Penny Stocks Are Booming, Which Is Good News for Swindlers; CFTC Creates Climate Risk Unit to Review Futures, Options

Mar 18, 2021

First Read

$31,926/$300,000 (10.6%)
Rory O’Kane


FIA Boca-V: Eurex To List Futures Tied to German Bitcoin ETN
Thom Thompson – John Lothian News

Eurex CEO Michael Peters on Wednesday told this year’s FIA Boca-V attendees that Eurex will launch a futures contract on a bitcoin ETN, an instrument that trades on Deutsche Boerse’s Xetra platform. Peters nodded to the example of other Eurex derivatives based on ETNs, mentioning specifically its gold ETN futures, but offering no launch date or other details on the bitcoin product.

Peters’s remarks came during a brief session in the FIA Boca-V program that provided recordings of exchange CEOs responding to the same single question. In this instance, the question was about what their exchanges were doing with cryptocurrencies.

Only Eurex talked about an upcoming product launch.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


FIA Boca-V: Google’s Financial Services VP a ‘Kid in the Candy Store’
Suzanne Cosgrove – John Lothian News

Financial institutions are great at collecting data, but they actually utilize less than 1 percent of what they have in-house, said Google executive Derek White. That’s a strong use case for enlisting cloud technology’s help clean and connect that data to the players in a market’s ecosystem.

Speaking Wednesday in a “keynote fireside chat” at FIA Boca-V, White said technology has evolved to the point that what was not possible a decade ago and required a high degree of human intervention, is possible now.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


FIA Boca-V: Crypto Goes Mainstream at Boca, Day 2
Matt Raebel – John Lothian News

The second day of FIA Boca-V was reserved mainly for discussions focused on one of the most disruptive pieces of financial technology shaking up the markets today. I’m not talking about smartphone apps that let you make options bets based on nihilistic posts you read on Reddit – I’m talking about cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency space has experienced something of a resurgence since bitcoin rallied in late 2020. At time of writing, it is currently trading around $56,000 per bitcoin. A few years ago at FIA Expo 2018, the second day of the show was similarly loaded with cryptocurrency-forward panels, and bitcoin was only trading around $6,500.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


FIA Boca-V: In the Age of Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Bergstrom – John Lothian News

Rana Foroohar, global economic analyst and Financial Times columnist, gave a fascinating presentation to FIA Boca on Wednesday on surveillance capitalism that melded finance with global politics and foreign affairs as well as some history, current events and a little prognostication. While the title of the talk was surveillance capitalism, Foroohar included a discussion of the death of neoliberalism and U.S. and EU global policy changes.

In Foroohar’s view, the market-oriented reform policies, or neoliberalism, that marked the 90s is gone. The economic upheaval caused by COVID revealed what was already there the past several years. Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump are not something new, but rather the end of an era. There is no returning to the days of Reagan and Thatcher. “Asset ownership and the ownership society as Bush would have called it,” she said.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


FIA Boca-V: Global Exchange Leaders – Fintech
Jeff Bergstrom – John Lothian News

As part of a series of presentations at FIA Boca on Wednesday, exchange leaders weighed in on fintech. Kicking off the discussion, Terry Duffy, chairman and chief executive officer of CME Group, noted that the cost of technology at the exchanges is substantial and much more expensive than open outcry.

Nevertheless, it brings efficiencies and CME Group is constantly investing in its technology, Duffy said.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

Welcome to Day 3 and the last day of Boca. Normally we would be getting our golf clubs ready for some fun on the beautiful Boca Resort golf course, but instead we are finishing up with sessions on sustainability.

Dr. Richard Sandor is the latest to offer a Jack Sandner remembrance. Thank you, Doc, for sharing your memory of the late great Jack Sandner. We are still accepting remembrances for Jack. Please email me at

Here is Day Two of Chuck Mackie‘s Boca Bits.

The Chicago Fed’s Financial Market Group has an opening for a Lead Financial Markets Analyst who is interested in technology, digital currencies, and fintech policy and research.

Introducing broker Daniels Trading has unveiled a new StoneX brand and services. Daniels was acquired last year by StoneX Group, Inc.

Rory O’Kane is the latest to give to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Rory is a long-time JLN reader who is a managing director with Simplex Investments. He was formerly a senior vice president with Two Sigma, and a managing director with KCG Holdings and Knight Capital before that. We first encountered Rory when he was with TD Securities. Thank you to Rory and all who have given and all who have yet to give. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by giving to our GoFundMe campaign.

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


Spoofing Report Update: Defendants James Vorley and Cedric Chanu’s motions for a new trial were denied Wednesday morning by the trial judge, Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The two former Deutsche Bank precious metals traders were found guilty of criminal spoofing by a jury last September. Attorneys for Vorley and Chanu had based their motions on, among other things, issues resulting from conducting a trial held during the pandemic. The court also set aside the defendants’ “Rule 29” motion for acquittal. Pending appeals of the decisions, sentencing, which may include jail time, was set for June 21, 2021. ~Thom Thompson


Chimps from two Czech zoos are Zooming each other
CNN Travel
We humans may be tiring of video calls, Zoom birthdays and streamed performances, but the chimps at two Czech zoos are just starting to enjoy their new live online linkup.
To make up for the lack of interaction with visitors since the attractions closed in December under Covid-19 restrictions, the chimpanzees at Safari Park Dvur Kralove and the troop at a zoo in Brno, 93 miles away, can now watch one another’s daily lives on giant screens.

*****Monkey see, monkey do…although I guess chimps are technically apes.~MR


WallStreetBets Founder Reckons With Legacy Amid Stock-Market Frenzy; Jaime Rogozinski likens recent surge in GameStop shares to a ‘train wreck happening in real time’
Akane Otani – WSJ
The man who created Reddit’s WallStreetBets isn’t who you think he is. He is 39 years old. He lives in Mexico City with his wife, a physician, and spends his weeks chasing after their 3-year-old twins and tending to his day job as a consultant—hardly the sort of character one might associate with the roiling investing forum.

*****Don’t worry about legacy. Just do the right thing and it will take care of itself.~JJL


The Federation Of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges Holds “Meet The Market With FEAS | Securities Market Of Armenia” Virtual Event
On March 17, 2021, The Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges (FEAS), alongside with its members Armenia Securities Exchange and Central Depository of Armenia, held the “Meet the Market with FEAS | Securities Market of Armenia” virtual event.

*****I just joined the event at the end when they were saying goodbye. Argh!~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
The most-read item in the newsletter on Wednesday was a press release from former Cboe CEO Bill Brodsky’s new venture, Options Solutions Offers Options Strategies that Seek to Boost Income and Lower Risk. The second most popular story was the tribute page from John Lothian News, Jack Sandner Remembrances. And third was from Fathom Communications’ Chuck Mackie, Boca Bits: Notes From Day One of FIA Boca-V 2021.


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Lead Stories

Penny Stocks Are Booming, Which Is Good News for Swindlers; Retail investors see the tiny companies as the next big opportunity after meme stocks and cryptocurrency. But shares are an easy target for fraud.
Matt Phillips – NY Times
It didn’t look like a very promising investment opportunity. SpectraScience’s phone number was out of service. So was its website. And it hadn’t disclosed financial results since late 2017, when the San Diego medical equipment company reported a quarterly loss — its 12th in a row. But early this year, SpectraScience’s nearly worthless shares — priced in hundredths of a penny and too minor to trade on a major stock exchange — sprang to life.

CFTC Creates Climate Risk Unit to Review Futures, Options; The derivatives regulator said the unit will help ensure that new products and markets fairly factor climate-change risks into pricing and other areas of the market
Dieter Holger and Kimberly Chin – WSJ
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission formed a new unit to gauge the dangers posed by climate change to futures and options markets, the latest move by a financial regulator related to climate change under the Biden administration.

NFTs are the latest get-rich-quick scheme for the ‘cryptosphere’; The bubble-mania around ‘non-fungible tokens’ will eventually burst
Jemima Kelly – FT
We are in the midst of a new mania. A species of digital asset as unsexy-sounding as the “non-fungible token” — or the only marginally sexier “NFT” — is taking over the front pages, social media and, sadly for me, my life.

At Long Last, Wall Street Sees Path to Return to the Office
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Flexibility is emerging, but banks largely want employees back; Finance industry contrasts with tech’s embrace of remote work
New York City is reopening, vaccinations are accelerating and spring brings with it an air of optimism. For Wall Street’s banks, that means a return to offices may finally be in sight.

Jerome Powell Promises Not to Take Away the Punch Bowl; If the economy turns into a giant party, the Fed is promising not to be an uptight host.
Neil Irwin – NY Times
It was once said that the governor of the Bank of England had the power to guide the behavior of Britain’s banks with the mere raise of an eyebrow. For the Federal Reserve in 2021, the equivalent may be Jerome Powell’s chuckle. Mr. Powell, the Fed chair, was asked at a news conference Wednesday whether — in light of its forecast that the economy would recover quickly in the months ahead — it was time to “start talking about talking about” slowing the central bank’s buying of $80 billion in bonds each month.

What Happened When American Investors Tried to Buy the World’s Oldest Bank; A group led by a former congressman made an offer for the lender in December, but people say Italian officials are worried it has little track record in banking.
Chiara Albanese, Sonia Sirletti, John Follain, and Luca Casiraghi – Bloomberg
Italian officials have been trying to find a buyer for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA for years. But there’s at least one offer on the table that they are reluctant to consider and has been kept out of the public eye.

Robinhood Offers Users Cash for New Deposits as $1,400 Checks Arrive;Traders on the brokerage platform can get account credits ranging from $10 for a $200 deposit to $250 for a deposit of at least $15,000.
Anders Melin and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Just as millions of Americans begin receiving $1,400 stimulus checks from the government, Robinhood Markets is offering some traders bonuses for new deposits. Under the “Robinhood Cash Rewards” program, some of the trading platform’s users can get account credits ranging from $10 for a $200 deposit to $250 for a deposit of at least $15,000 over the next two weeks. The offer is being rolled out just weeks after Robinhood’s co-founder was grilled by lawmakers for features that critics say entice users to trade excessively.

Danske Faces Long Road Back as Fine From Probes Seen Hitting $1 Billion
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
It will be years before Danske Bank A/S is fully rehabilitated from the shock of one of Europe’s most spectacular money-laundering scandals, according to its chairman, Karsten Dybvad. Since admitting in late 2018 that a large part of the 200 billion euros ($238 billion) in non-resident cash that flowed through an Estonian unit was tainted, Danske has been cleansing its organization of any processes or personnel associated with the scandal. It’s also tried to build an iron-clad compliance unit, as it tries to reform itself and win back the trust of clients and investors.

Time for a great reset of the financial system; A 30-year debt supercycle that has fuelled inequality illustrates the need for a new regime
Chris Watling – FT
On average international monetary systems last about 35 to 40 years before the tensions they create become too great and a new system is required. Prior to the first world war, major economies existed on a hard gold standard. Intra-wars, most economies returned to a “semi-hard” gold standard. At the end of the second world war, a new international system was designed — the Bretton Woods order — with the dollar tied to gold, and other key currencies tied to the dollar. When that broke down at the start of the 1970s, the world moved on to a fiat system where the dollar was not backed by a commodity, and was therefore not anchored. This system has now reached the end of its usefulness.

Lessons from history make Reddit trading frenzy a risky bet; Wall Street’s meme-powered earnings may prove fleeting for stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown
Bryce Elder – FT
“Tell Sid” was how it started. “Tweet Elon” is how it’s going. British stockbrokers have been riding Wall Street’s retail trading wave. Hargreaves Lansdown raised profit targets on Wednesday, reporting elevated share dealing volumes since the end of January as its clients piled into US stocks.

European bond sale order books grow to ‘ridiculous’ levels; ECB asset purchases have inflated what was once a key yardstick for judging investor demand
Joshua Oliver – FT
Investors have been toppling records this year with outsized orders for a rush of new eurozone government debt, but bankers say the true scale of demand for the bonds is becoming harder to discern.

Banks need to be freed from Fed deposits; Here’s how to do it.
Robert McCauley – FT
Limits excite. So observed Charles Kindleberger, the best financial market historian. What limit is riling the bond market these days? One is a fast-approaching balance-sheet limit for some of the largest US banks.

IRS Delays Tax-Filing Deadline Until Mid-May; Extension will give taxpayers more time to grapple with late law changes, pandemic
Richard Rubin – WSJ
The Internal Revenue Service delayed the main April 15 tax-filing and payment deadlines for individuals until May 17, giving taxpayers and preparers a bit of breathing room in an unusually complicated tax season.

US could be on the cusp of Covid-19 infection surge officials have been dreading, expert warns
Christina Maxouris – CNN
The US may be on the cusp of another Covid-19 case surge, one expert says — a surge that health officials have repeatedly warned about as state leaders eased restrictions and several lifted mask mandates. “I think we are going to see a surge in the number of infections,” emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen told CNN on Wednesday night. “I think what helps this time though is that the most vulnerable — particularly nursing home residents, people who are older — are now vaccinated. And so we may prevent a spike in hospitalizations and deaths.”

SIFMA Recommends a Full Market Close on April 2 and an Early Market Close on April 5 in Japan in Observance of the Good Friday and U.K. Easter Monday Holidays
SIFMA has confirmed its previous recommendations for a full market close on Friday, April 2 and an early market close at 3:00 p.m., JST, on Monday, April 5 for the trading of U.S. dollar-denominated fixed income securities in Japan in observance of the Good Friday and U.K. Easter Monday holidays.


Vaccine Populism Is How Europe Loses; This crisis shows the limits of the leadership style that’s dominated EU politics — a combination of expert-driven technocracy with crowd-pleasing populism.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
The world is watching Europe with dismay. The region’s vaccination campaign is a mess, failing to outpace a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections that’s straining hospitals and triggering more stay-at-home curbs. The European Union’s tally of average doses administered per 100 people stands at 11.8, well behind the U.S. and the U.K. at 34.1 and 40.5 respectively (though there is some divergence between the EU’s 27 members).

Maybe Vaccine Line-Jumping Isn’t So Bad; Shorter queues and inconsistent eligibility rules are changing how we think about cheating the Covid vaccine system.
Stephen L. Carter – Bloomberg
Jumping the vaccine queue, once frowned upon, is suddenly in vogue. Not long ago, health care workers would get in trouble for calling around to see who wanted doses that would otherwise expire. Now the news media are openly worrying about the fate of those leftovers. Journalists and health advice blogs alike are praising websites like Dr. B, where those who want to get vaccinated ahead of schedule can sign up to be informed when a local facility has extra doses. Half a million people have joined.

America’s Covid Swab Supply Depends on Two Cousins Who Hate Each Other; The pandemic brought the business opportunity of a lifetime to Puritan Inc. of Guilford, Maine. But even a $250 million infusion from the U.S. government has done little to quell an epic family feud.
Olivia Carville – Bloomberg
A year ago, on Friday, March 13, about 50 government officials and experts met for the first time to talk about a crucial problem: how to test more Americans to determine if they were infected with the novel coronavirus. Jared Kushner stopped by; Mike Pence made an appearance later that weekend. SARS-CoV-2 had spread to more than a hundred countries—Tom Hanks had been infected in Australia—and the death toll in the U.S. was expected to reach as high as 250,000. Offices, schools, and streets were emptying; stocks were plunging. The NBA had just suspended its season. It was the official start of the global pandemic.

How ‘Vaccine Day’ Could Boost Inoculations; Public health advocates are pushing a citywide series of events in Boston to lay the groundwork for a one-time federal holiday to celebrate frontline workers — and win over the vaccine-hesitant.
Andrew Zaleski – Bloomberg
In the last week, the U.S. Covid-19 vaccination rate accelerated to 2.43 million doses per day, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. More than 100 million Americans have received vaccine doses, and over 30 million people have fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is aiming to ramp up vaccine distribution and expand eligibility to all adults by no later than May 1.”

Vaccines Seen Protecting Against Brazil Strain in Oxford Study
Marthe Fourcade – Bloomberg
AstraZeneca Plc’s and Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccines may help protect patients from the coronavirus variant that emerged in Brazil, scientists said in a study that may alleviate some concerns about their role in slowing the pandemic.

Squeeze on Indian supplies of AstraZeneca jab blamed for UK delay; Shipments from Serum Institute emerge as pinch point in supply to the NHS
Sarah Neville and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and Stephanie Findlay – FT
Rising domestic demand for Indian-made doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been blamed for hampering supplies available for export to the UK.

New variants pose fresh test for UK’s Covid defences; So far Britain has prevented mutations spreading like wildfire across the population but concern remains
Anna Gross – FT
Two cases of a new and concerning coronavirus variant, originating from the Philippines, have been identified in England, posing a new challenge to the UK’s defence against mutant strains.

NHS warns of ‘significant reduction’ in vaccine supplies; Delays to jabs for under-50s but Hancock insists programme on course to reach all UK adults by end of July
Sarah Neville and Sebastian Payne and Hannah Kuchler – FT
The UK’s coronavirus vaccine programme was thrown off course on Wednesday as the NHS warned of a “significant reduction” in supplies of jabs and ordered a freeze on new vaccination appointments for April.

Korean Covid vaccine maker more than doubles on share debut; SK Bioscience’s $1.3bn IPO comes after group signed deal to make jabs for AstraZeneca
Song Jung-a – FT
Shares in SK Bioscience, a South Korean Covid-19 vaccine producer, more than doubled on their trading debut after retail investors flocked to the local market’s largest initial public offering in four years.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

BW Ideol lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
The offshore wind company BW Ideol has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: BWIDL). BW Ideol has more than 10 years of experience in design, execution and development of floating wind projects.

Successful migration of issuer CSD services for Irish securities from Euroclear UK & Ireland to Euroclear Bank
Euronext and Euroclear Bank today announced the successful migration of issuer CSD services for 50 Irish corporate issuers and listed companies from CREST (operated by Euroclear UK & Ireland) to Euroclear Bank (an International Central Securities Depository), effective 15 March 2021. The settlement of Irish securities traded on Euronext Dublin markets on 15 March 2021 took place successfully in Euroclear Bank on 17 March 2021.

Eurex MSCI: high roll activity in Asian underlyings | More than 882k contracts traded from March 8-11

The Role of CO2 Pricing in a Sustainable Economy
Carbon pricing is seen as a major factor in efforts to reduce global carbon emissions, and the recent election of U.S. President Joe Biden has put the U.S. back in a global leadership role. In a DerivSource Q&A, Farah Abi Morshed, Innovation Manager, ABN AMRO Clearing Bank discusses the role of carbon pricing in sustainable indices, the interplay of private markets and state interventions and what comes next.

Vantage Towers new in the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange
Deutsche Börse AG
Vantage Towers AG (ISIN: DE000A3H3LL2 ) has been listed in the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since today . At the start of trading, the shares were quoted at EUR 24.80. The issue price was EUR 24.00.

CME Globex Notices: March 15, 2021
CME Group
Critical System Updates
iLink 2 on MSGW – Decommission Reminder
Update on Order Routing and Front-End Audit Trail Requirements for iLink 3
Anchor Leg Pricing Enhancement – This Week
Update – GLink Network Infrastructure Upgrade at Aurora Co-Location Facility – March 27 UPDATE
CME FX Link Enhancements – March 28
CME FX Link Enhancements: Drop Copy Impact – March 28

CME STP Notices: March 18, 2021
CME Group
CME STP FIXML API Connectivity Documentation
BrokerTec Production Service Availability
Changes to Italian Repo Collateral Clean Price – April 11

Adding Product Sub Type to Post-Trade Processing Messages – Effective June 07, 2021
CME Group
In order to more clearly represent fee and grouping criteria, CME Clearing will add the Product Sub Type attribute (@SubTyp) to Post-Trade Processing FIXML messages sent from FECPlus. The SubTyp attribute is included in the Instrument block of the FIXML messages. Product Sub Type is currently being used as a fee criteria but was not being included on post-trade processing messages. The Production date for this change is Trade Date Monday, June 07, 2021.

Storage and Handling Rate Changes for Tucson Port Authority, LLC
CME Group
Tucson Port Authority, LLC, a COMEX Warehouse for the storage and delivery of copper deliverable against the Exchange’s Copper futures contract, will implement new rates in connection with the storage and withdrawal of copper at its facility located in Tucson, AZ. The new rates, presented below, reflect the maximum amount of fees that can be charged.

Application Withdrawal for Regularity in Live Cattle
CME Group
Notice is hereby given that the firm listed below has withdrawn their application for regularity in Live Cattle to become an approved stockyard:

Initial Listing of European Style Wednesday Weekly and Monday Weekly Options Contracts on E-mini Nasdaq-100 Index© Futures
CME Group

Position Limits, Accountability Levels and Large Trader Reporting Requirements in Connection with the Initial Listing of Three (3) New LNG Freight (LNG Fuel) (Baltic) Futures Contracts and Amendments for Three (3) Existing LNG Freight Route (LNG Fuel) Futures Contracts
CME Group
In connection with the listing of New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc.’s (“NYMEX” or “Exchange”) three (3) LNG Freight (LNG Fuel) (Baltic) Futures Contracts on trade date Monday, March 22, 2021 (see SER-8704 published February 25, 2021), please note below and in Exhibit B of NYMEX Submission No 21-006, the corresponding spot-month position limits (Rule 559), aggregation allocations (Rule 559.D.), single month and all month accountability levels (Rule 560) and reportable levels (Rule 561) for the new contracts. The first listed contract month shall be April 2021. The new, financially settled, contracts shall have diminishing balances.

Initial Listing of the Ukrainian Wheat (Platts) Futures and Options on Ukrainian Wheat (Platts) Futures Contracts
CME Group
Effective Sunday, April 11, 2021 for trade date Monday, April 12, 2021, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, The Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. (“CBOT” or “Exchange”) will list the Ukrainian Wheat (Platts) Futures and Options on Ukrainian Wheat (Platts) Futures contracts (the “Contracts”) for trading on the CME Globex electronic trading platform (“CME Globex”) and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort, as noted below.

SGX RegCo clarifies process for shareholders wishing to obtain Jardine Strategic Holdings share certificates from CDP
Singapore Exchange Regulation (“SGX RegCo”) refers to the notice of special general meeting and the circular Jardine Strategic Holdings Limited (the “Notice”, “Circular” and “Company” respectively) issued on 18 March 2021, in relation to the cash acquisition of the Company by Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited (“Jardine Matheson”) by way of an amalgamation under the Bermuda Companies Act (the “Amalgamation”).

CFTC Acting Chairman Behnam Establishes New Climate Risk Unit; Interdivisional Group Will Focus on Derivatives Markets’ Role in Addressing Climate-Related Risk and Transitioning to Low-Carbon Economy
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Chairman Rostin Behnam today announced he has established the Climate Risk Unit (CRU) to support the agency’s mission by focusing on the role of derivatives in understanding, pricing, and addressing climate-related risk and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Comprised of staff from across the CFTC’s operating divisions and offices, the CRU represents the agency’s next step in response to what has become a global call to action on tackling climate change. The CRU is intended to accelerate early CFTC engagement in support of industry-led and market-driven processes in the climate—and the larger ESG—space critical to ensuring that new products and markets fairly facilitate hedging, price discovery, market transparency, and capital allocation.


Ant, Vanguard-Backed Robo Adviser Hits 1 Million Users in China
Lulu Yilun Chen – Bloomberg
The robo-adviser service backed by Vanguard Group Inc. and Ant Group Co. has reached one million users, hitting a key milestone as the U.S. mutual fund giant bets its success in China on the joint venture. BangNiTou, which means “help you invest,” has become the most popular fund investment advisory service in China based on user number, the company said. Its 800 yuan ($123) minimum investment requirement helped attract user interest since it started in April last year.

Fintech Giant Fiserv Used Unclaimed Domain — Krebs on Security
Krebs on Security
If you sell Web-based software for a living and ship code that references an unregistered domain name, you are asking for trouble. But when the same mistake is made by a Fortune 500 company, the results can range from costly to disastrous. Here’s the story of one such goof committed by Fiserv [NASDAQ:FISV], a $15 billion firm that provides online banking software and other technology solutions to thousands of financial institutions.

Payments Fintech Providers & Startups in 2021
Alexandra Samet – Business Insider
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up our transition to digital, causing many businesses to turn to online technology for money management.
As more companies infiltrate the payments space, we’ll share which models have been successful and why, to help you stay ahead of Financial Services industry trends, and soar above the competition.

This is the fintech that Mark Cuban says you should learn about now
Taylor Locke – CNBC
To keep up with emerging technology, self-made billionaire Mark Cuban is always reading and learning new things. It’s a tactic he uses to understand artificial intelligence, and now he has set his sights on cryptocurrency and the technology that surrounds it, like blockchain and NFTs. In fact, Cuban recommends people use his tactic and take time to learn about “crypto and DeFi,” he tells CNBC Make It. Decentralized finance, or DeFi, refers to a system of applications that aim to recreate traditional financial instruments with cryptocurrency. For example, through DeFi lending, users can loan or borrow cryptocurrency, as you could with fiat currency at a bank, and earn interest as a lender. Interest fluctuates depending on demand at the time, and borrowers must provide collateral (with other crypto-assets), as the process is nearly anonymous.

Fintech investor Emmalyn Shaw will share why she led the Steady Series A
Jordan Crook – Tech Crunch
Investors often say they don’t just invest in products, but in the right teams to solve a particular problem. With Steady, Adam Roseman built the platform based on his own personal experience. His father hadn’t saved enough for retirement and needed to work part-time. Steady is a platform that helps people find flexible jobs quickly, get financial advice and save money through deals on things like healthcare plans and tax help. Today, Steady has more than 2 million registered users. So it’s no surprise that Emmalyn Shaw, co-manager of the $500 million Flourish Ventures fund, was eager to invest. She led the company’s Series A back in 2018.

ID through AI: Who is fintech’s latest unicorn Socure?
William Girling – Fintech Magazine
The round was led by Accel and received additional backing from Citi Ventures, Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Commerce Ventures, and others. Founded in 2012, Socure positioned itself as a leader in ID verification at a time when fintechs and digital transformation were just gaining momentum. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, its predictive analytics platform correlates over 300 data points to provide a fast and detailed view of fraud risk.

Fintech Focused VC Group 11 Raises $120 Million for Fifth Fintech Fund
JD Alois – Crowdfund Insider
The VC says it will invest primarily in Silicon Valley-based Fintech software companies often related to Israel through their founding teams and R&D centers. Previously, Group 11 noted that approximately the majority of its portfolio is Israeli-related. Founded in 2012 by managing partner, Dovi Frances, Group 11 has backed Fintechs like TripActions, HomeLight, Next Insurance, Sunbit, Tipalti, Papaya Global, EquityBee, and Lili Bank. SoFi is a portfolio company that is one of its exits. Tipalti recently booked a $5 billion valuation. Papaya raised $100 million at a $1.2 billion valuation Group 11 Fund V is said to be anchored by institutional investors Migdal Insurance and Harel Group, who were joined by Menora Mivtachim Insurance, More Investment House, Hachshara Insurance Company, True Capital Management, and other US and Israeli based family offices.

Cash-and-send fintech startup Diem raises $5.5M seed led by Fasanara Capital
Mike Butcher – Tech Crunch
Diem, a London, U.K.-based fintech startup, has raised a seed round of $5.5 million led by Fasanara Capital, and angel investor Chris Adelsbach, founder of Outrun Ventures. Additional investors include Andrea Molteni (early investor in Farfetch), Ben Demiri (co-chairman at fashion tech PlatformE) and Nicholas Kirkwood (founder of the eponymous brand). Diem is a debit card with an app affording instant cash access, traditional banking service benefits (debit card, domestic and international bank transfers), but also allowing consumers to dispose of goods for eventual resale. The idea here is that this feeds into the so-called circular economy, making Diem attractive from an environmental point of view.

Capitolis Partners With AcadiaSoft to Enable Greater Capital Optimization for Financial Institutions Amid Evolving Regulatory Landscape
Capitolis, the leading SaaS platform that drives financial resource optimization for capital markets, today announced a partnership with AcadiaSoft, the leading industry provider of risk and collateral management services for the derivatives community. The partnership combines AcadiaSoft’s risk analytics and repository of industrywide margin data with Capitolis’ proprietary technology platform, which will enable greater capital optimization for financial institutions.

How Germany considered rescuing Wirecard days before its doom
John O’Donnell, Tom Sims – Reuters
The German government examined the possibility of bailing out Wirecard just three days before it collapsed, according to documents seen by Reuters showing that officials were blindsided by the country’s biggest post-war fraud scandal.


DTCC Proposes Way Forward to Achieving Global Data Harmonization in Derivatives Trade Reporting
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the premier market infrastructure for the global financial services industry, today outlined a three-prong plan to further harmonize derivatives trade reporting requirements and deliver against the objectives that were originally established by the Group of 20 (G20) at its historic 2009 summit in Pittsburgh. In a new paper released today, titled, Course Correction: Finding a New Path to Global Data Harmonization in Derivatives Trade Reporting,” DTCC outlines its recommendations for a path forward in reaching global data harmonization in the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market.

The NFT Craze Actually Does Make Sense; The world is witnessing the beginning of a whole new genre of art and a new generation of art patrons.
Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
Is it crazy to pay $69.3 million for a digital artwork that is itself a composite of the artist’s other major artworks? More specifically, is it crazy to pay that much merely for the right to claim you own the original copy of a collection of pixels that can be reproduced by anyone? The more I think about it, the more I think the answer is no — an emphatic no. This purchase is not only sane but also bold and brilliant.

Have $93 Million? You May Be Able to Boost Bitcoin’s Price by 1%
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
BofA says flows affect Bitcoin more than gold, Treasuries; Biggest owners of the cryptocurrency are seen as holding on
Bigger investments into Bitcoin may be able to move its price significantly. The largest cryptocurrency has doubled so far in 2021 as institutions and retail investors pour in cash, not to mention Tesla Inc’s $1.5 billion purchase and all the buying from MicroStrategy Inc. JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists have estimated that institutional flows into Bitcoin are up 20% in dollar terms this quarter from the prior period, while retail has increased 90%. And that intake may be moving the price of Bitcoin more than it would some other assets, according to strategists at Bank of America Corp. including Francisco Blanch and Savita Subramanian.

Why a U.S. Bitcoin ETF Could Be a Real Thing in 2021
Claire Ballentine and Katherine Greifeld – Bloomberg
Looking for the adrenaline rush of investing in Bitcoin but without the bother of crypto-exchanges and digital wallets? An exchange-traded fund might appeal, except an investor won’t find one tracking Bitcoin in the $5.9 trillion U.S. ETF universe — at least not yet. While exchange-traded crypto-tracking products exist in Europe and a Bitcoin ETF opened in February in Canada, U.S. regulators have repeatedly batted down attempts to introduce them, citing concerns about potential manipulation and thin liquidity. Yet with the world’s largest digital coin rallying to new heights and a change of leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prospect of a first U.S. Bitcoin ETF appears to be rising.

Crypto Fever Has Oldest Indian Exchange Seeking to Double Volume
Suvashree Ghosh – Bloomberg
ZebPay eyes $2 billion in monthly transactions in India; ZebPay CEO sees huge untapped investor base among Indians
India’s oldest exchange for trading cryptocurrencies aims to double monthly transactions after an explosion in demand, despite concerns of looming curbs from the nation’s authorities. ZebPay, a platform with about 4 million customers, expects to churn $2 billion worth of trades per month, said chief executive officer, Rahul Pagidipati. While that’s still less than one fifth of trades handled by top U.S.-based exchange Coinbase Global Inc., there is a vast untapped market in India, he said.

Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Leads Republic Fund-Raising
Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
Republic private investment has risen four times in last year; Broadhaven, Prosus also take part in latest funding round
Republic, whose more than 1 million users make it the largest private investment platform, raised $36 million from investors including Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, Broadhaven Ventures and Prosus NV.

Bank of New York Mellon Invests in Crypto Startup; Investment in Fireblocks comes as BNY Mellon pushes into digital-asset custody
Alexander Osipovich – Bloomberg
Bank of New York Mellon Corp. BK 0.58% is investing in a cryptocurrency startup, the latest move by a traditional Wall Street player to embrace digital assets. The startup, Fireblocks, builds tools for the secure storage and transfer of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. BNY Mellon plans to use Fireblocks’s technology to underpin a new business that the bank unveiled last month, in which it plans to serve as a custodian for digital assets on behalf of institutional investors.

Morgan Stanley to offer wealth management clients access to bitcoin funds: source
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Morgan Stanley alerted its wealth management advisors Wednesday that the Wall Street giant will begin offering access to at least one bitcoin-related fund to accredited wealth management clients. It’s the latest sign of bitcoin adoption on Wall Street and a big development for the cryptocurrency in the wealth management channel. Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit boasts 16,000 advisors, managing some $4 triillion in client assets. According to a source at the bank, the firm could offer clients access to funds operated by NYDIG or Galaxy Digital.

Grayscale adds five new crypto investment trusts including Chainlink and Filecoin
Saniya More – The Block
Crypto asset management company Grayscale has added five new investment trusts to its product suite. The new products are Basic Attention Token ($BAT), Chainlink ($LINK), Decentraland ($MANA), Filecoin ($FIL) and Livepeer ($LPT), according to a tweet by Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein. The additions come nearly two months after the company incorporated six more trusts, including those connected to the Chainlink (LINK) and Tezos (XTZ) tokens.

SEC Publishes VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF Application, Kicking Off Decision Clock
Nathan DiCamillo – Coindesk
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acknowledged VanEck’s 19b-4 Form for its bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application on Monday, formally kicking off its 45-day window to make an initial decision on the proposal. If approved, the ETF would be the first open bitcoin exchange-traded product in the U.S., though there has long been demand for such a product from the crypto community. Historically, the SEC has rejected every bitcoin ETF application, including VanEck’s past efforts, citing potential for market manipulation and a host of other concerns. However, industry pundits believe that the agency may finally be ready to approve one under incoming Chair Gary Gensler, a former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) who has been fairly bullish on crypto and blockchain, teaching courses on the technology at MIT in recent years.

John McAfee retains law firm to fight U.S. government’s securities, tax charges
Aislinn Keely – The Block
John McAfee has retained legal representation for charges he’s currently facing in the U.S. Gordon Law Group, a tax law firm, will defend McAfee in federal legal cases he faces focused on alleged tax evasion and securities fraud. The Department of Justice indicted McAfee on securities fraud-related charges earlier this month. The allegations are related to his cryptocurrency venture the “McAfee Team.” The DOJ says McAfee used Twitter to build interest in certain assets with misleading claims and without adequately disclosing his positions. The agency also alleges he engaged in multiple pump-and-dump schemes.

Bitcoin Suisse Pulls Bank Application Amid Regulatory Concerns
Leonard Kehnscherper – Bloomberg
Crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse AG withdrew its application for a banking license in Switzerland after regulator Finma flagged potential weaknesses in the firm’s money laundering defense mechanisms.

Morgan Stanley to Offer Rich Clients Access to Bitcoin Funds
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
Funds on offer to customers with ‘aggressive risk tolerance’; Wall Street mostly stayed on the sidelines during crypto surge
Morgan Stanley plans to offer wealthy clients access to three funds that will enable ownership of Bitcoin, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Thai Central Bank Warns Against ‘Illegal’ Use of Baht-Denominated Stablecoin; The Bank of Thailand has deemed any activity involving the THT stablecoin “illegal” on the basis it violates the nation’s Currency Act.
Sebastian Sinclair – Coindesk
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has issued a warning against the use of Thai baht-denominated stablecoins labeling them a threat to the stability of the national currency system.


Biden Must Apologize for Putin ‘Killer’ Claim, Russia Says
Anthony Halpin and Andrey Biryukov – Bloomberg
Kremlin says comments ‘very bad,’ show no desire to build ties; Russia recalled U.S. envoy for consultations over Biden remark
U.S. President Joe Biden must apologize and take back “boorish” allegations that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is a killer, a top Russian official said, a day after Moscow recalled its ambassador in protest.

Ray McGuire Wants to Swap Citi for City Hall. It Won’t Be Easy; Top investment banker says New York needs a moneyman as mayor, but voters aren’t buying.
Max Abelson, Jennifer Surane, Foal Akinnibi – Bloomberg
Ray McGuire, one of the most successful Black bankers on Wall Street, had something to tell his friends. It was September 2019, and seated around a table at the Manhattan home of ViacomCBS Inc. board member Charles Phillips was a small group of Black executives who had made it to the top of corporate America. McGuire, then vice chairman of Citigroup Inc., said he was thinking of joining the race to become New York’s next mayor.

SIFMA Statement on Ranking Member Toomey’s Guiding Principles for Housing Finance Reform
SIFMA today issued the following statement from president and CEO Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. on the set of guiding principles for housing finance reform introduced by U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA):


Steinhoff New Fraud Charges Near With Police to Get Report
Janice Kew and Paul Vecchiatto – Bloomberg
PwC findings to assist South Africa with lengthy probe; Retailer Steinhoff almost collapsed in 2017 accounting scandal
South Africa’s chief prosecutor said a new auditor report into the alleged 6.5-billion euro ($7.7 billion) fraud at Steinhoff International Holdings NV is due at the end of the month — and could bring the three-year investigation close to a conclusion.

EU watchdog raises concerns on third-party reliance after exchange outages in 2020; The European regulator cited blackouts at Euronext, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Australian Securities Exchange in its report.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
The markets regulator in Europe has raised concerns over trading venues’ reliance on third-party data and software providers following several major technical outages that took place globally in 2020. In its first trends, risks, and vulnerabilities (TRV) report of the year, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) cited major blackouts at Euronext, the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), and warned against reliance on third-party data and software providers.

SEC Issues Agenda for March 19 Meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee
The Securities and Exchange Commission today released the agenda for the March 19 meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee (AMAC). AMAC was formed to provide the Commission with diverse perspectives on asset management and related advice and recommendations.

Update on trial dates in criminal cases
Northamptonshire insider dealing prosecution
At a plea and trial preparation hearing at Southwark Crown Court on 11 March 2021, a date was set for the trial of Stuart Bayes and Jonathan Swann. Mr Bayes and Mr Swann are being prosecuted by the FCA for insider dealing. Mr Bayes has also been charged with improperly disclosing inside information, or encouraging another, whilst being an insider, to engage in dealing.

From regulator to firm to consumer: a virtuous chain of events
Speech by Georgina Philippou, Senior Adviser to the FCA on the Public Sector Equality Duty, delivered at the Building Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in Investment Management – Report Launch.

SEC Acting Chairwoman Wants Fund Managers to Disclose More Voting Information; Asset managers failed to vote on significant shares during fight over GameStop last year
Dawn Lim – WSJ
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s acting chief wants the agency to require clearer disclosures on how asset managers cast shareholder votes. Acting Chairwoman Allison Herren Lee said in a Wednesday speech that disclosure rules have failed to help everyday investors understand how managers exercise those crucial votes for them.

Investing and Trading

Powell Faces Tough Campaign to Convince Traders of Fed’s Resolve
Emily Barrett – Bloomberg
First rate increase priced for early 2023 despite guidance; Market needs more reminding from Fed, says Vanguard’s Mathias
The Federal Reserve succeeded in pushing back against market expectations for a rate hike in the next two years, but only partially. The central bank envisages keeping rates near zero to the end of 2023 despite a significantly brighter assessment of growth and higher inflation over the near term. After the release, traders trimmed some of the more-aggressive positioning they’ve been building for a “lift-off” by earlier in 2023.

IEA pushes back against Wall Street calls for oil ‘supercycle’; ‘Ample’ global supplies will prevent further sharp rise in prices, says energy body
Anjli Raval – FT
The expectation of Wall Street banks that oil has entered a new and sustained period of dramatic price rises is misguided, said the International Energy Agency on Wednesday.

World’s Top Oil Trader Vitol Smashed Profit Record in 2020
Jack Farchy and Javier Blas – Bloomberg
Trading house is said to have made around $3 billion net; Oil traders enjoyed bonanza year on wild price gyrations
Vitol Group reaped record profits of around $3 billion last year as the world’s largest independent oil trader surfed the dramatic moves in energy mar

The Celebrities From Serena Williams to A-Rod Fueling the SPAC Boom; With fame comes fortune? Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment are behind the recent rise in blank-check companies
Amrith Ramkumar – WSJ
One key driver of the boom in special-purpose acquisition companies is a reputational shift. Blank-check companies were associated with fraud and lackluster investor returns for decades. Now, SPACs are cool, and the biggest names in sports, politics, business and entertainment are involved.

Borrowers Cash in on Refinances as Rates Begin to Rise, ICE Mortgage Technology Origination Insight Report Shows
ICE Mortgage Technology
Homeowners drove refinance share high in February, with refinances representing 68 percent of closed loans, a figure not seen since December 2012. This activity occurred as interest rates on all closed loans slightly rose for the first time since December 2019, according to the latest Origination Insight Report from ICE Mortgage TechnologyTM, part of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

CEO Pay Tied to ESG Sets Canadian Banks Apart From the Crowd
Kevin Orland – Bloomberg
Canada’s six largest banks have all added ESG components to their chief executive officers’ compensation frameworks, putting them in a small minority of companies that tie executive pay to such measures.
How environmental, social and governance matters affect pay varies by firm, as does the percentage of compensation involved. Still, the Canadian lenders stand out because only 9% of the 2,684 companies in the FTSE All World Index tracked by researcher Sustainalytics in a 2020 study had tied executive pay to ESG.

BOE and FCA Among 44 Finance Institutions to Miss Gender Targets
Tom Metcalf – Bloomberg
Finance firms including BlackRock and UBS also fell short; Some companies say Covid disrupted hiring plans last year
The Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority were among dozens of organizations that missed targets to choose more women for senior roles in Britain last year.

To Judge ESG Investment Quality, Look Beyond The Label
Martin Jarzebowski – Forbes
Rewind a decade or so. You’ve decided it’s time to eat better, so you head to the local grocery store looking for some healthy options. After strolling down aisle after aisle, you run into the “organic” section. It’s tucked away in the back, identified by an unassuming green marker.
Fast forward to today. Step foot in a supermarket, and you are bombarded with signs and labels touting natural cuisine. Organic food is mainstream. But success breeds competition and, with it, products of varying quality and questionable nutritional value.

CFA Institute Launches Certificate In ESG Investing
Jacqueline Sergeant – Financial Advisor
In an effort to meet the growing interest in environmental, social and governance investing, CFA said it will market the certificate in ESG investing, created by the CFA Society of the United Kingdom, in financial hubs across the globe. The certificate is designed to meet the needs of practitioners in investment roles who want to learn how to analyze and integrate ESG factors into their investment analysis practice, CFA said, adding that it is also for anyone looking to improve their understanding of ESG issues in functions such as sales and distribution, wealth management, product development, financial advice, consulting and risk.

Advisers warned not to disregard Europe’s ESG rules
Chloe Cheung – FT Adviser
Advisers have been warned that Britain’s departure from the European Union does not necessarily mean they are safe to disregard its new sustainable investing rules. The EU’s regulation on sustainability disclosures in the financial services sector, also known as the SFDR, came into effect on March 10. The UK government elected not to implement the regulation in legislation since Britain left the EU’s regulatory umbrella at the beginning of 2021. But experts have warned advisers that the UK government is considering implementing similar rules and that advisers should consider following SFDR regulation as good practice, even if it is not UK law.

Analysis: UK is now halfway to meeting its ‘net-zero emissions’ target
Simon Evans –
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were 51% below 1990 levels, according to new Carbon Brief analysis. This means the UK is now halfway to meeting its target of “net-zero” emissions by 2050.

Diversifying Finance With the Greenwood Project
In this edition of “Bloomberg Equality,” Bevon Joseph, co-founder of the Greenwood Project and program alumni Hayes Bynum discuss the initiative’s work to create a true diversity pipeline for minority students to enter the financial industry. They speak with Bloomberg’s Romaine Bostick. (Source: Bloomberg)

BlackRock to Press Companies on Human Rights and Nature
Saijel Kishan and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Asset manager to ask companies about communities, forests; BlackRock says it may vote against directors who fail to act
BlackRock Inc., the money manager that’s made bold statements about climate change, now plans to press companies about their policies related to human rights, as well as biodiversity, deforestation and water.


Generic Trade Levels the Playing Field for the Individual Trader; Name Brand Trading Platform with Generic Pricing
Generic Trade Discount Broker
There’s a cost saving generic alternative to the trading firms in the headlines surrounding the Reddit phenomenon and trading groups like Wallstreetbets. One that doesn’t reduce costs by receiving up to half of their revenue from high-frequency trading and payment for order flow.

Score Priority Corp. Extends RCM-X Algo Partnership; Score Priority customers to benefit from equity execution algo integrations via the Lime platform
Score Priority Corp
Score Priority Corp. (“Score Priority”), a financial services organization for the retail and institutional trading community, announced today the extension of its existing partnership with RCM-X, a provider of algorithmic execution strategies and quantitative trading products for institutional clients.

HSBC in talks to sell French retail network to Cerberus subsidiary; Negotiations with US private equity firm reflect UK lender’s strategy to sharpen focus on Asia
David Keohane, Philip Stafford and Stephen Morris – FT
HSBC is in final negotiations to sell its French retail network to a subsidiary of US private equity firm Cerberus, as the bank continues to dispose of underperforming assets in the west and sharpen its strategic focus on Asia.

Credit Suisse overhauls unit and suspends bonuses over Greensill scandal; Bank warns it may face litigation over its role in controversial supply chain finance funds
Owen Walker – FT
Credit Suisse will overhaul its asset management business and suspend bonuses for some senior executives, as the bank races to contain the damage from the collapse of supply chain finance company Greensill Capital.

AXA IM to roll out outsourced trading services for smaller firms; A gap in the market created by the squeezing of margins and the need for significant investment in execution and middle-office activities led AXA to offer outsourced trading.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
AXA Investment Managers has started offering outsourced trading services to smaller asset managers as it becomes the latest player to enter the space following a supposed increase in demand.

Goldman Sachs trades first Indian Rupee interest rate swap at Tradeweb; The launch of the Indian Rupee interest rate swaps comes as Tradeweb expands its emerging market offering.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
US investment bank Goldman Sachs has traded the first interest rate swap in Indian Rupees (INR) at fixed income trading platform provider Tradeweb. Tradeweb confirmed the launch of INR IRS in a post on social media, adding that the new product launch came as part of its continued expansion into emerging markets.

Goldman, Citi Lead U.S. Banks Plowing Billions Into China
Denise Wee – Bloomberg
Five big U.S. banks had combined $77.8 billion in exposure; Wall Street is drawn to China economy like ‘moths to a flame’
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. led U.S. banks plowing billions of fresh cash into China last year, undeterred by political turmoil as the world’s second-largest economy further opens its $50 trillion financial market.


South Africa Sets up 1 Billion Rand Fund to Assist Black Farmers
Loni Prinsloo – Bloomberg
Fund aims to help small-scale farmers boost agriculture output; Government expects private lenders to co-fund projects
South Africa created a 1 billion-rand ($68 million) fund to help small-scale Black farmers enter commercial agricultural production. The Department of Agriculture will finance the project that will be run by the Industrial Development Corp., a state-owned bank that plans to provide loans to farmers. The fund will have an initial duration of 10 years.

China’s Gasoline and Diesel Exports Surged on Weak Local Demand
Bloomberg News
Domestic consumption sluggish during Lunar New Year holidays; Exports set to keep growing as state refiners plan more flows
China’s gasoline and diesel exports surged in the first two months of the year as domestic fuel demand weakened during the Lunar New Year holidays.

China Ramps Up Farm Imports to Cover Domestic Food Shortages
Bloomberg News
China, the world’s biggest importer of farm commodities, ramped up purchases in the first two months of this year to plug growing local shortages and to keep food prices under control. The country shipped in almost 5 million tons of corn in January and February, more than five times the amount unloaded a year earlier, according to customs Thursday. That included an all-time monthly high of 3 million tons in January.

China Facing Shortages Seeks to Cut Corn and Soymeal Use in Feed
Bloomberg News
China, the world’s biggest importer of corn and soybeans, is seeking to reduce their use in livestock feed in an attempt to curb the country’s dependence on foreign supplies, according to an official publication.

Beijing seeks more information on VanEck China ETF plans; Move marks departure from previous stipulation that applicants simply be ‘top ranking’
Selena Li – FT
China’s fund regulator has requested “explanations” from VanEck over its ETF plans in a communication that appears to mark a departure from Beijing’s previous stipulation that applicants for fully owned fund management units should be “top ranking”.

UK companies face curbs on dividend and bonus payments; Long-awaited overhaul of audit and corporate governance regime outlined after accounting scandals
Daniel Thomas and Jim Pickard – FT
Large companies with insufficient cash reserves are to be barred from paying shareholder dividends and executive bonuses in a major overhaul of the UK’s audit and corporate governance regime.

Shell and Eni cleared of corruption over Nigeria oil deal; Italian judge acquits energy groups and current and former executives in legal saga’s latest twist
Anjli Raval, Neil Munshi and Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli – FT
Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Eni and several of the energy groups’ current and former executives were cleared of corruption charges on Wednesday in a long-running Italian case over a 2011 oil deal in Nigeria.


Britain’s professional services grapple with life after Brexit; Business leaders are bewildered by visa and work permit restrictions imposed by UK-EU trade agreement
Michael Skapinker – FT
Farzana Baduel, chief executive of London-based Curzon PR, voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, thinking it unfair that EU immigrants could enter the UK freely while her family members in Pakistan could not. Martin Darbyshire, head of Tangerine, a design consultancy, was a fervent Remainer and felt he had to apologise for the result during a post-referendum trip to Germany.

A Culinary Tour Of Brexit
Frank Langfitt and Cardiff Garcia – NPR
On The Indicator, we’re taking a culinary tour of Brexit! When The U.K. finally completed its exit from the European Union New Year’s Eve, it meant that many different industries had to change the way they did business. On the show, we’re joined by Frank Langfitt, NPR’s London correspondent, to discuss one of hardest hit sectors: food. Specifically, we’re talking about oysters, cheese and wine. Each item tells a different story about the real world consequences of Brexit so far, from new regulations to extra paperwork to a nationalistic cheese buying frenzy. And the people who work in these industries reflect on the promise of Brexit: how it was sold and what’s actually happening on the ground.

Irish assets worth 100 billion euros leave London due to Brexit
Reuters Staff
Securities settlement for Irish assets worth more than 100 billion euros ($119 billion) has left London for the European Union in the latest adjustment in markets to Brexit. Pan-European exchange Euronext, which runs the Irish stock exchange, said on Thursday it had completed the migration of securities settlement for 50 Irish companies from Crest in London to Euroclear Bank in Brussels from March 15. Settlement of EU securities must take place in a central securities depository (CSD) inside the bloc.

Irish PM Martin tells Biden UK and EU must ‘stand by’ Brexit trade rules
Aime Williams and Laura Noonan – FT
Ireland’s prime minister has told Joe Biden that the UK and EU must “stand by what has been agreed” on post-Brexit rules on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Speaking by video link at the annual St Patrick’s Day bilateral meeting between the Irish and American leaders, Micheál Martin said London and Brussels must “move forward with a positive relationship” on the Northern Ireland protocol, which is designed to prevent a hard trade border on the island of Ireland following the UK’s departure from the EU. The EU this week launched legal action against the UK after the British government took steps to unilaterally ease rules governing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, allegedly in breach of London’s Brexit treaty with the bloc.


What news publishers can learn from Netflix; Traditional media groups face a challenge to justify value amid competition from rival sources for attention
Alex Barker – FT
What would Reed Hastings do if he ran a news publication instead of Netflix? The website technology would almost certainly be better. There might be no advertising; much like the Netflix streaming service, the Daily Hastings would be a subscription-funded enterprise.

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