SEC Uncovers $194 Million Penny Stock Schemes that Spanned Three Continents

Apr 19, 2022

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

A judge in Florida says we don’t have to wear masks on planes anymore, and Mickey Mouse is now back to hugging people at Disney. The judge, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, the arbiter of all things legal, is an appointee of a former president who resides in Florida, likes Diet Coke and has a penchant for appointing only “the best people.” The judge, Rolling Stone said, was deemed “not qualified” by the Bar Association, though she was approved by the U.S. Senate, which we know always does the right thing.

The funny thing is, I expect this ruling to stick for political reasons more than public health reasons. It will take a full-blown surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths to turn public opinion again for most to cooperate. I do admit I am tired of wearing masks and sometimes don’t do so now in indoor settings. I went without one at Boca because of all the precautions taken and because I was triple-vaxxed at the time. Now I am quad-vaxxed.

We may look back on this “best people” judge in Florida and thank her for doing us a favor. Who knows. Or, the decision could lead to the resurgence and spreading of the virus and could end up killing a lot more people. This is the heavy burden that comes from being a “judge.”

The Big Read from the FT today is titled “Can the EU wean itself off Russian gas?” The story’s subtitle is “The EU has set a year-end deadline to cut two-thirds of its gas imports from Russia, but the economic and logistical hurdles may prove prohibitive.” it is a good story with nice interactive graphics.

The SEC is actively recruiting for the SEC Scholars Program for Fall 2022. The paid internship targets currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students to participate in ten-week fall internships. These are temporary appointments. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 22, 2022. The program begins on August 29, 2022 and ends November 4, 2022. For more information and links to apply, click HERE.

Don’t miss the Security Traders of Chicago (STAC) 96th Mid-Winter Annual Meeting 2022 this week starting on Wednesday. For more details click HERE.

The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Psaros Center Board of Advisors has welcomed several familiar names from our industry, including former NYSE President Stacey Cunningham, JP Morgan Asset & Wealth Management CEO Mary Callahan Erdoes, FTSE Russell founder and CEO of Wilshire Mark Makepeace, former CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad and former SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar

My alma mater, Purdue University, is welcoming Ukrainian refugees as part of a new Ukrainian Scholars Initiative. So far, 11 scholars who fled war-torn Ukraine have been matched with Purdue campus hosts.

Victoria Sanseverino has been promoted to account executive by Forefront Communications. She is a graduate of Iona College in media & strategic communication and English and brings a comprehensive communications background from her experience working in journalism and higher-education communications. Congratulations to Victoria.

Trabue Bland was interviewed by a loquacious Irish journalist with the initials PY at the FIA Boca 2022 conference and here is his video interview.

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

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The Security Traders Association (STA) has a new podcast from its annual Washington DC Spring Update on March 30 featuring Rep. Ann Wagner, who represents the 2nd Congressional District in Missouri, speaking on women in the workforce and other topics. You can go here to listen. ~SR

The FIA released its volume and open interest numbers for March 2022, which include worldwide volume of exchange-traded derivatives of 6.85 billion contracts in the month of March, the highest monthly total ever recorded. You can visit the FIA.org web site here for more of the March 2022 data.~SR

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Downtown office vacancy jumps to another record high; Demand for workspace grew, but new buildings that flooded the market with available space during the first quarter turned up the pain for landlords.
Danny Ecker – Crain’s Chicago Business
Demand for downtown office space picked up during the first three months of the year as COVID-19’s effects receded. But it wasn’t enough to keep the amount of empty workspace in the city from surging to a new all-time high. The downtown office vacancy rate jumped to 21.2% at the end of March from 19.7% at the beginning of the year, according to data from real estate services firm CBRE. The new share of empty offices in the central business district surpassed the previous record high of 20% set during the third quarter of 2021, CBRE data show. The vacancy rate has risen from 13.8% when the pandemic began, with new record highs set in four of the past five quarters.
/jlne.ws/3OnJwPx

***** Vacancy is increasing as supply jumps. Don’t worry, we are going to knock down a bunch of buildings and make green space to walk all the dogs from the residential units downtown.~JJL

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Can the S.E.C. Require ‘Gag Orders’ When It Settles Cases? The Supreme Court has been asked to review the practice, which a judge called “a stew of confusion and hypocrisy” and which challengers say violates the First Amendment.
Adam Liptak – NY Times
In the summer of 2020, as the pandemic raged and the presidential election neared, Michael D. Cohen, President Donald J. Trump’s onetime lawyer and fixer, was put to a choice. Mr. Cohen wanted to serve out the balance of his three-year sentence, for campaign finance violations and other crimes, at home. Federal authorities were inclined to allow that, but there was a catch: Mr. Cohen had to agree to give up his First Amendment rights. He had to promise, in the words of a form he was asked to sign, that he would have “no engagement of any kind with the media.”
/jlne.ws/3EtoHh7

***** I think every time the SEC settles a case, everyone involved should have to go to Second City and see all the gags.~JJL

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How U.S. airlines are changing their mask rules; After a federal mandate was struck down, the major carriers said masks would be optional on their domestic flights.
Niraj Chokshi – NY Times
Hours after a federal judge struck down a nationwide mask requirement on airplanes, trains, buses and other public transportation on Monday, the country’s largest airlines said they would stop requiring masks, ending a practice that had been in place for most carriers for nearly two years. The airlines weighed in after a Biden administration official said the Transportation Security Administration would no longer enforce the mask requirement while the White House reviewed the decision and determined whether it would appeal the ruling.
/jlne.ws/3Mk4opf

***** New rule. You have to wear a mask. Where you wear the mask is up to you.~JJL

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Crypto Exchange Platform Kraken Hires Its First Chief Marketing Officer; Mayur Gupta, who was chief marketing and strategy officer at Gannett, will fill the newly created role
Ann-Marie Alcántara – WSJ
Cryptocurrency exchange platform Kraken has named Gannett Co. executive Mayur Gupta its first chief marketing officer as competition in the fast-growing category heats up. Mr. Gupta had been chief marketing and strategy officer at publishing company Gannett since 2020, and before that held marketing leadership roles at meal-subscription company Freshly and audio streaming service Spotify Technology SA .
/jlne.ws/3KVEZC0

***** You know things are bad in cryptoland when the product does not sell itself and you actually have to hire a chief marketing officer. Like incredible!~JJL

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Elon Musk vows $0 salary for Twitter’s board after ‘poison pill’ adopted
Global News
Elon Musk took a swipe at the board of Twitter on Monday after the social media company adopted a “poison pill” to protect itself from the second-biggest shareholder’s US$43 billion cash buyout offer. “Board salary will be $0 if my bid succeeds, so that’s ~$3M/year saved right there,” Musk tweeted in response to a user’s post criticizing the board.
/jlne.ws/3OgbLjj

***** How to make friends and not influence boards for $500, Alex.~JJL

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Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was ‘The NFT thingy is starting to burst,’ warns guru whose ‘Black Swan’ theory foresaw 2007 financial crisis, from Fortune via Yahoo! News. No. 2 was the visual chocolate bunny joke John Lothian linked to as a poster available from eBay. No. 3 was Six Exercises for Mountain Bike Newbies and Veterans from The Wall Street Journal.

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MarketsWiki Stats
26,810 pages; 238,186 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics

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Lead Stories

SEC Uncovers $194 Million Penny Stock Schemes that Spanned Three Continents; 16 defendants charged in international ‘pump and dump’ plots
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against 16 defendants, located in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Monaco, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, for participating in multi-year fraudulent penny stock schemes that generated more than $194 million in illicit proceeds. The SEC investigations leading to these charges involved assistance from securities regulators and other law enforcement authorities in more than 20 countries and are associated, in part, with parallel criminal actions announced by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “We allege that the defendants in these actions orchestrated some of the most complex microcap stock fraud schemes ever charged by the SEC,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “By locating their operations overseas, using encrypted messaging and operating through a convoluted network of offshore accounts, the defendants hoped to avoid detection of the massive frauds we allege they perpetrated on US markets and investors. However, investigative teams from three SEC offices doggedly kept on their trail, working across borders, and ended this alleged global scheme.”
/jlne.ws/3vtFP2f

Fund managers locked in battle for talent as push into private assets gains pace; Groups rush to hire specialist expertise in effort to secure better returns
Adrienne Klasa and Josephine Cumbo – FT
The competition at the end of last year to win control of Greencoat Capital, one of Europe’s largest renewable infrastructure managers, was fierce. Eleven offers were put forward, including seven from large US private equity groups, before UK fund manager Schroders triumphed with a final price of £358mn.
/jlne.ws/3JWZSLM

European crypto industry steps up efforts to influence EU policy
Elizabeth Howcroft – Reuters
More than 40 crypto business leaders have asked the European Union not to require crypto firms to disclose transaction details and dial down attempts to bring to heel rapidly growing decentralised finance platforms. The European Union, like countries and jurisdictions across the globe, is working to tame the freewheeling crypto sector. The EU is ahead of the United States and Britain in developing a set of rules for the $2.1 trillion sector.
/jlne.ws/37Z08wq

Jamie Dimon’s Subtle Message to Regulators; The head of the biggest U.S. bank points out how much unregulated competition is out there.
Marc Rubinstein – Bloomberg
Investors are used to hearing company executives on earnings calls and in presentations sugarcoat the performance of their business. So it’s surprising when there’s a straight-up admission that “despite our best efforts, the moats that protect this company are not particularly deep.” When the speaker is JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon in his annual letter to shareholders, attention must be paid.
/jlne.ws/37Zayw2

Crypto Firm Blockchain.com Is Planning IPO as Soon as This Year; Miami-based company was valued at $14 billion in March round; Backers include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Baillie Gifford
Katie Roof – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrency startup Blockchain.com is interviewing banks for an initial public offering that could take place as soon as this year, according to people familiar with the matter. An IPO might not happen until next year and the company’s plans could change, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.
/jlne.ws/3vtm3Ux

Crypto Proponents Fear SEC ‘Backdoor’ Regulations on Exchanges, Dealers
Jesse Hamilton – Coindesk
Two recent, highly technical proposals could solidify the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) grasp on the U.S. crypto market, leading the industry to take another stand against what it sees as the wrong approach to government oversight. Chairman Gary Gensler has argued the SEC should be the lead regulator of the crypto world because of its role as the top cop for the U.S. securities markets. But lobbyists and lawyers for digital assets firms and their trade groups oppose a February proposal they believe may expand how the SEC defines “regulated exchanges” in such a way that it encompasses a wide swath of crypto platforms. In the meantime, the SEC announced another proposal that seems to follow the same pattern: potential oversight of the crypto industry without making that intention explicitly clear.
/jlne.ws/3jPRqmL

Robinhood to acquire UK crypto group Ziglu; Acquisition by US retail brokerage comes almost 2 years after it abandoned a plan to expand into Britain
Joshua Oliver and Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan – FT
Robinhood has agreed to buy UK crypto company Ziglu, as the US retail brokerage steps up its expansion beyond share trading and makes a second attempt to push into Britain. The Californian company said on Tuesday that London-based Ziglu’s “impressive team of deeply experienced financial services and crypto experts [will help] accelerate our global expansion efforts”.
/jlne.ws/3K043Gy

Japan to Model Digital Yen Tests on Sweden’s Approach, Not China’s
Toru Fujioka and Sumio Ito – Bloomberg
The Bank of Japan will explore the design issues of a central bank digital currency in measured steps like Sweden rather than pressing ahead with large-scale pilot tests like China, according to the BOJ’s point-man on digital yen research.
/jlne.ws/37YXOpc

UK Crypto Industry Hopes for More Clarity From Planned Stablecoin Rules
Paul Mansfield – Coindesk
The U.K.’s crypto industry is hopeful that its forthcoming stablecoin regulations will clear up “gray areas” for issuers. Last Monday, the U.K.’s Treasury, the government’s finance arm, announced that it would regulate stablecoins under its payments framework as a first step in a multi-stage process to establish a robust crypto regulatory regime. This means that stablecoin issuers would have to comply with the 2017 payment service regulations, which would require them to register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and follow rules on providing payment services, as well as meet specific requirements for payment transactions.
/jlne.ws/3EpnuYg

Free-Tweeting Elon Musk Has Flipped Us All the Bird; Want proof that we are truly living in a simulation? Musk winks, and we all nod. He doesn’t even own Twitter yet.
Laura Forman – WSJ
A few years ago, Elon Musk said at an industry conference he believed we are likely living in some sort of a videogame simulation. If he is right, he has willed it so. As if the marijuana and boob references on Twitter weren’t enough, an Elvis Presley reference on Twitter over the weekend should have been proof Mr. Musk is holding the controller. The tweet, “Love Me Tender,” sent around noon Saturday, could easily have meant Mr. Musk spent a weekend afternoon relaxing to some oldies after a whirlwind week. Or, as a sea of press reported Sunday, it could mean the world’s richest person is preparing a tender offer for what he calls the world’s “de facto town square.”
/jlne.ws/3KYF2No

Apollo Global Considers Participating in a Bid for Twitter; Elon Musk’s $43 billion pitch has put the social-media company in play
Cara Lombardo, Laura Cooper, Miriam Gottfried – WSJ
Apollo Global Management Inc. is considering participating in a bid for Twitter Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, after Elon Musk’s $43 billion bid put the social-media company in play. Apollo, one of the world’s largest buyout firms, has held discussions about backing a possible deal for Twitter and could provide Mr. Musk or another bidder like private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LP with equity or debt to support an offer, the people said.
/jlne.ws/3OywtLx

CFA Level II Pass Rate Remains Higher at 44% as Disruptions Wane
Katherine Doherty – Bloomberg
The pass rate for the second level of the chartered financial analyst exam remained higher than the historic lows set last year, with Covid-19 testing disruptions continuing to wane. In February, 44% of candidates passed the Level II exam, down from 46% in November and up from 29% in August, according to the CFA Institute. That’s slightly below the 10-year average pass rate of roughly 45% for that level.
/jlne.ws/37oDbmz

Ukraine Invasion

Putin Calls Time on Foreign Listings in Fresh Blow to Tycoons
Bloomberg News
Sanctioned or unsanctioned, Russian billionaires face fresh hurdles after President Vladimir Putin dropped the curtain on the era of foreign stock listings. Putin signed off on legal amendments on April 16 that require Russian companies to delist their overseas shares, winding up a process that has gathered pace with the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
/jlne.ws/3rDBLLQ

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s support for Putin’s Ukraine war has fractured his church
Peter Weber – The Week
Russia’s war in Ukraine is also something of a holy war. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has long been a key ideological ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and at least tacit supporter of his military adventures. But his public support for Putin’s bloody war in Ukraine has proved too much for many Orthodox Christians, especially the Ukrainians who fall under the authority of Kirill’s Moscow Patriarchate.
/jlne.ws/3JUqgWG

Garry Kasparov Predicts How Putin’s Inner Circle Could Oust Him Over Ukraine
Lee Moran – Huffington Post
Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov on Monday explained what may lead to Russian President Vladimir Putin eventually being ousted by his inner circle in a “palace coup.”
/jlne.ws/3k9qBKJ

Opinion: Putin has launched the first economic world war, and the EU and the West are his targets
Antonia Colibasanu – MarketWatch
?As momentous as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is, the most strategically important event in recent weeks was the global economic war between Russia and the U.S. and its allies. Russia, however, has been preparing to confront the West and challenge the Western socio-economic model for a long time. Russia’s strategic interests in Ukraine are well-known. The geography and history of Russia compel its leaders to create and preserve a buffer between Moscow and the major powers in Western Europe, and to ensure access to the Black Sea. Ukraine is crucial to both goals. But beyond Ukraine, the Kremlin perceives the eastward expansion of Western influence, including into Russia, to be a modern invasion by stealth that threatens the Russian regime.
/jlne.ws/3KVXXZf

Purdue Welcomes Ukrainian Scholar Refugees
Rebecca Kelliher – Diverseeducation.com
Purdue UniversityPurdue UniversityAs part of its new Ukrainian Scholars Initiative, Purdue University has so far matched 11 scholars fleeing war-torn Ukraine with campus hosts. The program seeks to help visiting scholars continue their scholarship safely in the U.S. for about a year.
/jlne.ws/3KXUXvm

Russian Crude Shipments Shrink 25% in Just One Week; Exports were down by 25% nationwide in the week to April 15; Volumes headed to Asia from country’s western ports tumbled
Julian Lee – Bloomberg
Seaborne flows of Russian crude oil declined by a quarter in the seven days to April 15. Volumes heading to Asia from ports on the Black Sea, Baltic and Arctic coasts plunged to the lowest in two months. A total of 30 tankers loaded about 21.8 million barrels from Russian export terminals, according to vessel-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg and port agent reports. That put average seaborne crude flows at 3.12 million barrels a day, down by 25% against the week ended April 8.
/jlne.ws/3KYEK94

Russia plans to sue over frozen currency reserves, central bank says; Western sanctions have cut off Moscow from nearly half of its foreign exchange holdings
Max Seddon and Henry Foy – FT
Russia plans to take legal steps to recover $300bn of its foreign currency reserves frozen by western governments in a bid to overturn one of the most painful measures imposed on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The pledge to mount a legal challenge against the measure was announced by the head of Russia’s central bank without any details or timeframe.
/jlne.ws/3jRTqv2

Bank of England stumbles over FX trading gold mine; Watch out Masters of Mayfair, the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is coming for you
Eva Szalay and Delphine Strauss – FT
Last week, Bank of England researchers published a blog outlining a new study into the predictability of exchange rates. They stumbled over a simple strategy that appears to churn out results that would be the envy of any hedge fund trader. It’s simple: buy currencies against the dollar which attract little interest in options markets, and sell those with high volumes of options trading. We’re not sure if the UK central bank will chuck in its day-to-day role to turn into a prop trading shop, but the study’s results were intriguing.
/jlne.ws/3rwYqt9

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

All-or-None Transactions
CME Group
Effective Date May 2, 2022 Effective on trade date May 2, 2022, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, this Market Regulation Advisory Notice will supersede CME Market Regulation Advisory Notice RA2104-2 from August 30, 2021. It is being issued enable All-or-None (“AON”) transactions for open outcry trading of Options on Three-Month SOFR Futures, Options on One-Month SOFR Futures and all Options on Three-Month Eurodollar Futures.
/bit.ly/36u1ZsO

Registration and Identification of Broker Associations
CME Group
Effective trade date May 2, 2022, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, this Advisory Notice supersedes CME Market Regulation Advisory Notice RA2103-2 from August 30, 2021. It is being issued to notify CME members that all SOFR options contract months will be added to the list of contracts subject to the intra-association trading restrictions pursuant to CME Rule 515.E. (“Trading Restrictions”), on May 2, 2022.
/bit.ly/3jNvh8O

DFM welcomes HSBC as General Clearing Member
DFM
Dubai Financial Market (DFM) announced today that HSBC has become the first international General Clearing Member (GCM) to join the market, enabling the bank to provide clearing and settlement services to its customers worldwide and to other DFM trading members.
/jlne.ws/3rBahXf

Introduction of CCASS Enhancement on ETF Book-Entry Deposit and Withdrawal Orders (For Service Agent Model)
HKEX
Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited is pleased to announce the following CCASS Enhancement to introduce the ETF Book-Entry Deposit and Withdrawal Process for ETP primary market operations, which shall be rolled out on 25 April 2022. The enhancement aims to provide the Participating Dealers (“PDs”) who also acting as a CCASS participant to input their BookEntry Deposit and Withdrawal order in CCASS terminal by removing the existing paper fax / forms for ETP primary market operations under the ETP Service Agent Model.
/bit.ly/3EvwFpZ

Amendments to the General Rules of CCASS (the “Rules”) and the CCASS
Operational Procedures (the “Procedures”) of Hong Kong Securities Clearing
Company Limited (“HKSCC”)
HKEX
CCASS Participants are requested to note that the Securities and Futures Commission has
approved amendments to the Rules and the Procedures for the purposes of introducing a new
service to allow participating dealers who are also CCASS Participants to input book-entry deposit
and withdrawal orders through CCASS Terminals for exchange traded funds units created or
redeemed outside of CCASS.
/bit.ly/3uUMtQ7

Trading schedule on the Moscow Exchange during the May holidays of 2022
MOEX
The Moscow Exchange has determined the rules for the operation of markets during the May holidays in 2022. Trading on the stock, money, derivatives, foreign exchange and precious metals markets will be held on official working days April 29, May 4-6 , and May 11-13, 2022 in accordance with the current regulations. On May 1 – 3 and May 7 – 10, 2022, there are no auctions.
/bit.ly/3xTDuAH

Position Limits – Equity Listed Products
TMX
The applicable position limits for share futures and options on stocks, exchange-traded funds, and trust units have been updated and are reflected in the position limit file. The position limit file is available in Annex 1 and retrievable here. The position limits will be effective on May 2, 2022 after the markets close.
/bit.ly/3KXcx2y

Companies with highest number of complaints pending
NSE
Out of the companies whose securities are traded on NSE, there are no companies with the number of complaints
greater than or equal to 10, pending for more than 2 months OR the aggregate value of the complaints
pending for more than 2 months is equal to or greater than Rs.5 lakhs for 5 or more complaints as on March
31, 2022.
/bit.ly/3pckN5S

Reminder: NYSE Weekend Testing Opportunity – NYSE Broker Systems Disaster Recovery
NYSE
On Saturday, April 23, 2022, NYSE will offer a weekend test of the NYSE Broker Systems Disaster Recovery instance in Cermak. Firms will have the opportunity to connect and send order flow to the NYSE Broker Systems in the Cermak datacenter. The test will run from 8 AM ET to 12 PM ET. Firms wishing to participate should contact connectivity@nyse.com to register for the test and confirm DR session details.
/bit.ly/3jU6CiI

Fintech

Five Big Questions for Elon Musk and Twitter; Will he go hostile, what is Twitter really worth and more.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Vivian Giang, Stephen Gandel, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni – NY Times
Over the weekend, Twitter’s board put in place a poison pill provision in an effort to block Elon Musk, who, you might have heard, wants to buy the social media platform. The maneuver will give Twitter’s management time to assess the offer and potentially invite other buyers via a sale process.
/jlne.ws/3806FqE

Fraud prevention start-up Seon raises funds to fight sanctions evasion
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Seon, a start-up that helps fintech companies like Revolut tackle online fraud, has raised $94 million to develop new tools for preventing sanctions evasion by Russia.
The London-based company raised the fresh cash in a funding round led by IVP, the Silicon Valley investment firm that has backed the likes of Netflix and Twitter. IVP Partner Michael Miao has also joined Seon’s board.
/jlne.ws/3JPnemo

FactSet appoints industry veteran from BNY Mellon to build out its ecosystem; New appointment joins from BNY Mellon and Eagle Investment Systems, where he served in various roles over the last two decades.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
FactSet has appointed Joel Kornblum to work with its partnerships and alliances team and help aid the expansion of the FactSet ecosystem. Kornblum brings considerable experience across the end-to-end investment operational process to the role: including experience in investment data management, performance measurement and investment accounting.
/jlne.ws/392YBpG

Apollo’s Rowan Warns Rivals to Ignore Blockchain at Their Peril; CEO Marc Rowan talks about the future of finance and his best investment advice on “Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein.”
Heather Perlberg – Bloomberg
Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Marc Rowan has been a pioneer in private equity for decades. The next big thing in the eyes of the billionaire: blockchain. “The ecosystem that’s being built around crypto is nothing short of amazing,” Rowan, co-founder and chief executive officer of New York-based Apollo, said in an episode of “Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein.” “Many of the rails or the technology or the platforms or the systems that support what’s happening in NFT are actually the precursor to changes in our financial system and we ignore them at our peril.”
/jlne.ws/3Eq8F7R

Fintech NovoPayment raises first venture round in 15 years to expand its full-stack banking API platform
Anita Ramaswamy – TechCrunch
The digital transformation of banking and payments services is a red-hot trend that’s shown no signs of slowing down. Banking-as-a-service (BaaS) products like Synapse, Unit, and Bond have helped fuel the shift by allowing companies to quickly spin up new financial services using APIs.
NovoPayment is a global BaaS startup based in Miami that has largely been focused on offering its API platform to customers in the Latin American market. It has developed a full-stack, multicurrency solution with three main categories — data banking, payment infrastructure, and card solutions, its founder and CEO Anabel Perez told TechCrunch.
/jlne.ws/37XaCwh

Alibaba’s Ant Group Buys Majority Stake In Singapore Fintech 2C2P
Jonathan Burgos – Forbes
Ant Group—backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba—has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Singapore-based fintech company 2C2P as the operator of e-wallet Alipay expands further into Southeast Asia.
“This partnership is a win-win collaboration built on strengths and the shared vision to accelerate the digital transformation for businesses through innovation and best-in-class payments solutions,” Angel Zhao, president of Ant Group’s International Business Group, said Monday in a statement. “We look forward to supporting businesses’ digitalization together and creating a connected digital ecosystem across markets in the region.”
/jlne.ws/3uTo1yh

Cybersecurity

US Government Warns of North Korean Crypto Attacks After Tying Nation to $625M Hack
Nelson Wang – Coindesk
Several U.S. government organizations jointly warned on Monday of the threat posed by cryptocurrency thefts and tactics used by the North Korean state-sponsored group known as Lazarus Group.
/jlne.ws/3jOUDTG

Watchdog warned UK government of spyware infections inside 10 Downing Street
Christopher Bing – Reuters
Digital rights watchdog group Citizen Lab said on Monday it had warned British officials that electronic devices connected to government networks, including some inside the prime minister’s office and foreign ministry, appeared to be infected with Israeli-made spy software. The spy software is known as Pegasus, a product of Israeli cyberarms dealer NSO Group, according to a blog post published by Citizen Lab.
/jlne.ws/37ur1se

British Encryption Startup Arqit Overstates Its Prospects, Former Staff and Others Say; Arqit says its encryption system can’t be broken by quantum computers, but former employees and people outside the company question the relevance of its technology
Byron Tau and Dustin Volz and Eliot Brown – WSJ
A U.K. cybersecurity startup rocketed to a multibillion-dollar valuation when it listed publicly last fall on the promise of making encryption technology that would protect the defense industry, corporations and consumers alike from the prying eyes of next-generation computer systems. Founder and Chief Executive David Williams told investors at the time that his company, Arqit Quantum Inc., had an “impressive backlog” of revenue and was ready “for hyperscale growth.”
/jlne.ws/3rBb5ez

Cybersecurity litigation risks: 4 top concerns for CISOs
Michael Hill – CSO Online
The threat of litigation is enough to keep any business leader up at night, and the increasing prevalence of data protection, privacy, and cybersecurity legislation and regulation is piling on the pressure for CISOs.
According to Norton Rose Fulbright’s latest Annual Litigation Trends Survey of more than 250 general counsel and in-house litigation practitioners, cybersecurity and data protection will be among the top drivers of new legal disputes for the next several years. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they felt more exposed to these types of disputes in 2021, up from less than half in 2020, while more sophisticated attacks, less oversight of employees/contractors in remote environments, and concerns about the amount of client data were all cited as mitigating factors.
/jlne.ws/384D8fl

83% of cybersecurity teams affected by talent shortages
Madeline Lauver – Security Magazine
The State of Pentesting 2022 report from Cobalt surveyed 602 cybersecurity and software development professionals about their experiences with talent shortages in the field.
Many cybersecurity teams have been affected by talent shortages: 45% of respondents reported currently experiencing a talent shortage in their organization, while 38% experienced a talent shortage within the six months prior to the survey. In addition, 11% expect to deal with this challenge in the future.
/jlne.ws/3EuyNy9

Modest improvement in cybersecurity in 2H 2021, report suggests
Howard Solomon – IT World Canada News
Organizations modestly improved their cybersecurity posture in the second half of last year, if the latest results from infosec respondents using a self-assessment tool called the Cyber Risk Index (CRI) are accurate.
On Monday, the latest biannual results from respondents using the tool — which was created by the Ponemon Institute for Trend Micro — were released, which shows globally the CRI was -0.04 for the second half of 2021. That compares to -0.42 for first half of 2021.
/jlne.ws/3L0l2dk

Cryptocurrencies

King of the ‘Lunatics’ Becomes Bitcoin’s Most-Watched Whale
Muyao Shen and Michael P. Regan – Bloomberg
Back in 2016, when Do Kwon was just a little-known startup founder with grand ambitions of bringing free internet to all, he noticed his research on distributed networks kept bringing up stuff on Bitcoin and Ethereum. Fast forward to today, and this relative newcomer is now one of the most influential — and controversial — figures in that rabbit hole.
/jlne.ws/37YXxTc

Crypto exchange Blockchain.com is exploring an IPO that could happen as early as this year: report
Hamza Fareed Malik – Business Insider
Crypto exchange Blockchain.com is talking to banks about an initial public offering that could be launched before the end of 2022, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The talks are in early stages, and the exchange could still change its plans, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The IPO might not take place until next year if it goes ahead, they said, according to the report, which did not say where the listing might be.
/jlne.ws/3uWCcD4

Politics

Trump-Appointed Judge Deemed ‘Not Qualified’ by Bar Association Voids Mask Mandate on Planes, Other Travel
Althea Legaspi – Rolling Stone
A Trump-appointed Federal judge in Florida has voided a national mask mandate for airplanes and other transportation. “Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle wrote in her decision on Monday. “At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.”
/jlne.ws/3xzxQU5

Biden’s Gas Exports Create Imported Headaches; LNG shipments to Europe are driving up prices — and curbing supplies — as executives stay on the sidelines.
Javier Blas – Bloomberg
The law of conservation of energy is ingrained in every high school science student: Energy can’t be created or destroyed, only transformed or transferred. The global natural gas market represents the political version of that primary tenet of thermodynamics.
/jlne.ws/37nqfgJ

The Lifting of the Mask Mandate Is a Gift to Democrats; A federal judge’s ruling may succeed in getting an awkward topic off the party’s agenda.
Matthew Yglesias – Bloomberg
The federal judge who on Monday struck down the CDC’s mask mandate in airports, airplanes and other public transit did President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party a favor. This lingering non-pharmaceutical intervention, at a time when mask rules have been dropped in virtually every other context (including in the U.S. Capitol Building) has become an embarrassment at a time when the country has otherwise moved on from so-called NPIs.
/jlne.ws/3K8HmjL

Boris Johnson to apologise to UK parliament over lockdown fine
Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will apologise to parliament on Tuesday as he faces lawmakers for the first time since he was fined by police for breaking his own COVID-19 lockdown rules, a government official said.
/jlne.ws/3EpqTq0

French prime minister says outcome of presidential vote not clear
Reuters
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday that Emmanuel Macron was not guaranteed to win the April 24 runoff in the presidential election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. “The game is not done and dusted,” Castex told France inter radio. “One puts Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen on the same level. But there are key differences.”
/jlne.ws/3KVZSgp

Putin’s Ruble Standoff With Europe Risks De Facto Gas Embargo; EU lawyers say abiding by Putin’s decree would break sanctions; The European Union gets 40% of its natural gas from Russia
Richard Bravo and Alberto Nardelli – Bloomberg
The European Union and Russia are at risk of triggering a de facto embargo on Russian gas after the bloc’s lawyers drafted a preliminary finding that the mechanism President Vladimir Putin is demanding for payment in rubles would violate EU sanctions.
/jlne.ws/3JPo6HP

Crypto Donations Face Ban in Ireland to Avert Russian Meddling
Morwenna Coniam – Bloomberg
Ireland’s political parties will be banned from accepting financial donations through cryptocurrencies to prevent foreign interference in elections, most prominently by Russia, according to the Irish Independent. The new rules are being drafted as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an “insidious disinformation war” highlight the threats faced by democracies, Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien wrote to party leaders, the newspaper reported Sunday.
/jlne.ws/3Mgs2mp

They Are the Heirs of Nazi Fortunes, and They Aren’t Apologizing
David de Jong – NY Times
The backbone of Germany’s economy today is the car industry. It’s not just that it accounts for about 10 percent of G.D.P.; brands like Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen are recognized around the world as symbols of German industrial ingenuity and excellence. These companies spend millions on branding and advertising to ensure they are thought of this way. They spend less money and energy on discussing their roots. These corporations can trace their success directly back to Nazis: Ferdinand Porsche persuaded Hitler to put Volkswagen into production. His son, Ferry Porsche, who built up the company, was a voluntary SS officer. Herbert Quandt, who built BMW into what it is today, committed war crimes. So did Friedrich Flick, who came to control Daimler-Benz. Unlike Mr. Quandt, Mr. Flick was convicted at Nuremberg.
/jlne.ws/37nyj12

Regulation

U.S. SEC charges ex-Brazilian executive over planted Berkshire Hathaway story
Reuters
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged a former senior executive at IRB Brasil Resseguros SA with planting a false story that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc had made a significant investment in the Brazilian reinsurer. Fernando Passos, who had been IRB’s executive vice president of finance and investor relations, allegedly planted the story in February and March 2020 to prop up IRB’s stock price, which had fallen significantly after a short seller questioned the company’s financial results.
/jlne.ws/3rzdI0r

SEC Charges Senior Executive of Brazilian Company with Fraud
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Fernando Passos, the former executive vice president of finance and investor relations of Brazilian reinsurance company IRB Brasil Resseguros S.A., for allegedly planting a false story with the media and disseminating false documents claiming that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had recently made a substantial investment in IRB.
/jlne.ws/3uV52nb

Atlanta-Based Pest Control Company, Former CFO Charged with Improper Earnings Management
SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Rollins Inc. agreed to pay $8 million to settle charges that it engaged in improper accounting practices in order to boost its publicly-reported quarterly earnings per share (EPS) to meet research analysts’ consensus estimates.
/jlne.ws/3uSwORi

Statement on Jury’s Verdict in Trial of Edward S. Walczak
Gurbir S. Grewal – SEC
After a five-day trial, a jury serving in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin found Edward S. Walczak liable for negligence-based securities fraud for misrepresenting to investors how he would manage risk in the Catalyst Hedged Futures Strategy Fund.
/jlne.ws/3JVbbnH

European regulators warn of emerging risks across the markets; Latest assessment report finds that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified existing risks and increased vulnerabilities across the financial sector.
Wesley Bray – The Trade
Three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), have issued a joint risk assessment report for 2022 highlighting increased vulnerabilities across the financial sector as well as the rise of environmental and cyber risks.
/jlne.ws/3rDiiux

ESAS Publish Joint Annual Report For 2021
ESMA
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – published today its 2021 Annual Report, providing a detailed account of its joint work completed over the past year.
/jlne.ws/3vA8RgS

Take Steps Today to Boost Financial Capability
FINRA
April is Financial Literacy Month! To mark the occasion, FINRA is highlighting actions you can take to boost financial capability—both your own and that of others you care about. Financial Literacy Month, which has been recognized by U.S. legislators since 2004, is a collaborative initiative spearheaded today by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. Throughout the month, Jump$tart and its partners and affiliates are holding events and activities around the country to raise awareness of the importance of financial education and promote financial literacy.
/jlne.ws/3Es9Jbe

Investing and Trading

SPACs Hold $3.45 Billion of Free Money for Investors
Bailey Lipschultz – Bloomberg
Blank-check companies have taken an epic battering, but for patient investors, the collapse creates a chance to make some easy money from a quirk in the structure of these vehicles: their holdings of Treasury bills. By one reckoning, scooping up shares of special-purpose acquisition companies that are trading at a discount to their cash in trust could earn the buyers about $3.45 billion, according to data compiled by Chicago-based SPAC Research.
/jlne.ws/37kEXoN

Calling time on QE, central banks prep for synchronized asset cull
Howard Schneider and William Schomberg – Reuters
Major central banks, already plotting interest rate hikes in a fight against inflation, are also preparing a common pullback from key financial markets in a first-ever round of global “quantitative tightening” expected to restrict credit and add stress to an already-slowing world economy.
/jlne.ws/36qh2Ub

Bank Stocks Have to Reckon With the Downside of Higher Rates; Rising interest rates have many benefits for banks, but some of the burdens are front and center now
Telis Demos – WSJ
Rising rates are often a sign of good times ahead for bank stocks. But sometimes you can have too much, too fast, of a good thing. Higher interest rates have many benefits for lenders, as the interest income they earn typically rises faster than what they pay for funding. The last time the Federal Reserve started raising rates at the end of 2015, bank stocks sharply outperformed the S&P 500 over the next two years. Now at the beginning of what many believe will be an even more aggressive rate cycle, bank shares are limping, falling nearly 12% so far in 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine did threaten disruptive volatility or credit losses, but resilient earnings so far haven’t yet relieved bank shares.
/jlne.ws/3Eq92z4

The World Bank slashes its forecast for global economic growth; The bank now expects the global economy to grow at a rate of 3.2 percent in 2022, down from its previous estimate of 4.1 percent.
Alan Rappeport – NY Times
The World Bank is slashing its forecast for global economic growth this year, citing the war in Ukraine, inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic. The World Bank now expects the global economy to grow 3.2 percent in 2022, down from its previous estimate of 4.1 percent, its president, David Malpass, said on Monday. The World Bank estimated that the global economy grew 5.7 percent last year.
/jlne.ws/3xHBg78

JPMorgan Sees Risk of $185 Oil If EU Acts Quickly on Russia Ban; Full and speedy ban would affect more than 4 million b/d; Slower phase-out like coal ban may leave prices unaffected
Grant Smith – Bloomberg
If the European Union is serious about squeezing Russian oil, it may need to brace for some pain. A full and immediate ban could displace more than 4 million barrels a day of supplies — propelling Brent prices up by around 65% to $185 a barrel, JPMorgan warns. And there wouldn’t be enough appetite or time to re-direct the barrels to China and India, analyst Natasha Kaneva says.
/jlne.ws/3uUTQHh

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

China’s New Carbon Market Is Gridlocked Awaiting Policy Guidance
Bloomberg News
Trading activity in China’s nascent national carbon market has all but flatlined as power firms await policy clarity amid soaring commodity prices and government concerns about energy security. The price for emission allowances has settled at 60 yuan a ton for seven straight sessions, with 50 tons or less exchanged on five of those days, according to data from the National Carbon Trading Agency.
/jlne.ws/3uSFCGS

Utilities Want to Convert Coal Plants to Nuclear; Skeptics Abound; States and utilities are looking at placing small nuclear reactors at former coal plants, but the technology and economics remain unproven
Jennifer Hiller – WSJ
U.S. utilities and startup firms are trying to convince lawmakers, regulators and customers that they can convert aging coal power plants to house small nuclear reactors, a so-far unproven way to deliver electricity. The burgeoning idea would place fleets of small, modular nuclear reactors at or near former coal-fired power plants and is taking hold across the electricity industry. Utility companies see it as a way to repurpose coal plants they are set to retire and are joining with startups developing the reactors, looking to tap into billions of dollars in federal funding. Following lobbying efforts by industry, lawmakers in more than a dozen states this year are considering legislation that would open the door to coal-to-nuclear conversions.
/jlne.ws/3JXfVJg

IMF Executive Board Approves Establishment of the Resilience and Sustainability Trust
IMF
Challenges from the pandemic, spillovers from geopolitical shocks, and long-standing structural problems pose an enormous impediment for balance of payments stability and resilient and sustainable growth, especially for low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries. In this context, on April 13, 2022, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the establishment of the Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) with effect from May 1, 2022.
/jlne.ws/3vMVbiH

As Europe Jilts Russian Gas, Biggest U.S. Exporter Puts on a High-Tech Show; Cheniere leads the way to prove it’s plugging methane leaks in hopes of new long-term contracts.
Naureen S Malik – Bloomberg
Deep in Louisiana’s bayou country, 18 maroon canisters discharge clear, odorless methane into the air as hard-hatted engineers patrol wind gauges, solar panels and a laser surveillance system shooting beams at mirrors. The experts and employees of Cheniere Energy Inc., the largest U.S. exporter of natural gas, are part of a high-stakes campaign to show Europe that as it abandons Russian gas, it can substitute the American variety without fear. Their job is to find the most efficient leak detecting system.
/jlne.ws/3JTMOXy

A Coal Tycoon Is Making Billions in a World Aiming to Go Green; Bayan Resources revenue has surged and shares trade near peak; The founder owns a stake valued at more than $6 billion
Yoojung Lee and Fathiya Dahrul – Bloomberg
Before the pandemic began, Low Tuck Kwong tried — and failed — to sell a stake in his Indonesian mining company. Unable to find the right buyer, he decided to double down, adding shares instead of paring them. The bet paid off: PT Bayan Resources’ stock has more than doubled since, making Low one of the wealthiest people in the industry, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His stake, no
/jlne.ws/3KYWnpt

UK government threatened with legal action over offshore wind farms; Communities in Suffolk push for a more integrated approach to prevent onshore infrastructure blighting landscape
Nathalie Thomas – FT
Communities in Suffolk are threatening the UK government with legal action after business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last month approved two controversial wind farms off England’s east coast. Suffolk residents had objected to the projects being developed by ScottishPower, the UK arm of Spanish utility Iberdrola, because of the design and location of the onshore infrastructure needed to connect them to Britain’s electricity grid. This includes a large substation complex in the medieval Suffolk village of Friston, 22 miles north-east of Ipswich.
/jlne.ws/3L1UHvh

Passive funds could threaten UK climate transition, warns think-tank; Research finds index-tracking funds’ growing ownership of fossil fuel industry risks creating stewardship ‘inertia’
Ed Moisson – FT
Passive funds are set to become investors of last resort in UK fossil fuel companies, a trend that could create stewardship “inertia” and threaten the climate transition, a think-tank has claimed. Common Wealth argued that passive, index-tracking funds should bolster their stewardship activities to help support the transition to a decarbonised economy as they become more powerful owners of UK-listed companies.
/jlne.ws/3OhYxmd

Institutions

U.S. banks’ commodity trading exposures rise on Russia conflict
Matt Scuffham – Reuters
Wall Street banks’ commodities trading exposures are rising, which could leave them vulnerable to large swings in asset values following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, first quarter earnings disclosures showed.
/jlne.ws/3JNp6fj

HSBC, StanChart face capital hit on cleared renminbi trades; Lack of UK recognition for Shanghai Clearing House could prompt banks to reduce exposures
Chris Davis – Risk.net
HSBC and Standard Chartered are facing big capital hikes on their derivatives exposures at Shanghai Clearing House at the end of the year as a post-Brexit temporary clearing house recognition regime comes to an end. The Bank of England has yet to say whether it will extend recognition, prompting concerns that capital requirements on the two banks’ interest rate, foreign exchange and commodity derivatives exposures to the Chinese clearing house will rise significantly at year-end.
/jlne.ws/3Oov1Lg

Bank of America Caps an Underwhelming Bank Earnings Season; Other big U.S. banks reported first-quarter profit declines last week
Orla McCaffrey – WSJ
Bank of America Corp. reported a 12% drop in first-quarter profit Monday, marking the end to an underwhelming earnings season for the country’s largest banks. Last week, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley reported double-digit declines in first-quarter earnings as well. All except Bank of America reported lower revenue.
/jlne.ws/3jNBEce

Schwab Stock Drops After Disappointing Results; Brokerage’s first-quarter earnings per share, revenue fall short of analysts’ estimates
Hardika Singh – WSJ
Charles Schwab Corp. shares fell Monday after the financial-services firm reported a drop in quarterly revenue and missed Wall Street expectations. The Texas-based brokerage’s shares ended the day down 9.4% at $74.94, the stock’s largest percentage decrease since March 2020, making it the S&P 500’s worst performer on Monday. Schwab shares have fallen 11% in 2022.
/jlne.ws/36rFowZ

Strong trading revenues see major banks squash predictions this earning season; Revenues at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citi soared on the back of gains made in trading, lending and ongoing market volatility.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Major investment banks have surpassed revenue predictions in the first quarter on the back of ongoing market volatility and better than expected trading revenues. Institutions have leveraged trading to offset market volatility caused by the Ukrainian conflict and the global pandemic combined with a slowdown in IPO and merger related activity, which many predicted would heavily impact revenues in the first quarter.
/jlne.ws/3xEtbAi

Wellness Exchange

Uber scraps mask requirement for riders, drivers as COVID cases fall
Reuters
Uber Technologies has scrapped mandatory face masks for its riders and drivers in the United States, the ride-hailing company said on Tuesday, adding that riders have the option to cancel their trip if they feel uncomfortable with its move.
/jlne.ws/3vwseHm

Poland declines to take or pay for more COVID-19 vaccines for now
Reuters
Poland will not take or pay for more doses of COVID-19 vaccine under the European Union’s supply contract, its health minister said on Tuesday, setting the stage for a legal battle with manufacturers. Poland, along with other EU members, has been receiving COVID-19 vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic under supply contracts agreed between the European Commission and vaccine makers such as BioNTech SE and Pfizer or Moderna.
/jlne.ws/3Eret0F

Analysis: Demand for Pfizer’s COVID pills lags around the world
Michael Erman – Reuters
Worldwide demand for Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid has been unexpectedly light due to complicated eligibility requirements, reduced testing, and potential for drug interactions, a Reuters review of data and interviews with experts has found. Demand also has been hampered by the perception that Omicron infections are not that severe.
/jlne.ws/382aDio

China’s Covid-19 Restrictions Threaten Economic Recovery; First-quarter GDP figures paint relatively rosy picture, but data didn’t capture full impact of Covid-19 restrictions
Stella Yifan Xie – WSJ
China’s severe Covid-19 restrictions, which for two years aided the country’s pandemic rebound by keeping the virus outside its borders, are now emerging as the largest threat to its growth. Signs are growing that the economy has been cooling rapidly in recent weeks as the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across dozens of Chinese cities and prompts the harshest lockdowns since the earliest days of the pandemic in 2020.
/jlne.ws/3JUWmRW

Omicron variant forces Taiwan to re-examine its pandemic strategy; Low vaccination rates for elderly mean island must protect its health system as it opens up
Kathrin Hille – FT
There has been hardly a better place to live through the Covid-19 pandemic than in Taiwan. With strict border controls, meticulous tracking and tracing and almost universal use of face masks, the country recorded among the lowest infection and death rates in the world, and achieved that even without lockdowns. However, that recipe for success has run its course. The Omicron variant of coronavirus is forcing Taipei to move from preventing infections to coexisting with the virus.
/jlne.ws/3JZ61qC

Regions

Indonesia launches corruption case over palm oil exports
Reuters
Indonesian authorities have opened a corruption case linked to the issuance of palm oil export permits, naming four suspects including a trade ministry official and palm oil company executives, the attorney general said on Tuesday. The move comes as the government in Indonesia, which is the world’s top palm oil producer, has faced pressure to control soaring cooking oil prices. Authorities between late January and the middle of March restricted exports of palm oil and its derivatives, requiring companies to meet demand at home before they were allowed to export.
/jlne.ws/3jPD7yP

Russia Has Found No Place Yet to Invest Reserves After Sanctions
Bloomberg News
Russia’s central bank conceded it’s found no clear alternatives to the world’s major reserve currencies after sanctions over the war with Ukraine left it in possession of only yuan and gold. Before the invasion, the Bank of Russia spent years reducing exposure to the dollar, bringing its share to just under 11% at the end of last year. But more than a third of the total was in euros — on top of additional investments into currencies such as the British pound and yen — making it possible for international governments to seize about half of the stockpile in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s attack.
/jlne.ws/382CG16

Ships carrying Russian fertilizers find way to Brazil despite sanctions
Ana Mano – Reuters
Despite concern that sanctions against Russia would cause a shortfall of fertilizer in Brazil, preliminary shipping data shows orders being fulfilled and vessels heading for Brazil, potentially allowing a normal grain planting season. At least 24 vessels carrying almost 678,000 tonnes of Russian fertilizers from ports in the country are expected to reach Brazil in the next weeks, according to preliminary shipping data compiled by Agrinvest Commodities and seen by Reuters on Monday.
/jlne.ws/3EtX0Vi

Swiss to decide case by case on Russian commodity deals
Reuters
Switzerland will decide case by case whether to curtail traders’ purchases from Russia’s state-controlled companies under European Union sanctions Bern has adopted that limit commodity deals to those deemed “strictly necessary” from mid-May, the government agency in charge of sanctions said on Tuesday. Major global trading houses are planning to reduce crude and fuel purchases from state-controlled Russian companies such as Rosneft and Gazpromneft as early as May 15, sources told Reuters last week, to avoid falling foul of European Union sanctions on Russia.
/jlne.ws/3vsR7E3

Stellantis suspends vehicle production in Russia
Giulio Piovaccari – Reuters
Carmaker Stellantis (STLA.MI) said on Tuesday it was suspending production at its Russian plant due to logistical difficulties and sanctions imposed on Moscow. The world’s fourth-largest automaker, which produced and sold the Peugeot, Citro?n, Opel, Jeep, and Fiat brands in Russia, has just 1% of the country’s car market.
/jlne.ws/3jROZA8

‘In Bald Guy We Trust’: A Currency Analyst Goes Viral in Brazil
Ye Xie and Aline Oyamada – Bloomberg
Robin Brooks speaks in the sober monotones of a Ph.D. economist who’s dedicated much of his career to calibrating fair-value models for foreign-exchange rates. So it was a bit of a shock to Brooks, and his family, when he suddenly became a social media sensation in Brazil. But Brooks is a rarity in financial circles here: a long-term bull on the Brazilian real. And it is this unflinching optimism, even in the worst moments of Brazil’s pandemic collapse, that has now made him the public face of the breakneck rally that’s turned the real into the world’s top-performing currency this year.
/jlne.ws/3961uWV

US border patrol encounters over 5,000 Ukrainians in March
Monique Beals – The HIll
Over 5,000 Ukrainians were detained at U.S. land, sea and air borders last month, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday. The data showed that 5,071 Ukrainian people were detained at U.S. borders in March, up from just over 1,100 Ukrainian detainees in February, with some among the 220,000 detentions at the southwest border.
/jlne.ws/3vqOjXX

Miscellaneous

Most U.S. College Grads Don’t Work in the Field They Studied, Survey Finds; A quarter of grads over the age of 25 make less than $35,000 a year, with many close to the poverty level.
Paulina Cachero – Bloomberg
With student-loan debts ballooning, American parents may be debating whether or not a college degree is worth the five-, sometimes six-figure price tag. Here’s a statistic that may give some pause: More than half of college graduates over the age of 25 don’t work in their field of study, according to a new survey from Intelligent.com.
/jlne.ws/3KWako9

New York Times Appoints Joseph Kahn Executive Editor; The news organization that Mr. Kahn will lead is radically different from what it was a decade ago
Alexandra Bruell – WSJ
The New York Times said Joseph Kahn will serve as its next executive editor, taking over a newsroom that has grown significantly in size and complexity in recent years. Mr. Kahn, a Times veteran and former Wall Street Journal staffer, was most recently managing editor. He succeeds Dean Baquet, who served as executive editor for nearly eight years and is stepping down shortly before turning 66. The customary retirement age for executive editors at the Times is 65.
/jlne.ws/3Me4dvn

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