Risk Management at Crypto Firms Is in Focus Following FTX Collapse

Jan 9, 2023

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

Last week we forgot to highlight a Viewpoint piece from FIA MarketVoice by FIA President and CEO Walt Lukken titled “Lessons from the year of crypto.” The subheadline is “In aftermath of FTX, markets must recognize value of intermediation but not abandon innovation.”

It was this day in history that changed the world in many ways. The New York Post reminds us that January 9 was the day Apple Founder and CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at MacWorld in San Francisco. Based on the uptake of the iPhone and the long lines on Michigan Avenue for it that year, it was a factor in my decision to start MarketsWiki when the MediaWiki software was made available by Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales

Belvedere Trading announced on LinkedIn that it was welcoming two new team members: Russell McManus as the new chief technology officer and Ryan Mersman as its new chief financial officer.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is hiring student trainees for administrative, data scientist, economist and legal positions.

Sarah Meyers is starting a new position as recruiting coordinator at Citadel

Catherine Heanue has joined Tallarium as head of marketing and communications.

Flavia Romero, the treasurer of Coinbase, announced on LinkedIn her intention to leave the company she joined in 2020.

OSTC India is looking for new talent to join its OSTC Markets Academy. Apply HERE.

Imane Kabbaj has joined Man Group as director of responsible investment.

The New York Times has a story saying “Noma, Rated the World’s Best Restaurant, Is Closing Its Doors.” So who is Noma Two?

I have started to send out invoices for 2023 subscriptions to this newsletter. If you would like an invoice for yours, please email me at johnlothian@johnlothian.com. As a reminder, we give the newsletter free to college students, college professors, news media and those truly retired. If you are a regular reader of JLN, you will be receiving an invoice in 2023. If you are at a firm that has an enterprise subscription with JLN and also receiving JLN at your personal email address, please email us back and let us know. The cost of an individual subscription of JLN is $200 per reader, which is about 75 cents per newsletter or about what a newspaper used to cost. The enterprise subscription is $150 per reader or about 57 cents per newsletter. All in all a very good value, we believe.

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


Gilbert Leistner – Open Outcry Traders History Project – Part Two

In part two of his interview for the Open Outcry Traders History Project, Gilbert Leistner spoke about his relationship with Les Rosenthal.

He recalled regularly meeting with Rosenthal at 4 a.m. after the 1987 stock market crash to go over risk issues. Invariably, Leistner would get a call from Rosenthal’s wife asking if he was there, checking to see if Rosenthal really was headed to the office as he said when he left home at 4 a.m.

Watch the video »


MarketAxess Promotes Chris Concannon to Chief Executive Officer; Richard M. McVey to Become Executive Chairman
The Board of Directors of MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: MKTX), the operator of a leading electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities, and the provider of market data and post-trade services for the global fixed-income markets, today announced that, effective April 3, 2023, Richard M. McVey, currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will become Executive Chairman and Chris Concannon, currently President and Chief Operating Officer, will be promoted to Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Concannon will also continue to serve as a director on the Company’s Board.

****** Chris Concannon’s move to MarketAxess from Cboe is looking better all the time.~JJL


FIA urges SEC to exempt FCMs from expanded US Treasuries clearing proposal
Futures Industry Association
FIA has submitted comments to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to proposed rules establishing standards for covered clearing agencies for U.S. Treasury securities. The SEC has proposed rules that would significantly expand the scope of Treasury transactions, including both those in secondary markets and repurchase agreements, that would have to be cleared at the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation. In its comments, FIA noted that Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs) registered with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission that are jointly registered with the SEC would be subject to the SEC’s rules as well as existing CFTC rules governing FCMs.

***** Double your pain, double your displeasure.~JJL


A New Area of A.I. Booms, Even Amid the Tech Gloom; An investment frenzy over “generative artificial intelligence” has gripped Silicon Valley, as tools that generate text, images and sounds in response to short prompts seize the imagination.
Erin Griffith and Cade Metz – The New York Times
Five weeks ago, OpenAI, a San Francisco artificial intelligence lab, released ChatGPT, a chatbot that answers questions in clear, concise prose. The A.I.-powered tool immediately caused a sensation, with more than a million people using it to create everything from poetry to high school term papers to rewrites of Queen songs. Now OpenAI is in the midst of a new gold rush.

***** The new gold rush is OpenAI. Just ask it.~JJL


Developers pitch $1.2 billion of LaSalle Street residential conversions
Danny Ecker – Crain’s Chicago Business
Some of Chicago’s best-known developers are collectively pitching more than $1.2 billion-worth of projects to turn outdated office buildings on and near LaSalle Street into places to live, a key step toward what could be a historic transformation of the vacancy-ridden Loop thoroughfare. Responding to a call for such proposals from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is dangling tax-increment financing and other public incentives to help finance them, developers submitted nine proposals for seven different properties, according to a spokesman for the department of planning and development.

****** Are you looking for an apartment on LaSalle Street? One with your name on it is coming soon.~JJL


The U.S. Is Naive About Russia. Ukraine Can’t Afford to Be.; Putin is right about one thing: A free, prosperous, democratic neighbor is a threat to his autocratic regime.
Anne Applebaum – The Atlantic
Children twirled around a skating rink just outside the president’s office in central Kyiv last week, while tourists took pictures of themselves in front of onion-domed, snow-dusted churches. The stores were full of people shopping for the New Year’s holiday and Orthodox Christmas, just as they always are at this time of year. The airports were crowded.

***** This is a must read.~JJL


FTX Seeks to Recoup Sam Bankman-Fried’s Charitable Donations; Nonprofits struggle to decide how to handle money received from bankrupt crypto exchange
Eric Wallerstein – The Wall Street Journal
Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX doled out millions in charitable donations. Now, new management is asking for it back. Some of the money, however, has already been spent, and the gifts flowed through myriad sources and agreements that are proving difficult to tally.

****** This is an interesting concept, that all money is not the same. There is a risk in taking charitable contributions from “new money” or firms that might blow up where you would be asked to give it back. Maybe we need a market to hedge this risk.~JJL


Friday’s Top Three
Our top story Friday was The Winklevoss twins are in a big mess-and it has to do with crypto, from Fortune. Second was Citadel Posts Record Revenues for Hedge-Fund, Securities Operations, from The Wall Street Journal. Third was Billionaire Mark Cuban warns the next crypto implosion could come from ‘wash trades,’ report says, from Business Insider.


MarketsWiki Stats
27,125 pages; 242,245 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Risk Management at Crypto Firms Is in Focus Following FTX Collapse; Recent turmoil has prompted questions about what the nascent industry is doing to manage risks and how to identify red flags that signal a firm is in trouble
Mengqi Sun – The Wall Street Journal
Cryptocurrency companies are disclosing more information about their internal controls and risk management following the collapse of FTX, but a level of transparency in the industry that would make many investors feel comfortable remains far off. Without a federal regulatory regime for the nascent crypto industry in the U.S., risk-management measures vary by firm and it remains difficult for outside observers-including investors and customers-to determine how effective these controls are until things go bad, industry experts say.

Crypto Empire DCG Faces US Investigation Over Internal Transfers; EDNY, SEC said to be reviewing money flows between companies; Scrutiny follows losses stemming from 2022 crypto turmoil
Allyson Versprille and Ava Benny-Morrison – Bloomberg
US authorities are digging into the internal financial dealings of Barry Silbert’s expansive crypto empire, according to people familiar with the matter. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are scrutinizing transfers between Digital Currency Group Inc. and an embattled subsidiary that offers crypto lending services, said the people, who asked not to be named because the probe hasn’t been made public. They’re also delving into what investors were told about those transactions.

China looks to weaken US dollar with petroyuan as oil producers rally to Beijing, and Russia has ‘become an Asian nation,’ analyst says
Brian Evans – Business Insider
While the dollar will likely remain the dominant global currency in the near future, the rise of a so-called petroyuan will gain momentum as China leverages its status as the world’s biggest oil importer, analysts say. The greenback remains the top currency for trade and foreign reserves. But Beijing is increasingly pushing the yuan as a currency for oil deals, challenging the dollar’s lead in commodity markets.

Brazil Riots Sap Investor Sentiment After Rocky Start to Year
Vinícius Andrade – Bloomberg
Fears of social unrest and political instability in Brazil will weigh on investor sentiment after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday invaded the country’s top government buildings, challenging the leadership of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva just a week after he took office.

Higher Rates, Tech Selloff Fuel Options Boom; Spending surged on options tied to stocks such as Amazon, Nvidia after shares lost about half their value
Eric Wallerstein – The Wall Street Journal
Investors trying to capitalize on higher interest rates and the deep selloff in big technology stocks are stoking a flurry of activity in the options market. Popular stocks such as Amazon.com Inc. and Nvidia Corp. lost about half of their value in the past year, raising the worth of some options tied to those shares. Their share declines have been much steeper than many investors wagered, creating a mountain of deep in-the-money put option contracts-or those that allow investors to sell the shares at a price that is now far above current levels.

Why gold is the bright stuff for would-be sanctions busters; Bullion can be traded more easily beyond US oversight than dollars
Jonathan Guthrie – Financial Times
Experts joke that some Russian-mined gold in British vaults “is so old it has double-headed Imperial eagles stamped on it”. Ownership shifted into non-Russian hands decades ago, they say. But investors are worried that Russian gold could be used for sanctions busting. The London Bullion Market Association is therefore registering it all.

Goldman Sachs prepares to cut 3,200 jobs to rein in costs; Wall St bank scaling back consumer operations and confronting slowdown in investment banking
Joshua Franklin – Financial Times
Goldman Sachs will begin cutting up to 3,200 jobs within days, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the Wall Street bank tries to rein in costs in the face of a slowdown in investment banking and a paring back of its consumer bank.

Beijing blocks listings of ‘red light’ companies to steer funding to strategic sectors; Securities regulator identifies some industries as off-limits to equity financing on Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges
Sun Yu and Cheng Leng – Financial Times
China’s stock regulator is set to stop allowing local companies in certain sectors to list on the country’s main stock exchanges as Beijing works to channel funding into strategic industries, according to two capital markets bankers familiar with the matter. The regulator has told some bankers that it has given several industries, including food and beverage chains and Covid-19 testing companies, a “red light” status that makes them off-limits to equity financing on the main boards in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

U.S. Investigators Subpoena Hedge Funds in Binance Money-Laundering Probe: Report
Elizabeth Napolitano – CoinDesk
Federal prosecutors are investigating the relationship between Binance and U.S.-based hedge funds as part of a broader investigation into the cryptocurrency exchange’s possible skirting of money-laundering guardrails, according to a report by the Washington Post. Heading the investigation is the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, which, in recent months, has sent subpoenas to firms requesting records of their dealings with Binance, the Post reported, citing two people who had reviewed one of the subpoenas.

2022 Saw The Second Highest Oil Production In U.S. History
Robert Rapier – Forbes
Now that 2022 is behind us, we can review final numbers for U.S. oil production. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes these numbers, but they are usually two months behind. As such, as I write this they have only reported the monthly oil production numbers through September (Link). Nevertheless, the EIA reports weekly numbers and the four-week average in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report. We can use the four-week averages for November and December to fill in those monthly gaps and get a close estimate of total oil production in 2022.

1 big thing: Slack heads to SCOTUS
Kia Kokalitcheva – Axios
Last month the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up an appeal by Slack to a lawsuit over its 2019 direct listing, which alleges the company made false statements in its prospectus. Slack was bought out by Salesforce in a deal worth nearly $28 billion, completed in 2021, but the decision may have ripple effects on other public listings and how unregistered (and registered) shares get marketed and sold.

Crypto Panic at Silvergate Spawns a New Breed of Bank Run; Depositors from single volatile sector fled amid market tumult; That unusual danger is seen drawing new regulatory attention
Yueqi Yang and Hannah Levitt – Bloomberg
When US banks fell like dominoes during the Great Depression, the cause was often a classic run: Depositors withdrew cash en masse amid fears that lenders were amassing huge losses on bad loans and investments. The cryptocurrency era just put a new twist on that – with the depositors running into trouble first. Silvergate Capital Corp., a California lender that offers digital-asset ventures a place to park their cash, jolted shareholders Thursday with the revelation that it had recently survived an $8.1 billion drawdown on deposits. That’s roughly 70%, even more severe than runs seen in the Depression.

‘Spectacular’ Trading Drop Plagues Still-Reeling Crypto Market; Crypto ‘effectively nonexistent’ for institutions, Gross says; Trading volume plunged over 46% in 2022, CryptoCompare says
Vildana Hajric and Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
The crypto market, on top of everything else, has another problem on its hands: trading activity is in the gutter. In 2022, trading volume on centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken and Binance plunged more than 46%, according to data compiled by CryptoCompare. On Binance, which remains the leader in terms of market share, spot trading fell 45% to $5.4 trillion. And Bitcoin, the most-traded digital asset, saw trading volumes decline 31% year-on-year, the researcher said in a report.

Crypto Exchange Huobi Has Bad News; The platform, which is headquartered in the Seychelles, is one of the latest victims of the crisis affecting the sector over the last year.
Luc Olinga – TheStreet
This is bad news that the cryptocurrency industry could have done without. The latest episode suggests that the very difficult period that the young Blockchain-powered financial services industry is going through is far from over. The cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has just announced a 20% reduction in its workforce in a general move to reduce costs to cope with the fall in cryptocurrency prices. “With the current state of the bear market, a very lean team will be maintained going forward,” the Huobi spokesperson told news agency Reuters.

‘Holy grail’ wheat gene discovery could feed our overheated world
Robin McKie – The Guardian
It is the plant that changed humanity. Thanks to the cultivation of wheat, Homo sapiens was able to feed itself in ever-increasing numbers, transforming groups of hunter-gatherers struggling to survive in a hostile world into rulers of the planet. In the process, a species of wild grass that was once confined to a small part of the Middle East now covers vast stretches of the Earth. As the historian Yuval Noah Harari has observed: “In the great plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres without encountering any other plant.”

The TRADE Crypto Roundtable: Episode 1 – The digital asset dilemma; Watch the first video instalment: in which we introduce our panellists, explore the background of 2022, and identify the key questions that need to be answered.
Laurie McAughtry – The Trade
In December, The TRADE brought key stakeholders together for an in-depth discussion of the barriers to institutional involvement in digital assets. In the first of five video episodes, managing editor Laurie McAughtry introduces the panelists and identifies the key issues for discussion, with insights into the current landscape, data and volumes as well as a conversation around what digital assets really mean.

Logan Paul Issues Apology for CryptoZoo Situation
Shawn Wilken – GameRant
In light of recent controversy surrounding Logan Paul and CryptoZoo, the popular YouTube star plans to issue a public apology over the situation. The drama began when CoffeeZilla, a YouTube creator who specializes in investigative journalism on cryptocurrency scams, released a three-part documentary on YouTube sharing the dark nature behind Logan Paul’s most-recent business venture. In the documentary series, CoffeeZilla released several text messages between Paul and a group of investors who were involved in the launch of CryptoZoo, along with interviewing several fans of Paul who chose to engage in the app, spending and eventually losing thousands of dollars. Once all three parts were released, the controversy between Logan Paul and CoffeeZilla was elevated to alarming levels after Paul recorded a seven-minute response video.

What Are Crypto Exchange Bank Runs and How Do They Work?; Plus, learn a few ways to protect yourself from such bank runs.
Temitope Olatunji – Make Use Of
The history of bank runs dates back to the advent of banks. The situation affects banking systems and other financial services that offer similar services. Crypto exchanges provide services similar to those provided by traditional banking systems, so they are not immune to the problem. The widespread lack of regulation on exchanges makes it important to understand what crypto bank runs are and how to protect yourself against them. What then are bank runs, and how can you protect yourself from their adverse effects? You will get to know soon.

Analysis-Bankman-Fried fraud charges sidestep debate over how U.S. law sees crypto
Luc Cohen – Reuters
Sam Bankman-Fried may find it hard to argue the fraud charges against him should be tossed because of uncertainty as to how U.S. law treats cryptocurrency, as other high-profile defendants in criminal cases involving digital assets have done. That is because Manhattan federal prosecutors’ charges against the founder of now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX have largely sidestepped an ongoing debate as to whether cryptocurrencies should be regulated as securities or commodities, legal experts told Reuters.

FTX Opposition to $1B Binance Deal Is ‘Hypocrisy and Chutzpah,’ Voyager Says
Jack Schickler – CoinDesk
Bankrupt crypto lender Voyager has defended its $1 billion plan to sell assets to Binance.US, calling criticisms “hypocrisy and chutzpah” based on unverified speculation, two legal filings posted late Sunday night show. The plan has been opposed by Alameda Research, the trading arm of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Justice (DoJ) and numerous state-level regulators, with a hearing due to be held at a New York bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

Former FTX US President Promises to Share More Information ‘In Time’
Andrew Asmakov – CoinDesk
The former head of the U.S. division of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX Brett Harrison said he’ll share in due course what he knew about the firm. In a brief response to a Twitter post asking about what he was aware of and when, Harrison stated: “I’ll share in time.”

Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX isn’t much different from the birth of Wall Street
Tim Rowland – The Herald-Mail
Give them this: At an age when most of us were still shooting pool, listening to Merle on the jukebox and figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives, the kids at FTX were creating a multibillion-dollar financial empire. So what if it was fabricated? Crypto was “mostly scams and memes when you get down to it,” wrote Caroline Ellison, 28, who ran the hedge fund side of Sam Bankman-Fried’s high-tech Ponzi scheme.

Central Bank’s $143 Billion Record Loss Costs Swiss Government Usual Payout
Bastian Benrath – Bloomberg
Switzerland’s government will not receive a payout from the Swiss National Bank for 2022, as the central bank projects the biggest loss in its 116-year history. The SNB expects an annual loss of about 132 billion francs ($143 billion), more than five times the previous record, it said Monday in preliminary results. The largest part of this, 131 billion francs, stems from collapsed valuations of its large pile of holdings in foreign currencies, accrued as a result of decade-long purchases to weaken the franc.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s Defense Team Led by Battle-Tested Lawyers; FTX founder turns to former federal prosecutors with experience in high-profile defense cases
James Fanelli – The Wall Street Journal
A pair of attorneys defending FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried against one of the biggest white-collar prosecutions in decades are veterans of high-profile cases, including ones involving drug lord El Chapo and disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

Using Up America’s Oil Reserve Was Easy. Refilling It Won’t Be; The Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s current inventory might be the new normal
Jinjoo Lee – The Wall Street Journal
It took less than a year to draw 180 million barrels of oil out of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Replacing those barrels will likely take a lot longer, if it happens at all. After President Biden authorized a historic emergency release last year, there were roughly 372.4 million barrels left in the SPR as of Dec. 30, the lowest level in 39 years. No wonder the Energy Department is pivoting toward a refill: In mid-December, the agency announced that it would start repurchasing crude for the SPR. It is taking baby steps, starting with a 3-million-barrel pilot program under which it would offer market participants a fixed price for future delivery. This is a new approach for the DOE, which has typically purchased for more immediate delivery. The idea is to use the fixed-price contracts as a carrot for U.S. oil producers to invest in production.

Ukraine Invasion

Russia preparing to mobilise extra 500,000 conscripts, claims Ukraine
Isobel Koshiw and Pjotr Sauer – The Guardian
Ukraine’s military intelligence has claimed that Russia is set to order the mobilisation of as many as 500,000 conscripts in January in addition to the 300,000 it called up in October, in another apparent sign that Vladimir Putin has no intention of ending the war. Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, said Ukraine believed the conscripts would be part of a string of Russian offensives over the spring and summer in the east and south of the country.

Putin war aims unchanged but lacks manpower, morale -Pentagon
Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali – Reuters
President Vladimir Putin’s aim of seizing Ukrainian territory has not changed, but Russian forces continue to suffer from military weaknesses including the amount of troops they have, the Pentagon said on Friday, as Washington hopes the latest record weapons package for Kyiv will help Ukraine retake territory occupied by Russia. “Putin has not given up his aims of dominating Ukraine and continuing to acquire Ukraine’s territory,” said Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense focusing on Russia and Ukraine.

How a Billion Lost Eggs Show Challenges for a Ukrainian Economic Comeback
Alistair MacDonald – The Wall Street Journal
Andriy Chirkov said he felt euphoric when the giant chicken farm he managed on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast was freed from Russian rule. Then he saw the devastated state soldiers had left it in. For Ukraine’s war-battered economy to return to health, Kyiv needs to revive economic assets like Avangard Group’s Chornobaivske chicken farm, a factory that used to export a billion eggs a year. The Wall Street Journal reported in April on how the invasion had left the farm’s over 4 million chickens dead, landing a handful of remaining workers with the job of burying the birds.

‘We have nothing,’ Ukrainians say as they line up to collect pensions despite shelling
Ben Wedeman – CNN
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports from the town of Siversk, Ukraine, where a mobile post office has become a lifeline for the elderly as it delivers their state pensions to buy supplies from the handful of shops still open.

Heavier Arms for Ukraine Give Putin No Respite
Michael Winfrey – Bloomberg
Ten months ago, Ukraine and its allies would have probably rejoiced if Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a cease-fire. Kyiv’s flat refusal to join his plans for a 36-hour pause in the fighting shows how much things have changed. With his troops slowly clawing back territory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy repudiated Putin’s call for a halt to hostilities to observe Orthodox Christmas as a cynical bid to shore up Russian positions and halt Kyiv’s advance. While that was happening, two of Ukraine’s top military patrons were agreeing after months of hesitation to deliver armored vehicles that can better take on Russian tanks.

London to host international meeting on alleged war crimes in Ukraine
Justice ministers from around the world will gather in London to scale up the support being offered to the International Criminal Court in its investigations of alleged war crimes in Ukraine, the British government said on Saturday. The meeting in March, which will be hosted by UK Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and his Dutch counterpart Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius, will be attended by ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan, according to a statement. “Almost a year on from the illegal invasion, the international community must give its strongest backing to the ICC so war criminals can be held to account for the atrocities we’re witnessing,” said Raab, who is also Britain’s deputy prime minister.

Russia and Belarus extend military drills amid fears of new push into Ukraine
Emma Graham-Harrison – The Guardian
Russia and Belarus have expanded their joint military training exercises in Belarus, the country’s defence TV channel said on Sunday, as concern grows that Moscow is pressuring its closest ally to join the war in Ukraine. The two countries added weapons, soldiers and specialised equipment to the exercises and were doing drills drawing on Russian experience in Ukraine, Reuters reported. On Friday the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, visited a military base where Russian troops are stationed to meet troops and discuss the joint military drills.

Russia and Ukraine exchange 50 soldiers each in prison release deal
Russia and Ukraine swapped 50 captured soldiers each on Sunday in a deal that both sides welcomed even as they fought one another in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s defence ministry said the 50 returned Russian soldiers would be flown to Moscow for medical and psychological rehabilitation. “On January 8, as a result of negotiations, 50 Russian servicemen, who were in mortal danger while in captivity, were returned from the territory controlled by the Kyiv regime,” it said in a statement.

Russia’s Flagship Oil Is Trading at Half Global Prices With Tiny Pool of Buyers; Urals crude oil traded at about $38 a barrel on Friday; European ban made Russia increasingly reliant on China, India
Alaric Nightingale – Bloomberg
Russia’s flagship oil is selling at less than half international prices – and way below a Group of Seven imposed cap – following sanctions targeting the Kremlin’s revenue from petroleum sales. The nation’s Urals grade, a far bigger export stream than any other crude that Russia sells, was $37.80 a barrel at the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk on Friday, according to data provided by Argus Media. Global benchmark Brent settled at $78.57 on the same day.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Thai Exchanges Adjust Rules Before Launch of New Trading System
Pathom Sangwongwanich – Bloomberg
Thailand’s stock and futures exchanges are changing their rules ahead of the launch of a new trading system in the first quarter to better align with international standards. “The revised regulations will take effect simultaneously with the commencement of the new trading system in the first quarter of 2023,” the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Thailand Futures Exchange said in statements on Friday. Regulations on the equilibrium price will be adjusted to be in line with the new trading system. The equilibrium price can fall outside the ceiling and floor but not exceed plus or minus one tick, the exchanges said. The previous rules required the price to be within a range not exceeding the ceiling and floor.

CME Group CEO Terry Duffy: Inflation still a concern for Wall Street
FOX Business
CME Group chairman and CEO Terry Duffy reacts to the positive trading action on Wall Street after a strong December jobs report on ‘The Claman Countdown.’

Annual Eurex Deutschland Trading Participant due diligence; Eurex Circular 001/23 Annual Eurex Deutschland Trading Participant due diligence
Introduction. Eurex Deutschland is required to verify the due diligence of its Trading Participants on an annual basis in order to ensure that all Trading Participants are compliant with the requirements of Eurex Deutschland applicable to the usage of their electronic order systems.

Euronext announces volumes for December 2022
Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Oslo and Paris – 6 January 2023- Euronext, the leading pan-European market infrastructure, today announced trading volumes for December 2022.

Australia Day Holiday Operating Hours
FEX Global
Introduction: FEX Global (FGL) operating hours for the market over the Australia Day period are as follows: Change to Normal Operations 25th January 2023 (Wednesday)

The volume of state subsidies to issuers of SMEs in 2022 exceeded 420 million rubles
In 2022, 25 small and medium-sized businesses received subsidies from the Ministry of Economic Development to cover part of the costs of issuing shares and bonds and paying coupon income. The total amount of compensation exceeded 420 million rubles.

Miami International Holdings Reports Trading Results for December and Full-Year 2022; MIAX Exchanges Set Multiple Volume and Market Share Records
Miami International Holdings, Inc. today reported December and full year 2022 trading results for its U.S. exchange subsidiaries – MIAX, MIAX Pearl and MIAX Emerald (together, the MIAX Exchange Group), and Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX). December and full-year 2022 market share and volume results include: MIAX Exchange Group Total U.S. multi-list options market share for the MIAX Exchange Group reached 14.52% in December 2022, a 2.1% year-over-year (YoY) increase and representing total volume of 115.8 million contracts and an average daily volume (ADV) of 5.5 million contracts.

Nasdaq continued to lead the way in European SME listings and trading in 2022; Nasdaq Stockholm most successful listings venue, Nasdaq First North remains the leading SME exchange in Europe in 2022
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) today presented its yearly statistics for Nasdaq’s European markets. Despite a highly turbulent macro environment fueled by several unforseen external events in 2022, the Nordic and Baltic regions maintained the leadership position in several key areas, including SME listings. With 41 listings, Nasdaq Stockholm also remained the most successful listings venue in Europe in 2022.

Nodal Exchange achieves record traded volume in power and environmental markets in 2022
Nodal Exchange announced today that it achieved record trading volumes in 2022 in both power and environmental markets. Nodal achieved a record 2.4 billion MWh power futures volume traded in 2022, representing 8.3% growth over 2021. Nodal is the market leader in North American power futures having the majority share of the open interest with a record 1.1 billion MWh as of end of year 2022. The open interest represents over $133 billion of notional value (both sides).

SGX Group to report 1H FY2023 results on 9 February 2023
Singapore Exchange (SGX Group) is reporting its half year (1H) results for Financial Year 2023 (FY2023) before the market opens on 9 February 2023.

Taiwan Futures Exchange Newsletter
News and Events; TAIFEX’s Market Performance in 2022; Taiwan Futures Exchange (TAIFEX) closed out 2022 with a total of 384,468,497 contracts, marking the second highest volume and the third consecutive year of over 300 million contracts traded. And, trading in the night session remained active and accounted for 31.48% of the total volume, surging 59.29% compared to 2021’s level.


Ant Group founder Jack Ma to give up control in key revamp
Yingzhi Yang, Brenda Goh and Kane Wu – Reuters
Ant Group’s founder Jack Ma will give up control of the Chinese fintech giant in an overhaul that seeks to draw a line under a regulatory crackdown that was triggered soon after its mammoth stock market debut was scuppered two years ago. Ant’s $37 billion IPO, which would have been the world’s largest, was cancelled at the last minute in November 2020, leading to a forced restructuring of the financial technology firm and speculation the Chinese billionaire would have to cede control.

Jack Ma Cedes Control of Fintech Giant Ant Group; Chinese billionaire entrepreneur is taking a step further away from the business empire he created decades ago
Jing Yang – The Wall Street Journal
Billionaire Jack Ma is ceding control of Ant Group Co., capping a tumultuous period for the Chinese fintech giant. Mr. Ma will no longer be the controlling person of Ant, the company said in a statement on Saturday, confirming a previous report by The Wall Street Journal. The changes are being made to reduce Ant’s reliance on the flamboyant Chinese billionaire, who co-founded Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and helped create Ant, the Journal reported previously.


Russian hackers targeted US nuclear research laboratories, records reveal
The Guardian
A Russian hacking team known as Cold River targeted three nuclear research laboratories in the United States this past summer, according to internet records reviewed by Reuters and five cybersecurity experts. Between August and September, as Vladimir Putin indicated Russia would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory, Cold River targeted the Brookhaven (BNL), Argonne (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories (LLNL), according to internet records that showed the hackers creating fake login pages for each institution and emailing nuclear scientists in an effort to make them reveal their passwords.

235 million Twitter accounts were leaked in a huge data breach; Add it to the pile of Elon’s problems.
Alex Perry – Mashable
Turn on two-factor authentication for your Twitter account now if you haven’t already. The email addresses tied to 235 million Twitter accounts have been shared in an online hacking forum, per the Washington Post. While it doesn’t look like any other information leaked out, the obvious worry here is that malicious actors could potentially expose the identities of people who like to post anonymously using said email addresses. In countries that crack down hard on political dissent, for example, that could be a huge problem for online activists.

Phishing attacks are increasing and getting more sophisticated. Here’s how to avoid them
Bob Violino – CNBC
Phishing is on the rise, and anyone who uses email, text messaging, and other forms of communication is a potential victim. These attacks, in which a cybercriminal sends a deceptive message that’s designed to fool a user into providing sensitive information such as credit card numbers or to launch malware on the user’s system, can be extremely effective if done well. These types of attacks have become increasingly sophisticated – making them more dangerous – and more common.

Cybercriminals Using ChatGPT to Build Hacking Tools, Write Code
Marco Marcelline – PC Mag
Expert and novice cybercriminals have already started to use OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT in a bid to build hacking tools, security analysts have said. In one documented example, the Israeli security company Check Point spotted a thread on a popular underground hacking forum by a hacker who said he was experimenting with the popular AI chatbot to “recreate malware strains.” The hacker had gone on to compress and share Android malware that had been written by ChatGPT across the web. The malware had the ability to steal files of interest, Forbes reports.


FTX’s ex-top lawyer is reportedly cooperating with investigators, revealing details about what Sam Bankman-Fried did with customer funds
Zahra Tayeb – Business Insider
FTX’s former top lawyer has cooperated with US authorities investigating the crypto exchange’s collapse and told them about how Sam Bankman-Fried’s handled customer funds, according to a Reuters report. Daniel Friedberg, until recently the chief regulatory officer at FTX, met with more than 20 investigators on November 22, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter. Friedberg shared his knowledge about the way Bankman-Fried used the billions of dollars of funds to finance his crypto group, per the report. He also spoke about conversations between FTX execs on that activity and gave insight on how FTX’s sister trading arm Alameda Research operated.

FTX spent nearly $7 million on food and over $15 million on luxury Bahamian hotels in just 9 months, court documents show
Pete Syme – Business Insider
FTX spent $40 million in just over nine months on expenses including hotels, entertainment, and flights, according to bankruptcy court documents reviewed by Insider. Lawyers pointed out that the crypto exchange’s Bahamian company, FTX Digital Markets, generated no customer revenue, but spent lavishly. From January to September 2022, the company spent $15.4 million on luxury hotels and accommodation, the filings say. The largest chunk of that sum, around $5.8 million, was spent at the Albany Hotel – an oceanside resort with its own yacht marina and golf course. Sam Bankman-Fried, the cofounder and former CEO of FTX, lived in a $30 million penthouse in Albany until his arrest last month.

Bankman-Fried Wants $450 Million Robinhood Stake for Legal Bills
Emily Nicolle – Bloomberg
Sam Bankman-Fried is trying to persuade a US court that he should be able to access Robinhood shares worth around $450 million to help pay for his legal fees. Lawyers for the former CEO of bankrupt exchange FTX argued in a Delaware court filing on Thursday that the 56.3 million Robinhood shares should be returned to Bankman-Fried because the company that owns them, Emergent Fidelity Technology Ltd, is not part of the bankruptcy estate. Bankman-Fried owns 90% of Emergent.

FTX’s US Leadership, Bahamas Liquidators Say They’ve ‘Resolved’ Most of Their Issues
Nikhilesh De – CoinDesk
FTX’s U.S. leadership and the company’s Bahamas wing’s court-appointed liquidators have formed a cooperation agreement addressing how assets may be inventoried and disposed of, among other issues, a press release Friday said. FTX Trading, which is the entity behind the FTX.com exchange, filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. last November, while FTX Digital Markets, a Bahamas-based entity, entered liquidation proceedings the same month. The joint provisional liquidators in the Bahamas and FTX Trading’s U.S. leadership had butted heads over the past few weeks, alleging interference with their respective proceedings and arguing over jurisdictional issues.

Brother of Criminal Bitcoin Mixing CEO Pleads Guilty to Stealing 712 Bitcoins From IRS
Cheyenne Ligon – CoinDesk
An Ohio family now has not one but two felons facing potentially lengthy prison sentences for crypto-related crimes. Cleveland man Gary Harmon, 31, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and obstruction of justice on Friday for stealing 712 bitcoins from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The bitcoins had been seized by law enforcement from Harmon’s older brother, Larry Harmon – the CEO of darknet crypto mixing service Helix – after his 2020 arrest.

Crypto Bank Juno Tells Customers to Self-Custody or Sell Amid Custodian Wyre’s Turmoil
Elizabeth Napolitano – CoinDesk
Crypto banking firm Juno has advised its customers to self-custody their digital assets or sell them for cash as it works to migrate client funds to a new custodian, according to a tweet Wednesday morning. The decision comes as Juno’s current custodian, Wyre, prepares to wind down its operations in the coming weeks, says Juno CEO and co-founder Varun Deshpande. “We are switching custodians because we expect potential issues with Wyre given they might be scaling back or winding down,” Deshpande told CoinDesk.

Behind FTX’s Turbocharged Push to Attract Small Crypto Savers; FTX relied on partnerships, sports marketing to retail segment; Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to US criminal charges
Annie Massa and Anna Irrera – Bloomberg
Early last year, cryptocurrency exchange FTX US was setting its sights on a vast pool of money: individual retirement accounts, or IRAs. “We have IRAs trading on FTX today, and are making a push to serve this segment,” Nate Clancy, FTX US’s vice president of business development, wrote in a March email to a New Jersey-based investment adviser, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg News. Americans held more than $11 trillion in IRAs as of last year.

Opinion: SBF and FTX peddled a crypto fraud that makes scammer Bernie Madoff look like an amateur
Vitaliy Katsenelson – MarketWatch
Cryptocurrencies were supposed to offer a new, virtual alternative to the current, mundane “corrupt” system, in which a few dozen bureaucrats in conference rooms around the world – central bankers – manipulate the price of the most important commodity of all – money – through control of interest rates. The collapse of FTX and the subsequent bankruptcies revealed that what may have started as a kernel of a sincere libertarian idea to stand up to endless money printing and debt creation in our financial system, has been hijacked by what appears to be an immutable flaw of the human condition: our greed and desire to get rich fast.

FTX Collapse: Bankman-Fried Breaks His Silence to Defend His Image
Luc Olinga – TheStreet
He wants to remain the master of his image. He wants to be able to control what is said about him even if that means breaking his silence as he faces a series of criminal and civil charges that could land him up to 115 years in prison. The former cryptocurrency trader fails to follow the advice many lawyers often give to their celebrity clients: lay low.

‘The money is gone’: Bahamas tries to turn page after FTX
Ken Sweet – Associated Press
Dressed in a canary blue suit on a warm December night, sweat dripping from his brow, Bishop Lawrence Rolle belts out the lyrics to his latest hit song for the hundreds of children and adults gathered to celebrate Christmas. “FTX!,” he sings, bent over and shaking his head for emphasis. “The money is gone!” “FTX!,” his backup singer and audience scream back. “The money have done gone!”

FTX Collapse: Barry Silbert’s Crypto Empire Is In the Crosshairs of Regulators
Luc Olinga – TheStreet
The bankruptcy of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire continues to cause waves in the crypto space. The various firms continue to monitor each other to find out who will be the next collateral victims of this disaster after the lender BlockFi went down. All eyes have been on lender Genesis, a subsidiary of crypto juggernaut Digital Currency Group, aka DCG. Last November, the brokerage stopped customers from making withdrawals and issuing new loans as a result of the bankruptcy of FTX. The division that has halted the withdrawals is Genesis Global Capital, which works with institutional clients and had $2.8 billion in total active loans as of the end of the third quarter.

Marathon Digital experiments with overclocking to increase competitive advantage
Judith Bannermanquist – CoinTelegraph
One of the largest Bitcoin mining operations in North America, Marathon Digital Holdings, has shared in an update that it has been experimenting with overclocking to increase its competitive advantage in the BTC mining industry. Overclocking is the practice of increasing the clock speed of a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) or graphics processing unit (GPU) beyond the manufacturer’s rated maximum speed, potentially leading to improved performance in certain tasks.

Going ‘Negative’-The Bitcoin Price Worst-Case Scenario Explained
Billy Bambrough – Forbes
BitcoinBTC -0.3% and cryptocurrencies have suffered a catastrophic price crash over the last year-with 2023 already off to a tricky start. The bitcoin price has dropped to under $17,000 per bitcoin, down from almost $70,000 in late 2021 (though one viral memecoin has rocketed into the new year). Now, as serious survival fears swirl around some of the world’s biggest bitcoin and crypto companies, geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan has outlined how the bitcoin price could fall below zero.

Crypto Exchange Huobi Has Bad News
Luc Olinga – TheStreet
This is bad news that the cryptocurrency industry could have done without. The latest episode suggests that the very difficult period that the young Blockchain-powered financial services industry is going through is far from over. The cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has just announced a 20% reduction in its workforce in a general move to reduce costs to cope with the fall in cryptocurrency prices.

Bitcoin or gold? Beware the ‘malignant tumor,’ says ‘Black Swan’ guru Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Steve Mollman – Fortune
Is Bitcoin or gold the better investment? Opinions vary widely, with billionaire crypto fan Mark Cuban favoring Bitcoin-and slamming gold-and Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff going the other way. Nassim Nicholas Taleb has some thoughts, too. This week the author of the 2010 New York Times bestseller The Black Swan-among the few who foresaw the 2007-2008 financial crisis-weighed in on the debate in an interview with the French weekly L’Express. It’s safe to say Bitcoin, which has fallen more than 60% since the start of 2022, fails to impress him.

NFT Marketplace SuperRare Cuts 30% of Staff: ‘We Over-Hired’
Jason Nelson – Decrypt
SuperRare Labs, the company behind NFT marketplace SuperRare, became the latest crypto player to make job cuts on Friday, announcing it will reduce its staff by 30%. The news came from SuperRare CEO John Crain, who tweeted out a message he sent to employees in Slack.


Trump Says Biden ‘Convinced’ Putin To Bomb Ukraine In Mar-a-Lago Campaign Speech
Mary Papenfuss – HuffPost
Donald Trump claimed President Joe Biden “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin to “go into Ukraine” in a mini campaign speech to a Mar-a-Lago audience over the weekend. He falsely insisted that Biden encouraged Putin’s aggression when he said it would be “no problem” if Putin took “some parts of Ukraine.” Biden sought a peaceful solution to Russia’s warmongering, and condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was Trump who called Putin’s invasion “genius” at the time.

Gasoline Prices Are Set to Rise If Corn-Belt States Win Fuel Fight; Midwest US states seek boost to higher-ethanol fuel sales; Refiners say change risks supply cuts, pump-price increases
Jennifer A Dlouhy and Chunzi Xu – Bloomberg
Some Americans could end up paying more for their gasoline thanks to a plan by seven Midwestern state governors to boost the use of corn-based ethanol. Their request is under review by the federal government. If adopted, it could be good news for corn farmers throughout the region, including the politically important state of Iowa.

New U.S. sanctions target supply of Iranian drones to Russia
Daphne Psaledakis and Arshad Mohammed – Reuters
The United States on Friday issued new sanctions targeting suppliers of Iranian drones that Washington said have been used to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia. Russia has been attacking vital Ukraine infrastructure since October with barrages of missile and drones, causing sweeping power blackouts as cold weather sets in. The U.S. Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on six executives and board members of Iran’s Qods Aviation Industries (QAI), also known as Light Airplanes Design and Manufacturing Industries.

New York partially banned cryptocurrency mining. Now environmentalists want more.
Marie J. French – Politico
A first-in-the-nation partial ban on cryptocurrency mining in New York is sending ripple effects through the burgeoning industry and also emboldening environmentalists to push for similar measures across the nation. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s November signing of a two-year moratorium on new fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency mining projects is already said to be deterring some cryptocurrency businesses from investing in the state, and environmentalists are suggesting the measure could be a model for other states.

Dozens in Congress beat stock market in 2022 despite downturn on Wall Street: analysis
Lydia Moynihan and Rich Calder – MarketWatch
The House truly always wins. More than two dozen members of Congress beat the stock market last year despite Wall Street suffering its worst year since 2008, according to an analysis by a stock-trading site. But there was one notable loser last year: Nancy Pelosi. The former House speaker’s portfolio dropped 19.8% in 2022 – worse than the 18.2% decline in an ETF SPY, +2.29% that tracks the S&P 500, according to the 100-page report by Unusual Whales.

California Gov. Newsom asks Biden administration to declare federal emergency ahead of brutal storms
John Bacon and Thao Nguyen – USA Today
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sunday that he will ask the Biden administration to declare a federal emergency to support California’s ongoing storm response amid an unrelenting wave of brutal storms that left hundreds of thousands of Californians without power. Amid high winds and heavy rains, the worst of the storms is forecast to hit on Monday. During a winter storm update Sunday, Newsom said to expect the worst of the storm and “very intense weather” in the next 48 hours.

China looks to weaken US dollar with petroyuan as oil producers rally to Beijing, and Russia has ‘become an Asian nation,’ analyst says
Brian Evans – Markets Insider
While the dollar will likely remain the dominant global currency in the near future, the rise of a so-called petroyuan will gain momentum as China leverages its status as the world’s biggest oil importer, analysts say. The greenback remains the top currency for trade and foreign reserves. But Beijing is increasingly pushing the yuan as a currency for oil deals, challenging the dollar’s lead in commodity markets. In particular, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year was the biggest driver in the shift away from the dollar, said Viktor Katona, lead crude analyst at Kpler.

India to Join Sovereign Green Bond Club With $2 Billion Issuance; India to sell bonds in two tranches of 80 billion rupees each; First green bond auction to take place on Jan. 25: RBI
Ronojoy Mazumdar – Bloomberg
India’s government will offer 160 billion rupees ($1.9 billion) of green bonds in its debut issuance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi steps up efforts to transform the fossil-dependent nation. The government plans to offer bonds in two tranches of 80 billion rupees each in auctions due on Jan. 25 and Feb. 9, according to a statement from the Reserve Bank of India. Indian authorities are keen to tap the billions of dollars of global funds that are dedicated to green investments, and have categorized the issuance under the so-called Fully Accessible Route (FAR) that is aimed at foreign investors.


U.S. prosecutors launch website for Bankman-Fried alleged fraud victims
Luc Cohen – Reuters
The U.S. government has launched a website for victims of FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s alleged fraud to communicate with law enforcement. In an order late Friday night, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan authorized federal prosecutors to use the website, and not have to contact victims individually. FTX could owe money to more than 1 million people, making it “impracticable” to contact each, prosecutors had said.

How Crypto’s Meltdown Changed the Regulatory Debate
Allyson Versprille and Lydia Beyoud – Bloomberg
It’s harder to argue that your parents should leave you alone when you’ve just smashed up the car. As digital assets lost more than $2 trillion in value and a string of prominent ventures blew up in 2022, most notably the FTX exchange, the debate over cryptocurrency regulation shifted sharply. The turmoil also heightened the stakes in a battle that had already been brewing in Congress over which of the nation’s top market regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, should take the lead on crypto oversight.

U.S. Trustee files objection to FTX’s planned asset sales
A U.S. Trustee filed an objection on Saturday to plans by bankrupt crypto exchange FTX to sell its digital currency futures and clearinghouse LedgerX, as well as units in Japan and Europe, according to a court filing. FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in November and said last month it planned to sell its LedgerX, Embed, FTX Japan and FTX Europe businesses. On Tuesday, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he cheated investors and caused billions of dollars in losses, in what prosecutors have called an “epic” fraud.

SEC reportedly probes due diligence of FTX investors, as role of VC firms and funds prior to crypto exchange’s collapse comes under scrutiny
Brian Evans – Business Insider
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the due diligence of FTX investors in the latest wave of scrutiny over cryptos, according to Reuters. The probe doesn’t indicate wrongdoing, and the report did not specify which firms were in question. But the issue for regulators is whether venture capital firms and investment funds were acting responsibly on behalf of their own clients when they poured money into FTX, sources told Reuters. US authorities previously requested documents from FTX investors and prospective investors, looking for more details on communication they had with the company.

U.S. securities regulator probes FTX investors’ due diligence -sources
Chris Prentice – Reuters
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking details about FTX investors’ due diligence, according to two sources familiar with the inquiry, as fallout from the crypto firm’s collapse spreads. The SEC has so far brought charges against three of FTX’s top executives, accusing them defrauding investors in the crypto trading platform that has since filed for bankruptcy. The SEC is now asking financial firms what diligence policies and procedures they have in place, if any, and whether they followed them when choosing to invest in FTX, the sources said.

SEC files objection to Binance.US’s plans to acquire Voyager Digital
Luke Huigsloot – CoinTelegraph
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a “limited objection” to crypto exchange Binance.US’s proposed $1 billion takeover of bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital, citing a lack of “necessary information.” The limited objection was filed on Jan. 4, with the SEC pointing to a lack of detail regarding Binance.US’s ability to fund the acquisition, what Binance.US’s operations would look like following the deal, and how customer assets will be secured during and after the transaction.

Crypto Conglomerate DCG Being Investigated by DOJ, SEC: Report
Nikhilesh De – CoinDesk
Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are examining transfers between Digital Currency Group and the conglomerate’s Genesis subsidiary, Bloomberg reported late Friday. The prosecutors with the DOJ’s Eastern District of New York office have requested interviews and documents from DCG and Genesis, the report said, while the SEC appears to be in a similarly early stage of its own inquiry. The report, which cited people familiar with the matter, said that neither Genesis nor DCG, which is also the parent company to CoinDesk, have “been accused of wrongdoing.”

SEC Charges Former Public Company Chairman and Officers in Fraudulent SEC Filings and $8 Million Pump-And-Dump Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against five individuals for their roles in a fraudulent scheme to mislead investors about Cool Holdings, Inc., a publicly-traded company.

SEC Obtains Emergency Asset Freeze, Charges Colorado Pharmaceutical Company with Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an emergency action including a temporary restraining order and an asset freeze to stop an alleged offering fraud and misappropriation of investor assets orchestrated by the founders and principal executives of Reven Holdings, Inc., Peter B. Lange, Michael A. Volk, and Brian D. Denomme.

Investing and Trading

Tesla short sellers pile on pressure after most profitable trade in 2022
Saqib Iqbal Ahmed – Reuters
Fresh off their most profitable year ever, short sellers targeting Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) stock are heaping more pressure on the electric vehicle maker led by Elon Musk. Traders who aim to profit by selling borrowed shares and hoping to buy them back later at a lower price have increased their short positions on Tesla to about 79 million, according to data from analytics firm S3 Partners. That is up almost 4%, or $325 million worth of new short sales, over the last 30 days, the data showed.

Paytm Founder May Not Be Eligible for Stock Options: Proxy Firm; Sharma enjoys promoter-style rights, proxy firm IiAS says; Paytm says Sharma’s non-promoter status is as per law
Menaka Doshi – Bloomberg
Paytm may be circumventing regulation to grant employee stock options to founder and Chief Executive Officer Vijay Shekhar Sharma, according to proxy advisory firm Institutional Investor Advisory Services. While Sharma isn’t classified as a promoter – Indian parlance for controlling shareholder – he has rights akin to one, including a potential permanent seat on the board, IiAS said in a note Friday. “These provisions and structures give Vijay Shekhar Sharma ‘entrenchment’ similar to that enjoyed by promoter families in the more traditional companies,” IiAS said.

Bonds Are Back. Here Are the Income-Generating Funds to Buy Now.
Debbie Carlson – Barron’s
Things are looking up for bonds. They finally get to act like bonds again, behaving as a ballast against stock market volatility and a reliable income producer. “It’s nice to have them back, because they were gone for the longest time,” says Jeff Winn, a managing partner at International Asset Advisory, a financial advisory firm.

Last Year Investing Seemed Easy. Not Anymore.; All of the simple signals have disappeared
James Mackintosh – The Wall Street Journal
Sometimes investing seems easy. Not the business of actually making money-that is always hard. But there are times when the market makes it easy to have a strong view and decide where to put money. Last year was one of those times but, for both bulls and bears, the certainties are gone. Stocks started 2022 overvalued thanks to the overconfidence of the bulls, providing the simplest of signals to the bears. Bonds started last year having willfully ignored runaway inflation and the necessity of the Federal Reserve’s belated reaction.

Food prices hit record high in 2022 – driving inflation amid war, drought
New York Post
Global prices for food commodities like grain and vegetable oils were the highest on record last year even after falling for nine months in a row, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said, as Russia’s war in Ukraine, drought and other factors drove up inflation and worsened hunger worldwide. The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly traded food commodities, dipped by 1.9% in December from a month earlier, the Rome-based organization said Friday. For the whole year, it averaged 143.7 points, more than 14% above the 2021 average, which also saw large increases.

IBM Loses Top Patent Spot After Decades as Leader
Brody Ford – Bloomberg
International Business Machines Corp. dropped from the top spot for US patents in 2022, the first time in decades Big Blue hasn’t claimed the most in a year, signaling a strategy shift at the longtime intellectual property leader. IBM’s patent count declined 44% to 4,743 patents in 2022, falling to No. 2 behind Samsung Electronics Co.’s 8,513, according to Harrity LLP’s Patent 300 list. Technologies such as semiconductors and hardware memory saw the largest drop in IBM patents, though the reduction was across all major types.

ETF industry storms through 2022’s headwinds; Government bond vehicles chalk up record inflows helping overall total reach $867bn – the second-highest on record
Steve Johnson – Financial Times
Last year may have been one of the worst years ever for global markets, but sections of the exchange traded fund industry stormed to new records in a generally strong year that underlined the vehicles’ accelerating growth. ETFs attracted net inflows of $867bn globally during the year, the second-highest on record after 2021’s $1.29tn peak, according to data from BlackRock, despite the market crash.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Single-use plastic cutlery and plates to be banned in England; ‘A plastic fork can take 200 years to decompose’, said environment secretary Therese Coffey
Nicola Davis – The Guardian
Single-use items such as plastic cutlery, plates and trays are to be banned in England in a bid to reduce pollution, the government has confirmed. Figures suggest that every year England uses about 1.1bn single-use plates and 4.25bn pieces of such cutlery, only 10% of which are recycled after being used. Plastic items relating to takeaway food and drink, including food containers and cutlery, make up the largest share of litter in the world’s oceans, according to research. Now the environment secretary, Therese Coffey, is set to ban a suite of single-use plastic items, confirming reports made last month.

Delta to open innovation lab for low-carbon aviation tech
Sarah George – edie
Delta Air Lines has unveiled what it claims will be the airline sector’s first innovation lab dedicated to the development of low-carbon technologies, including alternative fuels and “revolutionary aircraft”. Hosted at the company’s international headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, Delta Air Lines has stated that the ‘sustainable skies lab’ will host teams working to both scale and improve existing technologies and those working on “revolutionary” technologies which do not yet exist commercially. Research, design and testing will all be possible at the lab.

Weather tracker: no letup in rain for western US as further deluge forecast; ‘Atmospheric river’ has brought heavy rainfall to major west coast cities, and more is expected in the coming days
Nicholas Lee – The Guardian
The US has seen various types of severe weather in recent weeks, with much of the country bearing the brunt of a winter freeze. However, California has been subject to relentless rain since the turn of the year and there is little sign of this easing over the coming week. This “atmospheric river” has brought successive areas of low pressure and exceptional rainfall to major cities on the west coast, with San Francisco seeing more than 250mm (10 inches) of rain over a 10 day period up to 4 January.

CEOs, Ignore Anti-Woke Attacks And Do What’s Right
John Simons – TIME Magazine
It’s easy to see why Adam Aron is so popular with the meme stock crowd. The eccentric AMC Entertainment Holdings CEO is refusing to take a pay increase in 2023. A few days before the new year, he tweeted that he and his leadership team plan to freeze their salaries as the struggling movie theater chain attempts recovery from pandemic lockdowns. “No increase for those at the top is the right thing to do,” he said. Aron’s move caps off a year in which many CEOs came under ferocious attack for actually doing what’s right. With apologies to Milton Friedman, the notion that corporate leaders can prioritize people and the planet while also striving to grow profits seems pretty unassailable.

How BlackRock and Ukraine are Ending the Anti-ESG Movement
Tina Casey – Triple Pundit
Ukraine has enlisted a branch of the world’s leading financial firm, BlackRock, to help steer its reconstruction plans. The outcome is shaping up to be validation for ESG investors and a loss for U.S. politicians who have been leveraging the “woke capitalism” canard on behalf of fossil energy stakeholders.

Global pollinator losses causing 500,000 early deaths a year – study; Insect declines mean reduced yields of healthy foods like fruit and vegetables and increased disease in people
Damian Carrington – The Guardian
The global loss of pollinators is already causing about 500,000 early deaths a year by reducing the supply of healthy foods, a study has estimated. Three-quarters of crops require pollination but the populations of many insects are in sharp decline. The inadequate pollination that results has caused a 3%-5% loss of fruit, vegetable and nut production, the research found. The lower consumption of these foods means about 1% of all deaths can now be attributed to pollinator loss, the scientists said.

Heatwaves, spread of infectious diseases due to climate change growing health threats to Europeans
European Environment Agency
Unprecedented heatwaves – as seen this year – are the greatest direct climate-related health threat to Europe’s population. Heatwaves already account for numerous deaths and illnesses. This burden is set to increase without more climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. Heat-health action plans, urban greening, better building design and adjusting working times can contribute to better protect the most vulnerable groups in society, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today. While the need to address the impacts of climate change on human health is increasingly recognised, the time is now to move from planning to action and to improve awareness among public health and healthcare practitioners to make Europe’s population more resilient, according to the EEA report ‘Climate change as a threat to health and well-being in Europe: focus on heat and infectious diseases.’

We Know 2022 Was Hot. Here’s What We Don’t Know About Global Warming; Upcoming global average temperature measurements are unlikely to yield surprises. The real question is how we adapt, says one scientist.
Eric Roston – Bloomberg
It’s that time of year again, when climate scientists report that the 12 months that just passed are among the hottest in recorded history. If anything is surprising, it’s that annual rankings draw so much attention at all. Sight unseen, the results are somewhat predictable – and not just because the World Meteorological Organization previewed theirs in November. It estimated that 2022 would finish as the fifth or sixth hottest year since the mid-19th century. Several research groups are expected to release numbers soon, and they’re likely to tell a similar story.

The Kitchen Larder Is Making a Comeback; The Victorian equivalent of a refrigerator is seeing an uptick in UK adoption, thanks to rising food prices, aesthetic appeal and interest in energy efficiency.
Olivia Rudgard – Bloomberg
In the 1907 edition of culinary bible Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, the author sets out her advice for an ideal larder. There must of course be “thorough ventilation,” the reader is told. The larder is also “the only room in the house that should always face due north, so that the sun never comes in.” The Victorian equivalent of a refrigerator, a 1900s larder amounted to a room or cupboard for food storage, with rudimentary temperature-control measures. From a necessity standpoint, it was superseded by electric fridges in the 20th century. Today, though, the larder is staging a comeback in the UK, spurred by rising food prices, lifestyle trends, and interest in curtailing power use.

Net zero possible in 2040s, says outgoing UK climate business expert; Countries that fear losing competitive edge could benefit from bolder climate policies, says Nigel Topping
Fiona Harvey – The Guardian
The world could reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the early 2040s, substantially ahead of the mid-century climate target, if governments set more stretching goals and make bold policy decisions, the UK’s outgoing climate business expert has said. Nigel Topping served for two years as the high-level champion for the UK’s presidency of the UN Cop26 climate summit, passing on the role to Egypt’s Mahmoud Mohieldin late last year at the Cop27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Hedge Fund Takes On Toughest ESG Market With Long-Short Bet; Trium launches market-neutral Article 9 fund to meet demand; ESG fund class has been at center of controversial downgrades
Lisa Pham – Bloomberg
A European ESG classification that’s proved too strict for many of the world’s biggest asset managers has just been embraced by a hedge fund manager in London. Trium Capital LLP, whose ESG Emissions Impact Fund outperformed 96% of peers last year, has launched a long-short strategy it says will be green enough to merit the European Union’s top environmental, social and governance designation, known as Article 9.

Companies Face Rising Pressure to Offer ESG Retirement Options; Is your 401(k) supporting fossil fuels? This year may see more employee pressure on companies to provide sustainable investment options.
Zahra Hirji – Bloomberg
Most corporate retirement plans are awash in fossil-fuel investments. But that could start to change this year as a new US rule comes online and employee pressure builds for more climate-friendly options. Starting on Jan. 30, a Department of Labor rule will take effect that explicitly allows fiduciaries to consider climate change and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in the selection of corporate-sponsored retirement plans. The rule clarifies Trump-era guidance that left unclear whether climate factors could be considered material risks.

ESG Corporate Awards 2022: Asia’s sustainability trailblazers; As companies pivot to a post-Covid-19 era, ESG awareness continues to grow
Asset Benchmark Research
Following this year’s COP27, countries around the world have stepped up efforts towards a net-zero world by the middle of this century. From Uruguay to China, countries have been crafting strategies to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in a reasonable and timely manner. At the same time, there has been an increased focus on tackling social issues such as wealth inequality amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sustainability Can Be About Operations And Services Not Necessarily Values: The Case Of SDG Goals For Mumbai City; When neither exit nor voice is ineffective, as is often the case with local governments, reporting and measurement that ESG offers as a governance mechanism can be invaluable.
Shivaram Rajgopal – Forbes Contributor
A debate has been raging, of late, regarding whether ESG is about ethical standards and values or about operations and the ultimate economic welfare of the entity being considered. My friend, Bob Eccles, has argued that ESG is more about operations, even if one keeps values constant, especially in the government sector. This may sound like an esoteric debate, but it is an important one. Opponents of ESG on the right tend to interpret mission statements such as “public good” and “common interest” as reflective of social justice values. Defenders of ESG highlight operational efficiency and risk management (or lack thereof) of governments and the consequent impact on long run citizen welfare.

Glencore facing investor questioning over coal development and net-zero plans
Matt Mace – edie
A group of investors with more than $2trn in assets under management has called on mining giant Glencore to showcase how its ongoing development of thermal coal is in alignment with its net-zero strategy for 2050 and the aims of the Paris Agreement. The resolution from the investors will be presented and voted on at Glencore’s annual shareholder meeting in 2023.

Asia ex-Japan ESG funds return -20.1% in 2022, lagging broader market
Janice Lim – The Business Times
Environmental, Social And Governance (Esg) Funds In Asia excluding Japan underperformed in 2022, and market watchers expect the macroeconomic uncertainties that plagued the sustainability space to persist in the year ahead. Data from Morningstar showed that ESG Asia ex-Japan funds lost 20.1 per cent in 2022, underperforming non-ESG funds, which had an average negative return of 13.6 per cent.

Islamic Bank Pledges $4 Billion to Pakistan in Floods Relief; Pakistan seeks $8 billion from donor nations in floods support; Government estimates floods caused $30 billion loss to economy
Ismail Dilawar and Kamran Haider – Bloomberg
The Islamic Development Bank has pledged $4.2 billion to Pakistan over three years to help the South Asian country finance its rebuilding plan after devastating floods left a third of the nation inundated in the summer, a minister said. The international “community and development partners are demonstrating exemplary compassion for flood victims,” Pakistan’s information minister Marrirum Aurangzeb said in a Twitter post after an appeal by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at a conference in Geneva on Monday. The European Union pledged equivalent to $534 million for the reconstruction plan, President European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen said in a message at the conference.


It’s Kenny G’s world; We just live in it
Robin Wigglesworth – The Financial Times
We’ve written before about how multi-strategy hedge funds like Citadel are ascendant these days. Macro funds ruled the roost in 2022, but many big “multistrats” also enjoyed good-to-great years despite the breadth of the financial market puke. For example, FTAV has heard that DE Shaw’s flagship fund made 24.7 per cent last year (its macro fund Oculus apparently made 20 per cent), and that Brevan Howard gained 20.1 per cent (Brevan’s Alpha Strategies Fund had its best year ever, notching up a 28.5 per cent return). Bloomberg late last year pinned Millennium’s returns at 10 per cent.

U.S. subpoenas hedge funds in probe of crypto exchange Binance; U.S. subpoenas hedge funds in probe of crypto exchange Binance
Douglas MacMillan and Tory Newmyer – The Washington Post
Federal prosecutors are examining American hedge funds’ dealings with cryptocurrency exchange Binance as part of a long-running investigation into potential violations of money-laundering rules at one of the world’s leading crypto companies. In subpoenas sent in recent months, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle directed investment firms to hand over records of their communications with Binance, according to two people, each of whom reviewed one of the subpoenas and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the confidential matter.

Mexico’s digital peso delayed, launch date unclear; Mexico’s central bank is working on legal, administrative and technological requirements for the peso’s digital version.
Ana Paula Pereira – CoinTelegraph
More than a year after it was announced, Mexico’s proposed central bank digital currency (CBDC) is still in the initial phase and unlikely to meet its 2024 launch date. According to local media reports, Mexico’s central bank, known as Banxico, is working on legal, administrative and technological requirements for the peso’s digital version. In December 2021, the local government announced its plan to introduce a national digital currency, noting in a tweet that the “new technologies and next-generation payment infrastructure” would improve Mexico’s financial inclusion. While that tweet mentioned a launch in 2024, a year later, authorities are avoiding predicting a launch date.

Goldman Sachs to cut about 3,200 jobs this week after cost review – Bloomberg News
Shivani Tanna – Reuters
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) will start one of its biggest rounds of job cuts ever, as it locks in on a plan to eliminate about 3,200 positions this week, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday. The financial services major is expected to begin the process mid-week and the total number of people affected will not exceed 3,200, the report said, citing a source.

Goldman Sachs to start cutting thousands of jobs midweek -sources
Goldman Sachs Group will start cutting thousands of jobs across the firm from Wednesday, two sources familiar with the move said, as it prepares for a tough economic environment in the year ahead. The job cuts are expected to be just over 3,000, one of the sources said, but the final number is yet to be determined.

Ex-Citi Banker Michael Klein Expected to Lead 9-Figure Payday in Credit Suisse Deal; Bank, Michael Klein tussled over valuation for his boutique; Klein is set to run carved-out CS First Boston investment bank
Dinesh Nair, Sridhar Natarajan, and Eyk Henning – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG is close to an agreement to buy Michael Klein’s advisory boutique after several rounds of tense negotiations, according to people briefed on the talks.

Macquarie Staring at $49 Million Loss on FX Trades With Builder; Australian bank pursuing Italian builder Cimolai for money; Macquarie claim in UK court is latest tied to Cimolai trades
Donal Griffin and Giulia Morpurgo – Bloomberg
Macquarie Group Ltd. says it’s facing losses of tens of millions of dollars after currency derivatives trades with Italian builder Cimolai SpA went awry. The firms began entering into foreign-exchange trades with each other in 2017 but the relationship foundered in September when Cimolai failed to make payments tied to the transactions, according to a Dec. 14 claim lodged by the Australian lender in London. The Sydney-based bank canceled the deals and claims it’s owed a ‘termination payment’ of $49 million.

Hargreaves Lansdown’s billionaire founder calls for ‘huge’ cost cuts; Investment group’s largest shareholder urges the board to focus on selling investments rather than offering robo-advice
Emma Dunkley – Financial Times
The billionaire co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown has called on the UK investment group to make major cutbacks in a scorching attack on the strategy pursued by the board and outgoing chief executive Chris Hill.

Wellness Exchange

I’m Sorry, but This COVID Policy Is Ridiculous; The recent attempt to limit the spread of disease from China makes no sense at all.
Yasmin Tayag – The Atlantic
Cases have surged in China since it dropped its zero-COVID policy in December, and the latest models now suggest that at least 1 million people may die as a result. Many countries have responded by policing their borders: Last week, the CDC announced that anyone entering the United States from China would be required to test negative within two days of departure; the U.K., Canada, and Australia quickly followed suit; and the European Union has urged its member states to do the same. (Taking a more extreme tack, Morocco has said it will ban travelers from China from entering altogether.)

South Africa Has Its First Case of Most Transmissible Covid Variant; XBB.1.5 variant identified by researchers from Stellenbosch; Variant now dominant in US, found in at least 28 other nations
Antony Sguazzin – Bloomberg
South Africa has found its first case of a coronavirus infection caused by the new, highly transmissible XBB.1.5 variant. Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid-19 technical lead at the World’s Health Organization, this week called XBB.1.5 “the most transmissible sub-variant” detected so far in the pandemic. Nicknamed the “kraken variant” by some for its ability to spread, so far there hasn’t been significant differences in severity identified between cases caused by XBB.1.5 and those from other variants. The WHO plans an updated assessment on the variant’s risks in the coming days.

New COVID Variant “Spreading Like Wildfire” in USA: “Most Transmissible One Yet”
Ferozan Mast – Eat This, Not That!
New COVID-19 Omicron variant XBB.1.5 is being called the most transmissible to date, with new infections caused by the variant rising from 4% to 41%, just over the month of December. “That’s a stunning increase,” says White House COVID-19 Response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “If you had an infection before July OR your last vaccine was before bivalent update in September, our protection against an XBB.1.5 infection is probably not that great.

China suspends social media accounts of its COVID policy critics
CBS News
China has suspended or closed the social media accounts of more than 1,000 critics of the government’s policies on the COVID-19 outbreak, as the country moves to roll back harsh anti-virus restrictions. The popular Sina Weibo social media platform said it had addressed 12,854 violations including attacks on experts, scholars and medical workers and issued temporary or permanent bans on 1,120 accounts. The ruling Communist Party had largely relied on the medical community to justify its tough lockdowns, quarantine measures and mass testing, almost all of which it abruptly abandoned last month, leading to a surge in new cases that have stretched medical resources to their limits. The party allows no direct criticism and imposes strict limits on free speech.

US Safety Agency to Consider Ban on Gas Stoves Amid Health Fears; The US Consumer Product Safety Commission will move to regulate gas stoves as new research links them to childhood asthma.
Ari Natter – Bloomberg
A federal agency says a ban on gas stoves is on the table amid rising concern about harmful indoor air pollutants emitted by the appliances. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission plans to take action to address the pollution, which can cause health and respiratory problems.

China Citic Bank Offers Covid Shots in HK to Woo Mainland Cash
Bloomberg News
A Hong Kong unit of state-backed China Citic Bank Corp. is offering free Covid-19 mRNA vaccinations to sign up wealthy new customers as the border between the financial hub and mainland China reopened after three years of travel and quarantine restrictions.


Foreign Investors Are Leery of China Bets, Despite Rebound Expectations; An exodus of foreign capital in 2022 marked a decisive break from past years’ inflows
Rebecca Feng – The Wall Street Journal
Market strategists say the stars are aligned in 2023 for Chinese assets to stage a comeback-but a return of foreign capital may take longer. Foreign investors have pulled more than $100 billion out of China’s bond market since February, according to two major Chinese clearinghouses. They have also dramatically slowed their investments in the country’s stock market. Foreign institutions bought a net $13 billion worth of yuan-denominated shares last year via a Hong Kong stock-trading link, down sharply from $63 billion in 2021.

Hong Kong Has ‘No Reason’ to Change Dollar Peg, Says Monetary Authority Chief
Jing Yang – The Wall Street Journal
Hong Kong has no plans to change its longstanding currency peg to the U.S. dollar, Eddie Yue, chief executive of the Asian financial hub’s de-facto central bank, said at the UBS Greater China Conference on Monday. “There’s absolutely no reason to change something that has been working so well,” said Mr. Yue, who heads the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. He added that the Hong Kong dollar peg, which will mark its 40th anniversary this year, has helped the city weather past cycles and crises. “Confidence on the peg has been extremely strong, despite what certain individual fund managers have said from time to time,” he said.

Hong Kong Stresses Pro-Crypto Stance as Industry Reels
Kiuyan Wong, Sarah Zheng and Zheping Huang – Blomberg
Hong Kong will be a great place for crypto, fintech and other startups to set up shop in the new year, the city’s financial secretary said on Monday, looking past the current upheaval in the industry.

China’s Got the Dysprosium. That’s a Problem; Beijing’s still way ahead in the rare-earths race, boding ill for 21st-century stability.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
“The Middle East has oil. China has rare earth metals.” So said Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s post-Maoist opening and rise, in the 1980s, with remarkable foresight and precision. The rest of the world is only now grasping the implications of his insight for geopolitics in the 21st century.

France’s Hottest Year Was Also Very Dry as Warming Angst Mounts
Francois De Beaupuy – Bloomberg
France experienced its hottest and second-driest year on record in 2022, putting pressure on the government to step up its fight against climate change that’s straining everything from energy to agriculture. Temperatures averaged 14.5 Celsius last year, the highest since record began in 1900, according to Meteo-France. Rainfall was the second-lowest since 1959 as a series of heat waves hit the country from May while a rare cold snap in early December was followed by a warm spell.

Norway’s $30 Billion of Projects to Sustain Gas Flow to 2026; Final investment decision taken on 13 new fields last year; Gas production in 2022 reached a five-year high of 122 bcm
Kari Lundgren – Bloomberg
Norway will be able to sustain gas production at last year’s elevated level until at least 2026 thanks to 300 billion Norwegian kroner ($30 billion) of investment in new offshore fields. “Only rarely have we seen so much oil and gas produced on the Norwegian shelf as was the case last year – and only rarely have we seen such significant investment decisions,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said Monday in its annual report. “Norway has fortified its role as a predictable, long-term supplier of energy to Europe.”

Kuwait to Send Europe Five Times More Diesel as Russia Ban Looms; The country expects to ship Europe 2.5 million tons of diesel; Flows will go small way to making up for lost Russian supplies
Fiona MacDonald – Bloomberg
Kuwait plans to ramp up exports of diesel and airline fuel to Europe this year, going a small way to help the continent make up for a drop in flows from Russia. The Middle Eastern country expects to raise diesel shipments to Europe fivefold from 2022 to 2.5 million tons, or roughly 50,000 barrels a day, according to a person familiar with the matter. It also wants to double sales of jet fuel to almost 5 million tons, the person said.

3.3 million US adults displaced by natural disasters in past year – survey
The Guardian
More than 1.3% of the adult population in the US was displaced by natural disasters in the past year, with hurricanes responsible for more than half of the forced relocations, according to first-of-its-kind survey results from the US Census Bureau. The Household Pulse Survey results said that 3.3 million US adults were displaced by either hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes or other disasters. The two-year-old online survey asked for the first time about displacement from natural disasters in results released on Thursday.

California Rain Brings Limited Relief to Dried-Out Almond Farms
Kim Chipman – Bloomberg
Usually, bouts of rain are a good thing for drought-stricken farmers. But in California, where a downpour has triggered widespread flooding, much of the water will end up in the sea rather than helping crops, like the state’s famed almond groves. The recent deluge highlights a decades-long dilemma: A lack of infrastructure to store and shuttle water to growers who produce three-quarters of US fruits and nuts and more than one-third of its vegetables. Nuts are among the most water-intensive crops in the state, and California’s annual almond harvest accounts for about 80% of global production.

Dangers to life, property remain high in California as storm onslaught continues
Renee Duff and Alex Sosnowski – AccuWeather
California has faced a frenzy of storms that have unleashed deadly impacts since the end of 2022, and AccuWeather meteorologists say the onslaught is far from over. One storm in the bunch is poised to aim a firehose of moisture at the Golden State early in the new week, potentially leading to “catastrophic” flooding, in addition to widespread mudslides and road closures, forecasters say. “The impacts from this storm cannot be understated,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Joe Bauer said.

Great Salt Lake will disappear in 5 years without massive ’emergency rescue,’ scientists say
Rachel Ramirez – CNN
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is facing “unprecedented danger,” experts say, as it has fallen to an alarmingly low level amid a climate change-fueled megadrought that’s tightening its grip in the West. Less than two weeks away from Utah’s 2023 legislative session, nearly three dozen scientists and conservationists released a dire report that calls on the state’s lawmakers to take “emergency measures” to save the Great Salt Lake before drains to nil. Without a “dramatic increase” in inflow by 2024, experts warn the lake is set to disappear in the next five years.


New York’s legal cannabis market tries to avoid a bad comedown; Can the city solve the problems that have plagued regulated sales of the drug in other states?
Joshua Chaffin – Financial Times
Like other ambitious college graduates, Alex Norman sought his fortune on Wall Street. Then he became a drug dealer. Now Norman is hoping to bring his experience and acumen to New York’s newly legalised cannabis market.

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Music financing boom reverberates to markets

Music financing boom reverberates to markets

First Read Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff Yesterday morning I checked the status of my investment accounts after the market opening as I often do and I was like, "WOW!" But then I saw there were problems with some of the opening auctions at the NYSE and...

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