The Wildly Popular Trades Behind the Market’s Swoon and Surge

Sep 14, 2020

First Read

Illinois’ Social Equity License Applicants Get Their Day in Court
By Suzanne Cosgrove – John Lothian News

Controversy over the application process for the state of Illinois’ 75 social equity licenses to open cannabis dispensaries found its way into court on Friday and is expected to be given a full hearing next Thursday, September 17.

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge L. Alonso heard preliminary arguments Friday from both sides of a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of 21 plaintiffs, applicants that did not make the final cut to win the licenses.

At the heart of the complaint (officially titled Southshore Restore and Heartland Greens v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation; Brett Bender, Deputy Director), is the way hundreds of applications were scored by state contractor KPMG, and whether applicants who had incomplete or deficient applications were given a 10-day notice from the state to “cure” those problems.

To read the rest of this report, go here.

****And for more insight on the same subject, see JLN’s podcast below.


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

Nasdaq is holding a panel discussion titled “The Evolution of Retail Investing and Related Obligations” today at 12 PM ET. The moderator will be John Zecca, EVP & Global Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Nasdaq. Speakers are Phil Mackintosh, chief economist, Nasdaq, Gerri Walsh, senior vice president of investor education, FINRA, Lori Schock, head of office of investor education and advocacy, SEC, Ken Bentsen, CEO, SIFMA and Joe “JJ” Kinahan, managing director and chief strategist, TD Ameritrade. Register HERE.

The Financial Times has a special report about exchange traded funds. Here are the headlines from the report:

    • Investors salve pandemic wounds with gold in flight to safety
    • How best to invest for Brexit
    • US-China trade war hits passive investors
    • Subscale markets ‘coming of age’ push growth in Asia
    • Gold rush points to structural shift
    • Stockpickers fight back by modifying the design of ETFs
    • ESG surges as investors search for better corporate citizens

Brendan Kalb is now the general counsel of ExodusPoint Capital Management LP in New York. Previously, he was a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and before that the general counsel of AQR Capital Management, LLC.

Phillip Futures has appointed Thair Hussain as executive director. Previously Hussain was the sales director, overseeing global sales operations.

On Friday JLN announced the launch of a new MarketsWiki Education video series, The Path to Electronic Trading. If you are interested in being part of the series, either as a session subject or advertiser, please contact me at

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


Brad Rosen, JD, has a post on Jim Hamilton’s blog detailing a panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on climate risks in the financial markets. The conversation featured Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Representative Garret Graves (R-LA), CFTC Commissioner Rostin Behnam, and Bob Litterman, Chair of the CFTC’s Climate-Related Market Risk Advisory Subcommittee. The web-based discussion followed the CFTC’s recent report titled “Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System.” Jason Grummet, Bipartisan Policy Center’s president, moderated the discussion. ~Thom Thompson


The Spread: Softbank’s Hard Knocks

This week (and last week) on The Spread – regulators publish their takes on global warming, Softbank gets in deep while Robinhood adds guardrails, and more.

Watch the video »


Were Illinois’ Social Equity Applicants Burned?

Heated debate and a lawsuit quickly followed the release on September 3 of a list of 21 finalists for the state’s social equity cannabis dispensary licenses. John Lothian News talked to Sparky Rose of the consultancy Supercritical to make sense of the social equity application process and learn why things have blown up.

Listen to the podcast »


Not enough Covid vaccine for all until 2024, says biggest producer; Serum Institute warns that companies are not increasing production capacity quickly enough
Stephanie Findlay in New Delhi and Anna Gross – FT
The chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has warned that not enough Covid-19 vaccines will be available for everyone in the world to be inoculated until the end of 2024 at the earliest. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, told the Financial Times that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time.

****** I wanted to make this the lead story, but I did not want to create any panic.~JJL


Victims of New York Ponzi Scheme Recover Over $1 Billion Following CFTC Enforcement Action
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that, pursuant an order entered on Monday, August 24, 2020 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the court-appointed receiver has completed a final distribution to victims in a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme case brought by the CFTC in 2009. [See CFTC Press Release No. 5621-09] Specifically, the distribution pertains to customers in a commodity pool operated by defendants Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, who, among other defendants, were charged in the case. The court-appointed receiver for this matter is Robb Evans & Associates LLC.

*****”The assets marshalled in this case include over $88 million in funds clawed back from fully redeemed customers, a $14 million horse farm in North Salem, NY, a collection of antique teddy bears sold at auction at Christie’s for over $3.7 million, and an estate in Sands Point, NY.”~JJL


Yoshihide Suga wins landslide in Japanese leadership contest; Shinzo Abe’s closest ally set to become next prime minister after winning LDP race
Robin Harding – FT
Yoshihide Suga will be the next prime minister of Japan after winning a landslide victory in elections to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The 71-year-old, who has been at the centre of Japan’s government as chief cabinet secretary for the past eight years, will replace Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down because of ill health.

*****The sweet puns have already started.~JJL


Dan Snyder says ‘Washington Football Team’ could become permanent name
NBC Sports
The name ‘Washington Football Team’ may be here to stay.
In an email sent to the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Washington majority owner Dan Snyder said there is a chance ‘Washington Football Team’ remains the team’s permanent name going forward.

*****They should go for a market related term for their name, like “The Scalpers.”~JJL


These 5 Habits Will Help You Stay Focused All Day. A Psychologist Explains WhyFinding it hard to concentrate these days? Here’s how to get back on track.
Minda Zetlin –
Are you having a hard time staying focused on work, especially in these high-stress days? Some simple techniques can make a big difference, psychologist Traci Stein, Ph.D. explains in a recent Psychology Today post. Give her techniques a try and see how your own focus improves, and build them into daily habits to keep that benefit going into the future. You can find the full list here. These are some of her best tips.

*****I am sorry, what did you say?~JJL


Friday’s Top Three
Our top story Friday was John Lothian News Announces The Path To Electronic Trading Video Series from John Lothian. Second was JLN’s Gerry Corcoran’s One Day Of Working On The Cbot Trading Floor Started A Path To Electronic Trading. Third was Fauci says U.S. needs to ‘hunker down’ for fall and winter, from NBC News.


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Lead Stories

The Wildly Popular Trades Behind the Market’s Swoon and Surge; Record options trading and momentum bets are spurring volatility
Gregory Zuckerman and Gunjan Banerji – WSJ
Investors are trading stock options and chasing fast-rising shares at record rates, activity that’s expected to jolt markets through the coming election. A surge in options trading targeted at giant tech stocks by both small and large investors is magnifying the market’s ups and downs. Investors are also simply buying shares that are going up, a strategy that can create its own wild swings in the market.

Miax joins challengers to dominant US exchange operators; New bourse is targeting a 5 per cent share of the US equity market
Philip Stafford – FT
UBS, Citadel Securities and Jump Trading are among the investors in Miax Pearl Equities, the new US bourse that aims to break into a market dominated by the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and CBOE Global Markets. The group’s parent company, Miami International Holdings, will incentivise a group of nine investors, mainly high-speed market makers, to help boost the fledgling exchange’s market share over a 42-month period.

NYSE may move trading systems from NJ over stock trade taxes
The New York Stock Exchange has indicated that it will move its electronic trading systems out of New Jersey if the state implements a proposed tax on financial transactions, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. The NYSE plans to announce that it will run one of its exchanges from a backup site in Chicago for a week as a sign of its intention to move out of New Jersey, according to the memo.

Trading powerhouses join exchanges in fighting N.J. tax plan
The hundreds of billions of dollars in trades that zip through the data centers scattered across northern New Jersey usually do so quietly. At least, until the state wants a slice. The biggest U.S. stock exchanges and major market makers are joining forces to fight a proposed tax on financial transactions under consideration by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Members of the newly formed coalition — such as New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial — are threatening to move operations out of the state if the tax is enacted.

UBS explores merger with Credit Suisse
Catherine Bosley –
The chairmen of UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG are exploring a potential merger to create one of Europe’s largest banks, Inside Paradeplatz reported, citing unidentified people inside the two lenders.

COVID-19 market turmoil raises questions about central bank liquidity strategy, says BIS
Huw Jones – Reuters
Market turmoil due to coronavirus lockdowns in March raises questions about whether central banks should offer access to liquidity more widely in future shocks, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said on Monday.

How SoftBank and Robinhooders Added Fuel to the Stock Market Boom
Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway – Bloomberg
One of the most intriguing subplots to the 2020 stock market boom has been the speculative fervor with which investors have dived into this market. And it’s not just that participants have bought a lot of stock, but that they’ve been using aggressive options strategies to do so. What’s more, it’s a range of players doing it, from retail traders on Robinhood (and other platforms) to large institutions like SoftBank. On this episode, we speak with Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors, who breaks it all down.

Female Fund Managers Lag Their Male Counterparts by 200 Years
Suzy Waite – Bloomberg
Citywire research shows glacial pace of female promotion; Industry under increasing pressure to improve diversity
It will take two centuries for female fund managers to achieve equal status to their male counterparts at the current rate of promotion, according to research by Citywire. The pace of women taking on fund manager roles was “grindingly slow,” with just 1,762 females among the world’s 16,018 active fund managers, according to the report. That’s around 11%, compared with just over 10% four years ago, the research shows.

Blank-Check IPOs in Europe Show Signs of Life; The offerings have been more popular in the U.S., in part because investors get greater influence over deals there
Ben Dummett – WSJ
Europe has missed out on the wave of initial public offerings of so-called blank-check companies, one of the drivers of equity-markets activity in the U.S. this year. To help address this dearth, the London Stock Exchange LSE -0.91% is reviewing ways to ignite its market for such offerings, according to a person familiar with the matter, amid early signs of renewed interest. The LSE declined to comment.

How remote staff will build a new corporate culture; Keeping workers aligned with a mission will become harder, but people have found new ways to connect
Andrew Hill – FT
“If you like it, you love it” is how Carlos Brito, AB InBev’s chief executive since 2005, describes the global brewer’s strong internal culture. The company’s hard-driving ethos comes from the top. “Everyone has a belief they could be Brito,” one alumnus of the group’s management training programme told me once.

FCA scraps half its criminal probes into money-laundering breaches; Despite having the power to bring criminal proceedings, the watchdog has only ever imposed fines
Matthew Vincent – FT
The UK financial regulator has discontinued half of its criminal investigations into breaches of the money laundering rules since January, and is yet to bring a single prosecution — despite a pledge to make full use of its powers.

Hedge funds slug it out over Lloyds Bank; The UK lender finds itself at the centre of a tussle between bullish and bearish investors
Patrick Jenkins – FT
A great battle of the hedge funds is brewing — a scrap between investors in Lloyds Bank but by extension also a battle for Britain. With Lloyds widely seen as the stock market’s best proxy for the British economy, the UK’s biggest high street lender now finds itself at the centre of an epic tussle between bullish and bearish hedge fund investors.

Key 2008 Financial Crisis Players Are Back for Coronavirus; From Larry Fink to Jamie Dimon, these major figures are in place again as a pandemic wreaks havoc on global markets.
Yalman Onaran and Sonali Basak – Bloomberg
The origins of the 2008 financial crisis were nothing like what’s driving the current meltdown. Then, a housing bubble puffed up by overextended banks and homeowners was the culprit. Now, a global pandemic has brought markets and economies to their knees. Yet policy makers are dusting off many of the same solutions to address the economic and financial fallout from the spread of Covid-19. The Federal Reserve, for example, has resurrected many of the emergency-lending programs it first introduced in 2008 to inject cash into the system.

The World Is Burning and We Need to Act; The devastating wildfires on the West Coast are not a new phenomenon. They are, however, something we can prepare for.
Brooke Sample – Bloomberg
California’s fire season has become the state’s most destructive in modern memory, spreading into Oregon and forcing mass evacuations. A suffocating heat wave coupled with strong seasonal winds have made the West Coast especially vulnerable to lightning strikes, causing thousands of fires. And as global temperatures rise, so do the oft-ignored risks of wildfires that can lead to avoidable deaths and billions of dollars in damage. Our failure to confront climate change has put California — and other places around the world, including Australia — and its fire-prone landscape directly in the crosshairs, as Bloomberg Opinion writers have documented over the years.

Germany’s Economy Is Sicker Than You Think; Epidemiologically and economically, Germany did well in round one of the pandemic. The problems will show up in round two.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
There’s no question that Germany has done relatively well during this annus horribilis, and that the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel deserves most of the credit. But the country could soon have a different problem. The same government policies that worked so well in the first phase of the corona-recession could do major damage in the second phase and thereafter.

Christine Lagarde Has Bigger Problems Than the Euro; The pandemic poses a far broader challenge for monetary policy.
Ferdinando Giugliano – Bloomberg
The European Central Bank has a problem, and, no, it is not the exchange rate. The recent appreciation of the euro may have caught all the headlines, but it pales in comparison with the broader challenge the pandemic poses for monetary policy. Rather than simply talking down the currency, the ECB must take more substantive steps to support economic growth and lift inflation back to target.

Oracle Beats Microsoft in Deal for TikTok’s U.S. Operations
Shelly Banjo, Dina Bass, and Saleha Mohsin – Bloomberg
Oracle’s bid is said to be a partnership, not a full purchase; TikTok’s U.S. data could be housed in Oracle’s cloud servers
Oracle Corp. edged out rival Microsoft Corp. in negotiations for the U.S. operations of TikTok, people familiar with the talks said, as the Chinese-owned music-video app attempts to avoid getting shut down in a clash between the world’s two superpowers.

In TikTok Sale, Microsoft Is No Loser and Oracle No Winner; No one comes out with a strong hand in this tech Cold War fire sale.
Tim Culpan – Bloomberg
Heartiest of congratulations go to Microsoft Corp. Six weeks after announcing to the world it was in talks to buy TikTok, the American software giant comes out to tell us it didn’t get the gig.

Microsoft is dodging a bullet by “losing” out on TikTok
Jeremy Li – Quartz
The TikTok “sale” is turning out to be an object lesson in what you get when governments broker tech deals. It’s not a sale, it may not address the concerns a sale was supposed to address, and the winning company—if there even is one—may end up with real regrets.

Manhattan’s Newest Skyscraper Is Opening Up to a Dead Midtown
Natalie Wong – Bloomberg
SL Green’s $3.1 billion office tower debuts near Grand Central; Big tenants at One Vanderbilt include TD Bank, Carlyle Group
SL Green Realty Corp. is opening its new $3.1 billion office skyscraper Monday, in a neighborhood that’s among Manhattan’s busiest — but is now still unusually quiet. The first tenants at One Vanderbilt, across from Grand Central Terminal, will start moving in by year’s end, SL Green President Marc Holliday said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Wildfires Have Rendered Our World Unrecognizable; Dystopian images of destruction have come from all over the globe as flames rage.
Laura Millan Lombrana – Bloomberg
Extreme heat has fueled some of the worst fires on record in many parts of the globe. Unprecedented bushfires that started last December in Australia burned through 17 million hectares (42 million acres), an area the size of the state of Washington, and killed at least 33 people. California’s fire season has already broken records, with 3.1 million acres burned and 3,900 structures destroyed as of Sept. 10. Elsewhere, wildfires have destroyed native forests, forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, worsened air pollution, and released carbon dioxide that will contribute to yet more warming.

500,000 Ordered to Evacuate Oregon Due to Wildfires, and Two More Numbers to Know; 10% of Oregon’s Population Ordered to Evacuate
Historic wildfires aren’t just burning in Oregon, where 500,000 people have been told to evacuate. The skies in California’s Bay Area turned orange in recent days thanks to smoke from nearby infernos. Colorado has seen a string of wildfires cause millions of dollars in damage.

BP Says the Era of Oil-Demand Growth Is Over
Rakteem Katakey – Bloomberg
U.K. major’s energy outlook explores scenarios out to 2050; Virus, government policy and societal changes impacting demand
BP Plc said the relentless growth of oil demand is over, becoming the first supermajor to call the end of an era many thought would last another decade or more.

OPEC+ Bid to Rescue Oil Market Falters as Demand Recovery Stalls
Grant Smith – Bloomberg
Bloated oil stockpiles aren’t depleting as expected: Medley; Group may need to reverse course if demand worsens: RBC
It was meant to be the week when OPEC nations gathered in Baghdad to celebrate the cartel’s six decades as a dominant force in global oil markets. Instead, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will convene online, and reflect on whether the coranavirus has thwarted their best efforts to keep the market afloat.

China Clamps Down on Finance Arms of Ant, Other Giants
Bloomberg News
PBOC issues new rules to regulate financial holding companies; Rules apply to firms straddling at least two financial areas
China is tightening rules and imposing capital demands on sprawling empires such as Ant Group and China Evergrande Group in its latest attempt to curb risks in the nation’s $49 trillion financial industry. The new regulations will require licenses for non-financial companies that do business across at least two financial sectors, and which are designated as “financial holding companies,” the State Council said Sunday on its website. Any application must be submitted within 12 months after the rules take effect on Nov. 1.

Cannabis 2.0 Arrives as Survivors Eye Growth: Cannabis Weekly
Tiffany Kary – Bloomberg
Old optimism is back, with celebrities and moves to go public; In Cannabis 1.0, some companies lacked financial discipline
An industry all but left for dead this spring is suddenly in the midst of a revival. This past week, Martha Stewart launched a line of CBD gummies with Canopy Growth Corp. Hemptown USA, a Portland, Oregon-based grower of cannabinoid compound CBG, released its plan to go public. And Cronos Group Inc., the cannabis company partly owned by Marlboro-maker Altria Group Inc., named a new chief executive who sits on the board of about as family-friendly a brand there is: Campbell Soup.

The Year Unconventional Monetary Policy Turned Conventional
Simon Kennedy and Samuel Dodge – Bloomberg
Central banks are doing more than in 2008 to defend economies; Negative rates, yield curve control among unorthodox policies
Global central bankers are discovering that monetary policies they once viewed as unconventional and temporary are now proving to be conventional and long-lasting. Forced to think outside the box by the 2008 financial crisis and then again this year by the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and most of their international counterparts have become more aggressive and innovative than ever in defending their economies from recession and the threat of deflation.

Treasury Traders Are Doubtful Powell Can Drive Inflation Higher
Liz McCormick – Bloomberg
The Treasury market has set a high bar for the Federal Reserve to jump in order to recharge inflation expectations and upend a bullish tone that has surfaced since Chair Jerome Powell laid out a new plan to allow consumer prices to run hot.


Companies Fret as Vacation Days Go Unused; With the pandemic ruining travel plans, many workers are reluctant to take time off. Employers are split on what to do about it.
Anne Steele and Chip Cutter – WSJ
Early in the pandemic Maestro Health noticed a troubling but common trend: Employees weren’t taking vacation. The health-plan administrator acted quickly, introducing a companywide mental-health day in April, and another one leading into the Fourth of July weekend. Then, following internal discussions in the wake of social unrest and racial-justice protests this summer, the company added a floating holiday that employees could use for Juneteenth, Good Friday, Yom Kippur, or whichever day they choose. They axed Columbus Day, and plan to add two floating holidays next year to offer employees greater flexibility.

For Doctor in India, Coronavirus Waves Just Keep Coming; Race against Covid-19 has turned into a marathon as the country becomes a global hot spot
Vibhuti Agarwal – WSJ
NEW DELHI—For many countries, battling the coronavirus has been a sprint to bring infections under control, then a struggle to keep it that way. In India, it has turned out to be a marathon. No one knows that better than Dr. Santhosh Kumar, a 48-year-old infectious disease specialist who treated some of the country’s first infections back in February. He is still fighting the virus, these days building a 10,000-strong corps of health-care workers and volunteers in southern India to tackle yet another wave of infections.

Arizona, Known as a Covid-19 Hot Spot, Starts to Subdue Its Outbreak; Health experts attribute the gains in part to a decision to let municipalities enforce their own restrictions
Allison Prang – WSJ
As recently as mid-July, Arizona was in the midst of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak. It repeatedly logged more than 3,000 cases a day, putting it in a category alongside more populous states such as Texas, Florida and California as the hottest of the nation’s hot spots.

Fidelity warns of supply chain risks due to stranded seafarers; Investment group says unfolding crisis of crews stuck at sea must be addressed
Attracta Mooney – FT
Fidelity International, the $566bn asset manager, has called on companies and governments to urgently address an unfolding crisis in global supply chains as hundreds of thousands of ship workers remain stranded at sea because of the pandemic.

Sweden’s Covid-19 experiment holds a worldwide warning; Do not jump to conclusions about lockdowns before all the data is in and analysed
Wolfgang Münchau – FT
Only a fool would draw strong conclusions from sketchy data. The biggest fools this year were those who prematurely declared the spike in Swedish infections from April until June as evidence that the Swedish decision not to lock down their economy was wrong. I recall many armchair epidemiologists hyperventilating about Sweden’s obstinate refusal to follow the rest of the world.

UK faces backlog of nearly 200,000 Covid-19 tests in government labs; Concern rises about lack of robust test and trace system as doctors predict second peak
Anna Gross and Sarah Neville – FT
Government testing laboratories across the UK are facing a backlog of nearly 200,000 Covid-19 tests and are having to send some samples abroad to help reduce the stress on the system, amid growing concern about the lack of a robust test and trace programme.

A $5 Million Prize Spurs Competition for Covid-19 Rapid Test
Olivia Raimonde and Janet Wu – Bloomberg
Amazon, Google, RA Capital are among the XPRIZE funders; Since July, 659 teams from 68 countries have entered contest
As countries race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, just determining who’s infected remains a major challenge. Large-scale testing is a crucial element in containing the virus, experts say, because many who contract it exhibit little to no symptoms. Without widespread testing, it’s a daunting task to identify contagious individuals and isolate them.

How to Be Happy During a Pandemic; The instinct is to save money, but if you have it, we’d all be better off if you spent it.
Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
Happiness is lower, insomnia is higher and there has been an increased incidence of mental health issues during the pandemic. This raises the question of how people can find more ways to be happy during these difficult times. We humans are often creatures of habit, slow to adjust to new circumstances, so which changes should we make?

Covid-19 Makes Flying Business Class Feel More Like Economy
Angus Whitley and Anurag Kotoky – Bloomberg
With facemasks and gloves, top-shelf travel loses its luster; The now-spartan conditions follow years of luxury oneupmanship
Forget the flute of chilled Moet & Chandon before takeoff, mid-flight gin and tonics and a roaming dessert trolley after dinner. Flying business class isn’t what it used to be. Efforts to minimize human interaction and reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection are taking the shine off the most expensive seats onboard commercial aircraft. Gone are the multi-course banquets and warm personal service, once the hallmarks of carriers like Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. These days, what’s left of premium-grade travel is functional, hygienic and closer to cattle class — only with more legroom.

EU Countries Pilot Tech to Link National Covid-19 Tracing Apps
Natalia Drozdiak – Bloomberg
EU looks to make apps interoperable to aid cross-border travel; Technology set to go live in October following test trials
A group of European countries, including Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, are testing technology that would enable their national Covid-19 tracing apps to work seamlessly across borders, an effort that could boost travel in the continent.

India’s harsh Covid-19 lockdown displaced at least 10 million migrants
Niharika Sharma – Quartz
The overnight nationwide lockdown announced by prime minister Narendra Modi on March 24 forced over 10 million migrant labourers to return to their home states.

“The pandemic has shown there’s another way of organising white collar work”—the future of the office; Also on the daily podcast: the curious case of the missing flu, and the death of a Cambodian mathematician-murderer
The Economist
THE PANDEMIC has been a giant experiment in working from home. We examine whether workers are happier and more productive using Zoom in their pyjamas than commuting in a suit. In the southern hemisphere, the seasonal flu seems to have faded, as a happy byproduct of lockdown and social distancing. And an obituary for one of Pol Pot’s murderous lieutenants.

£2.8m Nesta Challenge Seeks Fintech Solutions To Help Workers Hit By Covid-19
Nesta, the innovation foundation, is launching the £2.8 million Rapid Recovery Challenge to find and support tools and solutions that improve access to jobs and money for people across the UK. In partnership with the Money and Pensions Service and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the 12-month Challenge will focus on supporting workers hit hardest by the economic shock of COVID-19.

Uncertainty fuels anxiety, causing your mind to conjure up scary scenarios. The pandemic can magnify the angst.
Christie Aschwanden – Washington Post
As it has become clear that the coronavirus pandemic is here for the foreseeable future, we’re all learning to live in a cloud of uncertainty: When can we venture out safely? Visit loved ones? Go to the doctor? Send children back to school? Return to the workplace? Pay our bills? Find a job? Feeling uncertain can provoke anxiety and other unhealthy effects, but at the same time, research shows that people are resilient and can learn to cope and even thrive in times of turmoil.

Conflicting Virus Data in Texas Raises Distrust of the Government; Delays, discrepancies and abrupt leaps in coronavirus case and death counts in Texas have baffled residents and frustrated local officials. Here is what has gone awry.
Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Lisa Waananen Jones – NY Times
Inconsistencies and problems with Covid-19 data collection in Texas have clouded the picture of the pandemic’s trajectory in the state, to the point that some residents and officials say they cannot rely on the numbers to tell them what is really going on.

Infectious-disease expert: “Telling the truth never causes panic”
Michael Osterholm, a renowned infectious-disease expert and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that leaders must tell the truth when it comes to public health and that “telling the truth never causes panic.”

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Change in Regular Firm’s Clearing Agent
The Exchange has been notified that CHS, Inc. has changed its clearing agent to CHS Hedging, LLC for the firm’s Corn, Soybean, Soybean Oil, and Ethanol transactions.

Media statement: Deutsche Börse submits offer to acquire Borsa Italiana Group
Deutsche Börse
Deutsche Börse today submitted an offer to acquire the Borsa Italiana Group. In a media statement, Deutsche Börse announced: We can confirm that Deutsche Börse has submitted an offer for the Borsa Italiana Group. As a global company, we offer great value for future growth and the development of an autonomous Borsa Italiana Group, thereby strengthening its central importance for the Italian economy and the European capital market.

Euronext’s statement regarding Borsa Italiana
Euronext confirms the submission of a non-binding offer to London Stock Exchange Group plc to acquire Borsa Italiana. The partnership includes CDP Equity and Intesa Sanpaolo. There can be no certainty that this will lead to a transaction.

Shenzhen Stock Exchange Market Bulletin, September 07, 2020, Issue 28
The People’s bank of China, together with the CSRC and State Administration of Foreign Exchange issued for public consultation a draft announcement on matters related to foreign institutional investors in the China’s bond market earlier this month. Highlights of the announcement include: (1) types of foreign institutional investors eligible for China’s bond investment and way of application have been clarified; (2) foreign investors may invest in exchange bond market through CIMB Direct and Bond Connect by the means of market connectivity with the exchange market; (3) foreign institutional investors may open accounts with either its global custodian bank or domestic infrastructure to participate in the CIMB market.

Targeted Regulation, Combining Punishment With Leniency: Shanghai Stock Exchange Solicits Opinions On Disciplinary Action Standards For Listed Companies
On September 4, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) issued the Standards of Shanghai Stock Exchange for the Implementation of Disciplinary Actions for Listed Companies (Draft for Comment) (the Implementation Standards for short) to solicit opinions from the market.

The World Federation of Exchanges issues industry guidance on non-default losses
The World Federation of Exchanges (“WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, is today setting out how CCPs ensure that certain non-credit losses that might rarely occur in relation to central clearing are allocated in a transparent, predictable and equitable manner.

Vienna Stock Exchange Wins Largest Romanian Broker BRK Financial Group As New Trading Member
Vienna Stock Exchange welcomes a new international trading member. BRK Financial Group (BRK) will be admitted to trading as of today, 14 September 2020. Formed in 1994, Romania’s leading retail broker is one of the founding members of the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The only publicly listed Romanian broker plays a key role in the development of the local capital market. Including BRK, a total of 85 banks and investment firms are currently admitted to trading on the Vienna Stock Exchange (national: 27, international: 58).

Awash In Cash
Anita Hawser – Global Finance
With derivatives contracts soaring due to the pandemic, so did OCC’s cash balance. Many companies have drawn down on revolving bank credit facilities to get their hands on much-needed cash. But Amy Shelly, CFO of the Chicago-based Options Clearing Corporation (the OCC), the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, faced a different problem during the pandemic: She was sitting on too much cash as a result of an explosion in clearing volumes. “What we saw was record volatility and capital flows, which caused our volumes to skyrocket,” she says. “As volumes increased, open positions and margins increased. Our cash balances went up twentyfold in March, which put strain on our banking partners. My treasurer and I were on the phone with our banks every day trying to understand how much cash they could take.”


AxeTrading To Roll Out More Automation for Fixed Income Platform; Vendor integrates open source stream processing software Apache Kafka for real-time event data.
Hamad Ali – Waters Technology
London-based fixed income trading software provider AxeTrading is leveraging open source technologies to support more automation on its platform, AxeTrader. “We are focused very heavily on rule-based automation, which gives a high degree of predictability but also allows us to plug in numerous different datasets and drivers into that automation,” says Mark Watters, co-founder and chief commercial officer at AxeTrading.

Why You Should Care About TikTok; Forcing a sale of the app is a show of power, but it doesn’t really protect your privacy.
James Henry, Jackie James, Rey Jarrell and Amelie Zilber – NY Times
Maybe you first learned about TikTok when your kids tried to teach you the Toosie Slide, or when you came across a kinetic Charlie D’Amelio video that got millions of likes. Or was it when your nephew started a small fire because of the “outlet challenge?” In any case, you’ve definitely heard that President Trump was intent on banning it and forced it to make a deal with an American company. But who really cares about an app — used mostly by Gen Z? You, for one, should.

Nvidia secures control of key global tech with $40bn Arm deal; Company at pains to allay conflict of interest concerns with UK chip designer’s other clients
Kana Inagak, and Richard Waters and Patrick McGee – FT
Nvidia’s agreed purchase of Arm Holdings from Japan’s SoftBank for up to $40bn, the largest deal in the global semiconductor industry, gives the US company control over a technology that powers everything from mobile devices to data centres.

German fintech Monedo files for bankruptcy
A German fintech once backed by PayPal investor Peter Thiel, has filed for bankruptcy after failing to recover from the economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Monedo, an online lender, was one of the most highly valued fintech startups in Germany with high profile backers like Thiel, JC Flowers and the global media firm Naspers.

EQUITY X Joins BT Radianz Cloud – Radianz Members Will Gain Access To EQUITY X Equity Valuation Software Powered By A New Peer Search Engine For Public And Private Shares
EQUITY X, an equity valuation software and alternative data provider, today announced it has joined BT Radianz Cloud, one of the largest secure cloud communities for global financial markets. The move is part of EQUITY X’s ambition to deliver the best possible experience to users of its new peer search engine, powered by machine learning, and a new feature valuing public shares based on alternative data.


Crypto Exchange Gets Millions After Copy-Paste of a Rival’s Code
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Over the past few months, investors poured billions into hundreds of so-called decentralized-finance apps, which let users lend, borrow and trade cryptocurrencies without intermediaries like banks. Then Sushi happened. The story of Sushi, a project that’s only a few weeks old, illustrates at once the risks of DeFi’s copy-and-paste culture and the fact that the industry isn’t as decentralized as touted. Back in August, an anonymous entity that goes by Chef Nomi copied the code of another DeFi project, Uniswap, and launched an exchange dubbed SushiSwap. The only difference was that the latter offered its own token, named Sushi, which lured hundreds of millions in user funds within days.

U.S. Prosecutors Step Up Pressure on North Korea
Aruna Viswanatha and Kate O’Keeffe – WSJ
Federal prosecutors stepped up a campaign against North Korea on Friday, unsealing two cases involving alleged sanctions violations as officials warn Pyongyang remains a significant threat to national security and the global financial system. Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington asked a federal judge to order the forfeiture of funds associated with a former North Korea employee and related front company of Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. Separately, they charged with sanctions violations a Pyongyang operative who allegedly played a role in the 2017 killing of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

‘I F**ked Up’: SushiSwap Creator Chef Nomi Returns $14M Dev Fund
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
SushiSwap creator “Chef Nomi” has returned all $14 million in ether (ETH) that he cashed out from the automated market maker last week, apologizing to the community for suddenly liquidating his SUSHI holdings. The pseudonymous individual transferred the 38,000 ETH back to the original developer fund wallet soon before 16:00 UTC today, according to Etherscan.

Blockchain network Aelf launches SushiSwap ‘upgrade’ called SashimiSwap, already has $315 million in liquidity
Saniya More – The Block
Open-source blockchain project Aelf has launched SashimiSwap, an “upgraded and simplified” version of Sushiswap, the Aelf team announced Friday. This comes just two days after SushiSwap migrated over $800 million in liquidity funds from its parent protocol Uniswap. According to the announcement, SashimiSwap will give Uniswap liquidity providers the ability to earn SASHIMI tokens by staking their Uniswap liquidity provider (LP) tokens on what it calls “a fairer and more transparent DEX platform.”

Uniswap Takes Lead Over SushiSwap Less Than 24 Hours After SUSHI Rewards Drop
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
No loyalty among yield farmers. Uniswap now has more value locked (TVL) than its upstart rival, SushiSwap, less than a day after SUSHI block rewards for liquidity providers (LPs) dropped from 1,000 tokens to just 100. TVL on SushiSwap fell from $1.46 billion worth of crypto assets on Saturday around 23:00 UTC to $885 million as of press time, according to SushiSwap Vision, which is a fork of the explorer used by Uniswap.

Crypto trading volumes for August saw the biggest month-over-month increase since early 2018
Momina Khan – The Block
Cryptocurrency trading volumes for August saw the biggest month-over-month increase — some 75% — since February 2018, according to The Block’s volume index. August’s volume clocked in at $191.2 billion compared to $109.3 billion in July, according to the August 2020 report by The Block Research. August’s spot exchange volume was the third-highest monthly volume since 2017, per the report. Binance had the largest market share, amounting to roughly 65% of the total traded volume in August, followed by Coinbase (11.2%), Kraken (4.8%), and LMAX Digital (4.8%), among others.

Against the Odds, Some Bitcoin Traders Are Betting on a $36K Price by Year’s End
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
The Deribit crypto derivatives exchange is seeing increasing investor interest in bitcoin options that would profit from prices rallying as high as $36,000 by the end of 2020. As of Sunday, call options at $36,000 and $32,000 strike prices expiring on Dec. 25 were seeing the most daily positions opened.

D.C. man charged with running a Ponzi scheme that involved a diamond-backed token
Aislinn Keely – The Block
South Florida federal prosecutors have charged a D.C. based man with wire fraud after he allegedly operated a Ponzi scheme and claimed to be developing a diamond-backed token. Jose Angel Aman allegedly made over $25 million. From May 2014 to 2019, Aman and others allegedly solicited investments for diamond contracts, in which they promised money would be used to purchase diamonds that Aman would clean, cut and resell for profit. The Department of Justice (DOJ) claims Aman and his partners presented the investment as high return with no risk since the investments were to be backed by Aman’s diamond inventory.

European Union official pledges action on stablecoins after calls for new curbs
Michael McSweeney – The Block
A senior official for the European Union’s executive branch said Saturday that concerns among the bloc’s finance ministers about stablecoins will be addressed in future legislation. On Friday, finance ministers from major EU members like Germany and France called for heightened restrictions on stablecoin activities in the region. The next day, during a press conference, European Commission executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis sought to assuage such concerns.

‘No Other Option but More Collateral’: The Short- (and Long-) Term Fixes for Dai’s Broken Peg
Colin Harper – Coindesk
As traders gobble up stablecoins for yield farming, demand for MakerDAO’s dai (DAI) has sent the stablecoin’s peg skyward. The yield farming demand continues to put pressure on dai’s $1 peg, which has been under consistent stress since Black Thursday when market volatility sent dai’s price to $1.10. MakerDAO’s community is debating some tweaks to its monetary policy to restore the peg, though Maker’s creator believes the only long-term solution is adding additional, varied collateral to the DAO.

DeFi protocol bZx attacked once again, lost $8 million due to a faulty code
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Decentralized finance (DeFi) lending protocol bZx was attacked once again last night and lost a little over $8 million due to a faulty code in its smart contracts. The flawed code allowed an attacker to duplicate assets, or increase their balance of iTokens (interest-bearing tokens of bZx). Hours after noticing the bug, bZx paused minting and burning of iTokens and then unpaused it after a fix that corrected balances for duplications.

Bitcoin miners made $368 million in revenue during August
Momina Khan – The Block
Bitcoin miners made $368.3 million in revenue last month, signifying a 23.19% month-over-month increase. Per the chart below, this was the highest revenue figure — when accounting for block rewards and transaction fees — in the past three months.


Bloomberg Says He’ll Spend $100 Million in Florida to Help Biden; The move came as polls show a tight race in Florida, and after criticism that the New York billionaire had not delivered on his promise to put his fortune behind defeating President Trump.
Rebecca R. Ruiz – NY Times
Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and presidential candidate, announced Sunday that he planned to spend $100 million in Florida in the coming weeks to support Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential candidacy.

The good times for big US banks cannot last under Biden; Taxes would be expected to go up and the regulatory environment to get tougher
Robert Armstrong – FT
The prospect of a Joe Biden presidency — or, more to the point, a Democratic sweep of the presidency, the House and the Senate — should worry executives who run banks and anyone who invests in them. If Joe and the Dems get their way, banks will be taxed more heavily and regulated more strictly than they are now.

Investors in Japan should get set for a ‘Suga high’; Longer-term analysts will be taking a good look at problems such as low productivity
Yunosuke Ikeda – FT
Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, has been picked as the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). If all goes as assumed, he will become prime minister on 16 September.

Trump Team’s China Focus Distracts From Russia Election Meddling
Chris Strohm and Alyza Sebenius – Bloomberg
Appointees say China is top election threat despite evidence; Russian military intelligence called biggest danger by experts
U.S. intelligence and national security agencies face a new obstacle in protecting this year’s election: an effort by President Donald Trump and some of his top appointees to downplay the threat posed by Russia while inflating the danger from China, according to officials.

Wall Street fundraisers turn into wallflowers during 2020 U.S. election
Svea Herbst-Bayliss – Reuters
Early this year, a prominent billionaire tried several times to organize a fundraiser for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, a moderate who gained favor among Wall Street Democrats.

The Coming Crisis of Legitimacy; Whether Biden or Trump emerges as the winner, millions of Americans will likely believe that their candidate was robbed.
Yascha Mounk – The Atlantic
In normal times, it would seem outlandish to worry that an American president might refuse to concede defeat upon losing his bid for reelection. This year it is not. Even though he won in 2016, Donald Trump falsely claimed that he was the victim of voter fraud. And when he sat down for an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace this July, he said: “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.”

Trump Vote-Rigging Claims Fit Russia’s Plan, Former Top Spy Says
Tony Czuczka – Bloomberg
Ex-DNI deputy chief Gordon also says Democrats not blameless; U.S. election infrastructure as protected ‘as it’s even been’
President Donald Trump is playing into Russia’s hands by claiming that his political adversaries are trying to rig the U.S. election, a former senior intelligence official said. Sue Gordon, who left the second-highest post in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence a year ago, said that the nation’s election infrastructure is “as well protected as it’s ever been.” She suggested that misinformation circulating on social media is at least as much of a challenge heading toward November.

Why Does Trump Want an Inaccurate Census? His effort to stop the census count early, in the middle of a pandemic, is in line with his campaign of exclusion.
The Editorial Board – NY Times
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the census to everyday life in the United States. The vast amount of demographic information it gathers determines who gets how much political power in Congress and the states; it steers more than a trillion dollars in federal funding for health care and other critical services; it guides long-term economic decisions by governments, corporations and mom-and-pop stores; it helps determine the location of highways and schools, hospitals and housing, police and fire stations.

Political Appointees Meddled in C.D.C.’s ‘Holiest of the Holy’ Health Reports; Trump loyalists at the Health and Human Services Department have been exerting influence on the Centers for Disease Control’s weekly reports on all disease outbreaks, the coronavirus and beyond.
Noah Weiland, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Abby Goodnough – NY Times
Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have repeatedly asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise, delay and even scuttle weekly reports on the coronavirus that they believed were unflattering to President Trump.


FCA confirms the next stage of support for mortgage borrowers
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed the support mortgage borrowers will receive if they continue to face payment difficulties due to coronavirus.

FCA finalises its expectation for firms on maintaining access to cash for customers
The FCA has today set out its expectations for the steps firms should take when considering closing branches or ATMs, or converting a free-to-use ATM to pay-to-use.

NFA takes emergency enforcement action against Stuart, Fla. commodity trading advisor JDN Capital, LLC and its principal Joshua David Nicholas
NFA has taken an emergency enforcement action against JDN Capital, LLC, an NFA Member commodity trading advisor located in Stuart, Fla., and its sole principal and associated person Joshua David Nicholas. This action was taken to protect customers, the derivatives industry and other NFA Members due to JDN Capital and Nicholas’ failure to cooperate with NFA. Due to their failure to produce requested documents and information, NFA, among other things, is unable to determine what JDN Capital and Nicholas did with loan proceeds received, including whether Nicholas misappropriated the money to fund his personal trading account. NFA is also unable to determine whether JDN Capital and Nicholas entered into other loans and, if so, the loan amounts and what JDN Capital and Nicholas did with the proceeds.

CFTC Further Extends Certain No-Action Relief to Market Participants in Response to COVID-19
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) and the Division of Market Oversight (DMO) are further extending certain elements of the temporary no-action relief issued in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic that are set to expire on September 30, 2020. The extended relief expires January 15, 2021.

SEC Announces Final Distribution in WG Trading Investment Fraud, Totaling Over $1 Billion Returned to Harmed Investors
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that the court-appointed receiver has begun the final distribution to investors in connection with the SEC’s action against defendants Paul Greenwood, Steven Walsh, and their affiliated WG Trading entities. Upon completion of this final distribution, over $1 billion will have been returned to affected investors, representing 100% of their net principal investments.

SEC Modernizes Disclosures for Banking Registrants
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has adopted rules to update and expand the statistical disclosures that bank and savings and loan registrants provide to investors, in light of changes in this sector over the past 30 years. The rules also eliminate certain disclosure items that are duplicative of other Commission rules and requirements of U.S. GAAP or IFRS. The rules replace Industry Guide 3, Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies, with updated disclosure requirements in a new subpart of Regulation S-K. The rules are intended to help ensure that investors have access to more meaningful, relevant information about these registrants to facilitate their investment and voting decisions.

SEC Issues Agenda for September 16 Meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee
The Securities and Exchange Commission today released the agenda for the September 16, 2020, meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee (AMAC). AMAC was formed to provide the Commission with diverse perspectives on asset management and related advice and recommendations.

SEC Charges Film Producer, Rapper, and Others for Participation in Two Fraudulent ICOs
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against five Atlanta-based individuals, including film producer Ryan Felton, rapper and actor Clifford Harris, Jr., known as T.I. or Tip, and three others who each promoted one of Felton’s two unregistered and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs). The SEC also charged FLiK and CoinSpark, the two companies controlled by Felton that conducted the ICOs. Aside from Felton, all of the individuals have agreed to settlements to resolve the charges against them.

FINRA OTCE and OTC Transparency Data Websites Availability
FINRA will be performing scheduled maintenance to the and websites on Saturday, September 12, 2020, from approximately 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. During this time, these websites will be unavailable to users.

Proposed Rule Change to Amend Form NMA and Form CMA to Conform to Amendments to the Membership Application Program Rules as Described in SR-FINRA-2019-030
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to: (1) amend the standardized membership application forms — Form NMA (New Membership Application Form) and Form CMA (Continuing Membership Application Form) — required under Rule 1013 (New Member Application and Interview) and Rule 1017 (Application for Approval of Change in Ownership, Control, or Business Operations), respectively, to conform to amendments to the Membership Application Program (“MAP”) rules as described in File No. SR-FINRA-2019-030; and (2) make non-substantive and technical changes to Form NMA and Form CMA.

NAB superannuation trustee companies to pay $57.5 million penalty for fees for no service breaches
The Federal Court of Australia has ordered two entities in NAB’s wealth management division to pay a total $57.5 million penalty after the Court found that NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited (NULIS) and MLC Nominees Pty Ltd (MLC Nominees) made false and misleading representations to superannuation members about their entitlement to charge plan service fees and members’ obligations to pay the fees. The Court also made declarations that MLC Nominees and NULIS failed to ensure that their financial services were provided efficiently, honestly and fairly.

ASIC commences civil penalty proceedings against current and former directors of Linchpin and Endeavour for alleged breaches of duties
ASIC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against current and former directors of Linchpin Capital Group Ltd (Linchpin) and Endeavour Securities (Australia) Ltd (Endeavour) for allegedly breaching their duties as officers of a responsible entity of a registered managed investment scheme.

Hong Kong Securities And Futures Commission: Retail Investor Convicted Of False Trading
The Eastern Magistrates’ Court has convicted Mr Ke Wen Hua of false trading in the shares of Carry Wealth Holdings Limited (Carry Wealth) following a prosecution by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) (Notes 1 to 3).

Investing and Trading

Traders switch to FX after central banks numb bond markets; Interventions made fixed income less attractive for short-term bets, analysts say
Eva Szalay and Tommy Stubbington – FT
Foreign exchange is becoming the new playground for investors looking to profit from sharp moves in prices, after central banks’ aggressive response to Covid-19 robbed them of opportunities in bond markets.

Gundlach Says High-Yield Bond Defaults May Almost Double
Kriti Gupta, Emily Barrett, and Michael McDonald -Bloomberg
Fed’s policy actions are distorting asset values, he says; Gundlach manages $52 billion DoubleLine Total Return fund
High-yield bond default rates may double as companies struggle with a protracted economic downturn even as the Federal Reserve props up valuations, said Jeffrey Gundlach. The investment grade corporate debt market has skewed toward lower quality BBB- rated debt, but if just 50% of that were to be downgraded it could fuel a near doubling of the high-yield market, Gundlach said Tuesday on a webcast for his firm’s flagship DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund.

A Pandemic Is a Terrible Time to Buy Real Estate; Home prices are high and so is uncertainty.
Teresa Ghilarducci – Bloomberg
More than 40 % of Americans are working from home, and among them the urge to “work nest” is strong. My sister-in-law turned the family shed into a “shoffice,” with charming homemade curtains hiding the tools and a pillow for the pandemic puppy. Surging home prices suggest that many who are working from home and find themselves shedless are in the market for a bigger house.

Call It a Bubble, Call It Excess. Here’s What to Watch If Tech Goes Pop; Past bubbles linked to certain sectors have been followed by financial disruption, higher household savings and sudden changes to corporate behavior
James Mackintosh – WSJ
In just seven days, $1 trillion vanished from the value of seven of the big U.S. growth stocks. One trillion dollars. Investors unexpectedly getting a lot poorer has had nasty repercussions in the past. What can we expect if this year’s wild excess around disruptive technology stocks continues to deflate?

Ghana Raises Cocoa Farmers’ Pay by 21% After Premium Surcharge
Ekow Dontoh – Bloomberg
Ghana has raised its farm gate price for cocoa by 21% after implementing a $400 per metric ton premium on futures prices for the 2020-21 harvest, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Many Robinhood users will owe higher taxes than other investors. Here’s Why.
Christy Bieber – The Motley Fool
As most people with even a passing interest in investing know by now, Robinhood is an online brokerage firm catering to young and novice investors. Its flashy app claims to make trading easier and more accessible, but it also allegedly incorporates behavioral nudges that push users to do more short-term trading.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Influential investor group demands ‘net-zero’ targets; Climate Action 100+ urges 161 companies to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030
Attracta Mooney – FT
Climate Action 100+, the influential investor group whose 518 members include BlackRock and Pimco, has written to the world’s largest greenhouse gas-emitting companies to demand they put in place a “net-zero strategy” for 2050 or earlier.

US oil refiners hope fat is way out of lean times; Clean energy policies in California drive conversion of waste into ‘renewable diesel’
Gregory Meyer – FT
California’s goals for cleaner motor fuels are sparking changes at big US oil refiners, as they retool to make a form of diesel from cooking oil cast off by restaurants and animal fats rendered at slaughterhouses.

Fossil fuel demand to take historic knock amid COVID-19 scars: BP
Ron Bousso – Reuters
Fossil fuel consumption is set to shrink for the first time in modern history as climate policies boost renewable energy while the coronavirus epidemic leaves a lasting effect on global energy demand, BP said in a forecast.

Google pledges to be carbon free as fires engulf California; Big Tech groups respond to pressure from employees concerned about climate change
Leslie Hook and Richard Waters – FT
Google is promising to run all of its data centres and campuses on carbon-free energy within a decade, as the search engine group makes plans to ditch fossil fuels and acquiesce to a key demand from employees concerned about climate change.

China’s 40-Year, Billion-Tree Project Is a Lesson for the World; Its successes and failures provide an invaluable model for today’s reforestation efforts.
Bloomberg News
Few environmental campaigns in China have been so enthusiastically pursued or so controversial as its Great Green Wall. Every spring, government officials, teachers, students, and company employees go on group tree-planting trips. State media single out forest workers for praise. Film stars line up to be “tree-planting ambassadors.” It’s a campaign in the vein of the old Communist propaganda drives—the workers uniting to dominate the forces of nature. March 12 is National Tree-Planting Day.


JPMorgan to Begin Trading Pre-IPO Stocks
Paul Ausick –
Combine pre-IPO valuations and a looser regulatory regime and the recipe is almost certain to yield something like the new trading desk in private company equities that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is launching.

BlackRock and Vanguard look set to extend dominance to active ETFs; Survey finds institutional investors prefer them over the leading active ETF managers
Steve Johnson – FT
BlackRock and Vanguard, the twin powerhouses of the passive investment industry, look set to grab the lion’s share of assets in the small, but faster growing world of actively managed exchange traded funds.


Sweden’s World Record in Cashlessness Reveals Hidden Risks
Niclas Rolander, Hanna Hoikkala, and Kati Pohjanpalo – Bloomberg
Sweden may be about to take its world-beating cashlessness to the next level, as the pandemic threatens to push its notes and coins close to extinction. Stefan Ingves, the governor of the Riksbank, recently remarked that some young Swedes “have no idea” what real money looks like anymore. It’s a future that has Ingves and others worried, and he says lawmakers may need to step in before it’s too late.

China’s New Financial Rules to Cover Jack Ma’s Ant Group; Firms that operate two or more financial businesses in the country will be classified as financial-holding companies
Stella Yifan Xie – WSJ
China’s central bank released rules that will subject Ant Group Co. and other conglomerates to new financial regulations, forcing companies to put up substantial capital to back payments, lending and other finance businesses they own.

China Serves Up Pig-Backed Loans for Its Hogtied Farmers; Authorities are looking for novel solutions to boost the supply of pigs after African swine fever decimated the country’s hog herd
Xie Yu and Lucy Craymer – WSJ
China is so desperate to rebuild pig herds after swine fever that its banks are experimenting with loans to farmers backed by a novel asset: their hogs. The country’s swine herd fell steeply after African swine fever, which is harmless to humans but usually deadly for pigs, first emerged in August 2018. That pushed up prices for pork, a staple food in China.

China’s German Pork Ban to Cement U.S. as Top Overseas Supplier
Bloomberg News
Buyers will also turn to Spain to make up for drop in imports; Recovery in hog herd and state reserves to help cool prices
China’s ban on German pork is set to cement the U.S. as the top overseas supplier of the nation’s staple meat. An outbreak of African swine fever in Germany — the same virus that’s slashed China’s hog herds and lifted its import requirements — has led Beijing to halt pork purchases and destroy existing supplies from Europe’s biggest producer. That could cut imports by about 300,000 tons this year, said Wang Zuli, an adviser to China’s agriculture ministry.

Indian funds seek to calm investors after rule change affects $20 billion in equity assets
Abhirup Roy – Reuters
Indian fund managers on Monday sought to assuage investor concerns that a regulatory change affecting portfolio structures of some equity funds which manage assets worth $20 billion will make such holdings riskier and destabilise the market.

Growing Distrust of China Brings $38 Billion Taiwan Windfall
Chris Horton and Raymond Wu – Bloomberg
Taiwan firms bringing investment, production home from China; $38 billion has been added to the economy since January 2019
Taiwan sits squarely in the middle of the worsening dispute between Beijing and Washington, with many of its companies operating factories in China manufacturing for American companies.


Tory rebellion widens over Boris Johnson’s bill to override Brexit deal
Simon Murphy, Daniel Boffey and Owen Bowcott – The Guardian
Downing Street is facing a showdown with Conservative backbench rebels as criticism over its plans to break international law with a controversial bill that could override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement grew louder on Sunday.
It is understood that opposition among the party is growing, with dozens of Tory MPs expected to support a key amendment to the internal market bill that would give parliament a crucial veto of any changes to the agreement.

How best to invest for Brexit; Finance experts look at the options as the risk of a no-deal remains high
Mary McDougall – FT
As we enter crunch time for trade talks between the UK and its largest trading partner, the EU, it is worth taking stock of your investments and considering how markets might be affected when the transition period ends.

Cameron joins other former UK PMs in criticising Johnson’s Brexit move; Ex-attorney-general Geoffrey Cox also warns that internal market bill would risk country’s ‘standing and reputation’
Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and Jim Pickard – FT
David Cameron has joined all the other former living UK prime ministers in criticising Boris Johnson’s internal market bill, that ministers admit will break international law, as the proposed legislation begins its passage through parliament.

Cameron: Breaking international law ‘an absolute final resort’
The Press Association
Tory former prime minister David Cameron said passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation “is the very, very last thing you should contemplate”, saying he had serious misgivings about theInternal Market Bill.

Brexit risk premium returns to UK markets
Ritvik Carvalho – Reuters
The latest bout of sabre-rattling between Britain and the EU is upping the premium investors demand for holding UK assets for fear of a chaotic Brexit outcome with hugely damaging consequences for the economy.


Is It OK to Reveal Your Anxiety or Depression to Your Boss? Mental-health issues have soared during the pandemic and companies are providing benefits. But before asking for accommodations, consider whom to talk to and what you need.
Rachel Feintzeig – WSJ
Workers everywhere are having a tough time. Should they ask for help on the job? The share of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression ballooned during the pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, rising to 40.9% by mid-July. A similar national survey from the first half of 2019 put that number at 11%.

New Grads Should Take (Almost) Any Job That Pays; You can learn a lot even if you’re not in a dream role.
Erin Lowry – Bloomberg
Today’s young adults are graduating into an uncertain job market, as the pandemic has shuttered entire industries, raised the U.S. unemployment rate to roughly 10% and left a big question mark over when we’ll work in offices with colleagues again.

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