadel’s trading floor in his Chicago office, and lampooned for the hyper-stringent nondisclosure agreements he requires of exiting employees. He is loathe to talk to the press, and fiercely protective of his personal life.

The smartest guys in the room?
Serra Balls – Partner and Co-Founder at Eterna Partners
McKinsey & Company is an enormously successful 100-year-old brand which is a trusted adviser to the world’s largest companies, several of which are run by McKinsey alumni. But reputation, as someone once said, eats brand for lunch. For the last three or so years, McKinsey seems to have been putting out reputational fires from Saudi Arabia to South Africa. As their latest mishap suggests, there’s a new regulatory and legal scrutiny on advisors which could land them on the hook for the advice they offer.

Analysis: Robinhood CEO’s U.S. lawmaker grilling spotlights broker’s hidden risks
Michelle Price and Anna Irrera – Reuters
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev told a congressional hearing that his decision to curb buying in some stocks such as GameStop Corp during a period of extreme volatility was unavoidable, but industry experts said it only underscored the risks the popular trading app was willing to accept to expand its market share.

Mutual Funds Are Not Long for This ETF World; The stalwarts of the investing industry are struggling relative to upstart exchange-traded funds in every direction.
Brian Chappatta – Bloomberg
In my first column this year, I picked on fixed-income exchanged-traded funds, arguing that without the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented intervention in corporate credit markets, it’s unclear whether these relatively new vehicles for investing in bonds would have survived the liquidity crunch of March 2020.


Pfizer Shot Elicits Fewer Antibodies to South Africa Strain
Naomi Kresge and Robert Langreth – Bloomberg
Companies expect vaccine will still work against the variant; Study results published in New England Journal of Medicine
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine stimulated roughly two-thirds lower levels of neutralizing antibodies against the South African variant of the coronavirus in a lab study. The Pfizer results are part of tests of its vaccine against a lab-created virus that had all the mutations found in the South African variant, which is thought to spread faster than earlier versions. The study released Wednesday showed reduced neutralization of the South Africa-like virus by blood from people who had been immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The companies expect their vaccine will still work against the variant.

Kuwait Puts Citizens Before Expats as Vaccine Push Stirs Anger
Fiona MacDonald – Bloomberg
Kuwait’s vaccinating its citizens against Covid-19 at six times the rate of expatriates who make up two-thirds of the population, spurring claims of racism and concerns the discrepancy will delay a return to normal life.

U.S. Nears ‘Stunning’ Toll of 500,000 Coronavirus Deaths
Ros Krasny – Bloomberg
‘This is a devastating pandemic, and it’s historic’ says Fauci; Says recent drop in cases doesn’t mean herd immunity at hand
The top U.S. infectious diseases specialist says the U.S. isn’t out of the “stunning” coronavirus pandemic, even as cases fall sharply and vaccinations expand, although “normality” may be at hand by year-end.

The Opioid Crisis, Fueled by Covid, Is Worse Than Ever; Overdose deaths in the U.S. have surged, confronting Biden with a second public-health crisis.
Valerie Bauman, Ian Lopez – Bloomberg
The last thing Dave A. Mullen remembers is the sound of his speech slurring. Then he collapsed. The 57-year-old Navy veteran lost his kitchen job at Hooters in March because of the pandemic. Hungry and desperate, he eventually resorted to asking strangers for spare change on the streets of Cocoa, Fla.

Covid vaccines cut UK deaths but lockdown still key in reducing infections; Data suggest Boris Johnson will need to strike a balance when announcing a road map out of restrictions
Chris Giles and John Burn-Murdoch – FT
The effects of the UK’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines have begun to show up in the official figures on infections, hospitalisations and deaths: improvements in the data for the vaccinated over-80s population are outpacing those for younger people.

U.K.’s Vaccine Milestone Ignites World-Beating Market Rally
Bloomberg News
Pound hits 2018 high as country awaits news of lockdown easing; Still-cheap valuations seen adding momentum to recovery trade
A world-leading vaccine campaign is bringing U.K. markets back to life. With around 30% of the adult population receiving at least one shot, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a roadmap for lifting lockdown on Monday — adding fuel to the cross-asset rally.

Becton Dickinson Is Developing Rapid Covid Test for Use at Home
Emma Court – Bloomberg
Screening process is similar to an at-home pregnancy test; Accompanying smartphone app will outline steps, report results
Becton Dickinson & Co. said it is developing a rapid at-home Covid-19 test, a move that brings a new entrant with powerful manufacturing capabilities to a market with many smaller players.

Pfizer-BioNTech Shot Stops Covid Spread, Israeli Study Shows
Naomi Kresge and Jason Gale – Bloomberg
Vaccine reported to be 89% effective at preventing infections; Stopping virus transmission is key to ending Covid-19 pandemic
The Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine appeared to stop the vast majority of recipients in Israel becoming infected, providing the first real-world indication that the immunization will curb transmission of the coronavirus.

Thailand Extends State of Emergency Ahead of Vaccine Rollout
Randy Thanthong-Knight and Suttinee Yuvejwattana – Bloomberg
Most businesses can resume operations as new Covid cases ease; First lot of vaccines will arrive in Thailand on Wednesday
Thailand extended a state of emergency until the end of March and ordered easing of some Covid-19 containment measures as authorities prepared to start a vaccination drive as early as next week.

The Big Question: Can the World Learn to Live With Covid? A Q&A with Charles Kenny, author of “The Plague Cycle,” on what history teaches about how societies overcome infectious diseases.
Romesh Ratnesar – Bloomberg
Romesh Ratnesar: It’s been nearly a year since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. At least 2.4 million people have died from the disease worldwide and an estimated 120 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty. You’re the author of a new book, “The Plague Cycle: The Unending War Between Humanity and Infectious Disease.” Judged by the length of this pandemic and its severity, how does Covid compare with other plagues over the course of human history?

Britain’s Next Answer to Covid Is to Prepare to Live With It; After vaccinating more people than anywhere else in Europe, the country hit hardest by Covid-19 is planning to make mass testing a part of daily life.
By Emily Ashton, Alex Morales, and Deirdre Hipwell- Bloomberg
Britain’s success at vaccinating faster than anywhere else in Europe is putting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to figure out what comes next.

The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means; A Nature survey shows many scientists expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to become endemic, but it could pose less danger over time.
Nicky Phillips – Nature
For much of the past year, life in Western Australia has been coronavirus-free. Friends gathered in pubs; people kissed and hugged their relatives; children went to school without temperature checks or wearing masks. The state maintained this enviable position only by placing heavy restrictions on travel and imposing lockdowns — some regions entered a snap lockdown at the beginning of the year after a security guard at a hotel where visitors were quarantined tested positive for the virus. But the experience in Western Australia has provided a glimpse into a life free from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. If other regions, aided by vaccines, aimed for a similar zero-COVID strategy, then could the world hope to rid itself of the virus?

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Why Intercontinental Exchange Thinks Energy and Mortgages Will Drive Earnings; This financial industry stalwart has much more going for it than its ownership of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brent Nyitray, CFA
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

CME Group’s EBS automatic FX matching service sees sky-high volumes in 2020; The CME EBS eFix matching service recorded $5.775 billion in volumes in March 2020, up 21% on volumes from the previous year.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
The eFix Matching Service, a central electronic market utility to reduce benchmark fixing risk operated by CME Group’s EBS, saw sky-high volumes in 2020 recording $5.775 billion in March. The record volumes seen by the service in March marked a 21% increase on the volumes recorded from the same period in 2019.

Skandia GreenPower lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The green electricity supplier Skandia GreenPower has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: SKAND).

Lakestar SPAC I SE has been listed on the regulated market in Frankfurt since today
Deutsche Börse Group
Lakestar SPAC I SE (ISIN: LU2290523658 ) has been listed on the regulated market ( General Standard ) of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since today . The company is a SPAC – a Special Purpose Acquisition Company. According to the issuer, the aim of the issuer is to take over a European late-stage growth company from the technology sector within a given period of time.

Initial Listing of the Options on Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Price Index Futures – Quarterly PM (European-Style) Contract
CME Group
Effective Sunday, March 7, 2021 for trade date Monday, March 8, 2021, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (“CME” or “Exchange”) will list the Options on Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Price Index Futures – Quarterly PM (European-Style) contract (the “Contract”) for trading on the CME Globex electronic trading platform (“CME Globex”) and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort as more specifically described in the table below.

Review of Collateral Haircuts
CME Group
In conjunction with the regular review of market volatility and to ensure adequate collateral coverage, please review the advisory for current acceptable collateral and haircuts for CME Clearing.

SGX welcomes MC Payment Limited to Catalist
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today welcomed MC Payment Limited to its Catalist under the stock code “TVV”. Headquartered in Singapore, MC Payment Limited is a FinTech group that provides merchant payment services and digital commerce enabling services, with a focus on servicing customers who are merchants in the retail, transportation and food and beverage industries. MC Payment Limited has a business presence in various parts of Southeast Asia namely Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Candidates for Directors and Executive Officers, etc.
We today announce that Japan Exchange Group, Inc. (JPX) decided on candidates for directors and executive
officers, etc. effective from April 1, 2021 as follows.


Forget bitcoin — fintech is the ‘real Covid-19 story,’ JPMorgan says
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Bitcoin is an “economic side show” and fintech innovation is the story that will dominate financial services, according to JPMorgan.
Analysts at the bank said that, despite bitcoin’s monster rally, the cryptocurrency is still beset by a number of issues that may prevent it from becoming a mainstream asset.

Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney joins Stripe board; Online payments provider is one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable private companies
Kate Beioley – FT
Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney has joined the board of Stripe, an online payments provider and one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable private companies. Carney, who stepped down from the Bank of England last year, is currently head of impact investing at Brookfield Asset Management — his first big business role since his term as governor ended in March.

Hong Kong boosts regional fintech development amid Covid-19 pandemic
South China Morning Post
The continuing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for cities around the world to implement smart solutions to meet evolving customer needs and encourage economic growth.
In Hong Kong, financial technology, or fintech, has taken on an increasingly important role as it makes financial services and products more accessible to the public.

Ant Faces Another Setback in Curbs on Joint Lending With Banks
Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. and China’s other fintech giants were dealt another blow by new rules that target a lucrative growth area — joint lending with banks.
Banks must cap overall co-lending with internet platforms or other partners at no more than 50% of outstanding loans, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said on Saturday. Co-lending with one platform shouldn’t exceed 25% of the bank’s tier-1 net capital.

Is Africa the next big hub for fintech? Reports suggest Africa is one of the most exciting emerging fintech markets since China
Joanna England – Fintech Magazine
Economies around the world are suffering as a result of the pandemic, and Africa is no exception to that rule. Predictions by the World Economic Forum suggest that African economies will contract by 4.4% in 2021 as a direct result of COVID-19.


Raging Success of First Bitcoin Fund Shows Who Leads ETF Market
Claire Ballentine and Sam Potter – Bloomberg
Canada has first crypto ETF after pioneering bond, pot funds; U.S. market dominates for size but crypto fund awaits approval
The roaring success of the first-ever Bitcoin exchange-traded fund will have been no surprise to cryptocurrency fans. But if they don’t know about ETFs, the venue might have been startling.

How Elon Musk Moves The Price Of Bitcoin With His Twitter Activity
Ron Shevlin – Forbes
That’s an understatement, of course. His tweets move markets. When he changed his Twitter bio in late January to #bitcoin, the price of Bitcoin rose nearly 20% in a matter of hours.

Bitcoin Rally Faces Potential Test From Falling Market Liquidity
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
The rally in Bitcoin that took the digital token to a fresh peak over the weekend could face a test from declining liquidity in the market for the largest cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin ETF Sellers in Sweden Urged to Avoid Average Consumers
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
Sweden’s financial watchdog has told investment firms and banks to think twice before selling exchange-traded crypto-tracking products to average consumers. The Financial Supervisory Authority in Stockholm said it will take action against companies that sell the risky, complex instruments to retail investors who don’t understand what they’re getting into, according to a statement on Monday.

Bitcoin Stocks Are Possibly the Dumbest Bitcoin Play; Most companies that supply to or invest in the Bitcoin boom underperform the cryptocurrency itself
Tim Culpan – Bloomberg
If you believe in Bitcoin, you buy Bitcoin. And if you’re wary, you stay away. That’s about the simplest way of calculating your investment options when it comes to the world’s most infamous speculative bet. Of course, you can join the hoards of Telegram and Reddit groups claiming to understand and predict the twists and turns in the cryptocurrency’s price, making you just that much smarter than everyone else. Well done.

Coinbase stock traded at implied valuation of $100 billion this week, Nasdaq Private Market data shows
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Deep-pocketed investors appear hungry for Coinbase equity ahead of the crypto exchange’s long-awaited direct listing. As per data compiled by The Block, the average clearing price for shares on Nasdaq Private Market continues to tick higher since the first secondary sale four weeks ago. The most recent cleared price was $373 a share, which would imply a valuation of about $100 billion. That’s an increase from the first average cleared price of $200 in January, according to data shared with The Block.

UK Broker IG Group Stops Retail Crypto Derivatives Trades After FCA Ban; The firm said it has now reached its internal product limit for exposure to cryptocurrencies after an FCA ban on crypto derivatives in January.
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
London-listed forex and derivatives trading platform IG Group (IGG) is asking retail clients to close their open spread bet and contract for difference (CFD) positions on cryptocurrencies. According to a post from an administrator on IG’s forum Sunday, the firm has now reached its internal product limit for exposure to cryptocurrencies, and as a result, will be removing them from its offerings. Until then, IG will be increasing its margin requirements, the admin said. The relevant positions on cryptocurrencies must be closed by 15:00 local time on March 24. After that, IG will close any positions still open based on its prevailing bid/ask prices, they said.

Bitcoin falls below $54,000 as derivatives positions worth over $1 billion are liquidated
Yogita Khatri – The Block
The price of bitcoin has fallen below $54,000 from nearly $58,500 on Sunday as derivatives positions worth more than $1 billion get force liquidated by crypto exchanges. About $1.50 billion worth of open interest was liquidated by crypto exchanges in the last 24 hours, according to tracker Bybt.com. In other words, crypto exchanges liquidated traders’ overleveraged positions.

Bitcoin is increasingly ‘cultist’ and supported by ‘magical thinking’, says Barclays wealth investment chief
Harry Robertson – Business Insider
Bitcoin sounds “increasingly cultist” and could prove to be a “flightless bird” if interest rates rise, the chief investment officer of a major wealth manager has said. Will Hobbs, the CIO Barclays Wealth & Investments, said his firm is not interested in the world’s biggest cryptocurrency at the moment, despite its recent record-breaking rally. He added that he thought the currency was backed by a “lot of magical thinking.” Bitcoin soared above $50,000 for the first time last week and topped $53,000 on Friday. Increasing interest from big firms from Tesla to BlackRock has added fuel and legitimacy to the rally.

Bitcoin’s market cap crosses $1 trillion milestone for the first time
Wolfie Zhao – The Block
Bitcoin’s market capitalization has crossed the $1 trillion milestone for the first time after over a decade’s development as it gains increasing mainstream attention. Bitcoin’s price set new record highs above $53,700 around 15:45 UTC on Friday following a 4.1% 24-hour increase. It comes just days after it surpassed $50,000 for the first time. Data from CoinGecko shows the circulating supply of bitcoin is around 18.63 million units as of writing, which, at the current price level, are worth $1 trillion.

ETH price tops $2,000 for the first time to hit new all-time high
Wolfie Zhao – The Block
The price of Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency on the Ethereum network, has set new record highs. The second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is now changing hands at $2,003 on Coinbase Pro as of writing, after topping the $2,000 level for the first time around 3:45 UTC on Saturday. The price rally of ETH over the past few weeks have pushed Ethereum’s market capitalization to above $225 billion, data from CoinGecko shows. That is up 30% since February 2 when ETH set an all-time-high above $1,500 at the time.

Purpose Bitcoin ETF surpasses $400 million in assets under management
Michael McSweeney – The Block
Purpose Investments’ bitcoin exchange-traded fund debuted on Thursday and has since accrued more than $400 million in assets under management (AUM). The figure, according to Purpose’s website, highlights the rapid pace at which the ETF has taken hold since it began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The AUM figure was first reported by Bloomberg’s Eric Balchunas. As previously reported, the Purpose Bitcoin ETF won final approval from regulators in Ontario earlier this month, a development that led to last week’s official listing. The approval appears to be the first in what may be a series of bitcoin-tied ETF approvals — on Thursday, the Evolve Bitcoin ETF was given the regulatory nod and began trading Friday. Evolve’s website shows that ETF has $1.2 million in assets under management.

How bitcoin is like a teenager
Julia Horowitz – CNN Business
With the value of bitcoin in the market topping $1 trillion, longtime backers may be wiping tears from their eyes. The cryptocurrency is growing up.What’s happening: Bitcoin’s dizzying ascent has reached new heights. The price of one bitcoin passed $20,000 for the first time in December. Last week, it breached $50,000.

Novogratz Positions Firm at Center of Hoped-for Crypto ETF Boom
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Galaxy among the trading desks providing Bitcoin to first ETF; Firm will act as sub-advisor on proposed CI Galaxy Bitcoin ETF
Mike Novogratz is seeking to position his Galaxy Digital Holdings at the center of what could turn out to be a boom in cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds.

Bitcoin’s Value Is All in the Eye of the ‘Bithodler’ The digital currency has skyrocketed, and yet determining its fair value is a tricky business
Paul Vigna – WSJ
The total market value of bitcoin crossed $1 trillion on Friday as the price surged above $55,000. Passionate backers are fond of saying the digital currency is on a trajectory “to the moon.” For the less faithful, determining bitcoin’s value is much more complicated.

JPMorgan Joins Choir Warning of Tether’s Sway on Crypto Markets
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Skeptics question stablecoin’s role in the surge of Bitcoin; Bitfinex, Tether are embroiled in a dispute with New York
Questions about the influence of Tether continue to swirl in cryptocurrency markets, even as the companies behind it defend the so-called stablecoin’s soundness.

Cryptopia Exchange, Currently in Liquidation, Gets Hacked Again: Report; The hacked wallet belonged to a creditor, U.S. firm Stakenet, which had not lost funds in the 2019 hack, as reported by Stuff.
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
The Cryptopia exchange has reportedly been hacked again, even as it is being liquidated following a previous breach that stole NZ$24 million (US$15.5 million).

A Fed president predicts the Bitcoin boom won’t last.
Jeanna Smialek and Neil Irwin – NY Times
The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston says he expects a winning streak for the digital currency Bitcoin to eventually come to an end.


Wall Street Transaction Tax Gets Fresh Look After GameStop Frenzy
Joe Light – Bloomberg
Industry groups moving against any financial transaction levy; Maxine Waters said after hearing she is considering such a tax
Some Democrats in Washington are seizing on the recent frenetic trading in GameStop Corp. to push the financial transaction tax long favored by progressives, setting up a battle with Wall Street firms that bitterly oppose the idea. After a House hearing Thursday to examine the GameStop issue, Representative Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, said she is considering such a tax, which came up several times during testimony.

Why it’s time to lift the trading ban on Venezuela’s debt; A continuing regulatory ban on the secondary market trading of Venezuelan bonds risks balkanising global capital markets.
Dr. Thomas Laryea – FT
The Biden administration has an opportunity to reshape relations with Venezuela, and to lay the groundwork for the restructuring of Venezuela’s $150bn plus in public external debt. For over 15 years, the United States has imposed numerous economic sanctions on the Latin American nation and others have followed suit. The use of sanctions reached its heights under the Trump administration, where they were deployed for a wide array of policy objectives, ostensibly including regime change. Few policymakers can claim that these sanctions have achieved their stated objectives.

Paycheck Protection Program to Offer Exclusive Covid-19 Loan-Application Window for Smallest Firms; Changes for relief funding seek to improve access for tiny companies and minority-owned businesses
Amara Omeokwe – WSJ
The federal government’s signature coronavirus-relief program for small businesses will accept applications exclusively from companies with fewer than 20 employees for 14 days starting Wednesday, President Biden will announce Monday, according to administration officials.

China Deploys Covid-19 Vaccine to Build Influence, With U.S. on Sidelines; Beijing is assembling a chain of airplanes, warehouses and trucks to deliver refrigerated doses to the developing world
Joe Parkinson, Chao Deng and Liza Lin – WSJ
A cavernous new airport cargo terminal in Ethiopia’s capital is the center of a vast supply network China is assembling to speed delivery of its coronavirus vaccines—and deepen its influence across the developing world.

Ice, Fire, Floods: Extreme Weather and Climate Change
Brian K Sullivan and Eric Roston – Bloomberg
Not that many years ago, a senator used a snowball gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to stand as conclusive proof that global warming didn’t exist. That’s not an argument heard much any more, even as a severe cold snap has created emergency conditions in Texas and other southern states. The connections between warming trends and extreme weather aren’t completely understood, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there’s a connection between climate change and rising damage from hurricanes, typhoons, rainstorms, wildfires and heat and cold.

The Death of Fiscal Austerity Has Major Implications for Markets
Michael P. Regan and Sarah Ponczek – Bloomberg
Prepare for ‘unadulterated high-powered spending,’ Papic Says; Clocktower strategist: ‘We’re in a different paradigm’
The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic last year triggered an about-face among governments around the world regarding fiscal policies. Rather than tightening belts to reduce deficits and debt, nations are engaging in aggressive spending to help prop up economies devastated by efforts to contain the virus.

Chip Crisis Flummoxes Congress in a World Where U.S. Output Lags
Laura Davison and Jarrell Dillard – Bloomberg
Infrastructure bill could include chip manufacturing subsidies; U.S. lags peers on incentives for research and development
Lawmakers hoping to revitalize U.S. semiconductor manufacturing in response to a global chip shortage will find it tough to do in the near term, even if Congress throws billions in cash subsidies at the problem.

No-commission trading means ‘you’re the product,’ lawmaker says in Robinhood-GameStop hearing
Chris Matthews – MarketWatch
The major players in the GameStock saga faced tough questions from members of the House Financial Services Committee Thursday, as the rapid rise and collapse of the video-game retailer stock has shined a spotlight on some of the more obscure, and some would argue troubling, aspects of market structure in the U.S.


Operator Of Highrise Advantage, LLC Indicted For Over $57 Million In Investment Fraud
US Department of Justice
United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Avinash Singh (38, Orlando) with 10 counts of wire fraud and 6 counts of money laundering. Singh faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each money laundering count. According to court documents, Singh operated a local company by the name of Highrise Advantage, LLC. From February 2013 to September 2020, Singh received more than $57 million, from over 1,100 victims, that was to be invested in retail foreign currency contracts (“forex”) through Highrise

UK competition watchdog warns Big Tech of coming antitrust probes; CMA move signals tougher approach over next year to reining in sector after Brexit
Kate Beioley and Javier Espinoza – FT
The UK competition watchdog has told Big Tech companies it is planning a series of antitrust investigations into their practices over the next year, signalling a tougher approach to reining in the sector in the wake of Brexit.

SEC Awards Almost $3 Million Total in Separate Whistleblower Awards
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced two separate whistleblower awards for total payments of almost $3 million. In the first order, the SEC awarded a whistleblower over $2.2 million for providing important, high-quality information that aided an investigation. The whistleblower’s tip helped the SEC bring an enforcement action that resulted in the return of millions of dollars to harmed clients.

The Market Risk Advisory Committee Announces Agenda for February 23 Public Meeting
The Market Risk Advisory Committee (MRAC) today released the agenda for its upcoming public meeting that will be held on February 23, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EST. The meeting will be conducted via teleconference in accordance with the agency’s implementation of social distancing due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Acting Chairman Rostin Behnam is the sponsor of the MRAC.

Investing and Trading

The World Will Pay More for Meat as Food Inflation Deepens
Michael Hirtzer, Megan Durisin, and Tatiana Freitas – Bloomberg
High feed costs rippling through supply chain to meat counters; Food costs part of the wider debate on how to handle inflation
There are signs that the food inflation that’s gripped the world over the past year, raising prices of everything from shredded cheese to peanut butter, is about to get worse. The Covid-19 pandemic upended food supply chains, paralyzing shipping, sickening workers that keep the world fed and ultimately raising consumer grocery costs around the globe last year. Now farmers — especially ones raising cattle, hogs and poultry — are getting squeezed by the highest corn and soybean prices in seven years. It’s lifted the costs of feeding their herds by 30% or more. To stay profitable, producers including Tyson Foods Inc. are increasing prices, which will ripple through supply chains and show up in the coming months as higher price tags for beef, pork and chicken around the world.

How ‘Active ETFs’ Are Shaking Up Passive Investing
Claire Ballentine – Bloomberg
Exchange-traded funds are simple, cheap and hugely popular. Their goal is to invest in or replicate the performance of a basket of assets or index. Rather than pay a money manager hefty fees to actively pick and choose what the fund holds, ETFs have been “passive” investments, automatically buying and selling based on the benchmark being tracked. Now a hybrid approach known as active ETFs that seek to keep the advantages of the format while outperforming benchmarks is gaining adherents, thanks in no small part to the success of Cathie Wood and Ark Investment Management. It remains to be seen if her peers can replicate her stunning returns or will simply repeat the fee-laden underperformance that has long dogged active management. Questions have been raised in particular about a breed of active ETF that lets managers keep their strategies under wraps.

GameStop Craze Puts Holders of Retail ETF on Wild Ride; State Street’s SPDR S&P Retail ETF shares have surged 23% this year
Michael Wursthorn – WSJ
GameStop mania has spilled over into a popular exchange-traded fund, as the WallStreetBets craze reaches beyond shares favored on social media. The fund, State Street’s SPDR S&P Retail ETF, was created in 2006 to give investors broad exposure to mall-store firms. Its shares have surged 23% this year, far outstripping a 4% gain in the S&P 500, despite the uncertain outlook for retail. Behind those gains are the traders who congregate on social-media platforms such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum and whose enthusiasm has turned this mundane investment into a roller coaster.

Strategists Pick Commodities as a Favorite Way to Play Reflation
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
JPMorgan’s Normand likes commodity index, oil, energy stocks; Morgan Stanley’s Sheets cautions on havens such as gold, yen
As the reflation theme dominates markets, investment strategists are picking commodities as some of their favorite trades. Even though it seems premature to worry about inflation, investors who are looking for hedges against a hot economy should consider scooping up commodity indexes, oil and energy equities, according to John Normand, head of cross-asset fundamental strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Hey, GameStop Traders, Buying to Push the Price Doesn’t Work; Better to buy early and let others push the price for you, says Lasse Pedersen.
Peter Coy – Bloomberg
The investment newbies who lost money speculating on GameStop Corp. shares made a classic mistake: They tried to push up the share price through their own purchases. That did not work and never has, says Lasse Pedersen, a finance professor at Copenhagen Business School and a principal at AQR Capital Management, the big Greenwich, Conn.-based investment manager. He spoke in his academic capacity on Feb. 19 in a webinar hosted by Princeton University economist Markus Brunnermeier.

The boardroom’s futile pursuit of purpose; For all the claims made by corporations, sceptics still believe shareholders — not stakeholders — will win out
Stefan Stern – FT
“First catch your hare” runs the advice to chefs planning an ambitious dish. Something similar could be said to business leaders aiming to become “purpose-driven”: first find your purpose. A purpose or, better, Purpose, is rapidly becoming an object of desire in boardrooms. Ever since the US Business Roundtable (BRT) published its revised statement on the purpose of a corporation in August 2019 the discussion around the topic has taken on a new urgency.

Volatility Could Be GameStop Crowd’s Next Losing Bet; A rush of cash into a leveraged volatility note might only pay off if disaster strikes the rest of the stock market
ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF
Spencer Jakab – WSJ
GameStop mania may be over, but the ripples continue weeks later as newly minted retail traders flirt with various objects of affection. There were silver, marijuana stocks and dogecoin. Some observers are now pointing to an exchange-traded product that tracks volatility as a likely beneficiary of crowd behavior.

On YouTube, GameStop Hearing Just Another Pumping Opportunity; Viewing the congressional hearing on YouTube provided another opportunity to receive questionable investment advice
Charley Grant – WSJ
It turns out a congressional hearing aimed partly at investigating stock-pumping on the internet is a great opportunity for, well, pumping stocks on the internet.

Forget Bitcoin or Tesla. Muni Bonds Are the King of Costly; State and local debt has become arguably the most expensive asset class anywhere.
Brian Chappatta – Bloomberg
Believe it or not, the $3.9 trillion municipal-bond market and Bitcoin have much in common. A flood of money pouring in? Check: Muni bond funds added about $2 billion in the week ended Feb. 17, according to Refinitiv Lipper US Fund Flows data, building upon a $2.6 billion inflow in the prior period that was the fourth-largest on record. Scarce supply? You bet: Some analysts estimate that states and cities in 2021 will bring to market the smallest amount of tax-exempt bonds in 21 years. Fiscal stimulus supporting its case? Indeed: The prospect of $350 billion in aid to state and local governments should help stave off any widespread credit stress.

Ending Short Sales Is A Mistake: Former E*Trade CEO (Podcast)
Former E*Trade CEO Karl Roessner, CEO of Lefteris Acquisition, reacts to the GameStop hearing and what changes may come. Logan Mohtashami, housing data analyst and Lead Analyst for HousingWire, on why the housing market is too hot. RJ Gallo, Senior Portfolio Manager: Fixed Income and Head of the Municipal Bond Group at Federated Hermes, on bond markets and the jump in yields. Timothy O’Brien, Senior Columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, on his column: “Texas Shows What Comes From Ignoring Climate Change.” Hosted by Paul Sweeney and Matt Miller.

TIPS ETFs Are Red Hot as Traders Prep for Inflation
Reflation expectations are rising fast, and so is the flow of cash into exchange-traded funds that track inflation-protected bonds. January saw almost $3.5 billion added to ETFs buying bonds that promise to protect against rising prices, the strongest monthly inflow on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There were similar historic flows into aggregate bond ETFs ($12.8 billion) and municipal bond funds ($2.8 billion). As they looked further afield for yields, traders also plowed the most money since 2016 into ETFs that invest in bank loans.

A 2020 Winner in Asia Stock Market Is Now the Biggest Loser
Moxy Ying and Youkyung Lee – Bloomberg
Health care is the region’s worst-performing sector this year; Covid-19 vaccine-related stocks in Korea among biggest losers
While technology stocks continue to front Asia’s equity rally, one hot sector from 2020 has fallen to the bottom of the leaderboard: health care.

Why Your Wild Trading Ideas Feel So Right; For investors, that ‘gut feeling’ can be more powerful than they realize. Here’s how to listen to your gut without being ruled by it
Jason Zweig – WSJ
If only financial markets came with traffic signals: indisputable indicators of when it is safe to keep going, when you need to slow down, when you must stop. Imagine how much easier investing would be if you could rely on such green, yellow or red lights.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Weak Grids Expose Risks for the Electrification of Everything
Rachel Morison – Bloomberg
Blackouts are growing as extreme weather events increase; Global investment in grids will reach $28.7 trillion by 2050
Home heating systems shutting down. Hospitals facing water shortages. Oil refineries going offline. The freezing, snowy weather in Texas exposed how quickly an energy system can be brought down and how widespread the chaos can be. That raises questions about the vulnerability of power grids around the world just as more parts of our everyday lives electrify. Grid operators model the reliability of their systems to handle harsh weather, and climate change is triggering more of those events at both ends of the thermometer. Electrifying sectors such as transportation and heating is considered vital for reducing the emissions contributing to global warming, yet the grids may not be able to handle the load.

ESG Magnates Pour Money Into Asia as Rest of Developing World Lags
Selcuk Gokoluk and Livia Yap – Bloomberg
Asia corners 83 cents for each dollar flowing into stocks; Tech giants in China and peers add to region’s ESG appeal
The emergence of Asia, led by China, as the economic power train of the post-Covid world has just entered another dimension: ESG dominance.

‘Green bubble’ warnings grow as money pours into renewable stocks; Investors have piled in to clean-energy shares, driving up valuations
Billy Nauman – FT
As the enthusiasm for climate-friendly investing hits fever pitch, analysts warn that investors are pumping cash into anything that looks “green” — sending valuations of eco-friendly companies into the stratosphere and fanning fears of a bubble.

Restarting Texas’s Frozen Energy Heartland Will Be a Climate Mess; Turning petrochemical plants off and on again requires flaring and other large sources of pollution
Eric Roston, Sergio Chapa, and Barbara J Powell – Bloomberg
Like a cold-blooded animal—a lizard or a snake—the petrochemical hub that is the state of Texas went dormant during the deep freeze. Eventually, it’ll wake up again, and when it does the damage will be worse than if it never went to sleep.

Norway’s $1.3 Trillion Fund May Be Facing a Major ESG Handicap
Lars Erik Taraldsen – Bloomberg
Norway’s $1.3 trillion wealth fund, the world’s biggest, is handicapped in chasing its environmental, social and governance investment goals by the political process, according to Global SWF.

Trinity College Cambridge to dump fossil fuel companies this year; Oxbridge’s wealthiest institution has set a net zero target, as divestments by UK university endowments gather pace
Chris Flood – FT
Trinity College Cambridge, the wealthiest Oxbridge institution, has pledged to sell all of the publicly traded fossil fuel companies owned by its £1.5bn endowment before the end of December following a four-year campaign by students concerned about climate change.

ESG investment favours tax-avoiding tech companies; ‘Dark secret’ of the sustainable strategy is its unintentional support of intangible assets over humans, analyst argues
Steve Johnson – FT
The huge rise in environmental, social and governance-based investing is funnelling money into companies that pay less tax and provide fewer jobs than many counterparts with lower ESG ratings, analysis shows. Assets under management in ESG ETFs jumped three-fold from just under $59bn at the end of 2019 to $174bn at the close of 2020, according to data from TrackInsight, an ETF data provider.

UK companies face greater scrutiny on climate risks at upcoming AGMs; Investment Association warns it will flag inadequate reporting on global warming to asset managers
Attracta Mooney – FT
British companies that fail to thoroughly report the risks they face from global warming will come under intense scrutiny during the upcoming annual meeting season after an influential investor lobby group said it would issue “amber warnings” for climate laggards.


Credit Suisse boss sees Spac boom raging on amid $100bn blank-cheque frenzy; Thomas Gottstein’s comments diverge from those of Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon, who said the Spac craze was not sustainable
Paul Clarke – Financial News
Credit Suisse chief executive, Thomas Gottstein, says the boom in so-called blank-cheque companies that have raised over $100bn in the past year will continue as the deal frenzy spreads beyond the US.

HSBC intensifies pivot to Asia with job moves and US exit; Three top executives expected to swap London for Hong Kong as bank jettisons American retail business
Tabby Kinder, Stephen Morris and Laura Noonan – FT
HSBC is accelerating its “pivot to Asia”, moving top executives from London to Hong Kong, scrapping its US retail banking operation and planning further expansion in Singapore.

HSBC’s Top Executives Following the Money Prepare Asia Moves
Harry Wilson and Ambereen Choudhury – Bloomberg
Full-year results will see bank unveil its latest strategy; Lender is expected to speed up growth of Asian operations
HSBC Holdings Plc is considering the return of some global leaders to the bank’s original hometown, reinforcing Asia’s role as its center of gravity.

HSBC reshuffles top executives ahead of strategic revamp; Shake-up comes as lender set to announce acceleration of ‘pivot to Asia’ and further retreat from Europe and US
Stephen Morris – FT
HSBC has reshuffled some of its top regional and divisional executives ahead of a strategic update on Tuesday, in which it will redouble its focus on Asia and further retreat from Europe and the US.

Billion-Dollar Paydays in a Pandemic; The top 25 hedge fund managers earned $32 billion last year, according to Institutional Investor’s latest rankings.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni – NY Times
These managers made bank
Today, Institutional Investor unveiled the 20th edition of its Rich List, one of the most watched rankings of hedge fund managers’ performance. Every year, financial tycoons pore over the magazine’s estimates of whose fortunes are up the most.

Hedge Fund Bridgewater Reshuffles Leadership Ranks After Bruising Year; Fund had rounds of layoffs in 2020 partly due to investment losses
Juliet Chung – WSJ
Bridgewater Associates is shuffling its management ranks after one of the most challenging years in the hedge-fund giant’s history. One of Bridgewater’s top executives, Chief Operating Officer Brian Kreiter, is leaving. Nir Bar Dea, previously the co-head of Bridgewater’s “investment engine,” was promoted to deputy chief executive under Chief Executive David McCormick. Bridgewater is also creating an investment committee “to broaden the decision making” beyond Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio and co-chief investment officers Bob Prince and Greg Jensen.


Kuwait Is Said to Plan Drawdown From Sovereign Wealth Fund
Fiona MacDonald – Bloomberg
Kuwait’s government has submitted a draft law to parliament requesting permission to withdraw as much as 5 billion dinars ($16.5 billion) a year from the country’s sovereign wealth fund, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Rio Tinto’s former chief received pay rise despite cave blasts scandal; Jean-Sébastien Jacques’ total remuneration at mining group rose 20% to £7.2m last year
Jamie Smyth and Neil Hume – FT
Rio Tinto’s former chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques received a pay rise last year despite the destruction of two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelters that caused an international outcry and forced him to stand down.

Why once successful countries like the UK get left behind; As a nation loses its ability to innovate, it starts to stagnate
Martin Wolf – FT
Since the global financial crisis, UK productivity has been virtually stagnant. In a stagnant economy, economic policy becomes zero-sum: the situation of some can only be improved by worsening that of others. This is a recipe for conflict. It is essential to generate sustainable economic growth, instead.

How Investigative Journalism Flourished in Hostile Russia; A new wave of news outlets has used conventional, and unconventional, methods to pierce the veil of Putin’s power.
Ben Smith – NY Times
The Russian language has introduced a few words that in recent years have been widely used and misused in English: disinformation, kompromat, Novichok.


About 1,000 Finance Firms Eying Post-Brexit Outposts in U.K.
Silla Brush – Bloomberg
About two thirds of FCA applicants expected to open offices; Finance firms lost passporting rights after U.K. left the EU
Around 1,000 European Union finance firms are expected to open their first offices in the U.K. after losing their passporting rights because of Brexit.

Brexit Isn’t Stopping U.K. Borrowers From Finding Cheap Money in Europe; The ECB is buying bonds issued by European subsidiaries of U.K. companies such as BP and Diageo, helping reduce their borrowing costs
Anna Hirtenstein – WSJ
Weeks after the U.K. split from the European Union, British companies are continuing to benefit from the continent’s cheaper borrowing costs.

Should the UK change its listing rules to attract more overseas companies? Two experts debate the future of IPO regulations and the wider capital market ecosystem
Lorna Tilbian and Chris Cummings – FT
Yes — Free float and dual-class share structures need reform
Late last year, the UK launched a review of its rules for stock exchange listings as part of a broader effort to strengthen London’s “position as a leading global financial centre”, writes Lorna Tilbian.

Northern Ireland parties take legal action against Brexit deal
Members of Northern Ireland’s two largest pro-British parties are set to take part in legal action challenging part of Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union, the parties said on Sunday. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) are to join other pro-British figures to challenge the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created trade barriers between the British region and the rest of the United Kingdom. The protocol, which is designed to protect the European Union’s single market without creating a land border on the island of Ireland, has caused significant disruption to trade since it came into force at the start of the year.

Ports feel the chill as trade re-routes around Brexit Britain
Joanna Partridge – The Guardian
Perched on the shores of Anglesey, the island linked by road bridges to the north-west coast of Wales, Holyhead’s geography has given it a leading role in British-Irish trade since the early 19th century. About 50 miles directly across the Irish Sea from Dublin, a journey of just three-and-a-quarter hours by ferry, Holyhead was until December the second busiest roll-on roll-off port in the UK after Dover. About 450,000 trucks rumbled through each year on their way to Dublin, with cargoes of meat and agricultural produce, secondhand cars and items destined for the shelves of Irish supermarkets.

Boris Johnson’s government is ‘gaslighting’ Britain about the realities of Brexit, critics say
Luke McGee – CNN
Andy Trust has been exporting fish from Cornwall to continental Europe for 20 years. However, the past seven weeks have given him cause to contemplate shutting down the entire European operation of his fish merchants, Ocean Harvest. “The cost of sending fish into Europe has more than trebled. In an industry that operates on thin profit margins, it could destroy British fishing,” he says. It’s been seven weeks since the UK completed its departure from the European Union and Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal came into effect. In that time, British exporters have struggled with new trade barriers.

Brexit Supply Chain Friction Persists in Blow to Manufacturing
Lucy Meakin – Bloomberg
Supply chain disruptions pushed U.K. manufacturing output to its weakest level in nine months as friction moving goods across the border after Brexit persisted. IHS Markit said more than half of all companies reporting lower exports in February blamed the decline on Britain’s departure from the European Union. That came as the rest of the economy showed signs of stabilizing after a rapid slump caused by the third national lockdown starting in January.

Britain Is Entering a Parallel Universe; Brexit, natural disaster, wokeness and a loss of enlightenment values – Philip Pullman’s novels are an intimation of the post-pandemic world.
Niall Ferguson – Bloomberg
In Philip Pullman’s series of fantasy novels, “His Dark Materials,” we enter a universe containing an infinity of parallel worlds. In the most important of these worlds, which is similar to ours in many respects, evolution and history have had subtly different outcomes. Human beings have visible souls — small, semi-autonomous “daemons” that take the shapes of animals. And the Reformation has failed, leaving Europe still under the dominance of an obscurantist and oppressive “Magisterium.”


Forced mediocrity can boost your creativity; The pandemic thrust unfamiliar practices on many workers but these could open up fresh possibilities
David Bodanis – FT
During the pandemic lockdowns many of us have had to shift our work, taking on topics or using tools we weren’t prepared for and in which, to be honest, we were pretty mediocre. And this is a very good thing.

Entrepreneurship and motherhood: the challenge is real
Women’s Agenda
It’s February – a time when we’re still finding our footing between the old year and the new. Many of us are remembering those New Year’s resolutions that are now low on the long list of priorities. Some of us have just settled children back into school. No doubt all of us are hoping COVID allows us to travel at Easter, or at least venture beyond our own backyards.

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