La Salle Street Blues; As businesses desert the once-vibrant corridor, boosters worry the mayor won’t get behind a mixed-use revitalization plan

Feb 15, 2024

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The FIA yesterday announced the induction of 12 new members into the FIA Hall of Fame. The new members will be honored at an awards ceremony during FIA’s annual International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, Fla., on 12 March. The following individuals were inducted into the 2024 Hall of Fame: Charles Carey, Timothy Doar, De’Ana Dow, Nick Forgan, James Heinz, Jr., John Lothian, William Mallers, Sr., Robert Moore, John Munro, Leslie Sutphen, Pat White and Jack Wigglesworth.

I have written two commentaries about the Hall of Fame announcement. The first story is about the people who were named, except for me. You know my story. That first story is titled “The FIA sure knows a Hall of Fame Way to say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day.” The second story is my trying to do the impossible, which is thanking all of the people, or as many of the people as I could think of at 11 pm last night, for helping me achieve this honor. This story is titled “There is No Way to Thank Everyone, but Some People Must be Mentioned.”

I apologize if I have not mentioned you. There is a blanket thank you in the story. I tried my best in a short period of time. It was also Ash Wednesday, so I took my wife Cheryl to the worship service first before a late Valentine’s Day dinner.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission Open Meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2024 has been canceled. The matters under consideration are being resolved through the commission’s seriatim process. The CFTC’s seriatim process refers to the method by which the commissioners individually review and vote on proposed rules, regulations, and orders. Each commissioner receives the proposed document, reviews it, and casts their vote independently. This process allows for careful consideration and deliberation by each commissioner before a decision is made collectively by the commission.

A while back, John Lothian Productions did some work for Blair Hull and his Hull Tactical, shooting some video for an artificial intelligence driven chatbot. Hull Tactical has deployed the chatbot and here it is. You can ask questions from your computer and the chatbot will give you the best answer it can for the question. It also records the questions, so Hull Tactical knows what questions they need to add direct answers for in the future. We will be doing more video work for Hull soon. If you are interested in something like this for your website, contact us.

One of the CME Group’s Valentine’s Day messages was “Love may be unpredictable, but risk management doesn’t have to be. CME Group Micro Gold futures provide an efficient, cost-effective way of gaining exposure to the gold market.” Dear, I love my micro gold future, it is lovely.

John Schaible shared on LinkedIn that he is starting a new position as chief strategy officer at AtlasClear Holdings. I met John when he was the CEO of NexTrade.

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

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the findings of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, capturing over 6 million data points concerning American farms and ranches down to the county level. The census found a decrease in the total number of U.S. farms but revealed an uptick in new and young producers. Family-owned and operated farms dominate, constituting 95% of all U.S. farms, while 43% reported positive net cash farm income in 2022. Among the trends cited by the Census: a 15% rise in farms using renewable energy systems, with solar panels being the primary choice; and direct sales to consumers increased 16% from 2017, totaling $3.3 billion. View the NASS press release and results here. ~SAED

Our most read stories from our previous edition of JLN Options were:
Cboe Options to introduce default clearing by symbol for electronic Market-Maker Option trades from FX News Group.
SGX Group reports market statistics for January 2024 from SGX Group.
Hedge funds push for transparency in credit determinations from Risk.net. ~JB

Subscribe to the JLN Options Newsletter HERE (it’s free).

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From Open Outcry to Electronic Evolution: Insights From Marcus Goi, CEO of Orient Futures International
JohnLothianNews.com

In an Open Outcry Traders History Project interview conducted in Singapore during the FIA ASIA week, Marcus Goi, managing director and CEO of Orient Futures International, shared his career journey and insights into the evolution of electronic trading. The interview took place at SGX’s offices, with Robert Lothian from John Lothian News conducting the interview.

Watch the video »

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The Climate Crisis is Starving Polar Bears. Humans Should Take Note; There are lessons from the animal kingdom in how to adapt to the climate crisis.
Lara Williams – Bloomberg
A lone polar bear on an iceberg. This year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award winner is, in many ways, a photo we’ve seen before. It’s a peaceful scene, with the slumbering bear reminiscent of a contented house cat. Yet it’s a reminder that all life depends on ecosystems that are growing increasingly fragile as the planet heats with our greenhouse-gas emissions.
/jlne.ws/3SZytk0

***** Without polar bears there are all kinds of problems, including increased numbers of seals and changes in Coca Cola’s winter marketing program.~JJL

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The Stanford Professor Taking on Racism in the $4 Trillion Muni-Bond Market; Historian Destin Jenkins studies how municipal bonds have contributed to inequality in American cities
Heather Gillers – The Wall Street Journal
The municipal-bond market is a sleepy corner of Wall Street that finances America’s roads and sewers. It also features in the nation’s history of racial inequality, and Destin Jenkins wants to show you how. People tend to think of munis-if they think of them at all-as the boring part of their investment portfolio, or the funding for the new school being built down the street. The bankers and bureaucrats involved in the day-to-day operations of the $4 trillion market for state and local debt tend to be more focused on yield curves than historical transgressions.
/jlne.ws/4bFIE4I

***** Don’t mess with historians. ~JJL

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Wednesday’s Top Three
Our top story Wednesday was How to do climate policy in the age of the green backlash, an opinion piece by Pilita Clark in the Financial Times. Second was News updates from February 14: UK inflation holds steady, Uber debuts $7bn share buyback, also from the Financial Times. And third was Barchart Announces Strategic Updates to Its Executive Leadership Team, from Barchart.

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Lead Stories

La Salle Street Blues; As businesses desert the once-vibrant corridor, boosters worry the mayor won’t get behind a mixed-use revitalization plan.
Robert Reed – Chicagomag.com
The James R. Thompson Center was for decades downtown’s epicenter of state government, a home for departments ranging from the governor’s office to a driver services facility. Now the 17-story curved glass tower – an exemplar of postmodern architecture – stands forlornly empty, with signs affixed to its entryways announcing in big red letters: “The Driver Services Facility Has Moved Across the Street.” But come mid-2026, the old haunt is expected to crackle with new vigor as Google opens a second regional headquarters there, expanding beyond its base in Fulton Market.
/jlne.ws/3UDtWF1

How hardware is (still) eating the world; Tech companies have a near-insatiable appetite for chips – and that is only set to grow as the demands of AI software swell
John Thornhill – Financial Times
It was quite the Christmas present. In December, the Dutch technology company ASML started shipping 250 crates to Oregon to install a EUR350mn machine for the US chipmaker Intel. The Twinscan Exe: 5000, to give the machine its full name, is probably the most complex piece of equipment ever built. Weighing as much as two Airbus A320 jets, it took a decade to develop and will require 250 engineers to make it operational next year.
/jlne.ws/3UD1Wl7

BlackRock Alum Launches Fund Focused on ‘Weird and Wonderful’ Assets; Pam Chan is joining Lingotto, a new asset manager backed by Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family
Jack Pitcher – The Wall Street Journal
Pam Chan had a coveted job as global head of direct private opportunities at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. She is leaving so she can focus solely on what she loves most: investing in obscure private markets. The 38-year-old Harvard graduate is opening the New York office of Lingotto, a new asset manager backed by Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family, which owns significant stakes in automakers Ferrari and Stellantis.
/jlne.ws/3I2PlQs

Can OpenAI create superintelligence before it runs out of cash? The AI start-up is one of the fastest-growing companies in history, but questions remain about the long-term viability of its business model
Madhumita Murgia and George Hammond – Financial Times
On the morning of November 18, during a tech conference in Tokyo, Ting Cai received a news alert about OpenAI’s Sam Altman, who had been ousted in a boardroom coup. Cai, chief data officer of Japanese tech giant Rakuten, was caught off guard. He had flown back from San Francisco days earlier, where he had recently seen the chief executive of the artificial intelligence pioneer and his team, with whom Rakuten had been collaborating on a new AI business platform.
/jlne.ws/48r3nXa

JPMorgan Asset Management quits climate action group; JPMAM’s move is latest exit from an environmental investing coalition amid pressure from US Republicans
Patrick Temple-West and Brooke Masters – Financial Times
JPMorgan’s $3.1tn asset management arm has left Climate Action 100+, an investor group that prods companies into action on global warming, saying its division now has the capacity to do corporate climate engagement on its own. The New York firm becomes the latest big US fund manager to quit an environmental investing coalition at a time when the industry is under intense pressure from US Republicans over efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
/jlne.ws/48jXfQ8

*****This story from Reuters

US pension funds worth $1.5tn add risk through leverage; Retirement systems allow more borrowing and derivatives as private holdings strain cash flows
Josephine Cumbo, Sun Yu and Antoine Gara – Financial Times
US public pension plans that manage hundreds of billions of dollars of assets are increasingly turning to risky leverage strategies as burgeoning private market holdings create cash flow strains. At least eight very large US public pension funds are using borrowed cash or other leverage strategies, now that the board of Calstrs, one of the largest US retirement funds, this month voted to allow the fund to borrow as much as $30bn, or 10 per cent of its portfolio.
/jlne.ws/49gisfg

Japan’s financial regulator encourages stronger monitoring of ‘unlawful’ crypto transfers
Adam James – The Block
Japan’s Financial Services Agency encouraged financial institutions in the country to strengthen their monitoring of “unlawful” transfers to crypto exchange providers. Citing analysis by the country’s National Police Agency – which concludes damages resulting from specialized fraud regarding unlawful money transfers are mostly transferred using crypto – the FSA “encouraged financial institutions to further strengthen their user’s protection depending on the risks such as their status of transfers to crypto-asset exchange service providers.”
/jlne.ws/3OIWskY

Biden’s drive for EVs collides with Detroit’s profit machines
Joseph White – Reuters
The Biden administration and automakers are in the final stages of negotiating over ambitious new rules to accelerate the electric-vehicle transition that could cost Detroit’s automakers billions and fuel an election-year clash over climate policy. The White House could enact proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations as soon as March that would mandate dramatic reductions in tailpipe emissions. The administration proposal would require boosting U.S. EV market share to 67% by 2032 from less than 8% in 2023.
/jlne.ws/3T3kRV6

US becoming ‘factory farming nation’: key takeaways from the agriculture census; Small farms and Black farmers are going out of business, while corporate-controlled farms are booming, raking in subsidies
Nina Lakhani – The Guardian
Record numbers of American farms are going out of business with small farms and Black farmers the hardest hit – again, according to the 2022 agriculture census, a comprehensive snapshot of the state of America’s farms and farmers published every five years by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Yet industrial factory farms rearing thousands of livestock in confinement have further expanded into rural America, acquiring smaller farms, raking in taxpayer subsidies and generating environmental harms.
/jlne.ws/3T0qtiP

JPMorgan Asset Management Quits $68 Trillion Climate Group; Climate Action 100+ faces increasing political pressure in US; Jim Jordan has gone as far as calling CA100+ an ‘ESG cartel’
Alastair Marsh – Bloomberg
JPMorgan Asset Management has left a $68 trillion investor coalition that’s focused on pressing the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases to decarbonize. A spokeswoman for the money manager, which oversees $3.1 trillion of assets, said the firm won’t renew its membership in Climate Action 100+ because it has made significant investments in developing its own climate risk engagement framework. The asset management unit of the largest US bank said it now has a team of 40 dedicated sustainable investing professionals.
/jlne.ws/3wlm4ht

Citigroup starts tracking how often private bankers call clients; Wall Street bank’s efforts to jump-start wealth management business have proved unpopular with some staff
Joshua Franklin and Stephen Gandel – Financial Times
Citigroup has started tracking how many calls its private bankers are making to clients as the US lender tries to jump-start its struggling wealth management business, according to people familiar with the matter. Citi’s private bankers must now turn in call reports to record each conversation they have with a client – whose net worth typically has to be at least $10mn to qualify for the private bank – and also what was discussed, the people said.
/jlne.ws/49jeF0S

US investors in emerging markets switch to ETFs that exclude China; Portfolios are being adjusted as tensions and state intervention weigh on Chinese stocks
Sun Yu – Financial Times
Emerging markets investors in the US are snapping up exchange traded funds with no exposure to China and dumping those focused on the world’s second-largest economy, where a weakening growth outlook has left stocks lagging behind other markets. The net capital inflow into eight US-listed emerging markets ETFs that exclude China more than tripled to $5.3bn last year from a year earlier, according to a Financial Times analysis of ETF.com data. That came as 55 China-focused ETFs suffered combined net outflows of $802mn in 2023, compared with inflows of $7.5bn in the previous year.
/jlne.ws/3SWHQRo

TradeTech FX US: Upcoming review of the global FX code set to focus on settlement risk, transparency, and data quality; As market adherence to the global FX code continues to surge, the Global Foreign Exchange Committee (GFXC) shared its planned next steps with TradeTech FX US attendees in Miami.
Claudia Preece – The Trade
Mitigating settlement risk, market transparency, and data quality made up the three key themes at the fore of the committee’s attention for the next iteration of the global code, confirmed Gerardo Garcia, GFXC chair and general director of central bank operations at Banco de México, speaking at a TradeTech FX US panel.
/jlne.ws/3SEakOt

Ukraine Invasion

At least 5 killed in missile attack on Russian city of Belgorod
Anastasia Stognei – Financial Times
At least five people including one child were killed and 18 injured in a rocket attack on the Russian city of Belgorod on Thursday, local authorities reported. One missile hit a shopping centre and caused serious damage, while another landed in a stadium. Ukrainian authorities have not yet commented on the attack. In Russia, only foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova reacted to the incident, calling it “another terrorist act by the Kyiv regime”.
/jlne.ws/49fJy6h

Seizing Russia’s Frozen $300 Billion Is Legal, Urgent and Right; Vladimir Putin’s attack against Ukraine is also an assault erga omnes, “toward all.” Remember that term – the future of international law hinges on it.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
“This case is the gravest test for the future of international law since the creation of the United Nations.” So I’m told by Philip Zelikow, a former US diplomat now at Stanford University (who earned kudos in 2014 as lead author of the 9/11 Commission report). What’s at stake, he says – and I agree – is whether the UN, in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, will stand up to crimes against humanity or go the way of the League of Nations when it failed to restrain Mussolini and Hitler. More succinctly: Will we advance international law or let it become irrelevant?
/jlne.ws/3I61l3C

Israel/Palestine Conflict

Israel Pulls Out of Peace Talks Over ‘Delusional’ Hamas Demands
Alisa Odenheimer – Bloomberg
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opted not to send a delegation to Cairo for follow-up talks aimed at securing a cease-fire with Hamas, again dismissing the militant group’s demands as “delusional.” Israel is holding out for Hamas to change its position before taking any further role in negotiations, the PM’s office said Wednesday. The Iran-backed militant group has insisted on the total withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza in return for the release of hostages, something Netanyahu has categorically ruled out.
/jlne.ws/3T9d5ZT

US Intercepts Iranian Weapons Intended for Houthi Rebels
Magan Crane and Larry Liebert – Bloomberg
The US Coast Guard seized a shipment of weapons from Iran in the Persian Gulf that was headed to Houthi rebels in Yemen, the US announced Thursday. The US Central Command said when its forces boarded the ship, they found more than 200 packages of a variety of lethal equipment including medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives and anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies intended to support the Houthis.
/jlne.ws/3wlmcNZ

Biden-Netanyahu Relationship at Boiling Point as Rafah Invasion Looms; The U.S. administration acknowledges waning influence over its closest Middle East ally
Dion Nissenbaum and Vivian Salama – The Wall Street Journal
The looming Israeli military plans to invade Rafah have exacerbated tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its attempts to rein in Israel’s military campaign. The consequences of the distrust between President Biden and Netanyahu, who have spoken 18 times since Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault, have grown only starker in recent days. Biden now appears to be trying to draw a line with Israel’s proposed military operation on Rafah where 1.1 million Palestinians-many of them displaced-now reside.
/jlne.ws/49iwsFi

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

LME back in the dock, this time over ‘dirty metals’
Andy Home – Reuters
Just three months after winning its legal case over the handling of the 2022 nickel crisis, the London Metal Exchange (LME) is set for a return visit to London’s High Court. Last time it was U.S. hedge funds seeking damages for cancelled nickel trades. This time it’s environmental activists targeting Indonesian copper. Two pressure groups, London Mining Network (LMN) and Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), accuse the LME of facilitating the sale of “dirty metals”, thereby breaching British anti-money laundering laws.
/jlne.ws/3T14bgW

Release of Data Distribution Service J-Quants Pro (Paid Version) for Corporate Users
Japan Exchange Group
Since October 2023, JPXI has made a free trial version of J-Quants Pro available to corporate users, aiming to deliver financial data related to the Japanese market in an easy-to-use manner through APIs and SFTP. Based on the positive feedback and evaluations received from many users during this trial period, JPXI has officially released the paid version of J-Quants Pro today, February 15, 2024.
/jlne.ws/3SEvk7J

Cboe Global Markets to Present at the Bank of America 2024 Financial Services Conference on February 21
Cboe Global Markets, Inc.
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE), the world’s leading derivatives and securities exchange network, announced today that Fredric Tomczyk, Chief Executive Officer, Jill Griebenow, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, will present at the Bank of America 2024 Financial Services Conference in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, February 21 at 8:50 a.m. ET.
/jlne.ws/4bRidcr

Goldman Sachs Achieves Over 99% Same Day Affirmation Rate and a Significant Improvement in Settlement Rates Leveraging DTCC’s CTM Match to Instruct Workflow; Improving affirmation timeliness and reducing settlement fails are key, as the industry sets its sights on a U.S. move to T+1 in May 2024
DTCC
DTCC, the premier post-trade market infrastructure for the global financial services industry, today announced that Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC has achieved a greater than 99% same day affirmation rate and a significant improvement in settlement rates for transactions leveraging CTM’s Match to Instruct (M2i) workflow in Q4 2023. In addition, Goldman Sachs was able to achieve a 38% reduction in same-day affirmation exceptions and a 64% reduction in US settlement fails by value, when matching and affirming trades with investment manager counterparties who also use CTM’s M2i.
/jlne.ws/48htzn0

Higher frequency for real time index dissemination
National Stock Exchange of India
NSE Indices computes over 380 indices (equity, debt, multi assets etc.). Out of these, the values of 72 indices (65 equity and 7 debt) are presently disseminated live during market hours at a frequency of 1 second through trading system of the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) in Capital Market Segment while other indices are calculated and disseminated on end of day basis. The flagship ‘Nifty 50’ index is widely tracked and traded as benchmark for Indian Capital Markets.
/jlne.ws/49ALPsj

Fintech

LSEG’s FXall taps Saphyre for settlement and onboarding efficiency; The integration aims to reduce settlement times, allowing clients to be trade and settlement ready within 24 hours.
Sophia Thompson – The Trade
FXall, a division of the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), is enhancing its settlement and onboarding process for its buy-side clients through leveraging Saphyre’s technology. Through utilising the technology, FXall hopes to streamline the setup of funds to drastically reduce settlement times, ensuring clients are settlement and trade ready within a 24-hour timeframe.
/jlne.ws/3uB7HVK

Nearly All Wealth Gained by World’s Rich This Year Comes From AI; AI-related stocks are making world’s richest even richer; Rally accounts for 96% of gain on Bloomberg Billionaires Index
Vernal Galpotthawela and Jack Witzig – Bloomberg
Nvidia Corp. co-founder Jensen Huang’s wealth has surged as a blistering rally in AI-related stocks pushed the chipmaker’s market value above Amazon.com Inc.’s for the first time. The same rally has minted another billionaire in Huang’s own family: his distant cousin Lisa Su, chief executive officer of Nvidia competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc., who’s worth $1.2 billion after the stock doubled over the past year.
/jlne.ws/3UI5tP8

The Human Perils of Giving ChatGPT More Memory; Personalized AI systems could revive some of the unintended consequences of social media, like echo chambers.
Parmy Olson – Bloomberg
OpenAI is rolling out what it calls a memory feature in ChatGPT. The popular chatbot will be able to store key details about its users to make answers more personalized and “more helpful,” according to OpenAI. These can be facts about your family or health, or preferences about how you want ChatGPT to talk to you so that instead of starting on a blank page it’s armed with useful context. As with so many tech innovations, what sounds cutting-edge and useful also has a dark flipside: It could blast another hole into our digital privacy and – just maybe – push us further into the echo chambers that social media forged.
/jlne.ws/3uqdFc5

Microsoft to Invest EUR3.2 Billion in German AI Infrastructure; President Brad Smith says investments planned over two years; Microsoft is investing heavily in data centers to fuel AI boom
Michael Nienaber – Bloomberg
Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith announced plans to invest EUR3.2 billion ($3.4 billion) over the next two years in German artificial intelligence infrastructure at an event with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as the technology giant seeks to build up its computing power in Europe. “German companies are rapidly adapting AI related technologies,” Smith said at a press conference with Scholz in Berlin on Thursday. “We’re expanding our data processing centers in the region.”
/jlne.ws/3I1R48Q

JPMorgan sued by chief executive of fintech it co-owns; Wall Street bank accused of trying to drive down the valuation of Greek payments company Viva Wallet
Owen Walker – Financial Times
The founder and chief executive of a financial technology business co-owned by JPMorgan has begun legal proceedings against the Wall Street bank over what he claims are tactics to suppress his company’s growth. Haris Karonis, who founded Greek payments company Viva Wallet in 2000, said he believes JPMorgan is trying to drive down the valuation of his business by blocking its entry into the US and new European markets, according to legal documents seen by the Financial Times.
/jlne.ws/3HYS9OL

Cybersecurity

Adapting To SEC Cybersecurity Disclosure Requirements
Emil Sayegh – Forbes
The cybersecurity compliance landscape for public companies and foreign private issuers in the United States significantly evolved in 2023 with the introduction of new regulations by the SEC. Announced by SEC Chair Gary Gensler on July 26, 2023, these regulations mandate prompt disclosure of material cybersecurity incidents within four business days, except in circumstances where a delay is justifiable for national security or public safety reasons. Additionally, regulations require detailed annual reports on an entities’ cybersecurity risk management, strategy, and governance practices. Taking effect 30 days after the Federal Register publication in July, these rules aim to increase transparency for investors, companies, and the market by standardizing cybersecurity disclosures. They also highlight the SEC’s desire to enhance cybersecurity transparency.
/jlne.ws/3uqHVDH

Cyber Incident Reporting Obligations for Public Companies under the SEC’s New Cybersecurity
Robin Beardsley – JD Supra
The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently adopted a final rule regarding cybersecurity risk management, governance, and incident reporting. The final rule went into effect on September 5, 2023, and disclosure requirements apply to fiscal years ending on or after December 15, 2023.
/jlne.ws/3SYFjGt

AI In Cybersecurity: Revolutionizing Safety
Kunle Fadeyi – Forbes
As our digital world grows at an incredible pace, artificial intelligence (AI) is right at the heart of this change. Even though it’s still in the early days for AI, it’s already a big part of our everyday lives. From Siri and Alexa helping us out at home to businesses using AI for quick, smart decisions and handling loads of data-it’s all around us, making things easier and more connected.
/jlne.ws/42Nxeb2

Trellix to Host Public Sector Cybersecurity Summit
BusinessWire
Trellix, the cybersecurity company delivering the future of extended detection and response (XDR), today announced its Public Sector Cybersecurity Summit will take place February 27, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
/jlne.ws/48cOS96

Cryptocurrencies

Gensler won’t commit to Ethereum ETFs, says Bitcoin approval was simply ‘most sustainable thing to do’ after losing in court
Maria Soledad Davila Calero – Fortune
In a pair of interviews on Wednesday, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler still didn’t seem very excited to be discussing the Bitcoin ETFs approved by his agency on Jan. 10. And he doubled down on previous remarks that approving the investment vehicles didn’t equate to the agency changing its mind about Bitcoin’s potential risks, merely that it was a reaction to the August decision in Grayscale v. SEC where the agency, according to Judge Neomi Rao, “failed to reasonably explain” why it had previously approved Bitcoin futures products but not spot ETFs.
/jlne.ws/3OJcf3c

Crypto Market Value Climbs Back Above $2 Trillion in Broad Rally
Suvashree Ghosh and Sidhartha Shukla – Bloomberg
Bitcoin hovered around $52,000 after a broad cryptocurrency rally that saw Ether, the second-biggest token, advance back to where it was before the TerraUSD stablecoin collapsed almost two years ago. Bitcoin’s 22% year-to-date gain has helped to lift the market capitalization of digital assets above $2 trillion for the first time since April 2022, data from CoinGecko show. Bitcoin and Ether were up more than 1% at one point on Thursday in Singapore, with the latter changing hands at $2,785 as of 9:37 a.m.
/jlne.ws/3T0oGdB

How the ‘Halving’ Could Impact Bitcoin
Todd Groth – CoinDesk
The new entrants coming into Bitcoin via the recently launched ETF and prices bounce back up towards $50,000, it’s a good time to dig a bit into the Bitcoin halving, as we’re expected to go into another halving event in mid-April. The Bitcoin halving cycle refers to the recurring event that reduces the blockchain rewards paid in bitcoin and given to miners for validating transactions and creating new blocks on the blockchain. This reduction occurs approximately every four years, specifically when the number of total blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain reaches a certain threshold, currently set at 210,000 blocks.
/jlne.ws/3SWELki

Meta was supposed to bring the metaverse to life. Epic is actually doing it.
Daniel Howley – Yahoo Finance
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta (META) was supposed to bring the metaverse into billions of users’ homes via the company’s Quest AR/VR headsets. Heck, Zuckerberg even changed the social media giant’s name to reflect his lofty aspirations of creating a series of interconnected, permanently online worlds.
/jlne.ws/49zE7yN

Politics

Gensler Vows to Advance SEC’s Rule Agenda as Election Looms; November’s US elections could impact agency’s rule plans; SEC works to finish rules on stock trades, climate disclosures
Lydia Beyoud, Katherine Doherty, and David Westin – Bloomberg
Gary Gensler says he won’t rush the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s sweeping agenda to get ahead of possible political changes in Washington. The SEC chair said Wednesday that Wall Street’s main regulator won’t adjust plans for new rules based on November’s looming US elections. Although the agency has finalized almost three dozen rules during the Biden administration, about 20 remain and many of those are opposed by conservative Republicans.
/jlne.ws/3IlacyV

New Era of AI Deepfakes Complicates 2024 Elections; Deceptive videos, audio and images are more sophisticated, easier to make as tech industry wrestles with how to keep up
Robert McMillan, Alexa Corse and Dustin Volz – The Wall Street Journal
The explosion of artificial-intelligence technology makes it easier than ever to deceive people on the internet, and is turning the 2024 U.S. presidential election into an unprecedented test on how to police deceptive content. An early salvo was fired last month in New Hampshire. Days before the state’s presidential primary, an estimated 5,000 to 25,000 calls went out telling recipients not to bother voting.
/jlne.ws/48lwbjs

We Don’t Have Time for Climate Misinformation
Michael E. Mann and Peter J. Fontaine – The New York Times
The climate is warming. Polar ice is melting, glaciers are receding, the chemistry of the ocean is becoming dangerously acidic, sea levels are rising. All of this and more are consequences of the greenhouse gases we continue to emit into the atmosphere, where they trap and radiate heat that would otherwise escape into space.
/jlne.ws/3UI5BOu

Regulation

Cancelled – CFTC Open Meeting for February 15
CFTC
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission Open Meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2024 has been cancelled. The matters under consideration are being resolved through the Commission’s seriatim process.
/jlne.ws/3SycUFC

Commissioner Pham to Speak at Modesto Junior College on Innovation in Agriculture and Technology
CFTC
Commissioner Caroline D. Pham will speak on a panel titled “Focus on Innovations in Ag, Tech & the Next Generation.”
/jlne.ws/49CGwca

SEC Proposes Rule to Update Definition of Qualifying Venture Capital Funds; Proposal would inflation adjust the dollar threshold to be considered a qualifying venture capital fund
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today proposed a rule that would update the dollar threshold for a fund to qualify as a “qualifying venture capital fund” for purposes of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (Act). The rule would update the dollar threshold to $12 million aggregate capital contributions and uncalled committed capital, up from the current standard of $10 million.
/jlne.ws/3UGtzti

SEC Obtains Court Order to Enforce Investigative Subpoenas Against Two Top-Level Promoters of the NovaTech Crypto Asset Investment Program
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) today announced that, on February 13, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted the SEC’s application to enforce a subpoena for production of documents issued to Dapilinu Dunbar and a subpoena for production of documents and testimony issued to Corrie Sampson. According to the SEC’s application, Dunbar and Sampson are high-ranking promoters of a crypto asset investment program marketed under the name “NovaTech.”
/jlne.ws/48cPbkg

New Moneysmart data reveals young women more stressed than young men about finances, cost of living
ASIC
New research released by ASIC’s Moneysmart has shed light on the financial concerns of Australian Gen Z women, revealing that they are more likely than Gen Z men to feel stressed and overwhelmed by finances and money.
/jlne.ws/3SYKhmt

FCA requests information from firms about delivery of their ongoing advice services and the Consumer Duty
FCA
The FCA is today writing to a number of financial adviser firms requesting information about their delivery of ongoing services, for which their clients continue to be charged after advice has been given. In its survey, the FCA asks if firms have assessed their ongoing services in response to the introduction of the Consumer Duty, and whether they have made any changes as a result. It also asks for data on the number of clients due a review of the ongoing suitability of the advice as part of the service, how many received that review, and how many paid for ongoing advice but whose fee was refunded as the suitability review did not happen.
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New appointment to Financial Conduct Authority board announced
FCA
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Afolami has appointed Bryan Zhang to the board of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Mr Zhang has extensive experience within financial services, particularly within Fintech, Digital Transformation, and Open Banking. He is a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School; he will take up a role as Non-Executive Director on Monday 19 February 2024 serving an initial three-year term.
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Investing and Trading

Top Corn Fertilizer Maker Sees Profit Plunge as Prices Tumble
Kim Chipman – Bloomberg
The world’s biggest producer of nitrogen fertilizer used for corn and other crops posted sharply lower quarterly profit and sales as prices tumbled. CF Industries Holdings Inc.’s fourth-quarter sales dropped 40% from a year earlier to $1.57 billion, the company reported after the close of US markets on Wednesday. Net income plummeted to $1.44 a share from $4.35, and missed the average analyst estimate of $1.60.
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Feud Erupts at $14 Billion Credit Manager Over Lucrative Stake
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
A Wall Street distressed-debt maven has resurfaced to take on his one-time protege at $14 billion credit firm Kennedy Lewis Investment Management. John Brice, the former Kennedy Lewis chairman who left four years ago, is seeking a 15% stake in the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter. That could be worth at least $100 million, based on a conservative estimate of the valuation at which the firm has been pursuing a deal for a partial or complete sale.
/jlne.ws/3UHU7uy

Private equity should share more wealth with workers, says US pension giant; Calstrs investment chief says industry needs ‘to do a better job’ in sharing profits with employees of companies it buys
Josephine Cumbo and Will Louch – Financial Times
Private equity executives need to “share the wealth” they create with workers at the companies they buy, according to the investment head of Calstrs, the giant US pension fund that is one of the world’s biggest investors in the sector. The comments from Christopher Ailman, outgoing investment chief at the $327bn fund, come after a decade of rapid growth in the buyout industry in which many dealmakers have made large fortunes from the hefty fees they have charged investors such as Calstrs.
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Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

As the Number of American Farms and Farmers Declines, Agriculture Secretary Urges Climate Action to Reverse the Trend; The new Census of Agriculture shows carbon-intensive farms and large, factory-scale animal operations are only getting bigger.
Georgina Gustin – Inside Climate News
On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack helped unveil his agency’s Census of Agriculture, a huge quinquennial report that covers 6 million data points and gives the current state-of-the-state of American farms and farmers. In a presentation at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vilsack underscored his main takeaway: The number of American farms and farmers continues to decline, a fact that has broad consequences, he argued, beyond farming itself.
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UK universities threaten to divest billions unless banks accelerate net-zero plans; Cambridge University is leading a coalition of 21 UK universities managing more than £5bn in investments in warning banks and asset managers of potential divestment unless stronger actions are taken to hasten the net-zero transition.
Sidhi Mittal – edie
UK universities threaten to divest billions unless banks accelerate net-zero plans
Cambridge University has committed to divesting its £4bn endowment from all direct and indirect fossil fuel investments by 2030. In a formal request for proposals sent out today (15 February), the universities, including Oxford, Edinburgh, Leeds, University College London and the London School of Economics, are urging financial institutions to update their fossil fuel position statements and create environmentally friendly deposit accounts and money market funds.
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Flagship climate finance scheme struggles to raise capital; Plan to mobilise vast sums for green transition in developing world ‘long on promise but short on progress’, says foundation
Kenza Bryan – Financial Times
A landmark climate finance framework endorsed by world leaders as a way to fund the green transition in poorer countries is struggling to raise capital, a report has said, resulting in polluting coal plants staying open. The US, EU and UK were among the donors that promised to help mobilise vast sums for the green transition under the auspices of so-called Just Energy Transition Partnerships. Pledges have included a $20bn package for Indonesia to pay for the coal-dependent country’s shift to renewable energy, with similar projects in South Africa, Vietnam and Senegal.
/jlne.ws/48fFDVD

Does The EU’s New ESG Regulation Offer Treasurers a Chance to Choose Which Ratings Provider to Use?
The Global Treasurer
The EU’s ESG ratings regulation is a significant step towards standardisation and control, providing treasurers with a tool to assess ESG ratings of potential partners and investors. The regulation promotes transparency, objectivity, and integrity in ESG ratings, helping companies make informed decisions about their sustainability strategies. The European Union (EU) has recently taken a significant step in promoting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices by finalizing a regulation that aims to impose standards and control over ESG ratings. As sustainability reporting becomes mandatory under the EU corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD), the transparency of ESG performance will play a crucial role in evaluating the overall value of businesses.
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EU approves 4.6 bln eur in German state funds for hydrogen projects
Reuters
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Climate Change Threatens Europe’s Trains, But Resilience Is Expensive; Increasing train travel is critical to decarbonizing transportation. As extreme heat, flooding and erosion pose risks to railways, investment in upgrades remains flat.
Olivia Rudgard – Bloomberg
/jlne.ws/3SElLpt

Batteries for Europe’s Grids May Finally Be Ready to Take Off; Region may see sevenfold surge in storage by 2030: Aurora; UK, Italy and Ireland are named top markets for investment
Saksha Menezes – Bloomberg
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World’s biggest solar company warns west not to cut out Chinese suppliers; Longi executive says costs would double, job opportunities would be lost and green targets missed
Edward White – Financial Times
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How ESG could become an election year punching bag; With the term becoming extremely politicized as the US population gears up for November’s vote, Citywire asked fund managers what to expect.
Fenella Rhodes – CityWire
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India Steel Mills Most at Risk From EU Carbon Plan, Goldman Says
Swansy Afonso – Bloomberg
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Institutions

Ex-Credit Suisse Bankers Are Shaking Up the $1.3 Trillion CLO Market; The demise of the Swiss banking giant has helped pave the way for banks in Canada and Europe to break into the business of arranging CLO deals.
Lisa Lee and Carmen Arroyo – Bloomberg
A crowd of large global banks is starting to muscle in on the lucrative business of arranging collateralized loan obligations, another sign that life’s returning to this crucial $1.3 trillion corner of corporate finance. Credit Suisse used to be a big arranger of CLOs – vehicles that buy up junk-rated company loans, bundle them together and sell them as bonds. But the Swiss lender’s demise has opened the door to a raft of new contenders including Canada’s CIBC, the Bank of Nova Scotia and Spain’s Banco Santander SA. France’s Societe Generale SA and Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group Inc. are taking advantage to ramp up in Europe.
/jlne.ws/3SYe0vP

Banks’ Real Estate Losses Will Be Hyperlocal; The crisis in commercial property varies from street to street as much as it does among lenders.
Paul J. Davies – Bloomberg
The sense of impending doom in commercial property is almost inescapable in the US and Europe, but evidence of actual disaster is scant. Real estate experts and investors who specialize in distressed assets think it’s only a matter of time before landlords and lenders must face reality and yet finance officials like US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen say problems are manageable.
/jlne.ws/4bG1jgq

What Barclays’ history tells us about its current predicament; The bank’s underperforming share price can be traced back to disastrous decisions made during and after the 2008 crisis
Philip Augar – Financial Times
On February 20, Barclays’ chief executive C S Venkatakrishnan will be revealing the outcome of a strategic review. Such reviews are a rite of passage for Barclays CEOs. History provides the reasons for such self-examination, as well as clues for today’s management and regulators.
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JPMorgan AM to join China ‘fundraising war’ for CSI A50 ETFs; Move marks first time a 100% foreign-owned enterprise will compete directly with domestic managers at a launch
Fred Chan and Chloe Leung – Financial Times
JPMorgan Asset Management’s China retail asset management subsidiary will go head to head with about half a dozen top local fund houses after the Lunar New Year holiday to raise money for exchange traded funds that track a newly established index. The move marks the first time a wholly foreign-owned enterprise will compete directly with domestic fund giants in a co-ordinated fund launch for identical products. It also comes amid red-hot investor interest in ETFs and could become a “fundraising war”, one manager suggested.
/jlne.ws/3UKO7kv

Magellan Names Rahmani Managing Director, Will Transition to CEO
Adam Haigh – Bloomberg
Magellan Financial Group Ltd. appointed Sophia Rahmani in a transitory role of managing director, with a view to make her chief executive officer within 12 months, as the struggling money management firm attempts to reposition itself following years of turmoil. Rahmani joins from Maple-Brown Abbott Ltd. and will start in May, according to a statement Thursday. Magellan intends to appoint her CEO of the group within 12 months of her start, the statement said.
/jlne.ws/3HZBZV9

Work & Management

Cisco to Cut Thousands of Workers After Sales Growth Stalls; Networking company grappling with corporate spending slowdown; Shares slide in late trading after Cisco gives dour forecast
Ian King – Bloomberg
Cisco Systems Inc., the largest maker of networking equipment, plans to cut thousands of jobs after a slowdown in corporate tech spending wiped out its sales growth. A restructuring plan will affect roughly 5% of Cisco’s workforce, the company said Wednesday. It had almost 85,000 employees as of last year, suggesting that the move will involve approximately 4,000 jobs. The restructuring will cost about $500 million, Cisco said.
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Morgan Stanley to Cut Several Hundred Jobs in Wealth Unit; Less than 1% of workers in the division will be affected; New CEO Ted Pick took over from James Gorman in January
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
Morgan Stanley is planning to eliminate several hundred jobs, the first such move under Chief Executive Officer Ted Pick. The cuts will affect less than 1% of employees in the wealth-management business, which has about 40,000 workers and is the firm’s largest unit, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
/jlne.ws/3SIM6CK

Wellness Exchange

Scientists grapple with long Covid puzzle as millions fall sick; Fears condition’s range of symptoms and link to chronic diseases will have lasting impact on health systems
Sarah Neville – Financial Times
Two months after contracting Covid-19 in August 2021, Heather Marti, a university programme administrator from West Virginia, began to experience a terrifying array of symptoms that have changed her life. The 52-year-old describes agonising muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, weeks-long migraine-like headaches, brain fog and “extreme mental fatigue similar to what has been described after a traumatic brain injury” among a litany of other problems.
/jlne.ws/4bHc2aO

What to Know About the Risk of Food Poisoning From Listeria; Soft cheeses, salad dressings and other foods have all been recently recalled amid concern they are contaminated with the bacteria.
Melinda Wenner Moyer – The New York Times
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an expanded recall of dairy products and other foods that may have been contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products -all with ingredients manufactured by the California-based Rizo Lopez Foods – include cheese, yogurt, sour cream, salad dressings and kits and other foods that use Rizo Lopez’s products. They have been sold under many brand names and by many supermarkets, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market and Marketside.
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Regions

Thailand Mulls $1 Billion Global Sovereign Bond Offer, First in Two Decades
Suttinee Yuvejwattana – Bloomberg
Thailand’s government is weighing a plan to raise about $1 billion from the global market via what would be the country’s first foreign-currency sovereign bond sale in two decades. The Finance Ministry aims to wrap up a cost-benefit analysis and other steps for the offering for the government to take a decision by May, according to Public Debt Management Office Director-General Patchara Anuntasilpa. Such a deal is meant to provide a benchmark for Thai companies tapping the overseas markets for their funding, he said.
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Europe’s Farmer Revolt Is Starting to Hit Demand for Tractors; CNH Industrial says negative sentiment is impacting demand; When farmers protest, they aren’t planting, CEO Wine says
Michael Hirtzer – Bloomberg
Angry farmers in Europe are adding to pressure on tractor makers already facing a downturn in the US and Brazil as crop prices retreat. Farmers across the European Union have been blocking roads to protest everything from new regulations and reduced diesel subsidies to a flood of supplies from Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
/jlne.ws/49A1yYH

Global Warming Could Drive Locust Outbreaks into New Regions, Study Warns; Warming temperatures, as well as more droughts and extreme rains, may create favorable conditions for breeding and swarming in Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
Bob Berwyn – Inside Climate News
As global warming accelerates, scientists say it’s more important than ever to understand how climate extremes such as heatwaves, droughts and extreme rains affect locust outbreaks that can destroy billions of dollars worth of crops within a few weeks when the insects swarm. A study published today in Science Advances suggests that, if global warming isn’t curbed, west India and west central Asia could become locust hotspots in the decades ahead, raising new challenges for control efforts, and further threatening food security and livelihoods in already vulnerable regions.
/jlne.ws/48iQ3Uk

Miscellaneous

‘I love to twirl the cord’: the young people pushing for a landline renaissance; Corded phones are hard to find these days. But for some gen Z diehards, they offer nostalgia and real connection
Alaina Demopoulos – The Guardian
Landlines are nearing obsolescence. For many young people, they’ve gone the way of CD-Roms, cassette tapes and the humble printer. On TikTok, parents film their children holding wall phones like archival pieces, unsure of how to place a call. Payphones are long gone, too. But not everyone’s ready to hang up the curly-corded receiver. Nicole Randone, a 24-year-old from Westchester, New York, takes calls from her bedroom using a purple Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen-branded landline first sold in 2003, when she was three years old. “One of my first memories is the tan landline that my parents had mounted to the kitchen wall,” Randone said. “I always fantasized about the day I’d have one in my own room.”
/jlne.ws/3T0lWwQ

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