Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff
I have made plane reservations on British Airways to fly to London for IDX and I have a reservation at the Montcalm at The Brewery for the week, so yes, I am going to IDX in June. How about you? Note to my FIA friends, sign me up.
I will be bringing video equipment and conducting the JLN Industry Leader video series at IDX, so if you have some news you are releasing, contact me to set up an interview. I am also interested in interviews for any of our historical series, The History of Financial Futures, The Open Outcry Traders History Project or The Path to Electronic Trading. I look forward to seeing London and old and new faces.
We will be releasing another of our videos from FIA Boca 2022 later today. Actually, I may release two just for the fun of it. Stay tuned.
As expected, the CFTC announced it will hold a staff roundtable discussion on the subject of non-intermediation. It will be held on May 25, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to discuss issues related to intermediation in derivatives trading and clearing.
Our friends Edward Haravon and Rob Merrilees at Get Real XR have a new video on their YouTube channel talking about “What impact will CBS’s new series “Metaverse in the News” have on the industry?” I can’t wait for these two to review the movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Columnist Jemima Kelly of the Financial Times has a piece titled “Why I’m still not taking crypto seriously; It may be the latest political and financial obsession, but cryptocurrencies remain something with no inherent value.” She does take it seriously enough to regularly write about it, but she is a true skeptic and an excellent journalist in the finest sense of the word. In school we were taught that if our mother told us she loved us, to “check it out!” She brings that level of skepticism to her job, which I love.
On the other side of the coin, or token, as it were, the FT has a story from journalists Joshua Oliver and Philip Stafford titled “Why the UK joined the race to woo the crypto industry; Global investment in the sector topped $30bn in 2021 but the government’s plan to attract some of that money lacks detail.” Forget whether crypto has any inherent value, it has political value in terms of jobs and prestige that politicians crave.
Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL
FIA’s International Derivatives Expo is returning to The Brewery in London this coming 6-8 June. Standing still is not an option in today’s evolving cleared derivatives environment. Without adapting to new products, processes, technologies and regulations, your business won’t meet the needs of tomorrow’s industry. We’re bringing together industry leaders, vendors and policymakers to discuss what’s “now” in derivatives, and what lies ahead. Sign up by 30 April for the best rates!
Crypto-Backed Mortgages Are as Crazy as They Sound; It’s only risk piled on top of risk, at a particularly risky time.
Mark Gongloff – Bloomberg
If you entered a contest to see who could design a financial instrument to lose the most money the fastest, you would struggle to come up with a better idea than taking home mortgages backed by crypto, slicing them into mortgage-backed securities and selling them at the moment the global financial system is being bludgeoned by pandemic, war and Jerome Powell.
***** I love the lead sentence of this story.~JJL
Musk loses bid to end SEC agreement on oversight of Tesla tweets
Tom Hals – Reuters
A U.S. judge slammed Elon Musk on Wednesday for trying to escape a settlement with regulators requiring oversight of his Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) tweets, saying the billionaire was “bemoaning” the 2018 deal now that he felt Tesla was “invincible.” The ruling comes after the Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) board accepted on Monday Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform
*****Now this would p*ss me off. I spent $44 billion (OK, not all my money) and I still can’t say everything I want to say on my own social network?~JJL
Mom and Pop Investors Took a Billion-Dollar Bath Trading Options During the Pandemic; A way to play lottery, just with financial market: researchers; Losses happened during post-Covid-crash bull run in S&P 500
Vildana Hajric – Bloomberg
Of all the risky things amateur investors did while locked at home in the pandemic, dabbling in stock options was one that veteran investors were convinced would end badly. They weren’t wrong.
****** What is the name of this strategy where you take a billion option bath? The liquidity drain?~JJL
The Looming Debt Crisis About to Make Everything Worse
Stephanie Flanders and Michael Sasso – Bloomberg
It’s hard to imagine a more chaotic world than the one we’re in right now—what with Russia’s war on Ukraine, a Covid-19 pandemic that won’t quit and the lockdowns spreading across China as a result. Now, add to the mix a debt crisis that’s threatening to cripple emerging markets. In the words of a former International Monetary Fund official earlier this month, “We can see this train wreck coming towards us.”
****** And now for some good news.~JJL
Finland Picks Brokers to Liquidate Its $75 Million Bitcoin Hoard
Kati Pohjanpalo – Bloomberg
Finland has selected two brokers to sell $75 million worth of seized Bitcoins its authorities hold. The brokers are set to sell the cryptocurrency during the spring and early summer, Finnish Customs said in an emailed statement on Thursday after signing two-year contracts with Coinmotion Oy and Tesseract Group Oy. The Customs has 1,981 Bitcoins, of which it will now sell 1,890, it said.
****** If I were them and looking to liquidate a hoard, I would pick the Mongol horde brokers. ~JJL
Wednesday’s Top Three
Our most clicked story was from the Washington Examiner Madison Cawthorn implicated in potential insider trading scheme, experts say. Second was the Florida Politics story combining politics, crypto and faux NASCAR sponsorship, Company accused of selling bogus ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ crypto. Third was from Yahoo Finance Crop Trading Giant ADM Sees Years of Tight Markets Fueled by War
26,826 pages; 238,346 edits
Robinhood’s Era of Fun and Games Comes to an End; The commission-free platform enticed a generation into believing stock trading was easy and entertaining. Those days are gone.
Jonathan Levin – Bloomberg
It’s the end of an era for Robinhood Markets Inc. — and perhaps financial markets broadly. The Silicon Valley operator of a commission-free stock trading platform is cutting 9% of its 3,800-person workforce less than a year after its splashy initial public offering, a move that may well draw the curtain on the era of extreme market optimism that enticed a generation into believing trading was easy and entertaining.
Elon Musk’s Twitter Has a Cryptocurrency Swamp to Drain; Social media platforms are breeding grounds for digital currency scams. That needs to change.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
A certain pet-themed cryptocurrency that needs no extra publicity from me says it’s back marketing its digital wares on London’s public transport system. Only this time, its advertisements bear the paw-prints of regulators. After an initial campaign was banned for dangling mega-gains to investors, it now touts itself as a source of “ecosystems” and “crypto education.”
Why the UK joined the race to woo the crypto industry; Global investment in the sector topped $30bn in 2021 but the government’s plan to attract some of that money lacks detail,
Joshua Oliver and Philip Stafford – FT
Bitstamp launched its first effort to set up a London headquarters in 2013. The fledgling Slovenian cryptocurrency exchange was seeking a new base for its global expansion and Europe’s financial capital was developing a reputation as a hub for investment and talent in financial technology.
Musk’s Twitter financing tests Wall Street’s mettle: ‘What could go wrong?’ Volatile moves in Tesla stock underline deal’s risks as billionaire’s plan for $21bn equity portion remains a mystery
Eric Platt, Nikou Asgari, James Fontanella-Khan and Antoine Gara – FT
It took just days for banks across Wall Street to cobble together a $25.5bn financing package for Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter, an exercise that would normally take weeks. The speed stumped Twitter’s advisers: how could banks’ buttoned-up risk management committees get comfortable with the deal so quickly?
Putin Is Losing So Here’s How He’ll Make the War Worse; This week he’s cutting the gas to Poland and Bulgaria, next month he could attack Moldova. Would he stop at nukes?
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
Russian President Vladimir Putin is failing so spectacularly, it’s making him even more dangerous. Running out of ways to de-escalate while saving face, he appears to think that he has no choice but to escalate. What will that look like? His problem is that his failures are becoming too obvious to hide even for Russia’s propaganda machine. He attacked Ukraine in part to keep NATO from expanding; instead, NATO will probably admit two new members this year as a result of his aggression. He promised to reunite two populations — Russians and Ukrainians — whom he considers one people; instead, his atrocities have ensured that Ukrainians will forever feel distinct and hate Russia. He pledged to restore Russia to imperial greatness; instead, he’s turned it into an international pariah. The list goes on.
Judges’ Financial-Disclosure Bill Passes, Heads to President’s Desk; Legislation triggered by WSJ investigation is expected to become law
James V. Grimaldi, Coulter Jones and Joe Palazzolo – WSJ
Federal judges and Supreme Court justices must make more timely and accessible disclosures of their financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest under legislation that’s one step closer to becoming law after a voice vote in the House Wednesday.
EU energy groups prepare to meet Vladimir Putin’s terms for Russian gas; Germany’s Uniper and Austria’s OMV plan to use rouble accounts for payments while Eni of Italy weighs options
Sam Jones, Andy Bounds, Guy Chazan, and Marton Dunai – FT
Some of Europe’s largest energy companies are preparing to use a new payment system for Russian gas demanded by the Kremlin, which critics say will undercut EU sanctions, threaten the bloc’s unity and deliver billions in cash to Russia’s economy. Gas distributors in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are planning to open rouble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland in order to satisfy a Russian requirement for payments in its own currency, according to people with knowledge of the preparations.
This Is What Happened to the Meme Stock Mania; A year later, this is the aftermath
Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal – Bloomberg
Spring of 2021 was peak meme mania. GameStop was going nuts. AMC was going nuts. And in general, the big cohort of traders that entered the market in early 2020 was riding high. Since then, though, things have turned south. Volumes have dipped significantly. The memes came back to Earth, and a lot of the growth stocks that were riding high have gotten absolutely killed. So where do things stand now, and what happened to all the new traders? On this episode, we speak to Lily Francus, director of quantitative research at Moody’s Analytics, as well as Kyla Scanlon, a popular financial commentator across social media (as well as the founder of a new financial education company) to understand what happened, what’s changed, and how the last two years have permanently altered financial markets as we know them.
Ukraine war dents London Stock Exchange revenue, shares fall
Huw Jones – Reuters
The war in Ukraine is hitting London Stock Exchange Group revenue, but the bourse said it remained on track to meet financial targets from integrating its $27 billion takeover of data and analytics company Refinitiv. LSEG said first quarter total income was up 6.3% with good growth across all divisions, and up 6.8% after adjusting for actions taken by the group in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to the exchange stopping trading in its Russian listings.
Case against Archegos founder shines light on bank risk controls; Sophisticated Wall Street trading desks face new questions after alleged fraud caused $10bn in losses
Joshua Franklin and Eric Platt – FT
Bill Hwang secured billions in dollars in financing from leading Wall Street banks with lies that ranged from assurances he could quickly exit his positions to claims he had large holdings of easily traded stocks like Apple and Google, according to US authorities.
LME chief to stay put after ditching move to crypto start-up; U-turn comes as metals exchange seeks to repair reputation damaged by nickel market chaos
Neil Hume and Philip Stafford – FT
The head of the London Metal Exchange has decided to stay in the role, backtracking on plans to join a digital assets start-up as the 145-year-old City institution seeks to repair a reputation damaged by recent chaos in the nickel market.
Germany Vows to Continue Euro Gas Payments After Allies Cut Off
Birgit Jennen – Bloomberg
Responding to the dramatic escalation, which sent gas prices soaring, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Germany’s gas supply situation is “stable” and “we are doing everything we can to keep it that way.” “The private legal contracts apply” for Russian gas, Habeck said in an emailed statement. Germany is following European Union guidance published last week, which means German companies will continue to pay in euros and dollars, his ministry said.
EU Tells Gas Companies Not to Bend to Russia’s Demand for Rubles
John Ainger, Iain Rogers and Birgit Jennen – Bloomberg
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned companies not to bend to Russia’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, as the continent scrambles for a united response to Moscow’s weaponization of its energy resources.
Several European traders have started to pay for Russian gas in roubles – sources
Some European traders have started to pay Russia for gas sales in roubles, while large clients have yet to do so, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday. “Several traders, maybe more than five, have started payments,” one source said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
How Russia’s Gas Ban Rips Through the Core of European Industry; EU Warns Russian Gas Buyers That Ruble Payments Breach Sanctions
Joshua Gallu – Bloomberg
Gazprom PJSC halted gas flows to Poland and Bulgaria and said it will keep them turned off until the countries agree to pay for the fuel in rubles. The move has left the rest of Europe — particularly Germany — worrying if they’ll be cut off next. Europe’s largest economy wouldn’t be able to handle any stoppages in Russian gas supplies and the economic toll would be “dramatic,” utility Uniper SE said Wednesday.
Bill Hwang Archegos Catastrophe Was Wilder Than Anyone Knew
Brian Chappatta and Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
Are we going to be able to pay for these trades today? I don’t see how we can.” The deputy’s words, now immortalized in a federal indictment, said it all: Inside Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management, panic was setting in. Hwang, the enigmatic billionaire behind Archegos, had amassed one of the world’s great fortunes in virtual secrecy, and that trove — a staggering $160 billion position in stocks — was unraveling everywhere, all at once.
Hwang’s Acolyte Tao Li Is Mystery Fund Manager in Archegos Case
Katherine Burton and Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
That mystery fund manager, identified only as “Adviser-1” in Hwang’s indictment unsealed Wednesday, is Tao Li, the head of Teng Yue Partners, a New York-based firm that oversaw $4 billion as of last year, according to people with knowledge of the investigation. Li and Teng Yue haven’t been accused of wrongdoing by U.S. authorities.
Archegos founder Hwang released on bail after arrest on fraud, racketeering charges
Jody Godoy – Reuters
Archegos Capital Management founder Bill Hwang on Wednesday was released on bail after pleading not guilty to U.S. criminal charges over the meltdown of his New York private investment firm, which left global banks with $10 billion in losses. Archegos, which had $36 billion in assets, collapsed last year when it was caught short on highly leveraged trades.
Elon Musk’s Twitter Deal Is Different Than Most LBOs, Here’s How
Paula Seligson – Bloomberg
What’s the easiest way to buy something? With other people’s money. That’s the key to almost all of the LBOs, or leveraged buyouts, that have dominated mergers and acquisitions for a generation. But while Elon Musk’s $44 billion planned takeover of Twitter is an LBO, it differs from most in several important respects. When you’re the world’s richest man and one who professes to not care about the economics of the deal, buying can be easier — and certainly faster — if you’re willing to put up what to virtually anyone else would be an awful lot of money. Here’s a look at the complicated transaction pulled together by the Tesla Inc. chief executive, and how it differs from normal LBOs.
Explainer: Why Archegos Capital was in U.S. regulators’ blind spot
Michelle Price – Reuters
U.S. authorities on Wednesday charged Archegos Capital Management owner Bill Hwang with racketeering, fraud and market manipulation over the meltdown of his New York family office which left global banks nursing roughly $10 billion in losses. Despite managing $36 billion in invested capital, according to the regulators, Archegos was subject to little direct regulatory scrutiny because it operated as a family office and used certain types of lightly regulated swaps to avoid other reporting rules.
Morgan Stanley Says Over 100 Crypto Assets Were Created in the Past Week, Mainly on DeFi Exchanges
Will Canny – Coindesk
Cryptocurrencies have traded like risk assets due to stimulus from governments and central banks, but tighter Federal Reserve policy means that the “liquidity-driven crypto momentum trade” has reversed, Morgan Stanley said in a note published Tuesday.
Barclays Halts Sales of 30 More ETNs After Paperwork Blunder
Marion Dakers – Bloomberg
Barclays Plc said it has suspended sales of another 30 exchange-traded notes until it is able to fix a paperwork issue with U.S. regulators. The London-based lender said sales of affected products under the iPath brand will be suspended from Thursday until further notice.
Why I’m still not taking crypto seriously; It may be the latest political and financial obsession, but cryptocurrencies remain something with no inherent value
Jemima Kelly – FT
I keep on being told that it’s time I took crypto seriously. Crypto, goes the refrain, has “gone mainstream” — from BlackRock to UBS, every major investor is at the very least “exploring” it these days, while the big firms have tens of millions of retail investors each. Governments are bullish, too: Britain is taking a “forward-looking approach” with the chancellor hoping to turn the country into a global crypto hub, putting the UK right up there with El Salvador, where bitcoin is now legal tender. I can joke, but if I haven’t bought into crypto, then the joke is actually on me, or so people keep saying.
RSM buys out shares of former UK partners in wake of boardroom coup; Accounting firm’s management strengthens its grip and allows exit route for retired shareholders after misstatement drama
Michael O’Dwyer – FT
Accounting firm RSM has bought out most of the shares in the business held by its former UK partners, consolidating the power of its new management team two years after the entire board was ousted following an investor coup. The UK’s seventh-largest accounting firm by revenue was thrown into chaos in 2019, when its chief executive and chief financial officer left their roles following the discovery of almost £10mn of misstatements in RSM’s own accounts.
The miracle medicines of a playboy trader and his crypto banker friend; SpectrumX wants to IPO in London. Consider yourself warned.
Bryce Elder – FT
Remember Aziz McMahon? He’s the guy who quit Goldman Sachs in May 2021 after reportedly becoming a dogecoin millionaire. McMahon was widely reported to have banked at least £10mn having gambled on tokens including ether and dogecoin. The talk when he left Goldman was that McMahon would be setting up a hedge fund. Instead, he’s in partnership with Damien Hancox, whose business history is no less incredible.
The risks in the Bank of England’s kite-flying on capital; Regulator has floated a radical simplification — but a bit of complexity can be a good thing
Helen Thomas – FT
When a speech suggests that bank regulation is complex and faintly dysfunctional, you would assume that the person at the lectern is a banker rather than a regulator. Not this time. Sam Woods, head of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, on Tuesday suggested that a radical simplification of banks’ capital requirements could produce a more flexible, more practical framework — one that allows banks to lend in downturns by overcoming reticence to use the so-called buffers built into the current system.
What Happened on Day 63 of the War in Ukraine; The Kremlin halted natural gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria in its toughest response yet to European sanctions. Explosions inside Russia near the Ukraine border raised fears that the war might spread.
Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Neil MacFarquhar, Shashank Bengali and Megan Specia – NY Times
Reverberations from the Ukraine war widened on Wednesday, jolting energy markets and spilling across borders, as Russia responded to the West’s escalating arms shipments and economic penalties by halting gas supplies to two European nations and threatening further unspecified retaliation.
U.S. pledges arms, shrugs off Russian nuclear warning
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was confident as he kicked off talks with allies at a German air base Tuesday (April 26), pledging new packages of ever heavier weapons in the fight against Russia. And brushing off a threat from Moscow that their support for Kyiv could lead to nuclear war.
China urges ‘restraint’ after Russia’s foreign minister raises prospect of nuclear war
Natalie Musumeci – Business Insider
China on Tuesday called for “restraint” after Russia’s foreign minister raised the prospect of the “real” threat of nuclear war amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. “No one wants to see the outbreak of a third world war,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday.
Russia Rejects German Gas Payment From Seized Trading Unit
Todd Gillespie – Bloomberg
Russia’s major gas bank rejected a payment from a trading firm that Germany seized from Moscow’s control, the first sign of friction following the take-over amid a broader regional energy dispute. Gazprombank declined payment for some April and May gas deliveries to Germany and Austria under contract with Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd., even as the company sought to pay for the fuel using a rubles account as Russia has demanded, according to people familiar with the matter.
Germany Is Preparing in Case Russia Halts Gas Supply, Says Scholz; Russia’s moves on gas are hard to predict, chancellor says; German leader says gas steps started even before Ukraine war
Michael Nienaber – Bloomberg
Germany has started preparations for a potential halt in Russian gas deliveries as concerns intensify amid a dispute over payment terms. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that preparations to limit Germany’s exposure to Russian energy imports were under way even before President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. While Russian coal is already being phased out, gas is more difficult, he said in Tokyo after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Biden Seeks New Authority to Sanction Wealthy Allies of Putin; President also expected to ask Congress for more Ukraine aid; Bill intended to streamline process to seize oligarchs’ assets
Nancy Cook – Bloomberg
President Biden will ask Congress on Thursday to pass a legislative package to strengthen the U.S.’s ability to sanction wealthy allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the same day he’s expected to also request additional funding for aid to Ukraine in its struggle against Russian invaders.
Russian gas payment demands in ‘breach’ of sanctions, EU warns; Completion of energy deals in roubles would fall foul of ban on central bank transactions
Valentina Pop and Andy Bounds – FT
The EU has warned European buyers of Russian gas that they will be in breach of sanctions against Moscow if they accept Kremlin demands for payment to be completed in roubles. The warning, which is clearer than previous guidance by Brussels, comes after several European companies indicated they would comply with a March 31 decree by President Vladimir Putin to introduce a two-tiered system for gas payments.
The return of the 20th century’s nuclear shadow; Putin has already broken a taboo by threatening to use weapons and the west needs to plan its response
Edward Luce – FT
Vladimir Putin’s willingness to threaten nuclear weapons is in one respect a good sign: it means Russia is probably losing in Ukraine. It is also a potentially catastrophic one. If Putin’s aim is to scare the west, he is failing. Nato keeps stepping up its supplies to Ukraine. The question is what he would do if he thought Russian defeat was inescapable. Putin keeps implying he knows exactly what steps he would take. Is he bluffing? It is plausible even he does not know the answer.
EU takes bulk of EUR63bn in Russian fossil fuel exports during Ukraine war; New research highlights Moscow’s ability to generate revenue from nations seeking to squeeze its finances
Camilla Hodgson and Steven Bernard – FT
Russia has exported EUR63bn worth of fossil fuels via ship and pipelines since the invasion of Ukraine, according to new data, with most going to the EU. The largest importers of Russian coal, oil and gas were Germany, Italy and China, according to analysis of pipeline and seaborne trade by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Ukraine Brings First War-Crimes Charges Against Russian Soldiers in Bucha; Prosecutors name 10 non-commissioned officers and privates they allege mistreated civilians in the Kyiv suburb
Brett Forrest – WSJ
Ukrainian authorities filed criminal charges Thursday against 10 individual Russian soldiers accused of taking civilians hostage and mistreating them in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha—the first such move by prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Moscow’s forces. All 10 were noncommissioned officers and privates from Russia’s 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, one of the units that took part in the monthlong occupation of Bucha.
U.S. Efforts to Arm Ukraine Shine Light on Limited Production Lines; Years after the U.S. stopped buying older weapons, like the Stinger missile, the Pentagon is struggling to replenish its stocks
Doug Cameron and Gordon Lubold – WSJ
More than two months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S., the world’s largest arms maker and exporter, is running short of some weapons and has yet to boost production to replace the depleted stocks. Pandemic-driven shortages of computer chips, rocket motors, propellant and labor have exacerbated long-held concerns about the U.S. military-industrial base and its ability to increase production in times of conflict.
Fears Are Mounting That Ukraine War Will Spill Across Borders
David E. Sanger and Steven Erlanger – NY Times
For nine weeks, President Biden and the Western allies have emphasized the need to keep the war for Ukraine inside Ukraine. Now, the fear in Washington and European capitals is that the conflict may soon escalate into a wider war — spreading to neighboring states, to cyberspace and to NATO countries suddenly facing a Russian cutoff of gas. Over the long term, such an expansion could evolve into a more direct conflict between Washington and Moscow reminiscent of the Cold War, as each seeks to sap the other’s power.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
CME Steps Up Battle Against LME With New Aluminum Contracts; New aluminum contracts will launch on May 23, CME Group says; CME is looking to build on expansion in copper trading
Mark Burton – Bloomberg
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will launch new aluminum options contracts next month, as it steps up a campaign to wrestle trading away from its London rival in the wake of a nickel-trading debacle.
Exchange operator CME’s quarterly profit tops views as hedging demand soars
Sohini Podder, John McCrank – Reuters
CME Group Inc on Wednesday reported quarterly profits that topped Wall Street expectations as investors turned to the futures exchange operator’s products to hedge against market volatility spurred by rising interest rates and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Demand for CME’s interest rate futures surged in the quarter, with average daily volumes up 21% from a year earlier, as the U.S. Federal Reserve in March hiked its benchmark rate for the first time since 2018, with a raft of further rate increases in the cards due to soaring inflation.
LME CEO Backtracks on Exit Plan After Nickel Market Chaos; Chamberlain has signed multiyear contract to remain at the LME; CEO announced resignation earlier this year for crypto role
Mark Burton and Jack Farchy – Bloomberg
London Metal Exchange Chief Executive Officer Matthew Chamberlain will remain to steer the company through the fallout from March’s nickel crisis after canceling plans to leave for a crypto startup.
BME admits a 11-year new sustainable bond from the Basque government for 500 million euros
– This is the sixth issue linked to ESG principles launched by the Basque Country since its first one in May 2018
– The volume of these transactions registered in the BME fixed income markets totals 100 billion euros
BME, through the Bilbao stock exchange, today admitted a 500 million euro, 11-year sustainable bond issue launched by the Basque Government. The bonds have a nominal value per unit of 1,000 euros. The transaction was three times oversubscribed, thus bringing a fixed annual coupon of 1.875%.
BME launches 4 new indices that eliminate dividend risk
-The new IBEX family indices replicates the performance of the IBEX 35® total return and discounts the dividends by a constant (decrement) on an annual basis.
-This type of indices is often used as underlying for various structured products.
The IBEX family is growing. BME has just launched the IBEX 35® TR Decrement 400 P, IBEX 35® TR Decrement 450 P, IBEX 35® TR Decrement 4.5% and IBEX 35® TR Decrement 5.0% indices. They all replicate the daily performance of the IBEX 35® total return but are discounted by a constant (known as decrement) on an annual basis, and therefore in terms of performance these indices should be compared with the IBEX 35® index.
EBS Market Integration onto CME Globex
Subject to applicable regulatory approvals, EBS Market’s Central Limit Order Book and eFix Matching Service will launch on CME Globex. You will receive subsequent notices with additional details and actions required to support the EBS Market integration onto CME Globex.
CME Group to Launch Canadian Wheat (Platts) Futures on June 13
CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace, today announced it will launch Canadian Wheat (Platts) futures on June 13, pending regulatory review. This contract will offer market participants a new tool to directly manage exposure to the Canadian wheat market.
Position Limit, Accountability Levels and Large Trader Reporting Requirements in Initial Listing of the North European Hot-Rolled Coil Steel (Argus) Average Price Option Contract In connection with the initial listing of Commodity Exchange, Inc.’s (“COMEX” or “Exchange”)
North European Hot-Rolled Coil Steel (Argus) Average Price Option contract (the “Contract”) on trade date Monday, May 2, 2022 (see SER-8953 published March 30, 2022), please note below and in Appendix B of COMEX Submission No. 22-090 the corresponding spot-month position limit (Rule 559), aggregation allocation (Rule 559.D.), single month and all month accountability levels (Rule 560) and reportable level (Rule 561) for the new contract. The new, financially settled, contract shall have a diminishing balance.
Performance Bond Requirements: Energy – Effective April 28, 2022
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below.
Initial Listing of the Canadian Western Red Spring Wheat FOB Vancouver Financially Settled (Platts) Futures
Effective Sunday, June 12, 2022 for trade date Monday, June 13, 2022, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, The Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. (“CBOT” or “Exchange”) will list the Canadian Western Red Spring Wheat FOB Vancouver Financially Settled (Platts) Futures contract (the “Contract”) for trading on the CME Globex electronic trading platform (“CME Globex”) and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort, as noted below.
Eurex Exchange Readiness Newsflash | T7 Release 10.1 – Simulation start and available documentation
Dear Eurex Participant,
With this Newsflash we would like to draw your attention to the upcoming simulation start and the publication of the system documentation for T7 Release 10.1 already available on the Eurex website.
Introduction of Additional Contract Months for Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index Futures
Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited (“The Exchange”) is pleased to announce the addition of contract months in Hang Seng Index (“HSI”) and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (“HSCEI”) Futures to provide more hedging flexibility for market participants. The tentative launch date will be on Monday, 13 June 2022, subject to regulatory approval.
Revision of the Official Settlement Price Methodology for Hang Seng
Index Futures Options and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index Futures
Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited (“The Exchange”) will enhance the methodology
used to calculate the Official Settlement Price (“OSP”) of Hang Seng Index (“HSI”) Futures
Options and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (“HSCEI”) Futures Options, subject to
regulatory approval, tentative effective on Friday, 17 June 2022. For the avoidance of
doubt, the current OSP methodology will be utilised for the HSI Futures Options and HSCEI
Futures Options expiration on 20 May 2022. The revised OSP methodology will incorporate
price references between 3:55 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on the contracts’ Expiry Day.
Practice Session for Additional Contract Months for Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index
Reference is made to the circular dated 28 April 2022 (MKS/EQD/01/22) issued by Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited regarding the introduction of additional contract months for Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng China Enterprises Index Futures tentatively on Monday, 13 June 2022, subject to regulatory approval.
SGX Securities and OCBC Group deepen partnership with Singapore’s first low carbon ETF
SGX Securities today welcomed the listing of Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF, with assets under management (AUM) of S$60 million at launch, reflecting investors’ growing interest in sustainable investing and low-carbon trading options. Today’s listing brings the total global AUM of sustainability-linked ETFs listed on SGX to over S$700 million.
SGX Securities welcomes Yangzijiang Financial Holding Ltd. to Mainboard
SGX Securities is pleased to welcome Yangzijiang Financial Holding Ltd. to Mainboard under the stock code “YF8”.
Yangzijiang Financial is the spin-off of the investment business of Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (Holdings) Ltd., one of the top shipbuilders globally that is listed on the Mainboard and part of the Straits Times Index (STI). Yangzijiang Financial is a leading investment management and debt investment business in Asia with an established presence in the PRC for more than 14 years. With extensive local market insights and deal sourcing capabilities, Yangzijiang Financial has a proven track record of investment management and strong investment capacity with a deep proprietary capital pool.
Twitter seeks to reassure advertisers over Elon Musk’s free speech plans; Campaigners and car manufacturers among groups to express concern over Tesla chief’s $44bn takeover
Tim Bradshaw, Alex Barker, and Hannah Murphy – FT
Twitter is rushing to reassure advertisers that it will remain a safe place for brands after Elon Musk takes over the company, as the campaign groups that organised a Facebook advertising boycott in 2020 warn the Tesla chief’s focus on freedom of speech could increase toxicity and abuse.
Musk’s Twitter financing tests Wall Street’s mettle: ‘What could go wrong?; Volatile moves in Tesla stock underline deal’s risks as billionaire’s plan for $21bn equity portion remains a mystery
Eric Platt, Nikou Asgari, James Fontanella-Khan and Antoine Gara – FT
It took just days for banks across Wall Street to cobble together a $25.5bn financing package for Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter, an exercise that would normally take weeks. The speed stumped Twitter’s advisers: how could banks’ buttoned-up risk management committees get comfortable with the deal so quickly? As one person involved in the debt financing explained, the due diligence “was easy. There was none. Not in the classic sense.”
Grab Fintech Veteran Set to Depart for Indonesian Startup; Head of lending is leaving after six years at Grab Holdings;
Mehrotra was tasked with building Grab’s lending business
Yoolim Lee – Bloomberg
Grab Holdings Ltd.’s head of lending plans to leave after six years at the firm to join three-year-old Indonesian startup BukuWarung, people familiar with the matter said, a setback for the ride-hailing giant’s fintech ambitions. Ankur Mehrotra, managing director of Grab Financial Group, plans to join Jakarta-based BukuWarung as a senior executive, the people said, asking not to be named as the matter is private.
Why Spam Bots Are Top of Elon Musk’s Twitter Hit List
Hannah Miller – Bloomberg
Elon Musk’s planned takeover of Twitter Inc. has put a spotlight on the company’s failure to ensure its users are always who they say they are. Musk has vowed to make Twitter a platform populated strictly by humans. That means cleaning out spam bot accounts that have been used to market products, promote misinformation and conduct scams.
Could exchanges’ data centre migrations leave participants subject to latency arbitrage? Data centre moves by Euronext and SIX Swiss Exchange could increase implicit costs by allowing larger firms with faster connections to take advantage, says Cowen’s James Baugh.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
With Euronext’s data centre due to migrate from Basildon in the UK to Bergamo in Italy on 6 June it’s opened up for question whether venues’ new data centre locations could leave some participants at a disadvantage.
Sports App OneFootball Raises $300 Million to Expand Into Web3
Sarah Jacob – Bloomberg
Football media platform OneFootball raised $300 million led by blockchain fund Liberty City Ventures to expand its presence into web3. Berlin-based OneFootball, which has more than 100 million active users, has also established a joint venture called OneFootball Labs to enable clubs, leagues, federations and players to release digital assets and fan-centric experiences based on blockchain technology. Fans will also be able to purchase and store digital collectibles with their email and a credit card.
Facebook parent Meta goes mega with Illinois data center; The company is more than doubling its new DeKalb facility, which will be the biggest in the state.
John Pletz – Crain’s Chicago Business
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, plans to build the largest data center in Illinois. The social media and advertising giant is nearing completion of two data center buildings already underway in DeKalb totaling about 900,000 square feet. Now it plans to add three more buildings that will bring the data center to 2.4 million square feet at a cost of more than $1 billion, including equipment.
That smells phishy! Cybersecurity experts explain what phishing scams are trying to do
Korin Miller – Yahoo
It’s easy to assume you’d never fall for a phishing scam, but more people than you realize become victims of these cyber crimes each year. Case in point: The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center discovered that Americans lost a jaw-dropping $57 million to phishing scams in 2019 alone. There are thousands of phishing scams launched every day, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), raising the risk that you’ll actually become a target. The best way to protect yourself from these online attacks is to understand what they are and what phishing scams are trying to do. And, of course, you need good systems in place to protect yourself.
U.S Cybersecurity Agency Lists 2021’s Top 15 Most Exploited Software Vulnerabilities
Ravie Lakshmanan – The Hacker News
Log4Shell, ProxyShell, ProxyLogon, ZeroLogon, and flaws in Zoho ManageEngine AD SelfService Plus, Atlassian Confluence, and VMware vSphere Client emerged as some of the top exploited security vulnerabilities in 2021.
That’s according to a “Top Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities” report released by cybersecurity authorities from the Five Eyes nations Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.
What Really Works When It Comes To Risk Quantification In Cybersecurity
Reuven Aronashvili – Forbes
Companies are spending more money than ever on cybersecurity. Yet, attacks are growing—and so are the damages and repercussions, both financially and regarding public reputation. With the stakes rising, there’s no question that when it comes to cyberattacks, companies need to better understand their risks and where and how to invest in reducing them.
NIST Official: Revised Cybersecurity Supply-Chain Guidance Imminent
Mariam Baksh – Nextgov
The software Industry wants agencies to show their ‘use’ of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which it says should be mapped to the revised supply chain guidance.
CISA, FBI, NSA, and International Partners Warn Organizations of Top Routinely Exploited Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NZ NCSC), and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) issued a joint Cybersecurity Advisory today on the common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) frequently exploited by malicious cyber actors, including the 15 most commonly exploited of 2021.
Malicious cyber actors continue to aggressively target disclosed critical software vulnerabilities against broad target sets in both the public and private sectors. While the top 15 vulnerabilities have previously been made public, this Advisory is meant to help organizations prioritize their mitigation strategies.
Alleged Russian Hackers Get Another Chance To Fight Google Suit; Judge rejects Google’s request for default judgment in case; Judge says it’s not clear when Russians found out about suit
Robert Burnson – Bloomberg
Alphabet Inc.’s Google failed to persuade a judge to issue a default judgment against two Russians accused of operating a botnet that allegedly hacked into more than a million computers and devices worldwide. Google had requested that Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov be found liable without a trial, claiming they had failed to reply to the lawsuit within legal time limits.
Bitcoin becomes official currency in Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) has approved Bitcoin as legal tender – just the second country to do so. CAR is one of the world’s poorest countries, but is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium. It has been wracked by conflict for decades and is a close Russian ally, with mercenaries from the Wagner Group helping fight rebel forces.
Cuba approves cryptocurrency services, requires central bank license
Marc Frank – Reuters
The Cuban central bank issued regulations on Tuesday for virtual asset service providers, after giving a nod last year to the personal use of cryptocurrencies, a move some experts said could help the Communist-run Caribbean island skirt stiff U.S. sanctions. Cryptocurrencies, which allow financial operations to be carried out anonymously in a decentralized manner, have been used in the past to get around capital controls, as well as to make payments and transfers more efficient.
Crypto Mortgages Let Homebuyers Keep Bitcoin, Put Down Nothing; New home loans are deepening the role of volatile digital assets in the real estate market.
Heather Perlberg – Bloomberg
It took Vincent Burniske months to get a seven-figure loan to buy two small apartment buildings in a coveted Miami neighborhood. The sports-media consultant had money — but much of it was tied up in crypto. Digital wealth meant little to banks when it came to a mortgage. And Burniske, 63, wanted to keep his coins rather than trade them for dollars.
Grayscale targets European financial hub for crypto expansion; Fund manager has $36bn in assets tracking tokens such as bitcoin and ethereum
Philip Stafford and Katie Martin – FT
Grayscale Investments, the world’s biggest investment vehicle for cryptocurrencies, is scouring Europe’s top financial hubs to launch expansion beyond its North American base. The fund manager, whose $36bn of assets are invested in funds tracking digital tokens such as bitcoin and ethereum, is holding a series of meetings with possible partners, according to Michael Sonnenshein, chief executive.
Why the UK joined the race to woo the crypto industry; Global investment in the sector topped $30bn in 2021 but the government’s plan to attract some of that money lacks detail, say critics
Joshua Oliver and Philip Stafford – FT
Bitstamp launched its first effort to set up a London headquarters in 2013. The fledgling Slovenian cryptocurrency exchange was seeking a new base for its global expansion and Europe’s financial capital was developing a reputation as a hub for investment and talent in financial technology.
Banks Accused of ‘Woke,’ Marxist Agendas as MAGA Comes to Annual Meetings
Jenny Surane, Hannah Levitt and Katherine Doherty – Bloomberg
Giant U.S. banks have come to expect activists at their annual shareholder meetings, usually decrying the lenders as capitalist powerhouses behind fossil fuels, gunmakers and societal inequities. As three of the nation’s largest banks kicked off the U.S. financial industry’s annual gatherings this week, conservative speakers showed up with questions, proposals and ultimatums. They’re not matching the size of the liberal-leaning crowd — their proposals garnered the least amount of supporting votes from shareholders — but they’re trying to steer the agenda nonetheless.
Before Washington’s ‘Nerd Prom,’ Lots of Risk-Benefit Calculation; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci will not attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, but President Biden has concluded it is worth the risk.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg – NY Times
Vice President Kamala Harris’s coronavirus infection is raising questions that some in the nation’s capital wish would remain unspoken: Is it safe for President Biden to attend the so-called nerd prom, otherwise known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Should the dinner even be held?
NC’s Tillis calls for insider trading investigation of fellow Republican Madison Cawthorn
Danielle Battaglia – The Charlotte Observer
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate fellow Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn on Wednesday, a day after the Washington Examiner broke a story saying Cawthorn could be implicated in insider trading. “Insider trading by a member of Congress is a serious betrayal of their oath, and Congressman Cawthorn owes North Carolinians an explanation,” Tillis said in a tweet. “There needs to be a thorough and bipartisan inquiry into the matter by the House Ethics Committee.”
City of London Should Embrace U.S. for Brexit Boost, Report Says
Tom Metcalf – Bloomberg
The U.K. should focus on closer cooperation with the U.S. to bolster its finance industry following Brexit and move on from attempts to push for access to European Union markets, according to a report by two think tanks. Greater ties with the U.S. could help the U.K. grow its capital markets business by 40%, Atlantic Council and New Financial said in a report Thursday.
The economic war against Russia is getting hot
Rick Newman – Yahoo Finance
Markets have stabilized following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, as if the bombs and missiles won’t derail the global economy. But the economic war running parallel to the shooting war is getting hotter, warranting more attention than investors may be devoting.
Xi in a Bind Over Who to Blame for Shanghai’s Covid Outbreak; Financial hub led by Li Qiang, a former top aide to president; Rising star has so far escaped punishment for virus crisis
Krystal Chia – Bloomberg
Who pays the price for China’s current Covid crisis will show the strength of President Xi Jinping’s grip over the Communist Party heading into a crucial leadership reshuffle. While Xi last month renewed his threat to punish any cadres who fail in their virus-fighting duties, only 15 low-ranking officials have been disciplined over the weeks-long lockdown in Shanghai. And any criticism of the financial hub’s performance risks blowing back on Xi, since it’s run by one of his closest associates on the decision-making Politburo, Li Qiang.
Ukraine Becomes a Wake-Up Call in Faraway Japan; Tokyo spent the decades since WWII in a pacifist slumber. Russia’s invasion is a reminder that there are risks for dozing too long.
Gearoid Reidy – Bloomberg
Just days before the national holiday this Friday commemorating the birth of the late Emperor Hirohito, Japan got a rude reminder of its inextricable part in the global history of war. It came in the form of an apology from the government of Ukraine. Social media out of Kyiv had released a video about fighting fascism that represented the Axis powers with images of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hirohito — who sat on the Chrysanthemum throne during World War II and oversaw Japan’s return to prosperity and active “non-aggression” in the decades after its defeat. Hirohito has been portrayed by some as a helpless puppet of the militarists who ran the empire’s expansionist policies in the first half of the 20th century. Japan’s government says it’s not appropriate to rank him alongside Hitler and Mussolini.
SEC Sues Vale Over Dam Disclosures Before 2019 Disaster; Regulator alleges Brazilian mining company misled shareholders about adherence to dam safety standards
Dave Michaels – WSJ
U.S. securities regulators on Thursday sued Brazilian mining company Vale VALE -0.37%? SA over how the company disclosed its mining-safety practices before one of its dams collapsed in 2019, a disaster that killed 270 people and continues to cloud the company’s future. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuit shows how the regulator is using investor-protection powers to go after public companies that suffered costly environmental or engineering crises. The January 2019 dam collapse near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil cost Vale at least $7 billion in legal payments and significant additional future costs to take down other structures that have the same upstream construction design as the Brumadinho dam.
Archegos Arrests Highlight Challenges for Regulators. It Will Be a Hard Case to Win
Bill Alpert – Barron’s
The federal government filed fraud and conspiracy charges Wednesday morning against executives at Archegos Capital Management in the wake of the fund’s 2021 collapse, which cost the firm’s brokers—and other traders—more than $10 billion. Archegos principal Bill Hwang and chief financial officer Patrick Halligan were arrested early Wednesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a case that highlighted weaknesses in the oversight of financial markets. Lawyers for both men told Barron’s that they will plead innocent. For prosecutors, securing convictions won’t be simple.
Two Former Archegos Employees Are Cooperating With Government Probes
Tom Schoenberg – Bloomberg
William Tomita, who was previously Archegos’ head trader, and Scott Becker, who was the firm’s director of risk management, pleaded guilty and were cooperating with authorities, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams told reporters. The two have also agreed to work with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, sued several current and former Archegos executives earlier Wednesday. The revelation that Tomita and Becker are cooperating may be a problematic sign for Hwang and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Halligan, who were both arrested and charged earlier in the day.
Top Nomura Trader Goes on Trial for Lying About Bond Prices; James Im argues misrepresentations weren’t material to sale; Prosecution stems from government crackdown on bond traders
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
A former senior trader at Nomura Holdings Inc. lied to customers about bond prices to boost the bank’s profits and his own bonus, the SEC said in court. James Im, a Nomura managing director who headed trading in commercial mortgage-backed securities from 2009 to 2014, went on trial Wednesday in Manhattan. A 2017 Securities and Exchange Commission suit accused Im of misrepresenting prices to clients who sought to buy and sell CMBS on the secondary market.
CFTC Charges Archegos Capital Management and Three Employees with Scheme to Defraud Resulting in Swap Counterparty Losses Over $10 Billion; Two Archegos Employees Admit Roles in Fraud and Are Cooperating
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced it has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Archegos Capital Management, LP (Archegos) and its Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Halligan, of Syosset, New York, charging them with fraud.
CFTC Announces Staff Roundtable Discussion on Non-intermediation
Staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will hold a public roundtable on May 25, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., to discuss issues related to intermediation in derivatives trading and clearing.
CFTC Commissioner Goldsmith Romero Announces Staff Appointments
CFTC Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero announced today the appointment of Nora Flood and Philip W. Raimondi as members of her executive staff.
SEC Charges Archegos and its Founder with Massive Market Manipulation Scheme; Multiple Archegos Executives Charged with Misleading Counterparties
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Sung Kook (Bill) Hwang, the owner of family office Archegos Capital Management, LP (Archegos), with orchestrating a fraudulent scheme that resulted in billions of dollars in losses. The SEC also charged Archegos’s Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Halligan; head trader, William Tomita; and Chief Risk Officer, Scott Becker for their roles in the fraudulent scheme.
Inspector General Carl W. Hoecker to Retire from SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Inspector General Carl W. Hoecker will retire from the agency as of May 7, 2022. He has led the Office of Inspector General (OIG) since Feb. 11, 2013. Rebecca Sharek, Deputy Inspector General for Audits, Evaluations, and Special Projects, will serve as Acting Inspector General.
Investing and Trading
Bunge Earnings Soar as War in Ukraine Boosts Grain Prices
Tarso Veloso and Michael Hirtzer – Bloomberg
Bunge is the “B” in the quartet of global crop merchants known as the ABCDs. Its rival and the “A” in the quartet, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. reported its best-ever quarterly results Tuesday. The war has created turmoil in corn, wheat and vegetable oil markets after shipments out of the Black Sea were halted and Ukraine’s plantings of corn and sunflowers crops were thrown into doubt. For Bunge and its peers, such large-scale disruption can bring once-in-a-generation opportunities to capitalize on their global networks of traders and export infrastructure.
Stock Market Meltdowns Have FAANGs Looking Increasingly Toothless; Investors are rethinking a tech-heavy growth strategy that’s served them for the better part of a decade.
Jeran Wittenstein – Bloomberg
Nine years ago, Jim Cramer—the gleefully loudmouthed CNBC pundit—introduced the world to what he called the FANG investment strategy. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, his reasoning went, were as close to a sure bet as you could get as commerce, community, and content shifted online. A few years later the acronym was plumped up to FAANG with the addition of Apple Inc. Corporate rebrandings at Facebook and Google would end up messing with the spelling, and some insisted Microsoft Corp. should join the party. But the one constant was a sense of infinite optimism about the companies’ ability to dominate their markets and continue growing at a breakneck pace, making huge sums of money for their shareholders.
The Hong Kong Dollar’s Peg Has Become Untenable; Pressure on government officials to break the currency’s link to the U.S. dollar, already at an extreme, is only getting worse.
Richard Cookson – Bloomberg
Sharp increases in U.S. interest rates have historically caused problems for emerging markets. During those times, people like me have wondered whether the Hong Kong dollar might be one of the casualties. For hedge funds or banks, the advantages of positioning for a break in the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar are partly that the payoffs are asymmetric and the cost to hold the position, unlike in just about any other emerging asset, is cheap. The reason for this is that the peg means implied volatilities (the estimate of how much the underlying currency will bang around over the life of the option) are very low.
We need new savings options to ward off retirement funding crisis; As social security faces numerous solvency and structural issues, we must turn to fresh strategies
Robert Merton – FT
The financial independence and security of families lie at the heart of a functioning democracy. The US three-legged retirement system — social security, employer-provided pensions, and private savings and investments — is in the grip of a serious funding challenge, some would say crisis. The reality is that a dignified middle-class lifestyle continued into the retirement years is no longer secure.
Investors fret over potential Musk U-turn in $44 billion Twitter buyout
Anirban Sen – Reuters
Investors speculating over whether Elon Musk will complete his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) sent the social media company’s shares on Wednesday to their lowest level since the deal was announced two days ago. Traders fretted that Musk may not have enough money sitting around to fund his $21 billion cash contribution and could decide against selling some of his Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares to come up with it.
Commodity Giant Glencore Says Trading Business Is Booming
Thomas Biesheuvel – Bloomberg
Glencore Plc’s trading business is headed for another year of bumper profits as the company cashes in on soaring prices and market volatility. Fresh from record earnings last year, Glencore’s forecast highlights how the commodity trading industry is enjoying one of its most profitable periods ever, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spreads turmoil in markets that were already at or near record highs even before the war started.
Michael Burry Takes a Dig at Elon Musk While Defending Short Sellers
Jill R. Shah – Bloomberg
Michael Burry defended short sellers in a tweet that appeared to address Elon Musk’s delicate position of funding his buyout of Twitter Inc. using some of his Tesla Inc. stake. Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion, partly funding the purchase with a $12.5 billion margin loan secured by Tesla shares. If the electric carmaker’s stock falls below $740, which it last did for a brief moment on Feb. 24, Musk may not have enough to cover the full loan, according to Bloomberg calculations. Musk may also need to sell Tesla shares to cover a $21 billion equity commitment he’s made for the purchase.
Top Bid for Lithium Up 140% After Musk’s ‘Insane Levels’ Call
Annie Lee – Bloomberg
The highest bid for lithium at an online sale surged by 140% in just six months, an indication the stampede for supplies of the main ingredient used in electric vehicle batteries could get even more intense. Pilbara Minerals Ltd.’s auction of spodumene concentrate — a partly-processed form of lithium — attracted a top bid of $5,650 a ton on Wednesday for a cargo of 5,000 tons. That compares with $2,350 at the previous sale in late October on the Australian miner’s Battery Metal Exchange.
JPMorgan Quants Say Stock Market Is Worried About Wrong Risks; Strategists say inflation, rate hike fears may be misplaced; Slowing earnings, economic growth signal volatility ahead
Nikos Chrysoloras – Bloomberg
While investors have been fixating on inflation and rate hike fears, the true signs of trouble lie in earnings growth outlooks, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. quantitative strategists. “Global profit forecasts have been slowing for a number of months” and global earnings data are now “in net downgrade territory,” quant and derivatives strategists led by Khuram Chaudhry wrote in a note to clients. “Our reading of the earnings cycle, and its drivers, suggests that the slowdown is indicating that inflation may have peaked and bond yields may have exhausted themselves.”
Putin’s booby-trapped bonds; Sloppy covenants could lead to problems
Mitu Gulati – FT
Well, that’s that. Russia did not make its April 4, 2022 dollar bond payments. It tried, but the accounts from which it tried to make the payments have been frozen by the US Treasury Department on account of the matter of Russia having invaded Ukraine. Whoops.
Total steps up buybacks despite $4.1bn Russia-related charge; Soaring oil and gas prices boost first-quarter earnings at French energy group
Sarah White – FT
TotalEnergies stepped up share buybacks despite a $4.1bn impairment linked to a sanctions-hit Russian project as surging oil and gas prices boosted first-quarter earnings. The French group said on Thursday it would buy back up to $3bn of its shares in the first half of 2022, up from a previous $2bn target, and confirmed an interim dividend increase of 5 per cent to EUR0.69 per share.
Corn and Soybeans Near Record Prices, Push Food Costs Higher; Ukraine war, drought in South America and biofuel demand pressure supplies of the crops
Ryan Dezember – Bloomberg
Corn and soybeans prices have risen nearly to records, signaling higher food inflation to come. Global food prices had already reached records when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and jeopardized big slices of the world’s grain and oilseed supplies. Poor harvests in South America, inclement planting weather in the U.S. and rising biofuel demand threaten to stretch inventories even thinner and push prices higher.
Yen Hits New 20-Year Low After Bank of Japan Reinforces Low-Rate Policy; Central bank Gov. Kuroda, bucking U.S. trend, says he is ‘patiently continuing monetary easing’
Megumi Fujikawa – WSJ
The yen weakened to more than 130 to the dollar on Thursday for the first time since April 2002, after the Bank of Japan reinforced its commitment to low interest rates despite rising inflation. “While central banks in the U.S. and Europe are moving toward monetary tightening or rate increases, the Japanese economy is still on the road to recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said at a news conference. “It is most important to support economic recovery by patiently continuing monetary easing.”
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance
What Russia’s War in Ukraine Means for Efforts to Cut Emissions
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions have effectively taken the world’s fourth-largest polluter out of the global battle to reach net-zero emissions, while European metal imports may also get dirtier.
U.S. Public Forests Are Cashing In on Dubious Carbon Offsets; State and local governments stand to earn tens of millions of dollars from managing forests in ways that will deliver few new climate benefits, while corporations get to take credit for reducing emissions.
Ben Elgin – Bloomberg
A flurry of state and local governments in the U.S. are enrolling public-owned forests in carbon projects that could earn them tens of millions of dollars but provide little new help in the fight against climate change. It’s another episode that illustrates how the carbon market — intended as a method for corporations to cut their carbon footprints — is delivering far fewer benefits than advertised.
Russia’s War Will Boost Solar Demand This Year, China Giant Says; JinkoSolar sees clean energy playing a bigger role in Europe; Producer saw first-quarter revenue jump 92% on module demand
Europe’s efforts to reduce reliance on imports of Russian fossil fuels will boost demand for solar energy as soon as this year, according to JinkoSolar Holding Co., the world’s third-largest supplier. Global solar capacity installations should rise to 250 gigawatts this year as nations seek alternatives to Russian supplies, and with the impact of new Covid-19 outbreaks likely to be short-term and controllable, the Shangrao, China-based producer said Thursday in an earnings statement. Installations were 184 gigawatts in 2021, according to BloombergNEF.
Sweden’s Biggest Solar Park Blocked on Risks to Food Supply; European Energy’s planned 168MW solar site thrown into doubt; Local county says farm land for food outweighs energy needs
Jesper Starn – Bloomberg
Plans for Sweden’s biggest solar park have been thrown into doubt after a local county rejected the application on grounds the land would be better used to help maintain the nation’s food supply. Privately-owned European Energy A/S had hoped to build a 168 megawatt site on pasture in Svedberga, Southern Sweden. But the Skane County Administrative Board ruled that the planned solar panels would limit the agricultural use of the land.
Bill Hwang Made a Huge, Secret Bank Bet Before Archegos Collapse
Sridhar Natarajan and Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
But buried in the billions Bill Hwang wagered and lost, the man behind Archegos Capital Management used derivatives to secretly build a more-than 20% stake in a U.S. regional bank, right under the noses of financial watchdogs, according to people with knowledge of the situation. That sent the stock on a wild surge, and when Archegos collapsed, a dramatic plunge. What’s more, Archegos and the bank had private conversations about a significant investment that wasn’t revealed to other shareholders, said the people, asking not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. As the stock soared, executives at the Dallas-based lender raised record new capital from unwitting investors.
Credit Suisse’s Latest Shakeup Leaves CEO as Sole Survivor
Marion Halftermeyer and William Shaw – Bloomberg
The troubled Swiss bank said Wednesday that its chief financial officer, Asia head, and general counsel would all be departing after a second-straight quarterly loss and continued legal headaches. Axel Lehmann, the firm’s third chairman in about a year, is further shaking up the top ranks just days before his first annual shareholder meeting. When Gottstein became CEO in February 2020, Andre Helfenstein took over Credit Suisse’s Swiss banking division and joined the executive board.
Credit Suisse Faces Angry Investors With Gap to Rivals Widening
Marion Halftermeyer and Myriam Balezou – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG executives are set to face off with miffed shareholders for the second year in a row after a losing streak of profit warnings, scandals and management tumult sent the stock into a tailspin.
Qontigo strengthens fixed income models suite with enhanced credit spread model
Press Releases – Qontigo
Qontigo, a leading provider of innovative risk, analytics, and index solutions, has enhanced its Axioma Credit Spread Factor Risk Model (Credit Factor Model) with the addition of credit default swaps (CDS) and increased factor coverage. The model results in better risk forecasting for asset managers, asset owners and hedge funds with portfolio exposure in the high yield and investment grade space.
Barclays Traders Beat Estimates with Surprise Surge in Unit Revenue
Stefania Spezzati – Bloomberg
Barclays Plc’s traders delivered a surprise jump in revenue for their unit during a volatile first quarter, helping offset a quieter period for the bank’s dealmakers and a charge for accidentally overselling U.S. securities.
Credit Suisse’s Legal Bills Keep Growing With No End in Sight
Marion Halftermeyer and Myriam Balezou – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG investors are facing the prospect of continued hits to profits in the coming quarters from litigation costs, as the troubled lender works through a backlog of lawsuits from legacy disputes and more recent losses.
Vanguard China Tie-up With Ant Has Bigger-Than-Forecast Loss
When Vanguard Group Inc. made a surprise retreat from China last year, the U.S. investing giant pinned its remaining hopes on a robo-advisory joint venture with billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. The road to a profitable China business is proving to be bumpier than expected.
Danske in Settlement Talks With U.S., Denmark on Laundering Case; Bank to shelve dividend in anticipation of “material” fine; Resolution would help draw an end to a 4-year scandal at bank
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
Danske Bank A/S said it’s in initial discussions with U.S. and Denmark authorities on ending the massive money laundering scandal that’s dogged Denmark’s biggest lender since 2018. The Copenhagen-based bank said potential fines are “likely to be material” and as a consequence it will not pay out dividends alongside the release of first quarter results on April 29, according to a statement on Thursday.
What Was Bill Hwang Thinking?; Archegos’s stocks went up and then they went down.
Matt Levine – Bloomberg
Here is a simplified version of the Archegos story. Archegos Capital Management was a family office run by Bill Hwang, a former Tiger Cub hedge fund manager, that invested his personal fortune. Starting in about 2020, Archegos’s investment strategy consisted of buying a whole ton of shares of like 10 stocks, using mostly money borrowed from about a dozen banks. (Technically it did this buying using total return swaps rather than actually buying the stocks on margin, but that is a minor point.)
UBS Becomes Third Global Bank to Lose China Boss This Month; hin to be succeeded by Qian, remain APAC investment bank head; Joins bankers at JPMorgan, Credit Suisse to quit China jobs
Cathy Chan – Bloomberg
UBS Group AG’s David Chin is stepping down as China country head, the third senior executive at a global lender in the nation to exit this month as Covid travel curbs make the role increasingly challenging for international bankers.
Barclays’ profits hit by jump in litigation and conduct charges; Buoyant trading revenue at investment bank cushions otherwise mixed quarter for UK lender
Stephen Morris – FT
Barclays’ profits fell 18 per cent in the first quarter and the bank had to delay a promised £1bn stock buyback as a jump in litigation and conduct provisions overshadowed a surge in trading revenue. Net income fell to £1.4bn, down from £1.7bn in the same period last year, the British bank said on Thursday. While this was three times higher than analysts’ expectations of £464mn, it came after a £523mn hit from a trading blunder in the US and a Maltese timeshare mis-selling scandal.
Archegos and the efficient markets hypothesis; And China’s ‘impossible trilemma’
Robert Armstrong – FT
According to an SEC complaint lodged yesterday, Bill Hwang and three of his colleagues at Archegos did the following: Bought staggeringly huge amounts of stocks, in very concentrated positions, mostly using money borrowed from investment banks
A Big Risk Hanging Over European Banks: Leveraged Loans; Regulators in Europe are concerned that as rates rise, the debt used to fuel global deal making could boomerang back on the region’s banks
Patricia Kowsmann – WSJ
Europe’s banking regulator is growing antsy about a booming market for banks: loans that fuel riskier borrowers and the global deal-making machine. That corner of banks’ business, called leveraged financing, has skyrocketed in Europe and elsewhere over the past years as central banks unleashed cheap money to propel economic growth.
Fidelity Hiring Spree Continues With Plans to Add Another 12,000 Employees; Firm is building out client-facing teams to handle account growth from a boom in individual investing
Justin Baer – WSJ
Fidelity Investments said it plans to hire another 12,000 people by September, doubling down on a bet that the individual-investing frenzy that began during the pandemic will outlast the market’s recent volatility. The Boston financial firm expects to end the year with as many as 68,000 employees, up about 19% from the start of 2022, building on a hiring spree that began in late 2020. Fidelity hired 7,200 associates that year and another 16,600 in 2021. The bulk of the new hires will be in client-facing and technology roles.
JPMorgan loosens return to office rules for some workers after pushback: report
Thomas Barrabi – NY Post
A top JPMorgan Chase executive reportedly informed some employees this week that they could cut down on the number of days they spend working on site – a move that followed internal friction over the bank’s stringent return to office policy. In a memo to addressed to JPMorgan’s “CTO and TRAIN members,” JPMorgan executive Drew Cukor revealed that impacted workers would be able to work out of the office just two days a week instead of three.
The European Union says the emergency phase of the pandemic is over.
Monika Pronczuk – NY Times
The European Union said on Wednesday that it was moving out of the emergency phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, while focusing on vaccination, pandemic surveillance and testing in preparation for a possible new pandemic wave in the fall. The move comes as the number of deaths and hospitalizations across Europe has dropped significantly because of the prevalence of the less severe Omicron variant, as well as high immunization levels. Three quarters of Europeans are fully vaccinated, and over half have received a booster shot.
The new White House Covid czar says avoiding all virus infections isn’t the goal of U.S. pandemic policy.
Noah Weiland – NY Times
Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House’s new Covid-19 coordinator, said on Tuesday that as the United States sees an increase in known coronavirus cases and keeps a watchful eye for new variants, the administration was not seeking to stop every infection.
EU estimates up to 80% of population has had COVID
Francesco Guarascio – Reuters
The European Commission said that between 60% and 80% of the EU population was estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, as the bloc enters a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases was no longer necessary. In preparing for this less acute phase, European Union governments should ramp up COVID-19 immunisations of children, the bloc’s executive body said, signallingit was considering plans to develop antivirals.
Moderna Applies for U.S. Clearance of Covid Shot for Young Kids; Pressure mounting on regulators to give toddlers protection; Two doses of vaccine shown providing strong immune response
Robert Langreth – Bloomberg
Moderna Inc. applied for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine in children from six months to under 6 years old after a successful trial showed two doses generate high levels of antibodies to the virus. The highly anticipated application comes just over a month after Moderna said a large trial showed two low doses of its vaccine produced powerful immune responses in young kids. Even though its effectiveness against omicron-related infections is modest, the application will put tremendous pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to quickly make a decision on whether to authorize it.
Moderna Asks FDA to Clear Its Covid-19 Vaccine for Young Children; Shot has been tested for kids aged 6 months to 5 years, a group not yet eligible for vaccination in the U.S.
Peter Loftus – WSJ
Moderna Inc. has asked U.S. health regulators to authorize the use of its Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 6 months to 5 years old. The company said Thursday that it had submitted the request after a study showed the shot safely induced immune responses in the young age group.
Shanghai Uses Crowdsourcing to Survive Covid-19 Lockdown as Social Support Breaks Down; A bevy of online medical-aid databases and information providing tips on pet care and cooking have sprung up to support residents as the city enters its fifth week of lockdown
Shen Lu and Liza Lin – WSJ
Daily life in Shanghai has ground to a halt as parts of the city’s social services collapsed under the weight of a strict citywide Covid-19 lockdown that is stretching into a second month. Now, ordinary citizens have stepped up to fill the breach.
China’s Tiger Brokers Cuts Staff After Regulatory Warning
Xiaomi Corp.-backed Up Fintech — known as Tiger Brokers — is in the process of firing about 200 employees across divisions from research to business development, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named discussing private information. Many have already left after receiving severance packages and it’s unclear if more will be let go, the people said.
A Powerful Dynasty Bankrupted Sri Lanka in Just 30 Months; The Rajapaksa family is racing to secure IMF funds as protesters seek to remove it from power.
Kai Schultz – Bloomberg
Ahead of the November 2019 election, Sri Lankan presidential challenger Gotabaya Rajapaksa proposed sweeping tax cuts so reckless the incumbent government thought it must be a campaign gimmick. The finance minister at the time, Mangala Samaraweera, called a briefing to assail the “dangerous” pledge to reduce the value-added tax to 8% from 15% and scrap other levies. To him, it was simple math: Sri Lanka collected relatively less revenue than nearly any other country, and its high debt load had forced it to seek cash from the International Monetary Fund.
China needs open capital markets for yuan to be global currency, IMF’s Gopinath says
David Lawder – Reuters
If China wants its yuan to become a globally used currency, Beijing would need to have open capital markets and full currency convertibility, the International Monetary Fund’s No. 2 official said on Tuesday.
China’s capital in race to detect COVID cases, avoid Shanghai’s distress
Eduardo Baptista and Brenda Goh – Reuters
Millions of people in Beijing took their second COVID-19 tests of the week on Wednesday as the Chinese capital tried to keep an outbreak numbering in the dozens from spiralling into a crisis like the one the locked-down city of Shanghai is enduring. Evidence that Shanghai’s month-long isolation has become almost unbearable for many of the city’s 25 million people is emerging on an almost daily basis on the country’s heavily censored internet.
China Cuts Coal Import Tariffs to Zero to Increase Supply
China will cut import tariffs for coal to zero from May to the end of March to help guarantee energy supplies, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement. Current tariffs range from 3% to 6% depending on the type of coal, the ministry said in a statement dated April 26 and posted to its website Thursday. China’s coal imports are down 24% through the end of March this year as global prices have soared.
‘Back Up the Truck’ on China, Fund Veteran Krige Says After Loss
Bei Hu and Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
Dawid Krige is putting on a brave face after his Greater China long-only fund lost 56% of its value since 2020. “Investors in China have been staring into the abyss recently,” Krige told investors in a March newsletter seen by Bloomberg. “The prospects for our portfolio have seldom been better.”
Some Funds Refuse to Give Up on China’s Stocks as World Flees
Ishika Mookerjee, Sofia Horta e Costa and Albertina Torsoli – BloombergSticking with Chinese stocks after some of the world’s worst losses is not an easy strategy to commit to, but that’s exactly what a few global money managers are planning to do. UBS Global Wealth Management, RBC Wealth Management and GW&K Investment Management are among those still buying or recommending investments in the country’s beleaguered shares. Reasons include cheap valuations as well as the potential for policy to turn more supportive in the world’s second-largest economy.
U.S. agencies direct $670 million to international food aid in wake of Ukraine invasion
Leah Douglas – Reuters
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will together contribute nearly $700 million to international food aid efforts in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agencies said on Wednesday. The money will go to emergency food operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. $282 million will come from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT), which is co-managed by the agencies.
How Africa is bearing the brunt of palm oil’s perfect storm
Ange Aboa and Joe Bavie r- Reuters
Djeneba Belem’s fried bean cake stall in Abidjan is a world away from the war raging in Ukraine. But her business is now at the mercy of an unexpected consequence: runaway palm oil prices. “I didn’t even want to sell anymore because I thought, if the price of oil had gone up that much, what am I going to earn?” she said as she stirred a batch of cakes at her street-side stall in Ivory Coast’s lagoon-side commercial capital.
Algeria Tells Spain Not to Re-Export Gas Amid Spat With Morocco; Spain tells Algeria it will start sending piped gas to Morocco; The quarrel is yet another threat to Europe’s energy security
BySalah Slimani and Rodrigo Orihuela – Bloomberg
Algeria threatened to cut natural gas flows to Spain if it re-exports Algerian supplies to other countries, amid rising diplomatic tensions over Morocco. The warning came after Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said Madrid would start sending gas, albeit of non-Algerian origin, to Morocco via the Maghreb-European pipeline.
Diesel Exports From Vital Russian Port to Plunge 30% in May; Loadings slide as companies avoid Russian oil supplies; Monthly drop is single biggest since at least late 2016
Jack Wittels – Bloomberg
Diesel exports out of Russia’s main port for the fuel are set to plunge by about 30% next month, as the effects of the country’s war in Ukraine ripple through energy markets. Shipments from Primorsk on the Baltic Sea are set at 1.1 million tons for May — about 269,000 barrels a day, the lowest level since September — according to a loading plan seen by Bloomberg. It’s the single biggest monthly decline since at least late 2016 in data based on loading schedules. It’s also the lowest volume for any May since 2019.
Leon Black gave £2mn to Russian model for British visa; Billionaire financier brokered introduction to lawyer to help ex-mistress obtain legal status in UK
Mark Vandeveldem, Sujeet Indap, and Kaye Wiggins – FT
Billionaire financier Leon Black gave his ex-mistress £2mn for a UK golden visa and introduced her to a lawyer to discuss her application, hoping to facilitate a transatlantic move that would enable the former fashion model to start a new life far from his home in New York.
Sports Betting Has Big Mo. What About the Bettors? A new analysis of data provides behavioral lessons for financial markets in the way people wager on sports.
John Authers – Bloomberg
Shibboleths are falling all around us. The nuclear rhetoric is amping up once more about Ukraine, the Almighty dollar is pushing other currencies to extremes, and bonds seem to be settling into a new and frightening bear market, just as commodities give every appearance of latching onto a bull market. Stocks continue to veer all over the place. Where to find refuge?
The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class; Since the Great Recession, the college-educated have taken more frontline jobs at companies like Starbucks and Amazon. Now they’re helping to unionize them.
Noam Scheiber – NY Times
Over the past decade-and-a-half, many young, college-educated workers have faced a disturbing reality: that it was harder for them to reach the middle class than for previous generations. The change has had profound effects — driving shifts in the country’s politics and mobilizing employees to demand fairer treatment at work. It may also be giving the labor movement its biggest lift in decades.