The Sheikh Who Dominates One of the World’s Hottest Stock Markets

Apr 5, 2024

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

I want to congratulate the readership of this newsletter. The top read story from yesterday was the very last story in yesterday’s newsletter, What is next for billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s giving?, from AP via Yahoo!Finance. That shows you are reading the newsletter from top to bottom. Good work!

The Financial Times is reporting that the global supply of public equity is experiencing its most rapid decline in at least 25 years, with companies favoring share buybacks over new share sales due to economic and geopolitical uncertainties. JPMorgan analysts report that the net supply of equities has decreased by $120bn this year, surpassing last year’s $40bn reduction. Despite optimistic market conditions, executives remain cautious, leading to a persistent decline in the availability of public equities. Buyback activity is expected to reach approximately $1.2tn by December, while initial public offerings and other share sales have fallen short of expectations.

In the last 30 days, readers from Russia have made it the number two country registering on the analytics of countries visiting the website, after the United States. The United Kingdom is number three, followed by China, Germany, India, Netherlands, Canada and France rounding out the top ten. Activity on our website has been up since the first of the year, with noticeable spikes in traffic on January 11, the day the ETFs on bitcoin were approved and we posted the second Scott Shellady video. February 5 was another high traffic day, which is when we reported about former CFTC Chief of Staff Mike Gill being shot. We also posted a video interview with FIA Tech’s Nick Solinger that day. On February 20 we posted our Options Discovery interview with Hillary Till, which attracted interest. Then on March 5, the day after my birthday, we had a smaller spike. The big story that day was about Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plans to carry on a Lightfoot-era plan to revamp LaSalle Street.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that five new federal agencies have pledged to uphold civil rights laws amidst the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in daily life. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized the importance of protecting individual rights in the face of AI’s growing influence. The agencies aim to address unfair and discriminatory outcomes that may arise from the use of AI and automated systems in various sectors. This initiative reflects a whole-of-government approach to enforcing civil rights laws in the realm of AI technology.

CFTC Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson will deliver the opening keynote at the AI Civil and Human Rights Policy Roundtable and Book Workshop, engaging in dialogue with Professor Catherine Powell from the White House Gender Policy Council. Moderated by Charlton McIlwain, the event is hosted by NYU’s Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies, the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology, New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network, and the Digital Democracy Lab at William & Mary Law School. Scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at 9:00 a.m. ET, the event will take place at New York University’s Campus in Washington, DC.

Eurex announced that Derivatives Forum Amsterdam will take place in person on July 11, 2024 and will be co-hosted with ABN AMRO Clearing Bank.

The Security Traders Association Spring Update in Washington, DC on April 10, 2024, will feature a day-long program at The St. Regis Washington, D.C., starting at 10:00 a.m. ET. The event will host congressional, regulatory, and business leaders discussing key market issues, followed by a networking reception. The agenda includes interviews with Rep. Wiley Nickel, Haoxiang Zhu from the SEC, and Stephanie Dumont from FINRA, along with fireside chats on retail trading and buy-side perspectives. The program also includes updates from industry experts and concludes with a networking reception from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Security Traders Association.

The Wall Street Journal has a picture-graphic story titled “Teenagers Are Pouring Into the Stock Market” with the subheadline “The boom in teen trading is part of a wider rush to financial markets since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Claire Niciforo, a resident of Misericordia for 10 years who works at Sacred Heart School, is raising money for Misericordia’s Candy Days. This money goes to the residents of Misericordia to help them live a full, happy and safe life. Join me in supporting Claire and the residents of Misericordia by donating HERE. You will see volunteers out in the Chicago area on April 26 and 27 for Misericordia Candy Days.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay thinks this year’s Final Four are more fabulous. The title of his commentary is “Is It Me-or Is The Final Four More Fabulous This Year?” with the subheadline “A historic showcase for the surging women’s game-with a generational player, Caitlin Clark-plus a stirring set of matchups on the men’s side. Plan your weekends accordingly.” I concur. I don’t remember a Final Four that included two players that could win back-to-back player of the year awards in college basketball.

That loud noise you hear this summer in a 16-state area of the U.S. Midwest and Southeast will be a trillion cicadas. The New York Times has the story titled “Up to a Trillion Cicadas Are About to Emerge in the U.S.” with the subheadline “Two periodical cicada broods are appearing in a 16-state area in the Midwest and Southeast for the first time in centuries. Can you get rid of them? Do they bite you? We answer your questions.”

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


Our most read stories from our previous edition of JLN Options were:
Cboe Clear Europe adds two key players to launch of securities financing transactions clearing service from The Trade.
Clear Street to offer clearing services in listed US equities and options from The Trade.
Why shorting Trump’s DJT stock could cost you a 500% fee from MarketWatch via Yahoo Finance. ~JB

Subscribe to the JLN Options Newsletter HERE (it’s free).


The Market May Have Finally Hit a Real Record, but It Could Be a Problem; Robert Shiller, the Nobel laureate, says valuations adjusted for high inflation suggest stock returns for the next decade are likely to be modest.
Jeff Sommer – The New York Times
Most people who have looked at their stock portfolios this year have had the pleasant experience of seeing increases in their holdings, and countless news reports and analyses from financial gurus have talked optimistically about the market’s powerful upward momentum. But what most reports and commentary haven’t pointed out is that because inflation has also climbed sharply over the last few years, the value of stock prices has eroded, along with nearly everything else in the economy. When you factor in inflation, the stock market did not actually reach new heights.

***** Listen buster, I know a new high when I see one and this was a new high. OK, it was not the highest of the new highs it could have been, but it was still a new high. And I love new highs. ~JJL


Cicadas are nature’s weirdos. They pee stronger than us and an STD can turn them into zombies
Seth Borenstein – Yahoo News
The periodical cicadas that are about to infest two parts of the United States aren’t just plentiful, they’re downright weird. These insects are the strongest urinators in the animal kingdom with flows that put humans and elephants to shame. They have pumps in their heads that pull moisture from the roots of trees, allowing them to feed for more than a decade underground. They are rescuers of caterpillars. And they are being ravaged by a sexually transmitted disease that turns them into zombies.

***** Of all the zombies I have worried about, cicadas have never made my list. Now they have.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was What is next for billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s giving?, from AP via Yahoo!Finance. Second was Did One Guy Just Stop a Huge Cyberattack? from The New York Times. Third was Business and Economic History: UIC Special Collections and University Archives, a document that mentions the founding of The Chicago Board of Trade “on April 3, 1848 in a flour store attic.” Wednesday was the 176th anniversary of the CBOT’s founding.



Lead Stories

The Sheikh Who Dominates One of the World’s Hottest Stock Markets; The UAE’s exchanges approach $1 trillion in value as Abu Dhabi’s index almost triples since April 2020.
Farah Elbahrawy, Julia Fioretti, and Ben Bartenstein – Bloomberg
The United Arab Emirates’ rulers will soon achieve a ­distinction they’ve long coveted. Their once sleepy stock exchanges will be home to companies valued at $1 trillion. This outsize success-the markets already ranked No. 17 in the world at the end of March, ahead of Brazil and Spain-relies on the recent chart-topping performance of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, run by the UAE’s biggest and wealthiest city-state. But global investors tempted to pile in face the Abu Dhabi market’s defining feature. Royal family member Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan-one of Abu Dhabi’s two deputy rulers, national security adviser of the UAE and brother to its president-dominates just about every part of its business. As of March 31, the sheikh’s companies or those he oversees had a weighting of at least 65% of the benchmark FTSE ADX General Index.

Crypto Trading Volume Reached All-Time High During March Rally; Spot trading volume doubled to $2.94 trillion in March: CCData; Binance saw its largest yearly gain in spot, researcher says
María Paula Mijares Torres – Bloomberg
The combined volume of crypto spot and derivatives trading on centralized exchanges almost doubled to an all-time high of $9.1 trillion in March while Bitcoin reached a record, according to a CCData. Spot trading outpaced the gains seen in derivatives, with volume rising 108% to $2.94 trillion, the highest monthly figure since May 2021, CCData’s March Exchange review report said. Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, saw trading volume reach the highest since May 2021, with spot jumping 121% to $1.12 trillion and derivatives increasing 89.7% to $2.91 trillion.

Banker to British mid-caps warns of bleak outlook for London market; Peel Hunt chief says dearth of IPOs is ‘starting to bite quite hard’
Ivan Levingston – Financial Times
The boss of one of the City’s biggest independent investment banks has sounded the alarm over the future of London’s capital markets, saying they will end up “dead” on current trends. Peel Hunt chief executive Steven Fine told the FT that there was no sign of a revival in London’s moribund market for initial public offerings. “Our industry has been dramatically hollowed out over the last five, 10 years,” he said. “If we carry along this trajectory we will end up just like the Irish market, which is dead.”

Global supply of equities shrinks at fastest pace in decades; Uncertain executives are favouring share buybacks over tapping buoyant markets to fund investment
Jennifer Hughes and George Steer – Financial Times
The global supply of public equity is shrinking at its fastest pace in at least 25 years, as economic and geopolitical uncertainty weighs on new share sales while companies keep buying back large volumes of their own stock. The figures, from JPMorgan analysts, confounded the bank’s own expectations and suggest a lingering lack of confidence among executives. Rising stock markets and relatively strong economies should, in theory, encourage companies to raise funds by selling new shares at high prices rather than spending cash to buy them back.

Why buying company shares has gone out of fashion; The government needs to act to benefit business and the wider economy
Paul Killik – Financial Times
Individual investors are increasingly of the opinion that they should use open-ended collective investment schemes such as mutual funds to invest in equity markets, rather than investing directly in the underlying securities. The rise in the popularity of passive funds has exacerbated this herd mentality which has led to a significant collapse in direct retail participation in UK equity markets.

Cboe asks SEC for green light to list multi-share class funds; Several large US mutual fund managers have filed to add Vanguard-style exchange traded fund sleeves
Will Schmitt – Financial Times
Cboe Global Markets has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow companies to list exchange traded fund shares of their existing US mutual funds, a rule change sought by several large asset managers that could further accelerate the growth of the ETF market. Cboe’s filing on Thursday came nearly a year after the expiration of Vanguard’s patent on multi-share class funds, which was in effect for more than 20 years.

SBF Is Going to Prison, but the Fight Over Money at FTX Drags On; Crypto exchange’s collapse is still a source of anger and frustration for many onetime customers, more than a year later
Alexander Saeedy and Alexander Osipovich – The Wall Street Journal
Wayne Perdew caught the crypto bug in 2022. The farmer in Pierce, Colo., plowed about $60,000 into cryptocurrencies after a divorce led him to sell his house. He bought bitcoin, ether and other digital currencies on FTX, attracted to the crypto exchange by a run of sports-sponsorship deals, including one that emblazoned FTX’s logo on a Miami sports arena. When FTX collapsed later that year, Perdew’s account was frozen. Now 41 years old, he needs the money to pay off debts, and he is uncertain when-or if-he will get it back.

Your Financial Adviser Doesn’t Want You to Know About These Conflicts; Fee-based advisers sometimes recommend drawing Social Security early and holding on to mortgages
Anne Tergesen – The Wall Street Journal
A seismic shift in the way Americans pay for financial advice has better aligned investors’ fortunes with those of the people managing their money. It hasn’t erased conflicts of interest. In the past decade, people have moved trillions of dollars to advisers who charge fees rather than commissions. These advisers typically charge clients annual fees, often between 0.75% and 1.25% of an investment portfolio.

Five New Federal Agencies Join Justice Department in Pledge to Enforce Civil Rights Laws in Artificial Intelligence
Office of Public Affairs – Department of Justice
The Justice Department announced today that five new cabinet-level federal agencies have joined a pledge to uphold America’s commitment to core principles of fairness, equality and justice as new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) become more common in daily life. “Federal agencies are sending a clear message: we will use our collective authority and power to protect individual rights in the wake of increased reliance on artificial intelligence in various aspects of American life,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “As social media platforms, banks, landlords, employers and other businesses choose to rely on artificial intelligence, algorithms and automated systems to conduct business, we stand ready to hold accountable those entities that fail to address the unfair and discriminatory outcomes that may result. We are mounting a whole-of-government approach to enforcing civil rights and related laws when it comes to automated systems, including AI.”

SEC Accepts Pause on Its Climate Rule; The regulator says it would stay climate rule while litigation plays out
Richard Vanderford – The Wall Street Journal
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday it would pause the implementation of its new climate disclosure rule while it fights in court over the measure’s legality. The SEC will stay the rule, in part to avoid regulatory uncertainty as litigation proceeds, the agency said in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. An appeals court last month ordered a temporary stay blocking the rule’s enforcement, though the SEC could have fought that stay.

ESG Pioneer Mary Jane McQuillen Says Sector Held to ‘Different Standard’; Recent skepticism around ESG has put its supporters on defense; Nearly 30-year ESG veteran Mary Jane McQuillen plays long game
Norah Mulinda – Bloomberg
Investor Mary Jane McQuillen was a proponent of ESG even before it had its name. Two decades ago, she served as one of 12 asset managers who helped former United Nations official Paul Clements-Hunt coin the term for what’s now a $3 trillion fund sector that aims to not only reap financial returns, but also deliver positive impacts on environmental, societal and governance issues.

Robinhood Sets Sights on New Bounty: The Rising Rich; Recent moves by the online brokerage hint at ambitions in wealth management
Telis Demos – The Wall Street Journal
You remember the story of Robinhood the one where a hero takes money from the rich, and then gives some of it back, in the hopes they bring him still more riches? That may not be the fairy tale. But one could say it is increasingly the tale of Robinhood Markets. Lately, the online brokerage has been giving back quite a lot to users who subscribe to its Gold service-especially those who bring it loads of cash, savings and, now, spending. First, the company began offering high-interest rates on cash. Then, it launched into retirement accounts with a big, limited-time lure: a 3% match on transfers or rollovers from an existing retirement account. Now, it is offering a credit card that pays 3% cash back on any purchases.

Should Big Oil Be Tried for Homicide? A group of activists and legal experts are promoting the argument that fossil fuel companies should be charged for homicide and other crimes for their roles in driving climate harms.
Nicholas Kusnetz – Inside Climate News
Years ago, the law professor Donald Braman was listening to a description of the revelations that were emerging about fossil fuel companies’ detailed, long-held knowledge of the grievous risks their products posed to the global climate. David Arkush, the climate director at the advocacy group Public Citizen, was recounting these facts to Braman and noting the increasingly deadly impacts of extreme, climate-driven weather. “This sounds like something that could be subject to a homicide charge,” Braman recently recalled telling Arkush.

Why the G-20 ‘Common Framework’ for Debt Relief Isn’t Helping Poor Nations
Matthew Hill and Eric Martin – Bloomberg
More than half of the world’s low-income countries are at high risk of debt distress or are already in it, and several have defaulted. But despite the world’s 20 largest economies having agreed in 2020 to a plan called the Common Framework to smooth the process of restructuring loans that governments could no longer afford to service or repay, progress toward actually providing relief has been slow. Delays have partly stemmed from disagreements between the rich countries that have traditionally guided sovereign debt restructurings and China, which is now a major international creditor. A deal struck in late March by Zambia on $3 billion in eurobonds after three years of talks showed signs of progress – and how difficult the process has been.

Women in UK finance earn a third less than male colleagues, data shows
Sinead Cruise and Carolyn Cohn – Reuters
Firms make modest progress to shrink UK gender pay gap; Pay inequity in company sample ranges between 54%-13.5%; Time for companies to face censures on stubborn gaps, CMI says. Some of Britain’s top financial firms pay women 28.8% less on average than male counterparts, salary data from 21 companies reviewed by Reuters shows, even though they say they are striving to hire more females for higher-paid, senior roles. Banks, asset managers and insurers across the UK have committed to narrowing long-standing gender pay gaps, which they largely attribute to there being more men in top jobs that come with generous bonuses, while a greater proportion of women are in lower-paid, part-time or junior jobs, with smaller bonuses or none at all.

The AI deepfake apocalypse is here. These are the ideas for fighting it. A growing group of researchers and start-ups are building tools to identify and track deepfake images before they take over the internet completely
Gerrit De Vynck – The Washington Post
AI-generated images are everywhere. They’re being used to make nonconsensual pornography, muddy the truth during elections and promote products on social media using celebrity impersonations. When Princess Catherine released a video last month disclosing that she had cancer, social media went abuzz with the latest baseless claim that artificial intelligence was used to manipulate the video. Both BBC Studios, which shot the video, and Kensington Palace denied AI was involved. But it didn’t stop the speculation.

‘Alarming’ Ocean Temperatures Suggest This Hurricane Season Will Be a Daunting One; An early forecast from one set of experts sees an above-average hurricane season that may rival the busiest years on record.
Judson Jone – The New York Times
A key area of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already abnormally warm, much warmer than an ideal swimming pool temperature of about 80 degrees and on the cusp of feeling more like warm bathtub water. These conditions were described by Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami, as “unprecedented,” “alarming” and an “out-of-bounds anomaly.” Combined with the rapidly subsiding El Niño weather pattern, it is leading to mounting confidence among forecasting experts that there will be an exceptionally high number of storms this hurricane season.

Ukraine Invasion

F-16 fighter jets ‘no longer relevant’, says Ukrainian military official; Air force expected to receive a dozen aircraft in July, but high-ranking officer says army now needs ‘hundreds of thousands of shells’
Joe Barnes – The Telegraph
American-made F-16 fighter jets due to arrive in Ukraine this summer are “no longer relevant”, a senior Ukrainian military official has said. Ukraine’s air force is expected to take delivery of the first tranche of a dozen aircraft in July after Ukrainian pilots have been trained and the country’s airfields prepared. Before their arrival, the Western warplanes had been held up by some as a potential war-winner that could turn the tide of the conflict in Kyiv’s favour. “Often, we just don’t get the weapons systems at the time we need them – they come when they’re no longer relevant,” a Ukrainian high-ranking officer told the Politico news website.

Ukraine claims it destroyed Russian warplanes in one of its biggest drone attacks of the war
Illia Novikov – Associated Press
Ukrainian officials claimed Friday they used a barrage of drones to destroy at least six military aircraft and badly damage eight others at an airfield in Russia’s Rostov region. Russian defense officials, however, claimed they intercepted 44 Ukrainian drones and that only a power substation was damaged in the attack. The Associated Press could not independently verify either side’s claims.

Small uncrewed Ukrainian plane likely used in attack deep inside Russia – experts
Tom Balmforth and Max Hunder – Reuters
A Ukrainian uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) that hit Russia’s Tatarstan region this week was likely a modified Aeroprakt A-22 Ukrainian-made light aircraft, several experts said, offering insight into one of Kyiv’s deepest drone strikes to date. Russia said the attack hit an industrial site’s dorms and hurt 13 people. A Kyiv intelligence source said it struck a site used to produce Russian long-range drones that have been used in the thousands to pound Ukraine during the 25-month war.

Pentagon defends pace of weapon shipments as Ukraine worries it’s too late; Weapon deliveries need “to be done properly,” a Pentagon spokesperson said.
Matt Berg – Politico
The Pentagon is defending its steady rollout of weapons to Ukraine even as officials in Kyiv say the assistance is coming too slowly – and it might already be too late to help turn the tide of the war in Ukraine’s favor. On Wednesday, POLITICO detailed criticisms from high-ranking Ukrainian officials, who said they can’t defend the frontlines any longer: “There’s nothing that can help Ukraine now,” one of the officials said.

Conscription Panic Isn’t the Debate Europe Needs; Ukraine’s struggle for younger, able-bodied fighters is reverberating around the old continent. Governments must plan, not panic.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
“The French are all soldiers and must defend their homeland.” So decreed the 18th-century law that made military service mandatory in France, until the end of the Cold War banished it to the history books and replaced it with a kind of glorified recruitment day – which I dutifully attended as a teenager and promptly forgot about. Nobody under the age of 45 in France has forcibly worn army fatigues or picked up a weapon, including Emmanuel Macron.

Dwindling Ammunition Stocks Pose Grave Threat to Ukraine; What few munitions remain are often mismatched with battlefield needs as the country’s forces gird for an expected Russian offensive this summer.
Andrew E. Kramer – The New York Times

Israel/Palestine Conflict

Biden Demands Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire in Call With Israel’s Netanyahu; The conversation between the two leaders came after the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers
Michael R. Gordon and Nancy A. Youssef – The Wall Street Journal
President Biden called Thursday for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza during a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, which came days after seven aid workers were killed, the White House said. He also called on Israel to take immediate steps “to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers” and “made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” according to the White House statement. Israel didn’t immediately comment on Biden’s call for a cease-fire.

Israel dismisses 2 officers over deadly drone strikes on aid workers in Gaza
Julia Frankel – Associated Press
The Israeli military said Friday that it dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others for their roles in drone strikes in Gaza that killed seven aid workers on a food-delivery mission, saying they had mishandled critical information and violated the army’s rules of engagement.

Israel details ‘grave mistake’ in killing of 7 Gaza aid workers; Military says two officers dismissed over strikes on World Central Kitchen vehicles
James Shotter – Financial Times
Israel’s military said on Friday that its soldiers had made errors and violated its operating procedures in their strike on a humanitarian convoy this week that killed seven aid workers. Officials said the attack on workers from World Central Kitchen, one of the main providers of food to Gaza’s besieged population, came after Israeli forces mistakenly identified one of the WCK staff who was carrying a bag as a gunman.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Australian Asset Manager Monochrome Applies With Cboe Australia for a Spot Bitcoin ETF, Eyes Decision by Mid-Year
Amitoj Singh – CoinDesk
Australia-based Monochrome Asset Management has applied for a spot bitcoin {{BTC}} exchange traded fund (ETF) with the global listing exchange, Cboe Australia, the firm announced on Friday. If approved, the Monochrome Bitcoin ETF could be the first spot bitcoin ETF in Australia which allows direct holding of bitcoin. Australia already has two exchange-traded products providing exposure to spot crypto assets on Cboe Australia but they do not hold bitcoin directly.

Nodal Exchange sets new records and achieves highest quarterly power trading ever in Q1 2024
Nodal Exchange
Nodal Exchange today announced strong performance in power, environmental, and natural gas trading in the first quarter of 2024. In power, Nodal posted a record quarter in Q1 2024 with 892 million MWh power futures volume traded, surpassing Q1 2022’s record of 850 million MWh. Nodal continues to be the market leader in North American power futures having the majority of the open interest with 1.343 billion MWh, representing over $120 billion of notional value (both sides), at the end of March. This is roughly equivalent to the electricity usage of 124 million U.S. households for one year.

CFA Institute, NSE and CFA Society India collaborate to analyze BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting) data of listed Indian Companies; The research collaboration aims to understand the current state of sustainability reporting for corporate India and offer suggestions to improve data quality, in alignment with SEBI’s BRSR mandate.
National Stock Exchange of India
CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, along with CFA Society India, announced today a research collaboration with the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) to undertake a research project on BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting) data disclosed by listed Indian companies. To promote transparency and best practices in ESG in India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), India’s capital markets regulator, mandated the top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalization to disclose their sustainability data using a standardized format called BRSR, starting with the FY2022-23 reporting cycle.

Date Change – Exercise & Assignment (E/A) Processing and Deadline Changes for CME/CBT
CME Group
Please be advised that, per CH Advisory 24-035, CME Clearing has planned changes to the Exercise & Assignment (E/A) Processing Times and Deadlines for CME/CBT Options. Option Assignment Processing for CME and CBT early Option Exercises will be moved to align with the times for Expiring Options. This change is now scheduled for Trade Date Monday, April 22, 2024.

Performance Bond Requirements: Agriculture, Equity, FX, and Metal Margins – Effective April 05, 2024
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below. The rates will be effective after the close of business on April 05, 2024.

March 2024 figures at Eurex
Eurex Repo’s GC Pooling market grew by 62 percent year-on-year in March. Notional outstanding in OTC Clearing increased by 6 percent year-on-year. Overall turnover in listed derivatives at Eurex went down 21 percent in March. Eurex, Europe’s leading derivatives exchange, reports a 21 percent decrease in traded contracts for March compared to the previous year, down from 260.9 million to 205.0 million contracts. Due to the continued very low volatility, index derivatives recorded a decline of minus 37 percent to 81.4 million traded contracts whereby equity derivatives went down by 9 percent to 28.3 million contracts.

Euronext Corporate Services launches new Governance solutions with Annual General; Meetings Voting Insight and ESG data distribution
New AGM Voting Insight service pioneers shareholder voting analysis for Investor Relations. IR.Manager SaaS investor relation platform now enhanced with new enriched ESG data on funds and investment organisations. Amsterdam. Euronext Corporate Services releases new solutions to support listed companies in their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy and their shareholder engagement with the launch of an Annual General Meetings (AGM) Voting Insight solution and a new version of its SaaS investor relation platform IR.Manager, now including ESG data distribution. AGM Voting Insight is an innovative service that provides issuers with strategic shareholder intelligence and voting analytics before Annual General Meetings. This new service empowers companies to make informed decisions, optimise their engagement efforts, and align their strategies with voting trends. By leveraging real-time insights into AGM voting patterns, issuers can anticipate investor concerns, address governance issues proactively, streamline regulatory reporting, and ensure the success of their AGMs.

Suspension Of Tin Brand Enaf
London Metal Exchange
Summary. Please be advised that no further deliveries of Tin brand ENAF, produced by Empresa Metalurgica Vinto, will be accepted for LME warranting with effect from 05 July 2024.

LSEG to sunset Redi EMS in favor of Tora; Sources say competitors will look to seize on the decision to win over Redi’s sizeable US client base.
Anthony Malakian and Eliot Raman Jones – Waters Technology (paywalled)
London Stock Exchange Group is planning to sunset its Redi execution management system in favor of its Tora offering, WatersTechnology has learned. WatersTechnology understands that LSEG will wind down its support of the legacy EMS by the end of 2025. As part of the transition, Redi users will need to create new integrations with downstream systems-i.e., order, risk, and/or portfolio management systems. Two Redi users who were alerted to the decision last year say they are currently exploring

Regulatory Division Annual Report
The Montreal Exchange
Autorite Des Marches Financiers’ Inspection Report. The Regulatory Division (the “Division”) of Bourse de Montraal Inc. (the “Bourse”) is publishing its annual report for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2023. This report provides general information on the Division’s regulatory activities. You may find the annual report here. Additionally, in 2023, the Autorité des marchés financiers (the “Autorité”) carried out an inspection in order to confirm the manner in which the Bourse, through the Division, exercises its functions and powers as a self-regulatory organization and the extent to which it complies with the provisions of law applicable to it, as well as the decisions issued by the Autorité. The report, dated December 20, 2023, covers the period from 2020 to 2022.

ASX Group Monthly Activity Report – March 2024
Listings and Capital Raisings. In March 2024, total new capital quoted was $5.2 billion, compared to $5.4 billion in the previous corresponding period (pcp).

TMX Group Consolidated Trading Statistics – March 2024
TMX Group
TMX Group Limited today announced March 2024 trading statistics for its marketplaces – Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, TSX Alpha Exchange (Alpha), including Alpha-X & Alpha DRK, and Montréal Exchange (MX).

On the requirements for the appointment of an audit organization
The Moscow Exchange draws the attention of issuers and management companies of mutual investment funds to regulatory requirements when selecting and appointing an audit organization during scheduled annual general meetings of shareholders.


OpenAI Sees ‘Tremendous Growth’ in Corporate Version of ChatGPT; ChatGPT Enterprise now has more than 600,000 users signed up; COO says this ‘is going to be the year of adoption for AI’
Jackie Davalos – Bloomberg
OpenAI is seeing surging demand for the corporate version of ChatGPT even as it confronts a growing number of artificial intelligence companies offering similar products for the workplace. In an interview on Bloomberg Technology, OpenAI’s Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap said there are now more than 600,000 people signed up to use ChatGPT Enterprise, up from around 150,000 in January.

AI Demand for Data Centers Vastly Underestimated, CoreWeave Says; Co-founder of cloud-computing firm says demand is ‘absurd’; CoreWeave’s Brian Venturo warns of supply chain constraints
Lynn Doan – Bloomberg
The world is “grossly” underestimating how much the demand for artificial intelligence is going to expand the global market for data centers over the next five years, according to the co-founder of the cloud-computing unicorn CoreWeave. The data center requests that CoreWeave is fielding on a daily basis “are absurd,” with many asking for entire campuses for themselves, Brian Venturo, co-founder and chief strategy officer, said Thursday at a Bloomberg Intelligence summit on generative AI in New York. “The market is moving a lot faster than supply chains that have historically supported a very physical business have been set up to do,” he said, predicting more “megacampuses” that will stress power grids and spur political fights.

New York City defends AI chatbot that advised entrepreneurs to break laws
Jonathan Allen – Reuters
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is defending the city’s new artificial intelligence chatbot that has been caught in recent days giving business owners wrong answers or advice that, if followed, would entail breaking the law. When launched as a pilot in October, the MyCity chatbot was touted as the first city-wide use of such AI technology, something that would give business owners “actionable and trusted information” in response to queries typed into an online portal.

Lambda secures $500 million loan with Nvidia chips as collateral
Lambda has secured a $500 million loan from lenders including Macquarie Group with Nvidia’s much-coveted chips as collateral, the specialty artificial intelligence cloud provider said on Thursday. Startups addressing the towering need for chips and software that can support AI’s complex computing requirements have been luring private investors.

Nvidia, Indosat plan $200 million AI centre investment in Indonesia, government says
Nvidia and Indonesia’s telco firm PT Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison plan to build an artificial intelligence centre in Central Java in 2024, worth $200 million, the communication minister said. Budi Arie Setiadi in a statement said the AI centre could consists of telecommunication infrastructure or a human resource centre and will be located in Surakarta city.

ESMA publishes letter highlighting challenges related to DLT pilot regime; The letter lists challenges and opportunities found during the first year of application which include innovative solutions for cash settlement, custody through self-hosted wallets, interoperability and more.
Sophia Thompson – The Trade
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a letter to the European Commission, the Parliament, and the Council (ECOFIN) which highlights the challenges related to the implementation of the DLT Pilot Regime. The DLT pilot regime applied in the EU as of 23 March 2023. This regime establishes the legal framework for trading and settling transactions involving crypto-assets meeting the criteria of financial instruments under Mifid II.

Amazon Is Cutting Hundreds of Jobs in Cloud Computing Division
Matt Day – Bloomberg


Russia is trying to sabotage European railways, warns Prague; Czech transport minister tells FT of ‘thousands’ of attempts to interfere with train networks and signals
Alice Hancock – Financial Times
Russia has made “thousands” of attempts to interfere with European rail networks in a campaign to destabilise the EU and sabotage critical infrastructure, the Czech Republic’s transport minister has said. Martin Kupka told the Financial Times that Moscow was suspected of having made “thousands of attempts to weaken our systems” since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Why a near-miss cyberattack put US officials and the tech industry on edge
Raphael Satter – Reuters
German software developer Andres Freund was running some detailed performance tests last month when he noticed odd behavior in a little known program. What he found when he investigated has sent shudders across the software world and drawn attention from tech executives and government officials.

Cybersecurity Tops Agenda At White House Meeting With Big Tech
The White House asked Big Tech, the finance industry and key infrastructure companies to do more to tackle the growing cybersecurity threat to the US economy in a meeting with President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet on Wednesday, August 25. “The federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden told the masked executives, all seated at tables in the East Room. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.” reported Reuters.

NIST Grants $3.6 Million to Boost US Cybersecurity Workforce
Ionut Arghire – SecurityWeek
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) this week announced $3.6 million in grants to help address the cybersecurity skills shortage. As part of the project, 18 education and community organizations across 15 states will be granted roughly $200,000 each to educate future cybersecurity employees. The agreements will be overseen by NICE, a partnership between organizations in the government, education, and private sectors, which focuses on building cybersecurity workforce through education and training.

National Security Agency Announces Dave Luber as Director of Cybersecurity
Dave Luber began as the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new Director of Cybersecurity on April 1. As the new Cybersecurity Director, he oversees NSA’s Cybersecurity Directorate (CSD), whose critical mission is to prevent and eradicate cyber threats to the Department of Defense, National Security Systems, and the Defense Industrial Base.


Defending Goldman Sachs’ Latest Crypto Criticism
Noelle Acheson – CoinDesk
The crypto ecosystem is quick to condemn public crypto skepticism from under-informed traditional finance experts who should, we reasonably conclude, know better. We’ve seen this happen over the past few days with the reaction to comments given by Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, chief investment officer of Goldman Sachs Asset & Wealth Management, in a recent Wall Street Journal interview.

Bitcoin Futures Kingpin Reveals Why Regulators Hate Crypto
Yashu Gola – CCN
Bitcoin might have taken the financial world by surprise. But regulatory squeamishness ensures that it is still far away from gaining mainstream adoption on Wall Street, according to Terry Duffy. The CME Group chairman and CEO told Business Insider that the biggest thing that is keeping governments away from bitcoin is its finite supply. The cryptocurrency’s supply cap does not fit well with modern economic theories, which allow governments to print money at will. With bitcoin providing no such control, Duffy said governments would be unlikely to ever use it themselves.

The Feds are transferring bitcoin to Coinbase from a $2 billion crypto wallet seized from Silk Road
Matthew Fox – Business Insider
The US government has moved some of its bitcoin stash to Coinbase, according to a closely followed crypto wallet on the blockchain. The crypto wallet is known to be held by the US government and stems from its seizure of bitcoin from the dark web’s Silk Road, which was a global e-commerce website for illegal drugs, weapons, and other illicit activities that were facilitated via the transfer of bitcoin and was shut down in 2013.

What Does Ripple’s Stablecoin Mean for XRP?
Daniel Kuhn – CoinDesk
Ripple has declared the death of {{XRP}}. Well, to be fair, to be accurate, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has said the exact opposite when announcing the Silicon Valley crypto mainstay would launch a U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin later this year. But in the grand scheme of things, XRP’s usefulness is dwindling. (Sorry, XRP Army, it’s my job to speak it how it is.)

Binance Stops Support for Bitcoin NFTs Citing ‘Streamlining’ of Offered Products
Oliver Knight – CoinDesk
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance will cease support for Bitcoin-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as it undergoes a process to “streamline” its product offerings. “Users are advised to withdraw their Bitcoin NFTs from the Binance NFT Marketplace” before May 18, Binance wrote in a blog post. It added that users will not be eligible for future airdrops related to NFTs hosted on the Bitcoin network.


US Officials to Pressure Dutch Government on China Chip Curbs; Biden officials calling for limits on ASML servicing in China; Delegation from US seeks to plug holes in export controls
Cagan Koc and Jenny Leonard – Bloomberg
Senior US officials plan to visit the Netherlands next week to pressure the Dutch government to toughen its China chip equipment curbs, as the Biden administration ramps up its campaign to thwart Beijing’s technology ambitions. US Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez, who’s responsible for implementing export controls, will be part of the delegation, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is not yet public. Officials from the White House National Security Council will join Estevez, one of the people said.

That Guy Who Backed Trump’s Bond? He May Not Have the Money; New York Attorney General Letitia James doesn’t trust Don Hankey.
Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling – The New Republic
New York Attorney General Letitia James has some questions about Donald Trump’s $175 million bond insurer-mainly, if it can even guarantee the full amount if push comes to shove. In a court filing on Thursday, Knight Speciality Insurance Company revealed that its liquid assets don’t meet the needs of Trump’s already minimized bond. According to a financial assessment, the company, owned by billionaire Don Hankey, has just $138 million in “surplus.” Knight would therefore need to spend 127 percent of its reserves in order to cover Trump’s bond-far more than the 10 percent of a state-regulated suretor’s surplus that’s allowed by New York law.

Israel to open more aid routes to Gaza and increase deliveries after pressure from Biden; Israel committed to taking new steps that would boost the flow of aid into Gaza after a call between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Rebecca Shabad, Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander, Monica Alba, Allie Raffa and Courtney Kube – NBC News
Israel committed to opening additional aid routes to allow for increased assistance to flow into Gaza after a call with President Joe Biden warning of a potential shift in U.S. policy after a strike this week killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers. White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said after Thursday’s call that Israel had committed to opening the Ashdod port to allow assistance to be directly delivered into Gaza, opening the Erez crossing to let aid flow into north Gaza and significantly boosting deliveries from Jordan.

Norway to Nearly Double Defense Spending by 2036 in New Plan; Military spending estimated to reach 2.7% of GDP by 2030; Plans to buy frigates, submarines and air defense missiles
Ott Ummelas – Bloomberg
Norway plans to almost double its defense spending over the next 12 years as the energy-rich nation seeks to adapt to threats from neighboring Russia. The Nordic country will boost spending on its military by 600 billion kroner ($56 billion) by 2036, the Labor-led minority government said in a statement Friday, laying out a new long-term defense plan focused on strengthening its navy and air defense.

Bears and wolves stray into European politics; Plans to shoot large wild animals in Slovakia and Romania dismissed as electoral pandering
Alice Hancock and Stephen McGrath – Financial Times
Slovakia has said it will allow the shooting of bears that stray into towns and villages, triggering accusations that politicians have scapegoated the animals to win points in an election this weekend and fuelling a broader European debate over the merits of rewilding with large mammals. A proposed law announced this week would allow security services to shoot brown bears within a 500-metre radius of a settlement. It comes after a male brown bear attack in the Slovak town of Liptovský Mikuláš last month injured five people, two of whom were hospitalised.

Kuwaitis Reelect Most Members of Former Disbanded Parliament; OPEC member held fourth election in as many years this week; Kuwait’s new ruler dissolved previous iteration in February
Fiona MacDonald – Bloomberg


FINRA Plays a Vital Role in Exposing Insider Trading
Karen Braine – FINRA
FINRA’s Insider Trading Detection Program is designed to provide U.S. law enforcement and regulators worldwide with actionable intelligence about potential insider trading that occurs on the U.S. markets. The intelligence we provide – over 450 referrals in 2023 alone – routinely result in criminal and civil action. Many of the insider trading actions brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and by law enforcement authorities start on the desk of FINRA investigators (or stem from FINRA investigations).

Commissioner Johnson Announces CFTC Market Risk Advisory Committee Meeting on April 9
CFTC Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson, sponsor of the Market Risk Advisory Committee (MRAC), announced today the MRAC will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, April 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EDT) at the CFTC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.

CFTC Whistleblower Office Posts Notice of Covered Action for Recordkeeping Case
Kailey Monsivais –
On March 22, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Whistleblower Office posted a Notice of Covered Action (NCA) for a $7 million enforcement action taken against the U.S. Bank, N.A., a swap dealer, and against Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., an introducing broker. The NCA signals that the CFTC is now accepting whistleblower award claims for the case. Through the CFTC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers are entitled to monetary awards of 10-30% of the sanctions collected by the CFTC in the enforcement action connected to their whistleblowing.

Register for the SEC’s 43rd Annual Small Business Forum April 16-18
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation will host the SEC’s 43rd Annual Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation during three virtual sessions April 16-18 from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

SEC Obtains $93 Million Judgment Against Massachusetts Investment Adviser that Failed to Disclose Conflicts Arising from Receiving Revenue Sharing on Client Investments
On March 29, 2024, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts entered a final judgment against Commonwealth Equity Services, LLC d/b/a Commonwealth Financial Network, a registered investment adviser and broker-dealer based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

SEC Charges Four Long Island Men With Perpetrating $2 Million “Free-Riding” Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on October 31, 2023, it charged Eduardo Hernandez, Christopher Flagg, Daquan Lloyd, and Corey Ortiz, all currently or formerly of Long Island, New York, with fraud for perpetrating a multi-year “free-riding” scheme that generated more than $2 million in illicit profits.

Investing and Trading

Opinion: Investing in oil and gas doesn’t make sense anymore
Tom Steyer – CNN
Earlier this year, during the warmest February in recorded history, the investment giants JPMorgan Chase, State Street, BlackRock and Pimco walked away from some of their boldest climate pledges. The leaders of these firms, with a combined more than $15 trillion under management, did not deny that climate change exists, that humans are its cause or that its potential consequences are catastrophic. Instead, some pointed to their legal responsibility to shareholders, which they said precluded them from following through on climate pledges. Others argued that their own climate standards were sufficient, or reserved the right to make business-related decisions without having to take the climate pledge into account.

Trump’s DJT stock trades at multiples that exceed the peak of the meme-stock era
Philip van Doorn – MarketWatch
There are many ways to compare valuations for stocks of companies of varying size. For Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., which owns former President Donald Trump’s social-media company, Truth Social, the only traditional valuation metric we can use, based on the limited information available, is the trailing price-to-sales ratio.

Barry Diller says Trump Media is ‘a scam’ and people buying shares are ‘dopes’
Camilo Fonseca – Business Insider
Barry Diller has a message for Trump Media shareholders: “I think they’re dopes.” The owner of the Truth Social app, Trump Media and Technology Group, enjoyed a soaring debut when it went public last week, attracting the interest of retail investors and the “meme stock” crowd.

Use of Fed Central Bank Tool Grows as Cash Stockpiling Continues
Alexandra Harris – Bloomberg
Foreign central bank usage of a key Federal Reserve facility rose for a third week, an indication policymakers around the world keep building cash positions amid warnings they will take steps to bolster their currencies. These monetary officials stashed $365 billion at the Fed’s reverse repurchase agreement facility, according to data for the period through April 3, up from $354 billion a week earlier. That’s the most since the week through Jan. 3. Meanwhile, the central banks added $11.6 billion in Treasury securities during the same period, leaving total holdings at $2.95 trillion, data show.

Famed Oil Trader Andurand Bet on Cocoa Just Before Price Surge; Futures have soared to record levels on weather, supply woes; The trade has become increasingly risky due to volatility
Nishant Kumar and Isis Almeida – Bloomberg
Oil trader Pierre Andurand’s hedge fund bet on higher cocoa prices ahead of a massive surge last month, stepping into a volatile market for the key chocolate ingredient as other speculators retreated. The fund took a small, long position in early March, according to a person familiar with the matter. Prices soared more than 60% last month.

Buffered ETFs make gains in retirement portfolios; Funds that limit losses while capping upside pose challenge to annuities and structured products
Will Schmitt – Financial Times

British billionaire Joe Lewis avoids US prison in insider trading case; Businessman whose family owns Tottenham Hotspur football club had pleaded guilty to tipping off friends, private pilots and a girlfriend
Joe Miller – Financial Times

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

How Climate Change Looks Through the Lens of Top Photojournalists; The 2024 World Press Photo contest showcases some of the most dramatic images of global warming’s impacts – from fires to drought, storms and protests.
Laura Millan and Tom Hall – Bloomberg
From young activists opposing the expansion of a coal mine in Germany to a solitary fisherman crossing a dry river bed in a remote corner of the Amazon, photojournalists are making unprecedented efforts to chronicle the impacts of climate change across the globe. This week independent nonprofit World Press Photo revealed the regional winners in its annual contest for the most compelling images. Winning projects feature the consequences of global warming in every continent, from wildfires in Canada and Australia to floods in Bangladesh.

Protests and Prices Push Europe Into Remaking Its Green Deal; The EU’s climate ambitions are to reach net zero by 2050; Supply chain, energy issues have changed the global backdrop
Ewa Krukowska – Bloomberg
In late 2019, the European Union kicked off its Green Deal with the aim of leading the world into a sustainable future. Then came Covid, surging inflation, broken supply chains and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All of that elevated energy costs, protectionism and competition on the EU agenda, making the ambitious clean shift more politically and economically challenging.

US Homes Face Costly Retrofits for Induction Stoves, EV Chargers; New homes in the US may not be “electrical ready” after an international standards agency excluded building electrification measures from its latest energy code.
Kendra Pierre-Louis – Bloomberg
Buyers of new homes in the US may find themselves saddled with electrical systems better suited to the 20th century than the 21st. The International Code Council, which sets model construction standards for new homes, was expected to include building electrification measures in its 2024 energy code on March 20. But following appeals lodged by industry groups, the ICC board moved the measures to the code’s appendices, effectively making them optional, as first reported by the Huffington Post.

Nearly 3 Million People in US Face Critical Fire Risks: Weather Watch; Weather conditions ripe for wildfires across parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle are on Bloomberg Green’s radar today.
Brian K Sullivan – Bloomberg
Red flag fire warnings are out for parts of the US covering the Great Plains from the Canadian border in North Dakota to the Mexico crossings in Texas. In addition to the dry winds sweeping the region, dangerous gusts are whipping from Southern California to Nebraska. Nearly 3 million people face critical fire weather conditions across parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, where that state had its worst blaze in history last February, the US Storm Prediction Center said.

Policy push for carbon removal credits lures finance, aviation
Peter Henderson, Susanna Twidale and Simon Jessop – Reuters
Demand for credits reflecting the engineered removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is expected by some to surge as market-friendly incentives lure buyers from sectors as diverse as technology and finance, chemicals and aviation. Many scientists believe extracting billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere annually, by using nature or technology, is the only way to meet goals set under the U.N. Paris climate agreement to curb climate change, as efforts to cut emissions are not happening fast enough.

Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Nears Completion After Tricky Segment Is Finished
Robert Tuttle – Bloomberg

Woodside Chairman Goyder Facing Ouster Calls Over Climate Stance; Advisory firm recommends shareholders vote to remove him; Australia’s biggest oil and gas producer has AGM on April 24
Carmeli Argana – Bloomberg

Can Toothpaste Tubes Be Recycled Across the US? It’s Getting Closer; Three out of four plastic squeeze tubes on the US market are now made in a way that allows them to be recycled alongside shampoo bottles.
Daniela Sirtori – Bloomberg

Thames Water owner Kemble sends notice of default to creditors

Net Zero North West: Industry consortium touts vision for 600,000 green jobs and £30bn project pipeline
Stuart Stone – BusinessGreen


Bond Firm Sued by Ex-Employee, Claiming Lapses With HBCU Loans; Wrongful termination lawsuit alleges shortcomings in oversight; Firm arranged US-backed loans for Black colleges, universities
Sri Taylor and Martin Z Braun – Bloomberg
Rice Financial Products Co. was sued by a former employee who claims she was fired for raising concerns about the firm’s work on a federal program that provides low-cost loans to historically black colleges and universities. Gyliane Morgan alleges the company retaliated against her in 2020 after she pointed to the firm’s oversight failings – including not flagging defaults by borrowers – stemming from its role in a US Department of Education program that helps finance campus projects, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit she filed March 27 in a New York federal court.

UBS Defeats Spoofing Suit by Trump 2020 Campaign App Maker
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
UBS AG won dismissal of a lawsuit by the software company that built former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign app accusing the bank of manipulating its shares by placing so-called spoof trades. Phunware Inc.’s suit was thrown out Thursday by US District Judge Dale E. Ho in Manhattan. He said the Austin-based company had adequately alleged that UBS intentionally manipulated its stock, but that it hadn’t met its burden for claiming it lost money due to the bank’s conduct.

Goldman Investors Told to Vote No on Executive-Pay Plan
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
A prominent proxy-advisory firm is telling shareholders to vote against Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s executive-pay plan after the Wall Street giant’s top leaders were given lofty raises in a year when profits slumped. Glass, Lewis & Co., a major voice on annual shareholder votes, cited the “significant disconnect between pay and performance” at New York-based Goldman in making its recommendation. The bank had boosted Chief Executive Officer David Solomon’s compensation to $31 million, marking a 24% jump for a year when Goldman’s earnings plunged by a similar amount.

Bank deposits are back above pre-SVB levels. Regional lenders still have problems.
David Hollerith – Yahoo Finance
Banks have now regained all deposits they lost following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. But that doesn’t solve many of the problems still faced by regional lenders. The amount of deposits held by all US banks hit $17.56 trillion during the week ending March 20, according to the latest Federal Reserve data, exceeding pre-SVB levels for the first time since the California regional lender was seized on March 10, 2023.

Bank of America Racks Up Bond Losses That Could Top $100 Billion
Andrew Bary – Barron’s
Bank of America’s big paper losses on its bond portfolio receded as an investor issue during the fourth quarter with the strong rally in fixed-income markets. The reprieve seems to have been short-lived, however. As bond yields turned higher in the first quarter and the trend continued in the first sessions in April, Bank of America’s unrealized losses on a key portion of its bond portfolio have likely surpassed $100 billion.

Wealthy Couple Suffers Setback in Legal Battle With JPMorgan Centering on Husband’s Claim of Dementia
Andrew Welsch – Barron’s

JPMorgan China Securities Chairman Quits in Another Reshuffle; Park Pu’s exit follows China CEO Mark Leung’s retirement; Lu Fang to be securities unit’s chairman, Greg Yu will be CEO
Cathy Chan – Bloomberg

Thoma Bravo targets $20 billion for next buyout fund
Gillian Tan and Ryan Gould, Bloomberg via Crain’s Chicago Business

Fidelity’s new service charge poses ‘existential’ threat to some ETFs
Christine Idzelis – MarketWatch

BlackRock says CEO Laurence Fink’s pay reduced 18% in 2023

BlackRock’s Larry Fink to face vote on splitting chair and CEO role; Bluebell Capital Partners seeks more oversight of the money manager’s approach to sustainable investing
Brooke Masters – Financial Times

Work & Management

Downtown office vacancy tops 25% with new supply, weak demand
Danny Ecker – Crain’s Chicago Business
Downtown office landlords went into 2024 looking for good news from expected interest rate cuts and companies getting far more employees back to in-person work. So far, they’ve been disappointed. After the second-worst quarter of demand in at least 16 years, the downtown office vacancy rate increased to 25.1% at the end of March from 23.8% at the beginning of the year, according to data from real estate services firm CBRE. It’s the first time the share of available office space downtown has topped 25%, marking a new record high for the seventh straight quarter and for the 12th time in the past 14 quarters.

BlackRock Unveils Incentive Awards as Part of Succession Plans
Silla Brush – Bloomberg
BlackRock Inc. unveiled incentive awards for its next generation of leaders as part of succession planning at the world’s biggest asset manager. Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein and Global Client Business head Mark Wiedman each received $8.5 million of long-term, performance-based stock options, while Chief Financial Officer Martin Small got $6.5 million, the New York-based company said Thursday in its annual proxy filing. Former CFO Gary Shedlin, who’s now a vice chairman, was awarded $2 million of the options.

Goldman Sachs’ Women Still Look Underpaid; The bank has the worst gender pay differences on average, but its rivals mostly aren’t much better.
Paul J. Davies – Bloomberg
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. just can’t seem to keep hold of top female bankers, judging by recent high-profile departures. At first glance, it looks like money is part of the problem – and it has settled lawsuits over this. The firm has had the biggest average difference in what men and women are paid for the past three years among investment banks that report these data in the UK. More bad news as proxy advisors say shareholders should vote against Goldman’s executive compensation plans.

Wellness Exchange

Health workers, already battling measles among migrants, now contend with TB
Jon Asplund – Crain’s Chicago Business
On top of handling an outbreak of measles among asylum-seekers, the Chicago Department of Public Health must now walk another PR tightrope: dealing with and explaining tuberculosis in a part of the world that rarely contends with it. Tuberculosis was added to the list of diseases the city is monitoring at shelters around the city, following an outbreak of measles at one facility and numerous incidences of common infectious viruses like the flu, RSV and COVID-19.

Malaria vaccine rollout shines light on value of renewable power
Ben Payton – Reuters
Over the course of this year, in cities, towns and villages across the tropical belt that cuts through sub-Saharan Africa, medics will begin administering doses of vaccines against malaria to millions of people. This promises to be one of the greatest public health efforts ever undertaken, helping to mitigate the vast toll that the mosquito-borne disease has claimed for millennia. Malaria causes 608,000 deaths each year, 95% of them in Africa. One of the two approved vaccines, labelled RTS,S, has been piloted, on a large scale in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, and Cameroon will be the first of 12 African countries that will begin administering doses this year.

They Got a ‘Sleep Divorce’-and Their Marriage Has Never Been Better; These couples are trading restless nights for dual primary bedrooms and ‘snore rooms’
Robyn A. Friedman – The Wall Street Journal
Elizabeth Pearson and her husband, Ryan Pearson, have been married for 16 years, and for half of that time, they have slept in separate bedrooms. “We both travel for work quite a bit, and we noticed that we slept great in hotels,” said Elizabeth, 42, an author and executive coach. “Where we slept poorly was when we were at home in the bed together.” Ryan, 47, is 6-feet-6-inches tall, snores “like a chain saw,” has restless leg syndrome and on one occasion punched Elizabeth in the face while sleeping, she said. “Waking up angry at him every morning was driving a rift in the relationship.”

Prostate cancer rise sparks calls for overhaul of testing; Research forecasts global deaths from the disease will almost double in 20 years
Michael Peel – Financial Times
Countries should overhaul testing for prostate cancer to focus more on vulnerable groups, scientists have urged, as new research forecasts global deaths from the disease will almost double in 20 years. Low- and middle-income countries need to prepare to prevent a sharp rise in fatalities while richer nations should pay more attention to young men at higher risk of the disease, according to research published on Thursday.

Accenture boss Julie Sweet accused of ‘shaming’ executive with ADHD; London case highlights employers’ challenge brought by growing number of staff diagnosed as neurodiverse
Simon Foy – Financial Times
The global boss of consulting firm Accenture has been accused of publicly “shaming” an ousted senior executive, who has alleged that the firm discriminated against him because of a neurological disability. Peter Lacy, Accenture’s former head of sustainability and a member of its global management committee, claimed that he was “belittled” and “shamed” by Julie Sweet, Accenture’s chair and chief executive, in the months before he was laid off, according to documents filed at a London employment tribunal.


Australia should prepare for 20-year megadroughts as the climate crisis worsens, study finds Climate modelling by the Australian National University found Australia has experienced megadroughts every 150 to 1,000 years and is due for another
Aston Brown – The Guardian (opinion)
Australia should prepare for “megadroughts” that last more than 20 years and will worsen due to human-induced global heating, new research has found. Megadroughts are exceptionally severe periods of below average rainfall that last decades. Climate modelling by the Australian National University, published in the journal of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences last week, found droughts spanning more than two decades have occurred in Australia over the past millennia and reoccur every 150 to 1,000 years, depending on the modelling used.

Russia Holds Up Two Egyptian Wheat Ships Due to Trader Dispute
Abdel Latif Wahba and Áine Quinn – Bloomberg
Russian authorities are holding up two Egyptian ships loaded with wheat for export, in the latest sign that a domestic dispute between a key grain trader and the agriculture regulator is hindering deliveries abroad. The ships are carrying cargoes from Grainflower DMCC, which people familiar with the matter say is an export partner of Russian trader TD Rif. Rif has been targeted by the industry watchdog recently.

Denmark Closes Shipping Lane Over Risk of Accidental Missile Launch; The military said the missile malfunctioned during a test aboard a warship, and there was a possibility it could fly a short distance, but no risk of the warhead exploding.
Claire Moses and Maya Tekeli – The New York Times
Denmark halted traffic in a busy shipping lane and closed the airspace above it on Thursday, warning of a possible accidental missile launch and falling debris. During a test of a Harpoon anti-ship missile, its booster – the rocket engine that launches the missile – was “activated” but not ignited, and then it could not be deactivated, the Danish military said. “Until the booster is disabled, there is a risk that the missile could launch and fly several kilometers,” it said in a statement.

Zimbabwe Replaces Battered Dollar With New Gold-Backed Currency Called ZiG; Central bank Governor John Mushayavanhu took over on March 28; Says central bank won’t print money ‘under my watch’
Ray Ndlovu and Godfrey Marawanyika – Bloomberg
Zimbabwe, in its latest bid to end the serial collapse of the local dollar, has replaced it with a new unit called ZiG, which will be backed by a basket of foreign currencies, gold and other precious metals. Central Bank Governor John Mushayavanhu told a press conference in Harare, the capital, on Friday, that the ZiG would be launched on April 8 at an introductory rate of 13.56 per dollar and a new interest rate set at 20%.

Going for green: Is the Paris Olympics winning the race against the climate clock?
Carbon Market Watch
The 2024 Paris Olympics promises a gold-winning climate performance and to set the pace for future games. Our in-depth assessment reveals that, despite improvement, the carbon footprint of the Olympics remains far too high to be sustainable. This calls for a radical rethinking of the games. With the upcoming lighting of the Olympic flame, the world’s eyes turn to Paris where, this summer, the 2024 edition of the Olympic games will take place. However, the sizzling temperature forecasts for this summer have athletes and fans already sweating in dread. Aware of the impact of the games on the climate and of record temperatures on the games, organisers of the Paris games have pledged to break records when it comes to reducing the impact of this mega event on the planet. ‘Going for Green’, a Carbon Market Watch and éclaircies report assessing the credibility of these plans reveals that if completely implemented, only 30% of the expected carbon footprint is covered by a robust climate strategy.

Zimbabwe to launch ‘gold-backed’ currency to replace collapsing dollar; Many in the southern African country prefer to keep their money at home
Joseph Cotterill and Monica Mark – Financial Times


Texas man is preparing to watch his 13th solar eclipse. He’s 105. LaVerne Biser has traveled the world to take photos and witness total eclipses of the sun. He’s also made his own telescopes.
Cathy Free – The Washington Post
In 1963, LaVerne Biser and his family piled into an Oldsmobile station wagon and drove almost 2,000 miles from Texas to Maine to watch their first solar eclipse. “The car was loaded with luggage and a bunch of my camera equipment because I wanted to get the perfect picture of the eclipse during our big adventure,” said Biser, who was then 45. After that trip, Biser said, he knew he’d be putting thousands more miles on his car. “That one eclipse was all it took,” he said. “I saw one and I had to see them all. I was hooked.”

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Past JLN Newsletters

SEC Charges Intercontinental Exchange and Nine Affiliates Including the New York Stock Exchange with Failing to Inform the Commission of a Cyber Intrusion; The crypto Congress: Momentum builds for ‘most significant’ digital-asset law in history

SEC Charges Intercontinental Exchange and Nine Affiliates Including the New York Stock Exchange with Failing to Inform the Commission of a Cyber Intrusion; The crypto Congress: Momentum builds for ‘most significant’ digital-asset law in history

First Read Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) released new research cautioning against the indiscriminate adoption of technologies like DLT that drastically reduce settlement time at the expense of market quality. The...