Libor to take firm step towards oblivion on New Year’s Day

Dec 30, 2021

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The US set a one-day record with nearly half a million new cases of the coronavirus reported, but that is just the point. What about all the people who took at home tests and tested positive, but those cases are not reported in official channels? Getting our arms around the data has been an issue from the start, but it is only getting harder in some ways.

Speaking of data, JPX put out its 2021 and December overview. Here are some of the highlights. In 2021, annual trading value for the TSE 1st Section (domestic common stocks) was JPY 765.0885 trillion, an all-time high. For domestic ETFs, annual trading value was JPY 62.3439 trillion, the second-highest on record. In the REIT market, annual trading value was JPY 17.0692 trillion, the second-highest on record.

In 2021 at JPX, total derivatives trading volume was 333,637,832 contracts. Annual trading volume for the night session was 119,071,360 contracts and the ratio of the night session was 36.0 . Mini-TOPIX Futures, DJIA Futures and Nikkei 225 Weekly Options recorded the highest trading volume. Platinum Mini Futures recorded the fourth highest trading volume.

The NFA will hold its annual meeting of NFA members and board and nominating committee election on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 10 CST at its offices located at 300 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800, Chicago, IL.

I voted yesterday in the NFA CTA/CPO election online. It was very easy and secure.

William Cohan has written an obituary for the FT of James Cayne, the Bear Stearns CEO who passed away this week.

We all hate it when the electronic markets are down because of system issues. It was no fun for the Fortnite players yesterday either when Epic’s Game Inc.’s popular game was down for about seven hours Wednesday, this coming after it suffered server issues over the last two weeks, Bloomberg reported.

One of the popular counter programming television events in January is being postponed indefinitely because of the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in New York. The Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show postponed its 2022 event scheduled for late January to later in the year, though no date was given. This will give me more time to work with my dog Indy in the category of…we are not quite sure what breed she is.

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


AMERIBOR Term-90 futures to start trading on Cboe from late January; As the Libor era draws to a close, Cboe moves to expand its suite of futures products based on the American Interbank Offered Rate.
Anita Hawser – The Trade
The New Year will see Cboe Global Markets start trading futures based on the AMERIBOR [American Interbank Offered Rate] Term-90 interest rate benchmark, an alternative to the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, which is gradually being phased out. The new futures will commence trading on Cboe’s Futures Exchange on January 24. As the planned cessation of Libor approaches, Cboe said these futures products provide an alternative for market participants to hedge their interest rate risks on loans, or execute interest-rate trading strategies.

****** One door closes (Libor), another door opens wider (Ameribor). Amazing how that works. And do you know what you need to make a good door fit just right? A good Sandor.~JJL


The Future Will Be Weirder Than We Think; Developments in the next few decades could change humanity for the next few millennia.
Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
How weird is the future going to be? Just a little bit — or plain flat-out radically unthinkably weird? And is this future 1,000 years from now — or 100? The notion that the future will be weirder than we think, and come sooner, is a possibility raised by Holden Karnofsky, the co-chief executive officer of Open Philanthropy. It’s an intriguing and provocative idea. One complicating factor will be different forms of genetic engineering. As genomics progresses, we will be able to alter the future course of humanity. The simplest method is embryo selection, by which parents can choose a boy rather than a girl, or a child with some characteristics rather than others. Our ability to do this will become increasingly precise. More direct forms of genetic manipulation will likely be feasible as well.

***** All this talk of extending life expectancy is really going to make a mess of pension plans, but then we can leave it up to the aliens from space to figure out.~JJL


Humans Evolved to Be Negative. We Can Change; The instinct that kept early man alive also keeps us miserable. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Bobby Ghosh
One Way Being Less Human Could Help Us
Cognitively, our species evolved to have a negativity bias. Our ancestors survived all the dangers lurking in the savannas because they were always looking out for anything bad, real or imagined. We inherited this instinct, and today, as Andreas Kluth argues, what once kept our species alive often keeps us miserable.

***** Remember, for every negative there is a positive. Or is that just ions?~JJL


In 2022, Let’s Be More Positive and Less Negative; How about this as a New Year’s resolution: Let’s overcome, or at least manage, our natural tendency to go low and think dark.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
I loathe my readers. They willfully misunderstand my columns and send me abusive and threatening emails. The other day I tried to forward one to my boss, but Bloomberg’s algorithm blocked the message because it contained such vile expletives. Actually, wait. I thought I hated my readers. Then I took the trouble to browse through this year’s reader emails again, and I made a surprising discovery. Yes, I saw all those memorable rants and insults again. But to hop from one to the next, I had to scroll through many notes of praise, encouragement and appreciation. Some readers offered nuanced arguments and insightful facts. I love my readers.

****** I am going to start 2022 by being positive about myself. “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”


As At-Home Tests Surge, Doubts Rise About Accuracy of Public Covid Counts; Most of the results of rapid tests are not reported. That’s magnifying questions about how best to measure the spread of the virus.
Sophie Kasakove – NY Times
Millions of rapid at-home Covid tests are flying off pharmacy shelves across the country, giving Americans an instant, if sometimes imperfect, read on whether they are infected with the coronavirus. But the results are rarely reported to public health departments, exacerbating the longstanding challenges of maintaining an accurate count of cases at a time when the number of infections is surging because of the Omicron variant.

****** Maybe we should put chips in people after all. Then the data would be more accurate.~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our No. 1 story Wednesday was another literary list, The New York Times’ What’s the Best Book of the Past 125 Years? We Asked Readers to Decide. No. 2 was Insider’s Here are 10 of the most surprising little-known facts we learned about the 29-year-old crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried after months speaking to his closest friends, family, and colleagues, which was also the No. 2 story Wednesday. No. 3 was The Financial Times’ The inside story of how ETFs weathered the March 2020 storm.


MarketsWiki Stats
26,680 pages; 236,637 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Libor to take firm step towards oblivion on New Year’s Day; Benchmark rate has been a fixture of global finance for 45 years but has been tarnished by scandals
Philip Stafford and Joe Rennison – FT
On New Year’s Day a piece of financial history will be made: the tainted Libor benchmark will take a decisive step towards being phased out after 45 years as a fixture of global markets. From January, the lending rate cannot be used as the reference rate in any new derivatives contracts, loans and credit card offers. It will continue to live, in a lesser form, for the $230tn of existing contracts that rely on it as the basis for interest payments. But for regulators and banks, next month represents the moment when four years of arduous preparation to live without it goes into effect.

Robinhood to Expand Options Contract Feature to More Traders
Mark Gurman and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Options rolling allows users to extend buy-and-sell rights; Work on options tool discovered in hidden code inside beta app
Robinhood Markets Inc. is working to let more traders use a feature for its mobile app that rolls options contracts, a mechanism that allows traders to extend their options. Options are contracts providing the right to buy or sell a stock at a specific price by a future date. They can be lucrative financial instruments for brokerage firms. At Robinhood, options activity brought in about 61% of the firm’s third-quarter trading revenue. Options rolling allows a trader to close out a position and simultaneously open a new one with another date and price.

Some Companies Are Ready for Libor’s Demise, but Not All; U.S. banks won’t be allowed to issue new debt tied to the benchmark in 2022, leaving some firms struggling to decide how to proceed
Sebastian Pellejero, Mark Maurer – WSJ
Wall Street’s shift away from the London interbank offered rate takes effect at the start of the new year. Some companies are more prepared for it than others. Starting Jan. 1, U.S. banks won’t be allowed to issue new debt tied to Libor, the global benchmark underpinning trillions of dollars in financial contracts. Financial authorities began to phase out Libor in 2017 after it was discovered that traders at large banks manipulated the rate by submitting false data.

Foggy Regulations Challenge Crypto, Gemini Compliance Chief Says; Elena Hughes joined cryptocurrency exchange Gemini in 2020 after more than a decade in traditional financial institutions
Mengqi Sun – WSJ
Opaque regulations remain a top challenge for the cryptocurrency industry, according to Elena Hughes, chief compliance officer of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini Trust Co. She joined New York-based Gemini in May 2020 after more than a decade of compliance work for traditional financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Gemini was launched in 2015 by twin brothers, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss.

Brexit doubts shattered as London Stock Exchange top of Europe with record year; THE LONDON Stock Exchange (LSE) is ending 2021 with the highest levels of fund raising since 2007.
Tom Hill – Express
In total 122 companies listed on the LSE this year raising over £16.8bn in initial public offerings (IPOs). A further £32.4bn was raised by existing listed companies providing further stock offerings. In a statement the group said the results confirmed “the UK’s position as one of the top global financial centres and a driver of the UK domestic economy – providing capital to the fast growth companies of today and tomorrow, as well as existing businesses.” The figures put London far ahead of other European stock exchanges, raising more than the Amsterdam and Paris exchanges combined.

This Altcoin Smoked Bitcoin and Ether With 1,300% Gain This Year
Akayla Gardner – Bloomberg
Binance’s BNB surged as Binance Smart Chain rivaled Ethereum; Smaller alt coins also saw returns upward of 1,000% this year
This year, the old guard of cryptocurrencies lost ground to tokens with greater returns. Researchers predict the trend may continue. Among the three largest digital tokens by market value, Binance Coin, or BNB, significantly outperformed its two larger rivals Bitcoin and Ether. The coin — issued by crypto exchange Binance Holdings Ltd. — gained roughly 1,300% in 2021, according to Arcane Research. By comparison, market leader Bitcoin increased 65% while Ether, the second-biggest token, rose 408%.

Hong Kong Siblings Arrested Over $50 Million Crypto Money Laundering Scheme; A brother and sister have been arrested by Hong Kong Customs on suspicion of laundering over HK$380 million through banks and a crypto exchange.
Stephen Graves –
A pair of siblings have been arrested by Hong Kong Customs on suspicion of laundering over HK$380 million ($50 million USD) through bank accounts and a cryptocurrency exchange. According to an announcement by Hong Kong Customs, a 21-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offenses under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO), with further investigations revealing that the pair had opened accounts at a number of banks and a “cryptocurrency exchange trading platform.”

Goldman Leads Wall Street Rainmakers in Record Dealmaking Year
Sonali Basak – Bloomberg
Bank’s deal fees exceeded $4 billion for first nine months; JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley also at top of 2021’s M&A work
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. held on to the top spot in dealmaking during a record year. The investment bank was the No. 1 adviser on mergers and acquisitions for the fifth year in a row, as measured by the total dollar value of transactions it handled, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China Is Running Out of Water and That’s Scary for Asia; Of all Bejing’s problems — demographic decline, a stifling political climate, the stalling or reversal of economic reforms — dwindling natural resources may be the most urgent.
Hal Brands – Bloomberg
Nature and geopolitics can interact in nasty ways. The historian Geoffrey Parker has argued that changing weather patterns drove war, revolution and upheaval during a long global crisis in the 17th century. More recently, climate change has opened new trade routes, resources and rivalries in the Arctic. And now China, a great power that often appears bent on reordering the international system, is running out of water in ways that are likely to stoke conflict at home and abroad.

Credit Suisse Chairman Conduct in Focus on Quarantine Breaks
Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
Antonio Horta-Osorio broke U.K. quarantine in July: Report; Lender’s stock has lost a fifth this year after scandals
Antonio Horta-Osorio’s tenure as Credit Suisse Group AG chairman has been focused on moving the firm past scandals. But the lender’s latest headache stems from his own conduct. The Portuguese banker attended the Wimbledon tennis finals in London in early July, a period when arrivals from Europe were obliged to undergo a period of quarantine, according to a report by Reuters, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The allegation comes weeks after Horta-Osorio was forced to apologize for “unintentionally” breaking Swiss quarantine rules earlier this month by flying to the Iberian peninsula aboard a private jet.

FactSet snaps up CUSIP as S&P Global ends more than 50-year relationship with the company; ‘Gold standard’ for securities identifiers, CUSIP will become part of FactSet Content and Technology Solutions.
Anita Hawser – The Trade
S&P Global has sold the ‘gold standard’ identifier for securities services, CUSIP Global Services (CGS), to FactSet for $1.9 billion in cash. Connecticut-based FactSet, which entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CGS from S&P Global, will receive an estimated tax benefit of approximately $200 million as part of the transaction, which will expand its critical role in global capital markets, advancing its open data strategy.

HKEX and mainland partners to add ETFs to Stock Connect; Agreement builds on growing popularity of ETFs in the APAC region.
Richard Schwartz – The Trade
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) and its partners on the Chinese mainland. have reached an agreement to include eligible ETFs in Stock Connect, the mutual market access programme between the capital markets of mainland China and Hong Kong. HKEX, Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) and the China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation (CSDC) will work closely on the details of inclusion, including business and technical preparations such as amendments to relevant rules. It is estimated that the preparation work will take approximately six months to complete.


Coronavirus risk calculations get harder as a study suggests rapid tests may be less effective at detecting omicron; Fauci draws a line on New Year’s Eve parties — no big crowd, and moderate the “hugging and kissing”
Joel Achenbach and Yasmeen Abutaleb – Washington Post
As the coronavirus spawns a record-breaking wave of infections, new research suggests that rapid tests widely used to identify potential covid-19 cases might be less effective at identifying illness caused by the swiftly spreading omicron variant.

WHO Warns That Shorter Quarantines Are Trade-Off as Omicron Surges; U.S. and other governments see hospitalizations lag behind infections, encouraging many to ease self-isolation rules
James Hookway – WSJ
With more countries cutting isolation times and testing requirements, the World Health Organization has warned governments that they are engaging in a trade-off between slowing Covid-19 transmission rates and keeping economies and essential services running.

Biden administration signals pandemic strategy shift in the face of Omicron
Stephen Collinson – CNN
America is plunging into a fast-worsening and frightening winter bout with Covid-19 that will leave few citizens and communities untouched. But as the highly transmissible Omicron variant roars across the country, the Biden administration is revealing the most tangible signs of a shifting pandemic strategy several weeks in the making. It is preparing a nation exhausted by two years of battling the invisible enemy to live more feasibly alongside it.

Omicron surge is ‘unlike anything we’ve ever seen,’ expert says
Aya Elamroussi – CNN
An unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases fueled by the fast-moving Omicron variant is crushing hospitals across the United States, with doctors describing packed emergency rooms as health experts implore New Year’s Eve revelers to keep parties small and outdoors to help avert an even worse surge.

Vaccinating young children: Omicron raises pressure on policymakers; Differences in national policies reflect fast-evolving debate about benefits and risks of jabs for younger children
So far, vaccination is not mandatory for children and no country has demanded five- to 11-year-olds be jabbed before taking part in any activity © Goncalo Fonseca/Bloomberg
Leila Abboud, Hannah Kuchler and Oliver Barnes and Jude Webber -FT
As Omicron-led infections surge across Europe, a drive to vaccinate children aged five to 11 against Covid-19 is dividing opinion: while some parents welcome the opportunity to protect their young, others are unconvinced of the benefits to their health.

Johnson & Johnson booster slashes risk of Omicron hospitalisation, study shows; Two doses cut likelihood by up to 85%, according to real-world South African research
Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
Two doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine cut the risk of hospitalisation by up to 85 per cent, according to a South African study conducted when the Omicron coronavirus variant was dominant.

Covid-19 Testing Crunch Hampers Efforts to Curb Omicron Variant Surge, Already strapped hospitals and health departments struggle to keep up with demand
Valerie Bauerlein, Julie Wernau – WSJ
Long lines and empty shelves continue to slow testing for Covid-19 as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads, with testing relief likely weeks away. The limited availability of test kits is frustrating people seeking tests and complicating efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus when most needed, public-health officials said. As a result, they said, Omicron cases could continue to rapidly increase and possibly overwhelm strapped healthcare systems.

U.S. Sets One-Day Record With Nearly Half a Million New Cases
NY Times
The staggering figure is almost twice as high as the worst days of last winter, although hospitalizations are not rising as fast. A study shows that a booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides strong protection against Omicron.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Trading Overview in Year 2021 & December 2021; Japan Exchange Group released Trading Overview in Year 2021 & December 2021.
Cash Equity Market – In 2021, annual trading value for the TSE 1st Section (domestic common stocks) was JPY 765.0885 trillion, an all- time high, For domestic ETFs, annual trading value was JPY 62.3439 trillion, the second-highest on record, In the REIT market, annual trading value was JPY 17.0692 trillion, the second-highest on record.
Derivatives Market – In 2021, total derivatives trading volume was 333,637,832 contracts., In 2021, total derivatives trading value was JPY 2,952 trillion, Annual trading volume for the night session was 119,071,360 contracts and the ratio of the night session was 36.0 %, Mini-TOPIX Futures, DJIA Futures and Nikkei 225 Weekly Options recorded the highest trading volume., Platinum Mini Futures recorded the fourth highest trading volume., In December 2021, total derivatives trading volume was 30,639,207 contracts, In December 2021, total derivatives trading value was JPY 318 trillion.

Dubai Financial Market Announces New Trading Hours From Monday To Friday
Five hours of daily trading between 10 AM and 3 PM ; The new trading window harmonizes DFM’s operations with international markets
Dubai Financial Market (DFM) today announced its new trading hours that will come into effect as of Monday, 3rd of January 2022, with a five hours trading session between 10 AM and 3 PM from Monday to Friday.

HKEX Foundation Raises $138M for Charity in 2021
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is pleased to announce that HKEX Foundation has raised $138 million in 2021, funding a wide range of projects and charities to support Hong Kong’s most vulnerable and in need. Funds raised by HKEX Foundation, which include direct contributions from HKEX, as well as from private and corporate donations, and from funds raised through HKEX’s Stock Code for Charity Scheme, were up nearly 40

Euronext confirms its position as number one equity listing venue in Europe in 2021
2021 record year for Euronext’s primary markets; 212 new equity listings on Euronext markets in 2021 – an all-time record – representing an aggregated market capitalization of EUR123 billion, and raising EUR26 billion in new capital; 14,600+ new bond listings on Euronext markets in 2021, including 400+ new ESG bond listings; 700+ new clients for Euronext Corporate Services in 2021
Euronext, the leading pan-European market infrastructure, registered record activity on primary markets in 2021, confirming its position as the number one equity listing venue in Europe and as the worldwide leader in debt listing.

NYSE American Options: January 2022 Pricing Changes
In January 2022, pending effectiveness of regulatory filings, NYSE American Options (the “Exchange”) will modify its Fee Schedule to revise charges relating to Electronic transactions, including Market Maker Sliding Scale, Professional Step-Up Incentive, and Complex CUBE Alternative Initiating Rebate Customer Credit Qualifications.

Amendments to Three (3) OPIS PCW Mont Belvieu Ethylene Futures Contracts – CME
CME Globex Notices: December 27, 2021 – CME
CME STP Notices: December 30, 2021 – CME


The Metaverse’s Dark Side: Here Come Harassment and Assaults; As Meta and other companies bet big on an immersive digital world, questions about its harms are rising.
Sheera Frenkel and Kellen Browning – NY Times
Chanelle Siggens recently strapped on an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset to play her favorite shooter game, Population One. Once she turned on the game, she maneuvered her avatar into a virtual lobby in the immersive digital world and waited for the action to begin.

Want to Invest in the Metaverse? Here’s How.
Bernadette Doykos – Boardroom
ProShares is launching the Metaverse Theme ETF, which will give investors a direct path to buying into a potential trillion-dollar industry driven by virtual worlds and cutting-edge technology.

The Seven Biggest Fintech Stories Of 2021; From astronomical startup valuations to the NFT frenzy, here are the seven most important fintech stories of 2021.
Jeff Kauflin – Forbes
1. Fintech startup valuations go berserk
In 2021, fintech valuations became hard to fathom. The most striking illustration was the number of startups that saw huge valuation jumps in six months or less. Payroll startup Deel reached $1.3 billion in April, then $5.5 billion in October. Credit card company Ramp went from $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion over a similar time period. Online checkout startup Bolt raised money at $4 billion in July, announced a $6 billion valuation three months later, was seeking $11 billion just three weeks later (which it reportedly achieved) and then looking for $14 billion shortly after that.

Investors Need to Get a Lot Smarter About FinTech; Rapid product rollouts, a slick user interface or innovative technology are often cited as key competitive advantages, but these are not strategies in themselves.
Ben Ashby – Bloomberg
The good news is that advances in financial technology, or FinTech, are going to improve customers lives. The bad news is a lot of investors are going to lose money while it happens. With a record $98 billion invested in the first half of 2021 alone, taking the total to in excess of $1 trillion over the past decade, the amounts involved are stunning.


6 things in cybersecurity we didn’t know last year
Zack Whittaker – TechCrunch
The past 12 months in cybersecurity have been a rough ride. In cybersecurity, everything is broken — it’s just a matter of finding it — and this year felt like everything broke at once, especially toward the end of the year. But for better or worse, we end the year knowing more than we did before.
Here we look back at the year that’s been, and what we learned along the way.

The New Normal of Cybersecurity: Examining the Top Three 2021 Trends and 2022 Predictions
Mieng Lim – CPO Magazine
The past year has shown organizations that uncertainty and a transformed reality are the new normal in business. While remote work was intended as a temporary response to the global pandemic, it is now considered a regular part of the business environment—fundamentally altering the way companies operate. This means organizations have had to respond in real-time to shift their cybersecurity strategies and keep up with an expanding IT infrastructure, the explosion of IoT devices, and a new wave of threats from more sophisticated attackers. Let’s take a look back at the top cybersecurity trends from 2021 and look into the future to see where the cybersecurity landscape is going in 2022 and beyond.

Cybersecurity 2022: More Fraud, More Fakes, More Crypto Scams
John P. Mello Jr. – Tech News World
As 2021 winds down, it’s time for cybersecurity experts to toss their runes and forecast what’s in store for consumers and practitioners in the coming year.
Cybercriminals will move from identity theft to identity fraud, predicted the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

Cybersecurity products, services double growth between 2019-21
Divya Guha – Fortune India
The Indian cybersecurity services industry almost doubled from $4.3 billion in 2019 to $8.5 billion in 2021. The growth in Indian cybersecurity products was also substantial and grew from $740 million in 2019 to reach $1.37 billion in 2021.
These were the findings of a report by Indian IT industry body NASSCOM. It is a study of more than 100 cybersecurity product and services companies.

Five Cognitive Biases That Can Threaten Your Cybersecurity Efforts
Perry Carpenter – Forbes
Human behavior is, well, human. Much of people’s behavior represents automatic responses to their environment without awareness why they’re responding this way. Many of these automatic responses are based on cognitive biases; these biases can drive behaviors that create risk.
Even more troubling, we’re generally not aware of these biases and their impacts on our behavior. While it doesn’t matter much that seeing a bag of popcorn on the screen before watching a movie might drive someone to the snack bar, it definitely does matter when a compelling subject line in an email drives someone to fall prey to a ransomware-producing phishing attack.


Cashing In On Cryptocurrency And NFTs: Buyer Beware
Lisa Chau – Forbes
Cryptocurrency is going mainstream, as evidenced by the large turnout at the recent NFT NYC conference. Indeed, increasing numbers of companies are accepting the digital money that takes the form of virtual coins or tokens.

The world’s largest crypto exchange Binance is trying to woo France
Jonathan Keane – CNBC
Crypto giant Binance is bolstering its presence in France after a choppy year of regulatory scrutiny. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is financing a 100 million euro ($113 million) initiative with industry group France FinTech in an effort to support the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector in France.

Bank of Mexico confirms CBDC circulation by 2024
Palak Malhotra –
The latest update in Mexico’s Digital Currency project saw a tweet from government’s official account confirming that the Mexican Central Bank will begin the circulation of CBDCs by 2024. Twitter handle representing the Presidency of the Mexican government also noted in its exclusive announcement that this fast-paced CBDC roll out with “new technologies and the next-generation payment infrastructure” will facilitate economic advancement in the nation.

Billionaire Ray Dalio says he wants to mint an NFT just to experience what it’s like
Shalini Nagarajan – Markets Insider
Ray Dalio wants to get into the market for non-fungible tokens, the latest craze to take the digital art collections world by storm. “I definitely want to buy NFTs to just experience that,” Dalio told artificial-intelligence researcher Lex Fridman in a podcast released Saturday. “I think I should produce one,” he said, agreeing to Fridman’s suggestion that he should see what it’s like.

The third largest cryptocurrency gained 1300% in 2021, outperforming market leaders Bitcoin and Ether
Akayla Gardner – Fortune
This year, the old guard of cryptocurrencies lost ground to tokens with greater returns. Researchers predict the trend may continue. Among the three largest digital tokens by market value, Binance Coin, or BNB, significantly outperformed its two larger rivals Bitcoin and Ether. The coin—issued by crypto exchange Binance Holdings Ltd.—gained roughly 1,300% in 2021, according to Arcane Research. By comparison, market leader Bitcoin increased 65% while Ether, the second-biggest token, rose 408%.

YEARENDER The Year of the Doge? 2021, crypto’s wildest year yet
Tom Wilson and Elizabeth Howcroft – Reuters
Bitcoin close to $70,000, “memecoins” worth billions of dollars, a blockbuster Wall Street listing and a sweeping Chinese crackdown: 2021 was the wildest yet for cryptocurrencies, even by the sector’s volatile standards.


Big Tech’s $10 Trillion Bet on Politics as Usual; Soaring market values reflect growing belief that regulations won’t trip Apple, Google, Facebook or Amazon
Dan Gallagher – WSJ
The wisdom of crowds doesn’t always prevail. But more than $10 trillion has been wagered that it will in the coming year. The combined market values of Apple Inc., AAPL 0.05% Microsoft, MSFT 0.21% Google-parent Alphabet Inc., Amazon. AMZN -0.86% com and Meta Platforms—the company once known as Facebook FB -0.95% —stand at $10.1 trillion as of Wednesday’s close. That’s up from $7.5 trillion at the start of the year, reflecting a 35% rise that exceeds the gains of the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite in what has been another strong year for stocks.

El Salvador’s Leader Loved by Crypto Faithful, But Not by Bondholders
Michael D McDonald and Maria Elena Vizcaino – Bloomberg
El Salvador bonds posted the world’s worst losses this year; Investors concerned about country’s unconventional finances
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele made himself a hero to the Bitcoin faithful this year with a whole hearted embrace of the crypto currency. Bond investors have an entirely different view on the country’s leader. The nation’s overseas notes posted the world’s worst performance this year with losses approaching 30%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its $800 million of bonds coming due in early 2023 are now priced below 80 cents on the dollar, signaling skepticism that holders will get paid back on time.


Australia’s pension disclosure rules leave savers in the dark; New superannuation regulations do not require transparency on underlying pension assets, say experts
Anthony Klan – FT
Disclosure rules for Australian pension funds have been so watered-down that it will be impossible for savers to understand the true risks of a portfolio, according to experts who said the country is failing on financial regulation. Introduced after a decade of delays, the rules to implement a 2012 law do not require a full “look-through” to underlying pension assets, leaving individuals uninformed about where their money has gone.

Notice of Annual Meeting of NFA Members and Board and Nominating Committee Election
NFA will hold its Annual Meeting of Members (Annual Meeting) on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. (CST), at its offices located at 300 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800, Chicago, IL. The agenda of the meeting is:

Investing and Trading

U.K. Stockpicker Smith Made More Than £35 Million in Bumper Year
Loukia Gyftopoulou – Bloomberg
Terry Smith’s Fundsmith grew profit by a fifth, accounts show; Equity strategies made gains in a volatile period for markets
British fund management veteran Terry Smith netted himself 35.6 million pounds ($47.9 million) after growing profit at Fundsmith LLP through a turbulent year. Smith, who manages the giant Fundsmith Equity fund, earned about 20% more than a year earlier, according to accounts for the year through March filed at the U.K.’s Companies House.

Virgin Orbit’s Nasdaq listing falls short of fundraising target; Richard Branson’s parent group forced to inject $100m for merger with Spac to go ahead
Richard Waters – FT
Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard Branson’s second space company to reach the stock market, is set to start trading publicly on Thursday after raising less than half of its target of almost $500m. The lacklustre debut on the Nasdaq exchange follows a last-minute announcement by Branson’s Virgin Group that it would inject as much as $100m into Orbit to get the deal done.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

A Bad Year for Hydrogen Stocks Was a Good Year for Hydrogen Companies; The sector’s growth prospects are more sensibly valued after a year of deflating stock prices and industrial progress
Rochelle Toplensky – WSJ
After a gravity-defying 2020, hydrogen stocks have drifted back toward Earth this year. Investor expectations are now better pitched for a sector offering huge growth prospects but on a still-uncertain, subsidy-dependent time scale.


Santander Rushes to Recoup £130 Million Mistakenly Paid Out to U.K. Accounts
Charles Penty – Bloomberg
Banco Santander SA is racing to retrieve 130 million pounds ($175 million) paid out to thousands of British customers in a Christmas Day slip-up. Spain’s biggest lender accidentally made a second payment on Dec. 25 to about 75,000 people and firms who had been due for one-off or programed payments from 2,000 businesses with accounts at its U.K. unit.

Hedge Funds Salvage 2021 Gains as Private Investments Shine
Hema Parmar and Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
Senvest, Impala and SRS are among the year’s top performers; Melvin, Rokos and Alphadyne among firms with steepest losses
For some of the world’s largest hedge funds, private equity ended up making — or saving — the year, and they’re betting that will be the case again in 2022.

Credit Suisse probe finds second Covid quarantine breach by Horta-Osório; Investigation uncovers that chair failed to obey isolation rules when he flew to London and watched Wimbledon tennis finals
Stephen Morris – FT
An internal investigation by Credit Suisse has found that António Horta-Osório breached coronavirus quarantine rules a second time, raising questions about the chair’s personal judgment as he tries to lead a cultural overhaul of the scandal-plagued lender.


Hong Kong media outlet Stand News to shut down after arrests of executives, as press landscape darkens
Shibani Mahtani and Theodora Yu – Washington Post
Stand News, one of the last independent news organizations in Hong Kong, was forced to cease operations Wednesday after police arrested six current and former executives in predawn raids, accusing them of a conspiracy to publish “seditious” material and freezing the company’s assets.

Private Cryptocurrencies Are Prone To Frauds, Extreme Price Volatility, Says RBI
Rituraj Baruah –
The RBI report said that private cryptocurrencies pose immediate risks to customer protection. It noted that the aggregate market capitalisation of the top 100 cryptocurrencies has reached $2.8 Tn. In its recent board meeting, the central bank members raised concerns regarding private cryptocurrencies

Russian Inflation Exceeds Estimate Following Big Key-Rate Hike
Anna Andrianova – Bloomberg
Annual price growth at 8.39% in December was above forecasts; Bank of Russia has said more key-rate rises may be needed
Russian inflation rose faster than analysts forecast in December, staying near the six-year high that has prompted the central bank to warn more key-rate increases may be needed to tame price growth.

Surge in Japanese IPOs points to lack of venture capital culture; Tokyo sees busiest month ever for new listings but investors say companies look woefully unready
Leo Lewis – FT
The small but ambitiously-named Institution for a Global Society Corporation made its debut on Wednesday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers market for start-ups. In the first 15 minutes of trading its shares had soared 26 per cent above the issue price; after 30 minutes, most of those gains had evaporated; after an hour, it had lurched another 13 per cent higher.

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The Spread

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