The New York Stock Exchange’s massive post-COVID question

Apr 5, 2021

First Read

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Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

The OCC reported that March 2021 total volume was up 34.8 percent from a year ago and that it was the highest total volume month on record for U.S. equity options. March also marked the end of the highest quarter by contract volume in OCC’s history.

CME Group issued its March 2021 monthly and quarterly volume report and it is also a dazzler. Highlights for Q1 2021 compared with Q1 2020 included: The average daily volume (ADV) of Ultra 10-Year Treasury Note futures was up 26%. The ADV of the fast-growing Micro E-Mini Nasdaq 100 futures was up 100%. And the ADV of the Micro E-Mini Russell 2000 futures was up 138%. The CME traded a record of 112K ADV for SOFR and a record ADV of 13,500 Bitcoin futures. Ag options ADV was up 27% from a year ago and corn options ADV was up 67%. Soybean options ADV was up 64% and soybean oil options ADV up 46%.

Some March monthly volume product highlights included: SOFR futures ADV was up 82% year over year (YoY). Bitcoin futures ADV was up 35% YoY. The Micro E-Mini index options ADV of 2.9 million contracts was up 23% YoY. Record Micro E-mini Nasdaq 100 futures ADV was 1.3 million contracts and record Micro E-mini S&P 500 futures ADV was 1.2 million contracts. Soybean options ADV rose 97% YoY and the monthly ADV for BrokerTec EU Repo was EUR299 billion.

Amazingly, Micro E-mini futures and options represented 41% of overall Equity Index ADV during March 2021 at the CME Group. Micros rock!

Former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the host of Stay Tuned with Preet, will be a keynote speaker at the FIA’s L&C-V Conference held from April 28 to 30.

Doug Ashburn, director of strategy and business development for T3 Custom and a former JLN team member, has a content marketing commentary on TD Ameritrade’s “The Ticker Tape” titled “Where Does My Order Get Filled?” Alas, there is no specific answer given.

However, Jonathan Macey, the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale Law School and Professor in the Yale School of Management, has a very different perspective. It is not where your order is being filled that matters; that is pretty simple these days – at one of the internalizers. The question is, what price is your order being filled against? In a commentary on Insider titled “Robinhood and other ‘low cost’ brokers are still quietly screwing over their users,” Macey says that “The NBBO benchmark Citadel and Virtu use is widely understood to be outdated and incomplete.”

Nasdaq is looking for an account manager for governance solutions in Stockholm, Sweden. The position is within their corporate platforms division.

There were no new donations to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign over the weekend. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by giving to our GoFundMe campaign.

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



Investors should buy real assets – from wine to art – as inflation reaches a ‘secular turning point,’ Bank of America says
Emily Graffeo – Insider
Since the election of President Joe Biden, inflation and its potential comeback have been hot economic topics. Pumping trillions of dollars into the economy could overheat it, critics say, while others see few signs of runaway inflation, either now or in the near future.

******I was ahead of my time buying the shadow box of “Game of Thrones” books with a signature from the author George R.R. Martin.~JJL


Robinhood and other ‘low cost’ brokers are still quietly screwing over their users
Jonathan Macey – Insider
The ongoing fiasco that grew out of online broker Robinhood’s decision to limit customers’ ability to buy “meme stocks” like GameStop in January has produced a lot of noise, but also a silver lining. Robinhood’s move, which angered customers and some online commentators, also brought attention to how retail brokers like E*Trade, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Robinhood handle orders on behalf of their retail customers.

*****Jonathan Macey is the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale Law School and Professor in the Yale School of Management.


Friday’s Top Three
On Friday, the top-read story was from the Financial Times concerning Heath Tarbert’s new position, Ex-CFTC chair joins Citadel Securities 27 days after leaving regulator. The second most-read was the Wall Street Journal’s High-Frequency Traders Eye Satellites for the Ultimate Speed Boost. And third was a DRW “Insights” piece, What to expect when interviewing and onboarding 100% remotely.


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Lead Stories

The New York Stock Exchange’s massive post-COVID question
Andy Serwer with Max Zahn – Yahoo Finance
A year ago last week, March 23, 2020 to be exact, as COVID-19 was beginning to ravage America, the New York Stock Exchange closed its trading floor and moved to all electronic trading. It was the first time in 228 years that the floor was closed but markets remained open. (The floor and trading were both shuttered for two days after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and four days after 9/11, more on the latter, later.)

Europe’s third wave: ‘It’s spreading fast and it’s spreading everywhere’; Hospitals fill up across the continent as new variant proliferates and vaccine shortages bite
FT reporters – FT
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, Europe is enduring a grim spring. Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths are rising in many countries as the continent grapples with a more infectious variant, a shortage of vaccines and public weariness with lockdowns. In France “the epidemic is spreading fast, and it’s spreading everywhere,” prime minister Jean Castex told parliament on Thursday after President Emmanuel Macron announced the country’s third nationwide lockdown, which includes travel restrictions and school closures and extends a 7pm-6am curfew.

Japan’s central bank kicks off experiments on issuing digital currency
Reuters Staff
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) began experiments on Monday to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the BOJ said in a statement.

New GPIF Board Head Says Fund Isn’t Distorting Japan Stocks
Chikafumi Hodo and Emi Urabe – Bloomberg
Hirohide Yamaguchi is new chairman of GPIF board of governors; Yamaguchi says the GPIF considers its impact on markets
Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest pension pot, considers the impact of its investments on markets and isn’t distorting the country’s stocks, said Hirohide Yamaguchi, the newly appointed chairman of the fund’s board of governors.

He Built a $10 Billion Investment Firm. It Fell Apart in Days; Banks were eager to do business with Bill Hwang and his Archegos Capital Management — until he ran out of money
Kate Kelly, Matthew Goldstein, Matt Phillips and Andrew Ross Sorkin – NY Times
Until recently, Bill Hwang sat atop one of the biggest — and perhaps least known — fortunes on Wall Street. Then his luck ran out. Mr. Hwang, a 57-year-old veteran investor, managed $10 billion through his private investment firm, Archegos Capital Management. He borrowed billions of dollars from Wall Street banks to build enormous positions in a few American and Chinese stocks. By mid-March, Mr. Hwang was the financial force behind $20 billion in shares of ViacomCBS, effectively making him the media company’s single largest institutional shareholder. But few knew about his total exposure, since the shares were mostly held through complex financial instruments, called derivatives, created by the banks.

Commodities groups investigate web domains linked to GFG Alliance; FT uncovers further indications of companies with ties to Sanjeev Gupta’s troubled steel empire
Cynthia O’Murchu, Robert Smith and Neil Hume – FT
Commodities trading houses have launched investigations after web domains resembling their own were registered to an email address of an employee at Sanjeev Gupta’s metals empire. The Financial Times discovered that the domains were registered with a Liberty House email address. Liberty House is Gupta’s commodities trading and industrial group and part of his GFG Alliance conglomerate.

Archegos’s cautionary tale for banking; How the lure of fat fees made banks forget the lessons of the crisis
The editorial board – FT
In ancient Greek, Archegos is a leader or pioneer. The eponymous family office certainly pioneered financial acrobatics. Forced to liquidate positions in blue-chip stocks after being unable to pay margin calls, Archegos Capital left some of the world’s biggest banks with outsize losses, and regulators with some questions to answer.

Vaccine ‘Fiasco’ Damages Europe’s Credibility; The European Union’s failure to secure adequate vaccine supplies, followed by an export ban, has dented the reputation of the bloc’s leaders. It may also hurt their ability to act in other areas.
Steven Erlanger – NY Times
Alain Walravens, 63, is waiting to be invited for a first coronavirus vaccination. So are Marion Pochet, 71, a retired translator, and her husband, Jean-Marc. At least, Ms. Pochet said, they both have had Covid-19, “so we have some immunity, at least for the moment.” All three are sharply critical of the European Union, which took control of vaccine procurement and distribution and is widely considered to have done worse than its main partners, the United States and Britain, let alone Israel, which have all gotten vaccines into a much larger percentage of their populations than Europe.

Where Does My Order Get Filled? Taking Stock of the U.S. Market; At 54.5% of global market capitalization, the U.S. stock market is by far the world’s largest. Learn about the exchanges and order-fill platforms that make up this trading ecosystem.
Doug Ashburn – TD Ameritrade
You’ve done your research, and you’re ready to buy or sell that stock, option, or fund. You log in to your account, cue up an order ticket, and blast it out. A few seconds later, a fill is reported back to you and the money is automatically squared up in your account. How hard was that? You’d be surprised. Behind the seeming simplicity of today’s trading platforms—from a user experience standpoint, anyway—is a complex web of exchanges, order execution, clearing facilities, and other intermediaries ensuring orders get filled at the best possible price and that the funds are transferred and settled properly. Plus, there are regulators enforcing the rules and helping ensure nothing falls through the cracks. So, where and how did that order get filled? These days, it depends.

Countries set to pay economic price for failing to control Covid; Nations with fresh infections and slower vaccination face weaker recovery, research suggests
Chris Giles – FT
The likelihood of a co-ordinated global economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic has diminished as slower vaccination rollouts and a fresh wave of infections in some countries result in “sharply divergent growth prospects”, according to exclusive research for the Financial Times. The main driver of economic success in 2021 is likely to be the ability to control the virus, according to the Brookings-FT tracking index, which forecasts that advanced economies will outperform emerging markets in growth, financial indicators and investor confidence in the coming months.

Nomura’s Archegos setback bares growth dilemma for Japan Inc; Companies need to expand globally but often stumble abroad
Leo Lewis – FT
With just a few days left in the Japanese financial year, staff across Nomura’s empire came into last week finally confident of a decent bonus after a long stretch of belt-tightening. In February, Japan’s largest brokerage had posted its strongest third-quarter profits in 15 years, having announced in October its best first-half numbers in two decades and a cost-cutting programme well ahead of schedule.

ETFs rack up long list of smash-hit launches; More than 135 new funds have attracted at least $100m each in assets under management since January 2020
Steve Johnson – FT
Investors have swarmed like bees around a honeypot to the VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF (BUZZ). The fund, which targets the US stocks favoured by investment-related posts on social media sites, has already harvested $420m of assets, just weeks after its launch last month.

Theme ETFs Tell Stories With All the Same Characters; The core problem is that thematic investors want something that in many cases isn’t possible
James Mackintosh – WSJ
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, at least if you’re selling investment funds. Rampant demand for fashionable investment themes is being satisfied by hundreds of ETFs selling the idea of battery technology, hydrogen power, 3-D printing and now space exploration among many others. The trouble is there just aren’t enough stocks to go around, so the same ones are being recycled into many different funds—leading to some portfolios that border on the absurd.

Don’t Let China Mint the Money of the Future; U.S. policy makers need to wake up to the potential of digital currency and electronic payments and the peril of allowing China to dominate them.
Niall Ferguson – Bloomberg
What is the money of the future? My nine-year-old son thinks it will be Robux. For those of you trapped in the human museum known as adulthood, Robux is the currency used by players of Roblox computer games. If I offer Thomas grimy dollar bills for household chores, he shows an almost complete lack of interest and motivation. But if I offer him Robux, it’s a different story. The current exchange rate is around 80 to the dollar. So, in order to incentivize my son to do the dishes, I need to go online and buy 2,000 Robux for $24.99. This I do by entering my credit card details on a website, an act of self-exposure that never fails to make me feel sick. However, the dishes get cleaned and, later, my son blows some of his Robux on a cool new outfit and a pair of wings for his avatar, earning the admiration of his friends.

Markets Can’t Process This ’60s-Style Recovery; Investors active today have never personally experienced an environment like this. That creates a serious risk of errors.
John Authers – Bloomberg
Too Much of a Good Thing? If the U.S. has a problem at present, it could be too much of a good thing. The economic rebound from last year’s seizure is proceeding with remarkable speed, and financial markets are cheerfully moving to price a continuing recovery as a reality. As I wrote last week, the first quarter was the worst for bonds in four decades. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 ended April 1 above 4,000 for the first time in history, after a quarterly gain of just over 7%. And the dollar strengthened. So markets are plainly keeping up with this fast unfolding recovery.

Isda preps swaps blueprint for new Bloomberg rates benchmark; Credit-sensitive SOFR add-on could be included in Isda’s interest rate definitions by mid-April
Helen Bartholomew –
New standards are being drawn up for trading in swaps referencing Bloomberg’s short-term bank yield index (BSBY), one of a handful of credit-sensitive benchmarks vying for a place in the post-Libor markets. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has created documentation that would govern trading in BSBY swaps, which was sent to members on March 23. Following a comment period, the new benchmark will be added to the trade body’s interest rate definitions in mid-April.

The Post-Pandemic Office Is Already Here—in Australia; Australia, where Covid-19 cases are low, is at the vanguard of world-wide efforts to reopen offices. The country provides a window into what office life might look like elsewhere in the coming months.
Krithika Varagur – WSJ
When Shant Soghomonian, a senior sales director at Dell, went back to his office in Sydney last month after a year of remote work, the space looked the same as he remembered, and he didn’t even have to wear a mask. But when he stepped into a sanitized conference room for his first in-person meeting of 2021, he realized he had forgotten how to greet colleagues in person.

Billionaire Bill Foley Is SPAC Market’s Overlooked Star; Insurance executive focuses on proven companies and skips the speculative businesses and hype of many blank-check company creators
Amrith Ramkumar – WSJ
Fast-trading, social-media-obsessed investors have driven the special-purpose acquisition company craze. One of the biggest SPAC creators is a staid insurance executive who wants nothing to do with them. Billionaire Bill Foley, owner of the Vegas Golden Knights team in the National Hockey League, has bypassed unproven electric-car makers and speculative space companies and instead focused on solid, sustainable businesses.

We Have All Hit a Wall; Confronting late-stage pandemic burnout, with everything from edibles to Exodus.
Sarah Lyall – NY Times
Like many of us, the writer Susan Orlean is having a hard time concentrating these days. “Good morning to everyone,” she tweeted recently, “but especially to the sentence I just rewrote for the tenth time.”

Grueling Lockdown Has Toronto Businesses at the Breaking Point
Shelly Hagan, Kevin Orland, and Sandra Mergulhao – Bloomberg
Indoor dining closed for nearly six months, no end in sight; Banks prosper with workers at home, but downtown is empty
Canada’s financial capital is in a pandemic lockdown that seems to have no end. Restaurants in Toronto were ordered to close their dining rooms in October as a second wave of Covid-19 was beginning to wash over the city. They haven’t been open since. Gyms, nail salons and barber shops have been shut almost as long. The mayor’s hair has grown so thick, it’s become a talking point on Twitter.


Virus Variants Threaten to Draw Out the Pandemic, Scientists Say; Declining infection rates overall masked a rise in more contagious forms of the coronavirus. Vaccines will stop the spread, if Americans postpone celebration just a bit longer.
Apoorva Mandavilli and Benjamin Mueller – NY Times
For weeks, the mood in much of the United States has been buoyant. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have fallen steeply from their highs, and millions of people are being newly vaccinated every day. Restaurants, shops and schools have reopened. Some states, like Texas and Florida, have abandoned precautions altogether.

Covid Strain from U.K. Now Top Variant Across Much of U.S.
Josh Wingrove – Bloomberg
B.1.1.7 is predominant variant in regions home to 220 million; Fauci says strain is more transmissible, likely more dangerous
The B.1.1.7 version of the coronavirus is now the predominant variant across an area containing two-thirds of the U.S. population, with one of President Joe Biden’s top Covid advisers saying it spreads more easily and likely leads to more serious Covid-19 symptoms. Initially found in the U.K., B.1.1.7 is the predominant variant in five of 10 regions into which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention groups the U.S population. The CDC identified those regions Friday, saying they include much of the Eastern seaboard, from New York south to Florida, as well as the Midwest and most of the Sunbelt. About 220 million people, or two-thirds of the U.S. population, live in those five regions.

Brazil’s coronavirus nightmare: ‘Bolsonaro is more isolated than ever’; With infections soaring and the economy weakening again, the president is struggling to keep his government together
Michael Stott, Michael Pooler and Bryan Harris – FT
The statement from Brazil’s defence ministry was a compact two sentences, but it detonated with the explosive power of a bomb. In the tersest of prose, it announced that the heads of the army, the navy and the air force “had been substituted” on March 30. The departure of the senior military leaders, in protest at the sacking of the defence minister the previous day, marked a dramatic break between far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and the institution he had sought to cultivate so assiduously.

Johnson to detail next phases of lockdown easing in England; Prime minister will also give updates on reviews into international travel and vaccine certifications
Sebastian Payne – FT
The government is planning to go ahead with the next stage of lockdown easing in England on April 12 with the planned reopening of non-essential shops, outdoor pubs and restaurants, Boris Johnson will confirm on Monday. The UK prime minister will hold a Downing Street press conference where he will set out the next phase of easing the nationwide restrictions that were introduced on January 4. During the first stage of easing in March, schools returned and outdoor socialising was allowed.

J&J Takes Over at Emergent Vaccine Plant With Aid From Biden
Josh Wingrove, Eduard Gismatullin, and Riley Griffin – Bloomberg
AstraZeneca agrees to move production out of Baltimore plant; J&J taking “full responsibility” at plant after major error
Johnson & Johnson, with help from the Biden administration, is taking over a Baltimore vaccine production facility that was the site of a major manufacturing error last month — and moving production of material for a second company’s shot to minimize risk of another mistake. J&J announced Saturday that it was “assuming full responsibility regarding the manufacturing of drug substance” at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant. To facilitate that, the Department of Health and Human Services worked with AstraZeneca Plc. to move its production out of that plant so it can focus only on J&J, according to an HHS official familiar with the measure, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Vaccine Rollout to Top 100 Countries in Weeks, Covax Head Says
Ros Krasny – Bloomberg
Short supplies still limiting factor for the developing world; U.S. has injected about a quarter of the world’s Covid shots
Coronavirus shots should be rolled out to over 100 countries in the next couple of weeks, from 84 at present, with a shortage of supplies the limiting factor, said one of the leaders of the World Health Organization’s vaccine initiative. “If we had more doses, we could make these available,” Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi Alliance, a public-private partnership that works to provide vaccines for developing countries, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Covid Mutants Multiply as Scientists Race to Decode Variations
Robert Langreth – Bloomberg
Genomic data on infections floods computers compiling evidence; Mutant called D614G started off cascade of covid variants
When Bette Korber, a biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, spotted the first significant mutation in the Covid-19 virus last spring, some scientists were skeptical. They didn’t believe it would make the virus more contagious and said its rapid rise might just be coincidence.

Singapore Set to Expand Vaccines to Under 45-Year-Olds From June
Philip Heijmans – Bloomberg
Singapore is maintaining its end-2021 schedule to vaccinate its population against coronavirus and plans to invite those under the age of 45 from June to get their first jab, Senior Minister of State at the Health Ministry Janil Puthucheary told parliament.

Rapid Covid tests to be offered to all in England; Mass checks set out as Johnson prepares to detail next phases of lockdown easing
Sebastian Payne – FT
Everyone in England will be able to access free twice-a-week coronavirus tests from April 9 as the government prepares to loosen lockdown restrictions further with the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants.

Johnson & Johnson takes over US Covid vaccine factory after 15m doses spoiled; AstraZeneca to move production out of Baltimore facility after mix-up
Gregory Meyer – FT
A pharmaceutical plant that was producing ingredients for Covid-19 vaccines developed by both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson will exclusively supply the latter company after a mistake by workers spoiled millions of doses.

Indian state announces strict new curbs as Covid cases climb; Economic powerhouse Maharashtra recorded more than 57,000 new infections on Sunday
Benjamin Parkin – FT
The Indian state of Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai and more than 100m people, introduced sweeping restrictions on the public and businesses as the country’s daily Covid-19 caseload hit a record high. India reported 103,000 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, registering the highest number of daily infections globally. It surpassed its previous peak of nearly 100,000 daily cases in September.

Researchers Are Hatching a Low-Cost Coronavirus Vaccine; A new formulation entering clinical trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam could change how the world fights the pandemic.
Carl Zimmer – NY Times
A new vaccine for Covid-19 that is entering clinical trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam could change how the world fights the pandemic. The vaccine, called NVD-HXP-S, is the first in clinical trials to use a new molecular design that is widely expected to create more potent antibodies than the current generation of vaccines. And the new vaccine could be far easier to make.

China Pushes Vaccine on Bankers, Colleges to Catch Up With U.S.
Bloomberg News
China has set ambitious target of 40% vaccinated by end-June; Party members, workers at state-owned firms told to inoculate
We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and the global response. Sign up here for our daily newsletter on what you need to know. China is ramping up its Covid-19 vaccination push, aiming to be twice as fast as the U.S. by pressuring Communist Party members, bank workers and college staff to get shots, as the lagging rollout threatens to undermine the advantage it secured by effectively wiping out the virus.

How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?
Maggie Fox, CNN
“A year ago I tried the Moderna vaccine to see if it was safe. (Spoiler: It is!) Now, on my #COVIDvaccine anniversary, I’m happy to share that I just got a 3rd dose. This booster experiment will reveal (1) if strain-adapted vaccines boost immunity & (2) whether they are safe,” Haydon, a communications specialist at the University of Washington, said via Twitter last Saturday.

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Emerges as Preferred Shot for Homeless; One-dose vaccine gives J&J an advantage in serving transient people who are difficult to find for second jabs
Julie Wernau – WSJ
Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ -0.92% Covid-19 vaccine has found a niche among organizations that work with the homeless, who say the one-dose shot is better-suited for a population that can be difficult to reach twice.

Canada’s Virus Tally Passes 1 Million in Third Wave of Pandemic
Shelly Hagan – Bloomberg
Covid-19 cases in Canada breached the 1 million mark as a third wave ripples across the country. The country had recorded 1,001,650 cases since the start of the pandemic as of Saturday afternoon, according to the Canadian Press. Canada, like other nations, is grappling with the spread of new variants that are sending more people to hospital and resulting in stricter lockdown measures.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

CME Group Reports Q1 and March 2021 Monthly Market Statistics
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today reported its Q1 and March 2021 market statistics, showing it reached average daily volume (ADV) of 21.8 million contracts during the first quarter, and 21.7 million contracts during the month of March. Market statistics are available in greater detail at

OCC March 2021 Total Volume Up 34.8 Percent from a Year Ago
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, announced today that March 2021 total cleared contract volume was 904,039,629 contracts, the highest volume month on record and up 34.8 percent compared to March 2020. March also marks the end of the highest quarter by contract volume in OCC’s history. Year-to-date average daily cleared contract volume through March was 42,231,809 contracts, up 48.7 percent compared to March 2020.

RISK QUANTUM At CME, required IM increased over one-third in 2020
Louie Woodall –
As of December 31 2020, required initial margin held at CME came to $189.2 billion, up a whopping 38% on a year prior. Total required IM held for cleared interest rate swaps totalled $37.6 billion at end-2020, which represented a 3% dip on end-September but a 28% increase year on year. Of this end-year amount, IM for clearing member (house) accounts made up $9.1 billion, up 12% year on year, and that for client accounts $28.5 billion, up 35%.


Alinea Invest, A Y Combinator FinTech Startup, Empowers Gen-Zers To Invest In the Stock Market
Frederick Daso – Forbes
Despite the recent popular coverage of finance applications such as Robinhood or investing groups like Reddit’s WallStreetBets, there are still many Millennials and Gen-Zers on the investing sidelines. While student debt and poor job prospects are most likely to blame for younger generations not having spare capital to purchase stocks with, even if they did, these two groups don’t know where to begin in the first place. Nikhil Agarwal, Anam Lakhani and Eve Halimi faced these same issues themselves, creating Alinea Invest as their solution. Alinea Invest is a mobile investing app with a mission to “empower the next generation of investors.” The startup is based in New York City and recently completed Y Combinator accelerator program in their Winter 2021 batch.

Novus: 5 Reasons Why Fintech is the Hottest Place to Be for Women
Polly Jean Harrison – The Fintech Times
Fintech is a bold new world of discovery and innovation, however, a recent study found that whilst 30% of the fintech workforce is female, only 17% of senior fintech roles are held by women and just over 5% of founders are women.


UK’s Crown Prosecution Service braces for rise in cryptocurrency scams; More cases expected as fraudsters exploit soaring value of digital currencies such as bitcoin
Jane Croft – FT
More prosecutions involving cryptocurrency scams are expected to reach the UK courts as criminals increasingly turn to cyber fraud, the director of the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Reports of scams relating to cryptocurrency investments rose 57 per cent to 5,581 in the 12 months to December 2020, according to new data from Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting service.

NFT Price Crash Stirs Debate on Whether Stimulus-Led Fad Is Over
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Average NFT prices are down almost 70% from their recent peak; But some commentators say innovative market is here to stay
Prices for digital collectibles like art and sports memorabilia are sliding, turning the focus back on whether the nascent market for so-called non-fungible tokens is any more than a fleeting mania.
Average prices for NFTs — essentially tradable digital certificates that use blockchain technology to prove ownership and provenance of online assets — have tumbled almost 70% from a peak in February to about $1,400, according to, which tracks a variety of NFT marketplaces.

Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton Warns of New Bitcoin Regulations
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
In an interview with CNBC Squawk Box posted Thursday, Clayton said bitcoin had the status as a non-security at the SEC but this does not mean it should not be regulated.

A 33-Year-Old Fueling Crypto Boom Is Worrying Thai Regulators
Anuchit Nguyen – Bloomberg
Bitkub grows into biggest of Thailand’s six crypto bourses; Thai SEC plans rules to limit risks among young traders
Atichanan Pulges first became interested in cryptocurrencies a decade ago when he was an engineering student in Los Angeles. Mining Bitcoin was a way for the Bangkok native to learn about markets and pay his rent. Now back in Thailand after a stint at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Atichanan is a co-founder of the nation’s largest licensed cryptocurrency exchange. He’s also on the front lines of an intensifying debate over who should be allowed to buy digital assets in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

NFTs in Beijing — ‘Who gets to decide the value of art?’ The first large-scale crypto-art exhibition reveals the contradictions in China’s eager digital art market
Yuan Yang – FT
Virtual Niche: Have You Ever Seen Memes in the Mirror? opened in late March at Beijing’s UCCA Lab. An exhibition of NFT art, it is curated by BlockCreateArt (BCA), China’s first platform for exchanging art through NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These are works in digital form that are entered into a digital ledger with additional details such as ownership. The medium gives digital artists, whose work can be infinitely copied, another way to

Revenge Of The Winklevii; After losing an epic battle with Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of Facebook and being shunned in Silicon Valley, CAMERON and TYLER WINKLEVOSS are back—this time as budding Bitcoin billionaires at the center of the future of money, the creative economy and quite possibly a new operating model for Big Tech itself.
Identical twin billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss saunter into their empty 17th-floor offices in Manhattan’s Flatiron district wearing designer high-tops, black jeans and matching sweatshirts made by the high-end streetwear brand Heron Preston. The sweatshirts—Cameron’s is red, Tyler’s white—are emblazoned with a NASA logo, which the twins picked because it echoes the space-exploration theme behind the brand of their seven-year-old cryptocurrency trading operation, Gemini. In addition to being the Zodiac sign symbolized by twins, it was the name of NASA’s second space mission—the one just prior to Apollo 11, which put the first man on the moon.

Ether Reaches Record After Visa Move, Mark Cuban Comments
Olivia Raimonde and Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Second-largest cryptocurrency jumped quickly above $2,100; Token is gaining in strength relative to Bitcoin: StockCharts
Ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, rose to a record high as the rally in digital assets continues to broaden beyond Bitcoin.

Singapore PM Says Name, Photo Were Used to Sell Cryptocurrency
Jim Silver – Bloomberg
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he discovered that a blockchain platform used data from his Twitter profile without his permission or knowledge to sell its proprietary cryptocurrency. “The site’s creators are anonymous, but I have sent an open tweet out to ask that my name and photo be removed from the site immediately, as I have nothing to do with the platform,” he wrote on Facebook.

Exclusive: ByteDance says India’s freeze on bank accounts is harassment – court filing
Abhirup Roy, Aditya Kalra – Reuters
China’s ByteDance has told an Indian court that a government freeze on its bank accounts in a probe of possible tax evasion amounts to harassment and was done illegally, according to a filing seen by Reuters.

Binance’s Crypto Derivatives Platform Sees Record Open Interest of $10B; Binance’s crypto derivatives platform sees record open interest as retail participation grows.
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
Binance’s crypto derivatives platform Binance Futures continues to soar in popularity as more and retail customers add fuel to the bull run. Open interest on the derivatives platform hit a record high of over $10 billion on Saturday, amounting to year-on-year growth of nearly 3,900%, according to data source CoinGecko.


CEOs Can’t Stay on Society’s Sidelines Anymore; They are no longer closely aligned with the Republican Party and face increasing pressure to wield their considerable influence on issues such as voting rights, income equality and climate change.
Joe Nocera – Bloomberg
America’s chief executive officers can’t relish taking on the Republican Party. After all, a lot more of them are Republicans than Democrats. Republicans push for lower corporate taxes while Democrats do the opposite — witness President Joe Biden proposing to pay for his infrastructure bill in part with an increase in the corporate tax rate. Republicans don’t much care how much CEOs make; Democrats do. For years, the Chamber of Commerce backed Republican candidates and Republican legislation almost exclusively with nary a complaint from its big business membership. Yet here we are.

Johnson struggles to find a way to keep the UK together; One of the prime minister’s biggest challenges after Covid-19 is preserving the union between England and Scotland
George Parker – FT
Boris Johnson knows all about how to break up political unions: he masterminded the UK’s departure from the EU. But soon the Brexit prime minister could be faced with a career-defining battle to hold the United Kingdom together. “Not many prime ministers survive the break-up of their own country,” said one cabinet minister.

Wall Street braces itself for tax rises from Biden’s new stimulus plan; Proposal could slash 9% off earnings per share in S&P 500 companies next year, says Goldman
Aziza Kasumov – FT
No sooner had President Joe Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus package passed than attention turned to his next big spending bill for infrastructure — and the tax rises that are likely to pay for it. For equity markets, the corporate tax increases proposed by Democrats to fund the $2tn package could get quite costly quickly, according to analysts’ projections. Goldman Sachs calculated that Biden’s tax plan would knock 9 per cent off earnings per share for companies in the S&P 500 next year.

A 28% Tax Rate Will Cost Companies, but Not Equally; Tax bills would rise most for U.S.-focused firms that benefited more from 2017 tax cuts, offsetting some gains from stimulus spending
Theo Francis and Richard Rubin – WSJ
Corporations had ample warning—an entire presidential campaign—that tax increases were coming. But that doesn’t take the sting out of President Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. A tax increase, which would take effect as early as January 2022, would cut into corporate profits as the economy recovers, and the Biden plan could reduce the earnings of companies in the S&P 500 by at least 10%, said accounting analyst Dave Zion of the Zion Research Group.

Coinbase Independent Directors Have Close Company Ties; The bitcoin exchange is set to go public with two directors who are members of the audit committee and are major shareholders. One was a founder.
Jean Eaglesham – WSJ
Fred Ehrsam’s ties to Coinbase Global Inc. run deep: He co-founded the multibillion-dollar bitcoin exchange, was its president until 2017, owns millions of its shares and was part-owner of a company it bought last year. Under Coinbase’s plan to tap the public markets, however, the San Francisco-based company classifies Mr. Ehrsam as an independent director, securities filings show. The same goes for Fred Wilson, another Coinbase director who owns a significant stake of the company.

Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law; Companies like Delta are caught between Democrats focused on social justice and populist Republicans. They face major political consequences no matter what they do.
David Gelles – NY Times
On March 11, Delta Air Lines dedicated a building at its Atlanta headquarters to Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former mayor. At the ceremony, Mr. Young spoke of the restrictive voting rights bill that Republicans were rushing through the Georgia state legislature. Then, after the speeches, Mr. Young’s daughter, Andrea, a prominent activist herself, cornered Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian.

Inside Politics: Boris Johnson ready to offer vote on vaccine passports; The government is said to be making assurances that MPs will get a say in Covid certification schemes, writes Adam Forrest
Nothing like a bit of pomp to pump up the populace. In a grand show of patriotic power, the mummified remains of Egypt’s ancient rulers – accompanied by a dramatic light show and orchestral music – were driven on chariots through the streets of Cairo to a new national museum. Our glorious ruler Boris Johnson – the lover of antiquities who once aspired to be “world king” – will have to make do with a little less fanfare today. The PM will unveil his grand plans for vaccine passports and summer travel rules at the Downing Street’s new £2.6m media room (a place with all the pomp of a British Legion conference suite).


Reports on Corporate Ethics Hotlines Fell in 2020; By contrast, reports of potential wrongdoing to government agencies rose last year
Mengqi Sun – WSJ
Corporate ethics hotlines received fewer reports overall from employees in 2020 despite a surge in Covid-19-related health and safety reports, data shows. Third-party managers of the hotlines saw a drop in the total number of reports last year, with 54 million employees lodging more than 1.3 million internal reports, a roughly 7.1% decrease from 2019, according to data from Navex Global Inc. The overall decline in reports also included decreases in tips about potential fraud and bribery.

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Unit Shuffles Leadership; Former FinCEN Deputy Director Michael Mosier will serve as acting director; Director Kenneth Blanco will depart next week
Dylan Tokar – WSJ
The U.S. Treasury Department’s anti-money-laundering unit is changing leadership as it prepares to enact a sweeping new financial transparency law. Kenneth Blanco, a former federal prosecutor who has served as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s director since late 2017, will depart on April 9, the Treasury unit said. Michael Mosier, a counselor to the Treasury’s deputy secretary, will take over as acting director April 11.

New Unit Signals CFTC Targeting ESG Issues and Financial System’s Climate Risks
Jones Day
The Situation: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) has established a new unit dedicated to addressing climate risk in the financial system, providing yet another example of financial services regulators prioritizing climate and ESG policy during the Biden administration.

Brooklyn man accused of using information from Bloomberg reporter for insider trading
Michelle Price – Reuters
A Brooklyn man indicted for an insider trading scheme used information from a Bloomberg News reporter about certain deals to trade, according to a review of the charging documents, in a case that comes as the volume of leaked information about mergers and acquisitions is rising.

Investing and Trading

As Meme Stock Mania Fizzles, Wall Street Sees ‘Big Reckoning’
Bailey Lipschultz – Bloomberg
Collective sway on the meme-stock universe is waning; Retail euphoria drove rally in Gamestop, Zomedica, cult stocks
The day-trading Reddit crowd turned the first quarter of 2021 into one of the wildest periods of stock market mania in modern history. Books — plural — will undoubtedly be dedicated to the topic in years to come. But after these small-time speculators banded together to drive up dozens of obscure stocks by hundreds or even thousands of percent — and in the process burned a few hedge-fund barons betting on declines — the movement appears to be petering out. An index that tracks 37 of the most popular meme stocks — 37 of the 50 that Robinhood Markets banned clients from trading during the height of the frenzy — is essentially unchanged over the past two months after soaring nearly 150% in January.

Individual Investors Retreat from Markets After Show-Stopping Start to 2021; Net purchases of U.S. equities by nonprofessional investors recently fell to the lowest level of 2021 as market uncertainty continues
Caitlin McCabe – WSJ
Individual investors kicked off 2021 at a sprinter’s pace. Now, they are finally showing signs of fatigue. Trading activity among nonprofessional investors has slowed in recent weeks after a blockbuster start to the year, with the group plowing less money into everything from U.S. stocks to bullish call options. Daily average trades for at least two online brokerages have edged down from their 2021 highs. And across the industry, traffic to brokerage websites, as well as the amount of time spent on them, has fallen.

Stakeholder capitalism must find ways to hold management to account; The prevailing commitment to short-termist shareholder value has undermined corporate resilience
John Plender – FT
At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic many assumed that the surge of interest in stakeholder capitalism would go into reverse. And, for pandemic-hit companies with their backs to the wall, the interests of customers, employees, suppliers and society were bound to be trampled in the sauve qui peut bid for survival.

Canadian Dollar Shows It Has Swagger as Supercyclists Hop Aboard
Robert Fullem and Susanne Barton – Bloomberg
Biden’s spending is bullish for commodity-linked FX: Amundi; BMO’s Anderson sees USD/CAD dropping to 1.22 by year-end
Already one of the best performing major currencies this year, Canada’s dollar looks poised to become a market darling for all of 2021. At the heart of the loonie’s broad gains are demand for the country’s abundant natural resources, attractive yields and proximity to the U.S., where vaccination rollouts and infrastructure spending are seen helping Canada’s biggest export market regain its footing.

Future of ‘Broken’ Oil Program Under Review, Interior Head Says
Jennifer A Dlouhy – Bloomberg
Oil leasing hinges on possible climate, conservation changes; Deb Haaland to review national monument in Utah next week
The U.S. government program for selling drilling rights on federal land is so “fundamentally broken” that changes could be needed to address climate change and ensure taxpayers get a greater value from extracted oil and gas, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Friday.

World Economy Risks ‘Dangerously Diverging’ Even as Growth Booms
Rich Miller and Enda Curran – Bloomberg
U.S., China lead recovery as euro area, emerging markets lag; Bloomberg predicts fastest global growth since at least 1960s
The world economy is on course for its fastest growth in more than a half century this year, yet differences and deficiencies could hold it back from attaining its pre-pandemic heights any time soon. The U.S. is leading the charge into this week’s semi-annual virtual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, pumping out trillions of dollars of budgetary stimulus and resuming its role as guardian of the global economy following President Joe Biden’s defeat of “America First” President Donald Trump. Friday brought news of the biggest month for hiring since August.

GameStop to Offer Up to $1 Billion in Shares; Stock Declines
Divya Balji and Vivianne Rodrigues – Bloomberg
Video-game retailer fell more than 11% in premarket trading; Company also said total global sales jumped 18% in March
GameStop Corp. fell early on Monday after the company said it may sell up to $1 billion worth of additional shares an at-the-market equity offering program. Shares of the video game retailer declined more than 19% to $156 as of 6:50 a.m. in New York. Jefferies will manage the offering of up to 3.5 million shares, according to a statement, and proceeds will be used to further accelerate its corporate transformation.

Made in U.S.A. Reflation Trade Is a Globally Unwanted Export
Anchalee Worrachate and John Ainger – Bloomberg
Rising debt costs seen weighing Europe’s flagging recovery; Jupiter’s Nash watching dollar debt burden in emerging markets
The U.S. bond tantrum is sending a chill through indebted countries which have for years paid less to borrow more. As the American economy powers ahead, government bond yields from Australia to Italy are taking the cue and following those of the U.S. upwards. Those higher costs threaten to undermine a flagging recovery in Europe, which is losing control of the pandemic and extending curbs. They’re also unwelcome for emerging markets reliant on dollar funding.

Global LNG Demand Jumps the Most Since Pandemic Dashed Trade
Stephen Stapczynski – Bloomberg
From China to the U.K., buyers refill supply drained by cold; Exports from U.S. terminals surge to record high last month
Liquefied natural gas deliveries expanded the most in a year as Asia and Europe refilled inventories drained over the winter, and as pandemic-ravaged economies slowly begin to reopen. Imports jumped 5.8% in March from a year earlier, the biggest increase since March 2020, ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Demand for the fuel used in heating and power generation had been steadily growing before Covid-19, as nations shift away from coal-fired power over climate concerns.

Saudis Hike Oil Prices for Key Asia Market in Sign of Confidence
Anthony Di Paola – Bloomberg
Aramco raises May pricing for all grades to Asian customers; Move comes days after OPEC+ agreed to boost oil production
Saudi Arabia raised prices for oil shipments to customers in its main market of Asia, signaling the kingdom’s confidence in the region’s economic recovery. The decision comes after the OPEC+ cartel, led by the Saudis and Russia, agreed to boost daily crude production by more than 2 million barrels between May and July.

A Century of Data Show Markets Far From Impervious to Tax Hikes
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Higher corporate, individual rates have dented returns: BTIG; JPMorgan warns of declines for beneficiaries of 2017 cuts
The prospect of tax hikes may not have derailed gains in U.S. stocks yet, but 100 years of data say the market is far from impervious to them. Stocks can take a hit when rates rise on corporations and individuals, according to Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivatives strategist at BTIG LLC. He sees 13 such instances, most recently in 1993. The average return on the U.S. benchmark index in the years of the combined hikes is 2.4%, and drops to -0.9% for the year following. That compares with a long-run annual average of 7.7%, Emanuel notes.

Rate-Hike Bets Unwind in India’s Bond Markets With Virus Surge
Subhadip Sircar and Ronojoy Mazumdar – Bloomberg
Central bank policy review on Wednesday will be in focus; First-half sovereign issuance tilted toward longer maturities
A record jump in coronavirus cases in India is leading the nation’s bond traders to pare bets that the central bank will shift to a tighter policy stance as early as this year. Shorter-maturity rupee debt rallied, with yields on the 5.22% 2025 bond and the 5.15% 2025 debt sliding 12 basis points to 5.47% and 5.59%, respectively. The rally was also aided by a government borrowing plan for the new fiscal first half, with issuances tilted toward longer-end bonds.

Why the True Price of a Bond Can Still Be Hard To Know
Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal – Bloomberg
In the modern age, we expect to be able to turn on our computers, enter in a ticker, and know the actual price of a financial instrument, such as a stock or a bond. But this is easier said than done, especially with bonds, and especially with bonds that are infrequently traded. Sometimes, in fact, bond pricing is a matter of opinion. At least that’s the contention of Maciej Kowara and Eric Jacobson, analysts at Morningstar, who published a report earlier this year titled “Bond Pricing: Agreeing To Disagree.” They explain why there can still be disagreements about what a bond is actually worth from one firm to another.

Pioneer’s $6.4 Billion Deal for Smaller Shale Rival Signals Life in Oil Patch; The purchase of DoublePoint Energy is the largest for a privately held shale driller since 2011, underscoring recent momentum as oil tops $60 a barrel
Collin Eaton – WSJ
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. PXD 3.64% ‘s $6.4 billion deal to buy DoublePoint Energy this week is the latest sign of renewed interest in smaller shale drillers as oil prices recover from last year’s pandemic lows.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Ariel Investments’ John Rogers: Taking a contrarian view to beat markets and prejudice; The investor approached family contacts and more progressive institutions to launch the US’s first black-owned asset manager
James Fontanella-Khan and Michael Mackenzie – FT
When John Rogers launched the US’s first black-owned asset manager in 1983, even the people who most wanted him to succeed feared it would be hard for the twenty-something investor to overcome the barriers set by centuries of racism and segregation.

Aviva Investors raises climate risk concerns with finance ministers; Central banks must act before global warning hits sovereign debt, warns £366bn asset manager
Attracta Mooney – FT
Aviva Investors has written to finance ministers and heads of central banks in 21 countries from the UK to Brazil urging them to address climate risks over concerns that efforts to tackle global warming could hit sovereign debt.

China, U.S. Made 2020 a Record Year for Renewable Power Growth
Verity Ratcliffe – Bloomberg
More than half the new clean power capacity was built in China; Wind and solar made up bulk of new installations, says Irena
A record amount of renewable energy capacity was built last year, thanks largely to investments in China and the U.S., according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Renewables — mostly in the form of wind and solar — accounted for 82% of new electricity installation in 2020, said Abu Dhabi-based Irena, which advises governments on clean power. China added 136 gigawatts, more than half the total and a similar amount to Spain’s overall power production.

‘No one explained’: fracking brings pollution, not wealth, to Navajo land; Navajo Nation members received ‘a pittance’ for access to their land. Then came the spills and fires
Jerry Redfern of Capital and Main – The Guardian
It’s not clear why the water line broke on a Sunday in February 2019, but by the time someone noticed and stopped the leak, more than 1,400 barrels of fracking slurry mixed with crude oil had drained off the wellsite owned by Enduring Resources and into a snow-filled wash. From there, that slurry – nearly 59,000 gallons – flowed more than a mile downstream toward Chaco Culture national historical park before leaching into the stream bed over the next few days and disappearing from view.


‘They can do what they want’: Archegos and the $6tn world of the family office; The implosion of Bill Hwang’s investment firm has focused attention on a pool of capital almost twice the size of hedge funds
Katie Martin, Robin Wigglesworth and Laurence Fletcher – FT
The super-rich face challenges that the rest of us do not have to consider: yacht maintenance, selecting the right fleet of private jets, finding boarding schools for their offspring. Thanks to their roughly $6tn in combined family wealth, they now have to worry about Bill Hwang too.

Credit Suisse Weighs Replacing Risk Chief After Miscues
Jan-Henrik Foerster, Ambereen Choudhury, and Patrick Winters – Bloomberg
Lara Warner elevated to head both risk and compliance in 2020; Lender expected to update investors on Archegos this week
Credit Suisse Group AG leaders are discussing replacing chief risk officer Lara Warner after a string of miscues at the bank led to losses potentially totaling billions of dollars, according to people briefed on the matter. The bank is expected to give investors an update on the impact of its exposure to the collapse of Archegos Capital Management and the fallout for Warner and other top executives this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified describing private plans. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein is expected to stay on, the people said.

Hedge funds weigh prime broking relationships after Archegos fire sale; Managers consider switching lenders as they fret about reputational damage
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Hedge funds are evaluating their banking relationships after a fire sale of assets by family office Archegos Capital Management forced billions of dollars of losses on Credit Suisse and Nomura. Executives are weighing up whether to switch lenders they use as their prime brokers — banks that offer a range of services including stock lending, leverage and trade execution.

The Pandemic Year’s Top Stock-Fund Managers; In a chaotic period for mutual funds, Morgan Stanley’s Dennis Lynch was No. 1, steering his fund to a 273% gain for the 12 months
Suzanne McGee – WSJ
In late March of last year, as the world started to deal with the pandemic lockdowns, the U.S. stock market had already hit “reset.” A year later, as investors closed the books for the first quarter of 2021, they are looking back on a market rebound that outdid even the post-financial-crisis recovery for both speed and magnitude.

The hedge fund that lost more than 50% on GameStop’s stock surge is facing 9 lawsuits from retail investors alleging conspiracy to restrict trading
Isabelle Lee – Insider
Melvin Capital, the hedge fund at the heart of the GameStop frenzy that lost more than 50% in January, is facing nine lawsuits from retail investors who alleged a conspiracy to limit trading caused them to lose money.


English parks gave better investor advice than Goldman Sachs; Economic reopening did for this week’s Deliveroo flotation, as it will for tech stocks and bonds
Merryn Somerset Webb – FT
Over the past year you will have heard a lot about what is driving stock markets. You’ve been told that environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, matters more than anything; “better” companies provide better returns.

Turkey fines foreign banks for ‘short selling irregularities’; Chaotic week in which overseas investors pulled $1.9bn from stock and bond markets
Ayla Jean Yackley and Adam Samson – FT
Turkey has fined banks including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and JPMorgan over alleged irregularities in short selling just a week after foreign investors pulled $1.9bn from the country’s stock and bond markets.

Brazil’s biggest banks battle for reinvention in digital era; Incumbents have enjoyed huge profits but low interest rates and fintech challengers are forcing change
Michael Pooler – FT
A small club of institutions dominates the high street in Latin America’s largest economy, long notorious for its costly banking fees and borrowing rates, with their fat margins often the source of public anger.

Indian state announces strict new curbs as Covid cases climb; Economic powerhouse Maharashtra recorded more than 57,000 new infections on Sunday
Benjamin Parkin – FT
The Indian state of Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai and more than 100m people, introduced sweeping restrictions on the public and businesses as the country’s daily Covid-19 caseload approached a record high. India reported 93,000 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, registering the highest number of daily infections globally. It is fast approaching its previous peak of nearly 100,000 daily cases in September.

Chinese tech groups scrap IPOs at record pace after Ant listing pulled; Companies cancel plans to sell shares on Shanghai’s Star Market as regulatory scrutiny rises
Hudson Lockett and Sun Yu – FT
A record number of companies are abandoning attempts to list on China’s answer to the Nasdaq, as regulators increase scrutiny of technology businesses after scuppering Ant Group’s $37bn initial public offering. A Financial Times analysis of figures released by Shanghai’s Star Market, which was launched to fanfare in July 2019, shows a record 76 companies suspended their IPO applications in March, or more than double the previous month.

Risk Averse Poles Fleeing 0% Bank Accounts Just Can’t Win
Maciej Onoszko and Konrad Krasuski – Bloomberg
Mutual funds see heavy inflows amid ultra-low interest rates; Majority goes into bond funds, most of which are losing money
Near-record inflows into Polish mutual funds in recent months may be a boon for the country’s 291-billion-zloty ($74 billion) asset management industry, less so for its clients. With bank deposits paying little to no interest, Polish savers have been piling into mutual funds at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis. Yet more than 80% of the money is ending up in debt funds, potentially exposing clients to significant losses at a time markets have started fearing higher inflation.

Egypt Business Activity Worsens But Vaccine Seen Fueling Revival
Mirette Magdy – Bloomberg
Business activity in Egypt’s non-oil private sector worsened in March amid weak demand, although a rollout of vaccinations is boosting hopes of a revival later in 2021. The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 48 from 49.3 in February, remaining below the threshold of 50 that separates growth from contraction for a fourth month. It was the lowest reading since June 2020.

Europe breaks records with government bond issuance surge; January and February were among ‘hottest months on record’ in region’s primary market
Joshua Oliver – FT
Europe’s markets for new government debt had a bustling start to the year, defying fears that hefty borrowing would make it more expensive to raise funds to help finance the economic recovery from Covid-19. Bond syndication deals run by banks had their busiest first quarter ever, with the equivalent of $150bn raised by governments across Europe and the UK, the largest volume for that time of year on Refinitiv records going back to 2000.


Northern Ireland police appeal for calm after more unrest
Al Jazeera
Police in Northern Ireland have appealed for calm after officers were attacked and cars were set on fire during a second night of unrest.
Northern Ireland police said on Sunday that Unionist protesters threw 30 petrol bombs at officers and torched cars during a night of “disorder” on Saturday in Newtownabbey, a suburb of northern Belfast. Three cars were also hijacked and set on fire.

They’re FINALLY get it! EU banking chief ‘seeing sense’ over Brexit’s financial revolution; EU CHIEFS are finally “seeing sense” for London’s objective to achieve a post-Brexit financial revolution with an equivalence agreement with the EU.
Richard Percival – Express
José Manuel Campa, chair of the European Banking Authority, admitted the UK was a “very important partner” in the financial world. It comes as a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangements for a new post-Brexit financial services agreement stopped short of implementing any new access arrangements allowing banking, insurance and legal advice to be exported to the bloc.

How Brexit Ruined Easter for Britain’s Chocolate Makers; Exports of chocolate to Europe have turned into a nightmare of paperwork and delays, making fine British chocolate scarce in Europe.
David Segal – NY Times
For the second year in a row, Easter will be a largely online affair, with socially distanced egg hunts and virtual church services. But there will be one notable difference here in Britain. Domestic chocolate makers, who should be celebrating one of their busiest times of year, are fuming instead, and all of them cite the same cause: Brexit.

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