Trader Arrested as WallStreetBets Phenomenon Finds Echo in Japan

Mar 12, 2021

First Read

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Net-Zero Commitment ‘Not Concessionary’ Amid Climate Transition
Suzanne Cosgrove – John Lothian News

A slow march toward climate-friendly investments appears to be picking up the pace just as global asset managers, regulators and policy-makers gear up for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate talks slated to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.

The COP26 summit, originally scheduled for 2020 but delayed because of COVID-19, aims to get countries to agree on a path toward net-zero global emissions by 2050.

While a U.N. conference might not seem relevant to finance, a Thursday webinar sponsored by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) hammered home the idea that a bridge between climate science, policy and investment has become crucial.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

JLN Head of Videography Patrick Lothian is on paternity leave for the next couple of weeks after the birth of Cecelia June on March 5. My grandniece will be called Cece. Mother, baby and father are home from the hospital and, besides tired parents, doing well.

In Patrick’s absence, we have reached into the well of nepotism and contracted Mizzou IT student and son Robby Lothian to edit the weekly video, The Spread. Robby studied the Adobe Suite in the spring semester of last year and produced the weekly web video services for St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Elmhurst last summer. And yours truly is working on producing video content as well.

Look for the Hall of Fame videos next week at the FIA Boca-V. They were produced by John Lothian Productions and Head of Videography Patrick Lothian. Don’t forget to register for FIA Boca-V if you have not already.

Our prayers and wellness wishes are with JLN Editor-in-Chief Sarah Rudolph, who this morning is undergoing surgery. As mentioned yesterday, Suzanne Cosgrove has stepped up into the acting managing editor role. Thank you to Suzanne for your help while Sarah is out.

SGX announced on their website: “As at 12 Mar 2021 04:29 PM | Please be informed that due to website maintenance, there will be intermittent access to our site from 08:00 am 13 Mar 2021 to 08:00 pm 14 Mar 2021 (Singapore time). We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Phil Mackintosh of Nasdaq has a new commentary titled “Lit Markets Provide Price Improvement Too.” It is a look at how liquidity takers also efficiently route for optimal price improvement across venues.

Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker has announced that conventions may resume in Chicago starting in mid-July. This is good news for a possible FIA EXPO next year. Stay tuned.

There were no new donors to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. I did receive a note from the latest donor, who lives Down Under, or in Terra Australis Incognita. Some of our upcoming videos for our various services include interviews with former CME CIO Jim Krause, crypto entrepreneur Scott Knudsen, and Tasty Trade’s Tom Sosnoff. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by giving to our GoFundMe campaign.

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


Ram Vittal – John Lothian News Zoom Interview

In 2020, Ram Vittal was hired by Marex to be the CEO of the London-based firm’s North American operations. John Lothian interviewed Vittal for John Lothian News about his role at Marex. Vittal discusses Marex’s retail and institutional strategies and where they fit in the institutional sector. He talks about whether there is a new commodity super cycle and the firm’s ESG strategy. He also outlines the global firm’s active growth strategy, as they leverage the purchase of Chicago-based futures commission merchant Rosenthal Collins Group and exchange-traded derivatives execution broker XFA.

Watch the video »



Is day trading ever a winning investment strategy? High-risk investments have a powerful allure for young investors
Claer Barrett – FT
I did something I very rarely do last weekend. I watched a live football match on TV. My husband and stepchildren are all football fanatics, but I’ve never been bitten by the bug. I usually go upstairs and read when matches are on, but since I invested in a £300 pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, we can now peacefully coexist on the same sofa.

*****Yes, day trading is a winning investment strategy. Anyone can win. Is day trading ever a losing investment strategy? Yes, day trading is a losing investment strategy. It can be and is both.~JJL


Beeple collage smashes digital art record with $69.3m sale; A first-of-its-kind sale by Christie’s underscores mania for non-fungible tokens
Sara Germano – FT
A collage by the contemporary artist Beeple, composed as a single image file, sold for $69.3m on Thursday, according to Christie’s auction house, the latest and most extreme example of the rapidly appreciating market for digital artwork known as non-fungible tokens.

*****The word of the day is “mania” from the root word “maniac,” which in an alternative definition means “incredibly crazy investment.”~JJL


Fraser Says Idea That Women Don’t Help Women Is ‘Utter Rubbish’
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Citigroup’s new CEO says she’s had support from female mentors; General Motors’ Barra urges other women to speak up more
There’s a theory in corporate America that women in positions of power don’t help other women. Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser doesn’t buy it.

*****Jane Fraser is definitely an Outlander.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
The top story from Thursday was Jump Capital’s latest podcast, The Jump Off Point. Second was the news in Crain’s that Chicago investment manager Richard Driehaus has died, and the third most-read story was the still-popular Business Insider’s feature, which also was in the top three on Tuesday and Wednesday, A billionaire has been trying to sell his Versailles-inspired mansion for nearly 8 years — and it’s finally set to sell at a 47% discount. Look inside the Manhattan townhouse.


CryptoMarketsWiki Coin of the Week: Ether (ETH)
Ethereum’s Ether (ETH), along with Bitcoin Cash (BCH), were offered on Deutsche Börse’s electronic trading platform Xetra this week for the first time in the form of exchange-traded notes (ETNs). Ethereum’s main network is also becoming an extremely popular source of digital assets besides ETH; non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are getting popular, as celebrities like the band Kings of Leon and NBA star Lebron James use them to put things like albums and sports highlights videos on the blockchain. Furthermore, a report by The Block published this week revealed that the Ethereum network is an extremely popular host for stablecoins as well. According to the report, 70 percent of stablecoins traded in January ran on the Ethereum network.


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Lead Stories

Trader Arrested as WallStreetBets Phenomenon Finds Echo in Japan
Gearoid Reidy and Shoko Oda – Bloomberg
Prominent investor on Twitter probed for market manipulation; Incident shows risks of being in spotlight on social media
A retail investor buys shares in a small company, touts his position on social media and inspires a horde of followers to do the same. The stock price goes to the moon — before crashing back to earth. It’s an all-too-familiar tale to anyone watching the market in 2021, but this wasn’t GameStop Corp. It wasn’t even in America. And it happened in 2018.

Companies Still Working on Libor Changeover; Regulators press firms to drop borrowing benchmark, while many weigh its replacement or discuss timing, financial implications
Julia-Ambra Verlaine, Mark Maurer and Anna Hirtenstein – Bloomberg
Regulators are pressuring Wall Street to do away with the London interbank offered rate by year-end. Companies are still making the switch. Chief financial officers at major U.S. companies such as Motorola Solutions Inc. and Ralph Lauren Corp. said they are working on issues including choosing between alternatives to the troubled borrowing benchmark, used for decades to help set rates on corporate debt, and discussing the timing and financial implications.

The Green Investing Standard That Could Set the Global Bar; Europe’s new rules for institutional investors are woolly, but will be followed by sharper ones that may set the baseline for other countries
Rochelle Toplensky – WSJ
Wall Street needs to watch the European Union’s early efforts to regulate what counts as sustainable investing. EU standards could easily end up as the global norm. From this week, money managers selling financial products into the bloc must publish information to back up the sustainability claims of both their company and individual products. Unlike other guidelines around the globe, the EU rules are mandatory for a range of financial investors, including asset managers, insurers, hedge funds and pensions. Initial requirements are woolly, but sharper ones will follow.

EU Governments Push to Relax Ban on Travel From Rest of World
Nikos Chrysoloras, Ian Wishart, and Alberto Nardelli – Bloomberg
Move to more targeted approach on visitors is being discussed; Bloc prohibits non-essential visits from all but seven nations
A group of European Union nations that count tourism as a significant industry is pushing for a relaxation of rules on traveling to the bloc from the rest of the world, according to diplomats.
The EU imposed a blanket ban on non-essential travel from most countries last March in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19. But with vaccinations gathering pace, some states want to adopt a more targeted regime to help spur an economic recovery, diplomats with knowledge of the deliberations said.

Binance Probed by CFTC Over Whether U.S. Residents Made Trades
Benjamin Bain, Tom Schoenberg, and Matt Robinson -Bloomberg
CFTC examines whether firm let U.S. residents buy derivatives; Digital token platform hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing
Binance Holdings Ltd., the largest cryptocurrency exchange, is being investigated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over concerns that it allowed Americans to place wagers that violated U.S. rules, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.K. Fund Manager Crispin Odey Is Acquitted of Indecent Assault; Odey had been accused of groping a junior banker in 1998
Julie Steinberg – WSJ
A judge acquitted hedge-fund manager Crispin Odey, one of the U.K. industry’s highest-profile figures, on a charge of assaulting a junior banker more than 20 years ago.

UK hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey found not guilty of sexual assault
Thornton McEnery – New York Post
Things are looking up for Crispin Odey. A UK court on Thursday found the controversial British hedge fund mogul — a personal friend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who famously advocated for Brexit and later profited from it — not guilty of sexual assault in a case whose sensational charges have roiled the British media.

Odey Verdict Shows Challenges of Decades-Old Assault Cases
Jonathan Browning and Ellen Milligan – Bloomberg
Odey accuser said even getting a trial was a victory; Former banker was inspired by Harvey Weinstein’s downfall
British prosecutors pursuing an indecent-assault case against Crispin Odey wavered before ultimately deciding to charge the hedge fund chief. Just before the high-profile money manager was found not guilty Thursday, Odey’s lawyers told a London judge that officials had considered dropping the case that was based on allegations made by a former investment banker.

SEC Seeks Personal Financial Information of Ripple Executives
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
Ripple executives call request an ‘inappropriate overreach’; SEC sued claiming XRP was sold without registering as security
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking personal financial information of two Ripple Labs Inc. executives in a lawsuit where it claims the company misled investors in the cryptocurrency XRP by selling the virtual tokens without registering.

Coronavirus Outbreak at Fitness Centers Roils Hong Kong’s Finance Industry; Banks, brokerages and asset managers have vacated offices after Covid-19 rippled through Hong Kong’s expatriate community
Wenxin Fan, Frances Yoon and John Lyons – WSJ
Hong Kong’s finance sector was roiled Thursday by a coronavirus outbreak that emanated from fitness centers in the city, with large banks, brokerages and asset managers vacating some offices and employees rushing to get tested for Covid-19.

Billions at stake and no one knows who takes the hit: when is Greensill a systemic risk? Looming fight between lenders, banks, insurers and investors looks very like the fallout from 2008
Tom Braithwaite – FT
There are echoes of 2008 in the Greensill Capital collapse. Since the global crisis, most financial company failures have been localised implosions. Wirecard, Woodford and their ilk have all caused pain and losses but nothing systemic.

Time to tap SDRs to boost African bond liquidity? A new repo facility is under consideration but its mechanics need a rethink, argue Daniela Gabor and Crystal Simeoni.
There are growing hopes that an expansion of the IMF’s special drawing right system could provide funding for a UN facility that aims to synthesise liquidity in the African bond market. There is logic to the plan, argue Daniela Gabor of the University of West of England Bristol and Crystal Simeoni of NAWI, but there are also under-appreciated risks. The two offer an alternative design proposal to manage these issues. Special drawing rights (SDRs) are an esoteric international token system used by the IMF to help the lender settle international debts and imbalances between countries. In the context of international sovereign finances, they are best thought of as claims on the freely available hard currency of other members.

Hackers Rushed in as Microsoft Raced to Avert Mass Cyber-Attack
Kartikay Mehrotra and Alyza Sebenius – Bloomberg
U.S. president briefed as crisis around Exchange bugs mounts; Company investigates possible leak during patching process
It was late February, and Microsoft Corp. engineers had been working for weeks on a handful of alarming weaknesses in the company’s popular Exchange email service. They were rushing to send out a fix, targeting the second Tuesday of March — part of a monthly ritual known in cybersecurity circles as “patch Tuesday.”

Football Index appoints administrators and has gambling licences suspended; Online betting company freezes customer accounts as it looks at restructuring options
Samuel Agini – FT
Football Index, an online betting company that styled itself as a stock market for football, has appointed administrators ahead of a restructuring and had its gambling licences suspended. Betting has been suspended and customers have been barred from withdrawing or depositing their money, which the platform said would be held in a segregated account.

The $16 Billion in Texas Power Overcharges? Monitor Says Only $3.2 Billion Can Be Undone; State lawmakers learn that only a portion of overcharges from last month’s blackouts are now considered recoverable for electricity users
Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold – WSJ
Only a fraction of the $16 billion in Texas electricity overcharges stemming from last month’s blackouts can likely be recovered for consumers by attempting to reverse the charges, an independent market monitor said Thursday.

A Buyout Fund C.E.O. Got in Tax Evasion Trouble. Here’s Why Investors Shrugged; When the billionaire Robert Smith settled one of the biggest tax fraud cases ever, Vista Equity Partners had already braced them. Solid returns helped, too.
Matthew Goldstein – NY Times
Last fall, Robert F. Smith, the billionaire founder of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, paid $139 million to federal authorities to settle one of the biggest tax evasion cases in American history. His investors barely blinked.

Warren Buffett’s Cautious Road to Riches Isn’t Ideal for Society; Overinvestment that harms shareholders can be great for others.
Peter Coy – Bloomberg
Investor Warren Buffett surpassed $100 billion in net worth on March 10, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but his investing track record isn’t perfect. One of his famous quips is about the frequently money-losing airline industry, which has twice cost him a bundle. “Think airlines,” he wrote in his letter to shareholders in the 2007 annual report of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. “Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”


New Biotechnology Covid Treatment Reduces Risk of Death
Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Study shows significant reduction of hospitalization and death; Glaxo and Vir halted another less promising study last week
GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Vir Biotechnology Inc. said their Covid-19 antibody therapy showed a significant reduction of hospitalization and death for at-risk patients in an advanced-stage trial that progressed faster than expected. The companies said Thursday that they will immediately seek emergency-use authorization in the U.S. after they finished a late-stage study early on the recommendation of an independent monitoring board. The treatment, VIR-7831, reduced the numbers of patients who were hospitalized or died by 85% compared to a placebo, the companies said.

Covid Outbreak Hits Banks, Gyms, Schools in Hong Kong
Isabella Steger, Denise Wee, and Bei Hu – Bloomberg
At least 17 confirmed cases linked to gym in Sai Ying Pun; More than 240 people visited the gym between March 1 and 9
A coronavirus outbreak at a Hong Kong gym has spread to international schools and other fitness centers, while positive cases also appeared in the banking community just as the city was emerging from a prolonged round of social restrictions and venue closures.

Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Shot Covid Vaccine Approved by EU
Suzi Ring and Nikos Chrysoloras – Bloomberg
European Commission follows drug regulator in clearing vaccine; J&J shot seen as easier to distribute, administer than rivals
Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine won clearance from the European Union, adding the first single-dose shot to the bloc’s arsenal as it seeks to speed up a sluggish immunization campaign.

Astra May Supply Less Than Half the Shots EU Expects by June
Chiara Albanese, Suzi Ring, and Morten Buttler – Bloomberg
Company will supply about 76 million shots, according to data; Shortfall comes after Astra was unable to tap global supplies
AstraZeneca Plc will supply less than half the planned number of Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union in the second quarter after the company’s efforts to remedy a slew of problems ran into further trouble.

Two-Thirds of Italians Set For Lockdown as Pandemic Worsens
John Follain and Chiara Albanese – Bloomberg
Draghi cabinet meets Friday to weigh tightening measures; Regions around Milan and Rome could shift to ‘red zone’ status
The government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi is weighing stringent new restrictions on as many as two-thirds of Italians, with the regions encompassing the country’s largest cities possibly heading into lockdown amid a resurgence in the pandemic.

Australia Backs AstraZeneca Vaccine as Blood Clots Probed
Georgina McKay – Bloomberg
Australia won’t pause the rollout of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine, even as some European countries temporarily suspend use of the shots while possible blood clots are investigated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that health authorities had not raised any concerns about the vaccine and would continue to monitor developments overseas. Officials spoke with the European Medicines Agency overnight, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Thailand suspends AstraZeneca vaccine because of ‘adverse symptoms’; The jabs made by the king’s company dominate the kingdom’s inoculation campaign
John Reed – FT
Thailand has postponed the public vaccination of its prime minister with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after three European countries paused their rollout of the jab owing to health concerns.

Biden says all adults in US will be eligible for coronavirus vaccine by May 1; President sets July 4 as target for return to some normality while calling for continued vigilance
James Politi – FT
Joe Biden said every US adult would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination by May 1, as he touted “some real progress” in America’s fight against the pandemic and set the July 4 Independence Day holiday as a target for a return to some normality.

The path to the post-Covid city; A year of the pandemic has laid bare the flaws of our great metropolises. Here’s how to make them healthier, cheaper and happier
Simon Kuper – FT
This has been the biggest year of urban change in decades. Many cities have remade themselves during the pandemic, laying bike paths or turning parking spaces into café terraces overnight. Offices have emptied and shops closed, some forever. Every organisation on earth seems to have held a webinar on “The future of cities”. The city — 10,000 years old — obviously isn’t going to die, but it is evolving on fast-forward.

The Virus Spread Where Restaurants Reopened or Mask Mandates Were Absent; C.D.C. researchers found that coronavirus infections and death rates rose in U.S. counties permitting in-person dining or not requiring masks.
Roni Caryn Rabin – WSJ
Even as officials in Texas and Mississippi lifted statewide mask mandates, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday offered fresh evidence of the importance of face coverings, reporting that mask-wearing mandates were linked to fewer infections with the coronavirus and Covid-19 deaths in counties across the United States.

In a Fearful China, Its Dr. Fauci Wins Hearts With Restraint; Zhang Wenhong has drawn a huge public following with a human touch and candid advice that sometimes runs counter to the government’s authoritarian instincts.
Li Yuan – NY Times
China has imposed some of the toughest lockdowns in the world to stop Covid-19. One city sealed apartment doors, leaving residents with dwindling food and medicine. One village tied a local to a tree after he left home to buy cigarettes. Beijing forced people to leave their pets behind when they went into quarantine.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Euronext announces quarterly review results of the CAC® Family indices
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly review for the CAC® Family indices. The changes due to the review will be effective from Monday, 22 March 2021.

Euronext announces annual review results of the ISEQ® family
Euronext today announced the results of the annual review for the ISEQ® family of indices. The changes due to the review will be effective from Monday 22 March 2021.

Aker Clean Hydrogen lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
Aker Clean Hydrogen has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: ACH).

FX derivatives: Migration of FX derivatives to the standard T7 trading system
To simplify access and to lower the entry barrier to its FX products, Eurex has decided to transfer its FX derivatives from the T7/FX trading system to its standard T7 trading system.

Correction to CME Rule 41102.E. (“Termination of Trading”) of the CME Pacific Rim CAT Index Futures Contract
CME Group

Performance Bond Requirements: Agriculture, Energy, Equity, Interest Rate and Metal Margins – Effective March 12, 2021
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.

Expanded Collateral Eligibility of COMEX Gold Warrants to the Customer Origins – Effective April 28, 2021
CME Group
CME Clearing will permit clearing members to deposit COMEX gold warrants as collateral to meet Base and IRS performance bond requirements in the Customer Segregated and Customer OTC origins.

Withdrawal of Application for Aluminum Regularity
CME Group
Notice is hereby given that The Commodity Exchange, Inc. (“COMEX” or “Exchange”) has been notified that Access World (Rotterdam) B.V. has voluntarily withdrawn their application for Aluminum regularity at their Vlissingen, The Netherlands location.

SGX welcomes Aztech Global Ltd. to Mainboard
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today welcomed Aztech Global Ltd. to its Mainboard under the stock code “8AZ”. With an established reputation and track record of over three decades, Aztech Global Ltd. is a key technology enabler with a focus on providing one-stop design and manufacturing services. Its product portfolio caters to the fast-growing Internet of things (IoT), data-communications and LED lighting industries. With a globally diversified customer base consisting of blue-chip companies, technology startups and networking product companies, it has over 290 customers worldwide and its products are sold in over 40 countries through multiple channels.

Refinitiv Announces Winners Of 2021 Thailand FX Awards
Refinitiv, a business under the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), has announced the winners of its FX Trading Awards 2021 for Thailand.


Tencent Said to Face Broad China Clampdown on Fintech, Deals
Pony Ma’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. has been put on notice.
Asia’s largest conglomerate was censured by China’s antitrust watchdog on Friday as Beijing expands a crackdown that began with Jack Ma’s online empire.

Hudson Fintech expands platform with Trade Hospital module; The Trade Hospital module filters, aggregates and reconciles trade messages before sending optimised submissions to back office systems for confirmation and settlement.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
London-based start-up Hudson Fintech has expanded its technology platform with a Trade Hospital module aimed at managing trade processing and reducing costs.

Buy-side agrees big data is most underappreciated market technology; Greenwich Associates report finds that 30% of equity and fixed income investors think big data is an underappreciated technology.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Big data is the most underappreciated emerging technology in markets, equity and fixed income investors surveyed in new research from Greenwich Associates have agreed. The report surveyed 234 equity and fixed-income investors at buy-side firms across Europe and the US, finding that 30% of them thought big data was underappreciated.

Fintech company Autobooks hauls in $25 million in Series B round
Nick Manes – Crain’s Detroit
Detroit-based Autobooks Inc. has closed on a $25 million Series B fundraising effort to help it grow domestically and internationally.
The latest round of venture capital for the financial technology startup, which is housed within the portfolio of companies tied to billionaire Dan Gilbert, will also be used to further its product innovation efforts, expand relationships with banking institutions and grow its head count with a focus on product development and customer success, the company said Thursday in a news release.

The Kalifa Review: A Road Map for the Future of UK Fintech?
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP – JDSupra
The highly anticipated Kalifa Review of UK Fintech (the Review), led by former Worldpay CEO Ron Kalifa, was published on 26 February 2021. Its 106 pages — made up of a five-point plan of key recommendations and 15 sub-recommendations on investment in the UK fintech sector — have generally been well received. Business leaders, participants and others engaged in the fintech community will continue to digest these recommendations over the coming weeks. The key question for many will be how quickly the UK government moves to implement the Review’s recommendations, and to what extent.

China Lays Plans to Tame Tech Giant Alibaba; E-commerce company to face softer treatment than its Ant affiliate, provided it distances itself from founder Jack Ma
Keith Zhai and Lingling Wei – WSJ
Under founder Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. had regulators and local officials in its corner as it grew into a Chinese version of Inc. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent crackdown on the empire of China’s best-known entrepreneur has put an end to that.


Bitcoin Intraday Trading Pattern Emerges as Institutions Pile in
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Bitcoin has shown a tendency lately to clock its intraday low in the Asian or European session, and end near daily highs in the U.S. For example, the low on Monday was after 3 a.m. New York time and the high around 4 p.m. Tuesday’s low was right at the start of the Asia session before a run higher and steadying out near $54,000. Somewhat similar patterns were evident Wednesday and Thursday. A theory has emerged that this may be due to tokens being mined and sold in Asia, and then buyers come into the market in U.S. hours.

Robinhood Reports Surging Growth in Female Crypto Traders
Nathan Crooks – Bloomberg
Robinhood Markets Inc., the popular trading app under scrutiny over concerns it’s made investing too much like a game, said Thursday that the number of female crypto traders on its platform has surged seven times from the end of 2020 in an encouraging sign of rising diversity within the male-dominated financial system.

NFTs Explained: What’s Driving Prices for LeBron James and Kings of Leon Digital Collectibles
Caitlin Ostroff – WSJ
Christie’s is selling digital art. Kings of Leon are offering their latest album as a collector’s item—online. And NBA fans recently drove the price of a LeBron James highlights video into six figures. Behind all three: a new asset that uses the technology backing cryptocurrencies to create unique “non-fungible tokens.” Collectors can use the tokens attached to these assets to verify the authenticity of everything from artworks to sports highlights.

Bitcoin and Chip Makers Are Caught in a Bad Romance; Crypto has proven a fickle suitor for chip makers in the past
Jacky Wong – WSJ
Cryptocurrency miners love graphics cards and computer chips. Chip makers aren’t returning the love. Prices of bitcoin and ether have rallied more than 10-fold in the past year. That could potentially translate into big sales for chip companies powering the cryptocurrency mining rigs.

Former Crypto Firm Official Was a U.K. Fugitive, Bankruptcy Examiner Says; A court-appointed examiner says Cred failed to perform due diligence on its investments and to uncover the worrisome past of a former executive
Becky Yerak – WSJ
Cryptocurrency investment platform Cred Inc. unwittingly put a convicted financial criminal identified by the U.K. as a fugitive in charge of raising and deploying the firm’s capital before its collapse into bankruptcy, a court-appointed examiner said.

PayPal’s Entry to Crypto Followed Long Buildup in Expertise
Sara Castellanos – WSJ
PayPal Holdings Inc. became one of the largest companies in the U.S. to enter the market for digital currencies with its announcement last October that it would allow its millions of U.S. users to sell, buy and hold cryptocurrencies. Over the past few weeks, several other companies have announced their plans for cryptocurrencies, ranging from Tesla Inc. to Mastercard Inc. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. The recent stir is likely just the beginning of digital currencies inching closer into the mainstream, experts say. “The demand is there,” said Oliver Bussmann, chief executive of Bussmann Advisory, which advises financial institutions on digital strategies, and a former group chief information officer at UBS AG and SAP SE. Information technology leaders should start building expert teams, he said, and educate other executives on how it could affect their businesses.

What Are NFTs, Anyway? One Just Sold for $69 Million; “Nonfungible tokens” and blockchain technology are taking the mainstream art world by storm, fetching huge prices. We explain, or try to.
Josie Thaddeus-Johns – NY Times
The artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, has just sold an NFT at a record-breaking $69.3 million, the third-highest price achieved by a living artist. The sale, at Christie’s, for the purely digital work was the strongest indication yet that NFTs, or “nonfungible tokens,” have taken the art market by storm, making the leap from specialist websites to premier auction houses. Beeple, a newcomer to the fine-art world who first heard about NFTs five months ago, is the most high-profile artist to profit off the huge boom in sales of these much hyped but poorly understood commodities.

Binance under CFTC investigation over trading activities: report
Wolfie Zhao – The Block
Crypto exchange Binance is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission over concerns surrounding whether it allowed U.S. investors on the platform. According to a Bloomberg report on Friday, which cited anonymous sources, the CFTC is seeking to determine whether Binance has allowed residents in the U.S to buy and sell crypto derivatives products while not being registered under the government agency’s oversight. BNB, the exchange’s native token, dropped by 6% shortly after the news broke.

WisdomTree becomes latest firm to submit bitcoin ETF filing to SEC
Aislinn Keely – The Block
A new proposal for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund has been submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). WisdomTree filed an S-1 today with the intention of listing its shares on the Cboe bZx Exchange under the ticker BTCW. The WisdomTree Bitcoin Trust aims to provide exposure to the price of bitcoin, according to the text of the S-1. The ETF’s share price will be based on the CME CF Bitcoin US Settlement Price, which calculates the price based on trade flow from major bitcoin spot exchanges.

Ripple Execs Ask Court to Block SEC Requests for Personal Financial Records
Sebastian Sinclair – Coindesk
Two senior executives of Ripple have asked the court to quash requests for access to their personal financial records by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In a letter to the Southern District Court in New York on Thursday, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Executive Chairman Chris Larsen asked Judge Sarah Netburn to block subpoenas sent to multiple banks seeking eight years’-worth of their financial information. The SEC’s request is “wholly inappropriate overreach” say the executives, since the case relates to the alleged sale of unregistered securities, and is a “non-fraud litigation.”

Firm Behind Biggest Bitcoin Trust Is Hiring Entire ETF Team
Olivia Raimonde – Bloomberg
Grayscale Investments has posted at least nine job positions; First U.S. Bitcoin ETF ‘will have a leg up’: CFRA Research
Grayscale Investments is making a bet that the approval of a U.S. cryptocurrency ETF is not too far off in the future. The digital-asset management firm has posted at least nine ETF-related positions to LinkedIn, signaling it is anticipating a green light from the Securities and Exchange Commission for a crypto ETF — a goal that has eluded U.S. funds for years.

Grayscale’s ETF Push Highlights Existential Threat to GBTC Dominance
Nathan DiCamillo – Coindesk
For seven years, Grayscale Investments’ bitcoin trust has been nearly the only game in town for investors who wanted to bet on bitcoin’s price without the fuss of handling cryptocurrency. Lately that’s been changing fast. From alternatives like Osprey’s bitcoin fund to Bitwise’s cryptocurrency index to Canadian bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investors now have more choices for hassle-free bitcoin exposure. Arguably, MicroStrategy and even Tesla shares might scratch the itch now. The once-sizable premium over the price of bitcoin for shares in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) has flipped to a discount, reflecting a drop in demand for the vehicle.

MicroStrategy spent $15 million to buy another 262 bitcoin
Tomi Kilgore – MarketWatch
MicroStrategy Inc. MSTR disclosed Friday that it just spent $15.0 million to buy 262 bitcoins, for an average price of $57,146, including fees. Shares of the enterprise software and bitcoin holder fell 4.5% in premarket trading, bitcoin dropped 3.2%. MicroStrategy said it now owns about 91,326 bitcoins, which it bought for $2.21 billion at an average price of $24,214 per bitcoin. At current prices, that bitcoin holding would be valued at about $5.1 billion. MicroStrategy’s stock has soared 181.1% over the past three months through Thursday, while bitcoin has run up 209.4% and the S&P 500 SPX has advanced 7.5%.

NFTs are the latest crypto trend that our planet cannot afford
AJ Dellinger –
Cryptocurrency is becoming more mainstream. It’s not just the fact that Bitcoin and other digital currencies are growing in value; it’s the underlying technology, the blockchain, that is finding more and more use cases. The latest is non-fungible tokens, or NFTs — essentially, one-of-a-kind items that can be bought, sold, traded, and maintained entirely digitally. The technology has taken the art and collectibles world by storm, creating new opportunities for creating and monetizing digital art, from the virtual equivalent of trading cards to original copies of famous GIFs.

Terry Crews Has His Own Cryptocurrency Because Why Not?
Lucas Ropek –
Soon you could be spending money minted by Terry Crews—certainly an exciting piece of news if that’s been an ambition of yours. The former NFL player, actor, and game show host just launched his own social currency via the startup Roll, a platform that allows so-called “creatives” to crypto-monetize themselves and their own content via what is essentially a decentralized blockchain-based crediting system. The company says it sees itself as a way for people like Crews to engage with their fans and audiences in an entirely new way.

New York State Department Of Financial Services Superintendent Lacewell Announces DFS Grants Virtual Currency And Money Transmitter Licenses To Bakkt Marketplace, LLC
Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell today announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved the application of Bakkt Marketplace, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bakkt Holdings, LLC, for virtual currency and money transmitter licenses.


Why Britain needs a written constitution; Buffeted by Brexit, and with Scottish independence and Irish unification back on the agenda, the UK is due for a constitutional overhaul
Linda Colley – FT
Last November, a Conservative member of parliament, Charles Walker, addressed the House of Commons on the need for “a written constitution”, one that would guarantee “fundamental rights” for inhabitants of the UK and be enforced by its Supreme Court. The response of the prime minister was dismissive: what the British people wanted, Boris Johnson declared, was not “delectable disputations on a written constitution”, but the defeat of coronavirus.

Bill Allowing News Media to Band Together Against Big Tech Gets Another Shot; News organizations could get an exemption from antitrust laws that would enable them to team up in negotiations with online platforms
John D. McKinnon and Keach Hagey – WSJ
Newspapers, TV stations and other news outlets that have seen their revenue siphoned away by online platforms could get an assist from Congress under legislation that a House panel will begin considering on Friday. If passed, the legislation would grant news organizations a four-year exemption from antitrust laws to band together to negotiate compensation from online platforms that use their content, including Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Can Democrats Still Count on the Grass-Roots?
Giovanni Russonello – The New York Times
For Democrats who care deeply about progressive causes, Donald Trump’s presidency was a frightening experience. It was also a call to action. Progressive campaigns and causes experienced a huge spike in donations over the past four years, and in 2020 candidates up and down the ballot far outpaced fund-raising records from previous cycles. So what happens now that Mr. Trump is no longer in power? In a political landscape defined by web advertising, social media campaigns and, yes, online fund-raising, many Democratic analysts and strategists are wondering whether they’ll be able to stir up the same kind of financial support.

Ex-Citi Banker’s Mayoral Run Has Yet to Inspire Many NYC Voters
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
McGuire touts his independence: ‘I don’t owe anyone anything’; So far, constituents unimpressed as he draws 3% in one poll
New York City mayoral hopeful Ray McGuire has failed to snag marquee political endorsements like some of his rivals. He trails former presidential contender Andrew Yang and others in the polls. But the former Citigroup banker says he has something competitors don’t: no obligation to special interests.


Beware the City’s push for a new regulatory watchdog; ‘Office for Responsible Financial Regulation’ is latest industry proposal to change the way it is regulated post-Brexit
Helen Thomas – FT
Should there be a regulator of regulators for financial services? That is the suggestion being increasingly discussed within the City and Westminster. Except no one wants to describe it as that. It tends to go down badly with those currently charged with keeping the industry in check.

China Regulator Fines Tencent, Baidu, Others Over Investment Deals; The move serves as a reminder that authorities are intensifying scrutiny over China’s powerful tech giants, antitrust experts say
Stephanie Yang and Jing Yang – WSJ
China’s antitrust regulator fined a dozen companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc., over a number of past investment deals, the latest sign of Beijing’s broad crackdown on the internet sector.

ASIC obtains compliance orders for court enforceable undertaking
The Federal Court made orders yesterday, 11 March 2021, compelling Gold Coast accountant Jenan Oslem Thorne (also known as Cenan Thorne or Cenan Dikmen), of Saber Superannuation Pty Ltd, to comply with the terms of a court enforceable undertaking (CEU) that she previously entered with ASIC.

ASIC imposes additional licence conditions on retail OTC derivatives issuer AxiCorp Financial Services Pty Ltd
ASIC has imposed additional conditions on the Australian financial services (AFS) licence of AxiCorp Financial Services Pty Ltd (AxiCorp, AFS licence 318 232) to ensure that AxiCorp has adequate compliance arrangements in place for its over the counter (OTC) derivatives business.

ESMA Selects Natasha Cazenave as Candidate for Executive e Director Position
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has selected Natasha Cazenave as its candidate for the position of Executive Director.

FINRA Production Test
As previously announced FINRA plans to replace digital certificates with Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) for access to the TRAQS website in April of 2021. A second FINRA production User Acceptance Test (UAT) will occur on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Firms must register with FINRA Market Operations of their intent to participate in the UAT via an email to Please include the firm name, MPID(s) used, names of testers and web usernames, if applicable, no later than noon on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 to register for the test.

FCA Publishes Report on Implementing Technology Change
Morgan Lewis – Tech & Sourcing via JD Supra
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its findings on an extensive review into the factors which determine failure or success when implementing technology change in the financial services sector. The review looked at how financial sector companies manage technology change, the impact of change failures, and the practices utilized within the sector to help reduce the impact of incidents resulting from change management.

The Labor Department will not enforce two Trump-era rules regulating retirement plans.
Tara Siegel Bernard – NY Times
The Biden administration will not enforce two Trump-era rules involving retirement plans, including one that effectively discouraged administrators for those plans from choosing investments based on environmental, social and governance considerations, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Canadian Securities Regulators Outline Disclosure Expectations For Reporting Issuers Dealing In Crypto Assets
The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) today published guidance to improve the quality of disclosures provided by issuers that engage materially with crypto assets (crypto asset reporting issuers).

Investing and Trading

If 60/40 Recipe Sours, Maybe Stir in Some Bitcoin; With government bonds no longer offering a buffer against a drop in equities, investors will have to get more creative.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
The 60/40 portfolio has been a mainstay of investing for years. After all, it’s been a winning defensive strategy — allocate the bulk of a fund to riskier equities with the remainder seeking the relative safety of fixed income. But with stratospheric stock markets sparking talk of a bubble, the bond side of the trade risks failing in its role of cushioning returns. Investors need to consider alternative buffers.

Stockpickers Can Breathe Again as FANGs Stumble; The recent turbulence has spurred a revival for active fund managers.
John Authers – Bloomberg
Winners and Losers
After another day of screeching turns in the U.S. stock market, and an enthusiastic attempt by the European Central Bank to keep bond yields down, the winners and losers from the recent turbulence are growing clearer. Active managers, after a dreadful year, have enjoyed a revival. The question is how long it can last. The losers, following a script that has played out many times in the past, are the emerging markets.

ECB Doesn’t Intend Faster Bond-Buying to Mean More Stimulus
Jana Randow and Carolynn Look – Bloolmberg
Policy makers will spend more now but plan to pull back later; Majority of Governing Council isn’t concerned by yield gains
Most European Central Bank policy makers have no intention of expanding their 1.85 trillion-euro ($2.2 trillion) emergency stimulus program despite their pledge on Thursday to step up the pace of bond buying to keep yields in check, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Treasury Dealers Offload Bonds as Regulatory Deadline Nears
Stephen Spratt – Bloomberg
Primary dealer Treasury holdings fell a record $64.7 billion; Supplementary leverage ratio exemption expires at end of March
The Treasury market selloff last week came amid signs investors are deleveraging. In a curious twist though, instead of dealer inventories rising as a consequence, they unexpectedly collapsed.

Fall in cash Isa inflows during the pandemic; Appetite for stock market investment prompts transfers from low-return accounts
James Pickford – FT
More money from cash Isas flowed into stocks and shares Isas last year than in 2019, according to data that underline the appetite for stock market investment during the pandemic.

Value Investors Finally Have Reason to Celebrate—for Now; Portfolio managers are snapping up shares of cyclical firms like banks and energy companies
Karen Langley – Bloomberg
Value stocks are beating growth stocks by the widest margin in two decades, the latest sign that investors expect the next year to bring a powerful economic rebound. As the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines quickens and the economy bounces back from last year’s shutdowns, portfolio managers are snapping up cyclical stocks—banks, energy companies and others whose fortunes are closely linked to economic growth. Those shares often fit the description of value stocks, which trade at low multiples of their book value, or net worth.

Here’s a little-known strategy for high dividend income — if you can handle the volatility
Published: March 12, 2021 at 8:35 a.m. ET
Philip van Doorn – MarketWatch
Ever-falling bond yields over the past year have hurt dividend and income investors. And with the Federal Reserve trying to keep interest rates near historic lows, there’s little relief in sight.

The Real Rally to Watch Isn’t in Stocks; The global real-estate market is booming in a way that was confined to a handful of countries after the financial crisis
Mike Bird – WSJ
Stock markets are exciting, perhaps particularly to financial journalists. But the bigger impact, and the bigger risks, are in a larger and slower-moving market: real estate. It isn’t easy to find housing markets where prices have fallen since the pandemic. In fact, many are experiencing some of the fastest house-price growth in a decade or more. The latest indication of how things are going came on Thursday from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand: Prices were up a cool 21.5% year over year in February.

The Treasury Market Could Soon Get More Love; While markets are jittery about U.S. government bonds, foreign investors now have a big incentive to buy them with currency hedges
Jon Sindreu – WSJ
Like beauty, the value of a financial asset is in the eye of the beholder. Right now, Treasurys look much better from outside of the U.S. On Wednesday, the U.S. placed $38 billion worth of 10-year debt at a closely watched Treasury auction. These are usually prosaic events, but record-low demand at the seven-year auction last month—particularly from foreign buyers—acted as a “sell” signal in a market already under pressure: 10-year yields recently rose above 1.6%, from 0.9% at the start of the year, denting stocks in the process.

Grab Is in Talks to Go Public Through a SPAC Merger; A deal could value the Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup at as much as $40 billion
Maureen Farrell – WSJ
Grab Holdings Inc. is in talks to go public through a merger with a SPAC that could value the Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup at as much as $40 billion, making it by far the largest such deal on record.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

FTSE 100 Firms Are Making Slow Progress on Race at Board Level
Lisa Pham – Bloomberg
Ethnic minorities made up about 12% of board directors at firms in the FTSE 100 Index in November, largely unchanged from a year earlier, highlighting a continued lack of diversity at companies that make up the country’s main stock benchmark.

Women on S&P 500 Bank Boards Lost Share as Men Gained Seats
Jeff Green – Bloomberg
Two new male directors at Citizens cut female share to 31.9%; Number of women on banks boards was unchanged in February
Women’s share in the boardroom fell as they gained no new seats last month on the boards of financial firms in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Banks Index and Citizens Financial Group Inc. appointed two new male directors.

Fund Managers Press Companies to Address Women’s Job Losses; Impax reached out to companies ranging from Albertsons to Waste Management.
Tim Quinson – Bloomberg
Impax Asset Management moved swiftly last year to zero in on women’s job losses as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the U.S. Money managers at the firm reached out to corporate executives, asking them about their labor practices, with a particular focus on issues such as paid leave and flexible-work arrangements.

The Risk of Letting Big Finance Write Its Own Climate Rules; The industry is pushing for voluntary standards, but the stakes may be too high to wait and see if that’s enough.
Kate Mackenzie – Bloomberg
The six biggest Wall Street banks have now promised to get to net-zero emissions, after Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co joined the club this month. But what does “net-zero” actually mean? For the planet, it’s the point at which the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stabilize, ending the sharp increase in heat-trapping emissions since the industrial revolution that have brought us to dangerous levels of global warming.

China’s Dirty Recovery Will Make Curbing Climate Change Tougher
Bloomberg News
Emissions rose as heavy industry led a post-virus rebound; Peaking carbon requires shift away from current growth engines
China’s economy roared back from the pandemic on a plume of greenhouse gas emissions, raising questions over how the nation will balance new growth targets with its climate change goals.

Want a greener world? Don’t dump oil stocks; Better to hold energy and mining shares and influence managers than sell out to other shareholders
Merryn Somerset Webb – FT
If you are a nice person you won’t hold shares in any companies involved in fossil fuels or mining. Their activities are dirty, environmentally unsound and that’s that. You can’t believe the planet is in trouble and also hold businesses involved in creating that trouble. End of. This is certainly the view of Friends of the Earth.


Lex Greensill’s Downfall Was a Predictable Story; The Greensill business model was questioned for years, so why didn’t regulators do anything about it?
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
With thousands of jobs at risk, billions of dollars of depositor savings on the line and large potential losses for fund investors, Greensill Capital’s implosion has the potential to inflict pain on many people. Though the firm’s demise doesn’t threaten the world’s financial system, and some failures are inevitable, regulators have again come up short. The Greensill business model was questioned for years. This messy unravelling was avoidable.

Sanjeev Gupta and Greensill Became Their Own Worst Enemies; GFG Alliance’s excessive reliance on invoice-based lending is now being exposed.
Chris Bryant – Bloomberg
Greensill Capital filed for insolvency this week and its biggest client, steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, is scrambling to avoid a similar fate. A relationship that benefited both firms has been torn asunder. Greensill has stopped funding GFG, and the metals conglomerate has in turn defaulted on monies owed to the London-based finance firm.

Apollo Bids $11 Billion For a Different Headache; The market’s not crazy about the buyout firm’s plan to take full control of annuities partner Athene. No wonder.
Chris Hughes – Bloomberg
Apollo Global Management Inc. wants to be known as the smartest credit investor out there. But its relationship with Athene Holding Ltd. — the insurance company it created, took public and now wants to absorb in a $29 billion merger — has long appeared too clever by half. Investors disliked the potential conflicts between the asset manager and the annuity provider. A full union appears to be replacing one set of doubts with another.

Deutsche Bank CEO Grapples With Slowing Trading After Boom Year
Steven Arons – Bloomberg
CEO Sewing is increasingly relying on the trading unit; Investment bank bonuses rise by 46% from a year earlier
Deutsche Bank AG’s blowout trading results gave Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing some breathing room, but he now faces the prospect of declining revenue half way through his historic restructuring plan.

Deutsche boosts investment banker bonuses by 46% on return to profit; German lender also increases pay of chief and executive board members on back of pandemic-led trading boom
Olaf Storbeck – FT
Deutsche Bank increased bonuses for its investment bankers by 46 per cent in 2020, after a pandemic-driven trading boom propelled its fixed income trading division and drove the lender to its first annual profit in six years.

Europe’s first sustainable junk bond draws scrutiny over green impact; Greece’s main power company raised EUR650m in a deal that attracted strong investor demand
Nikou Asgari – FT
Greece’s main power utility has raised EUR650m in Europe’s first sustainability-linked junk bond sale, a deal that drew scepticism from some investors over the extent of its green impact.

Crédit du Maroc, Part Of Crédit Agricole, Selects Temenos For Digital Transformation
Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, today announced that Crédit du Maroc, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole, has selected Temenos to digitally transform its core banking and payments infrastructure. The core transformation project with Temenos will prepare Crédit du Maroc for the future, to deliver improved, frictionless and innovative omnichannel experience for its retail and business customers and grow sustainably.

Harley Bassman Wants to Prove History Wrong With a New CDS Fund
Katherine Greifeld – Bloomberg
Proposed ETF will hold swap index options, Treasuries, TIPs; Would become sole U.S.-listed CDS fund after others shuttered
Making cash in the world of credit insurance typically involves a special license and strategies that cost millions of dollars to run. Rates expert Harley Bassman wants to do it in a low-cost exchange-traded fund.


Gulf Arab States Should Make the Most of Oil’s Last Boom; A spike in prices promises one final windfall before the inevitable long-term decline.
Karen E. Young – Bloomberg
Oil prices are rebounding thanks to an extended OPEC+ production cut, a surge in demand as economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and the beginning of a supply reaction from a year of both diminished production and inventory draw-downs. This is good news for the oil producers of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Sweden Meets Australia in Race to Lead Rich World’s Thinktank
Catherine Bosley, Michael Heath, William Horobin, and Bryce Baschuk – Bloomberg
Months-long process to pick new OECD head may end next week; U.S. preference is probably crucial in Malmstrom vs. Cormann
A former European Union trade chief is facing off against a former Australian finance minister in the final leg of the race to head the OECD, a prize that will see the winner address global challenges including digital taxation and pandemic recovery plans.

China’s $1 Trillion Stock Rout Pinned on Panicky Fund Investors
Bloomberg News
State media urge new investors to be rational amid plunge; Mutual funds drew record cash after outperforming benchmarks
As China’s stock market stabilizes after a $1.3 trillion rout, it’s becoming clear that the mutual fund industry is being put at the center of the turbulence.


Britain’s Trade Hits Pandemic, Paperwork Bumps in Brexit’s First Month
Lizzy Burden and Demetrios Pogkas – Bloomberg
The U.K.’s first batch of official trade data since leaving the European Union highlights the early damage done to the flow of goods by Brexit. The numbers show a hefty drop in shipments to and from the EU in January, the first month after the transition period ended. Exports to the 27-nation bloc plunged almost 38% year-over-year, while imports fell almost 16%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics released Friday. Compared to December, exports dropped 41% and imports 29%.

U.K. Firms Decry Unfair Brexit Border as EU Goods Waved In
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
Imports from EU to continue to benefit from no border checks; U.K. exports to bloc have dwindled amid customs red tape
The U.K.’s decision to postpone border checks on goods coming from the European Union until next year has delighted the country’s importers — but left some exporters angry.

City Revamp Puts Brexit Finance Deal on Ice, EU Lawmaker Warns
Silla Brush and Tom Metcalf – Bloomberg
Prospect of swift equivalence decision receding, MEP says; Treasury says it will consult on finance changes in the summer
The U.K.’s plan to review its financial rulebook undermines prospects of a deal with the European Union on post-Brexit market alignment, according to a leading EU lawmaker on the issue. “If the U.K. financial services framework is in flux like that, I cannot see the EU granting equivalence,” Markus Ferber, a German member of the European Parliament, said in an email. “The U.K. government must be aware that such a move would dramatically reduce the chances of a swift equivalence decision.”

EU capitals weigh tougher response to UK’s Brexit ‘provocations’; Member states hold informal discussions on alternative retaliatory options
Jim Brunsden and Sam Fleming, and George Parker – FT
EU governments are exploring ways of pressing the UK to comply with its post-Brexit obligations as they resign themselves to an increasingly combative relationship with Britain. Brussels is already preparing legal action against the UK over its shock announcement earlier this month that it would unilaterally extend grace periods that ease the impact of Brexit red tape on Northern Irish businesses — a step attacked by the EU as a breach of good faith.

Britain Delays Brexit Border Checks for Goods Coming From Europe; The decision amounted to an embarrassing admission by the government that Britain was still not prepared to implement the terms of its withdrawal from the European Union.
Stephen Castle – The New York Times
It was something politicians spent an age debating, diplomats devoted years to negotiating and officials spent a fortune preparing for. But on Thursday Britain made the embarrassing admission that it is still not fully ready for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s biggest political project, Brexit. Almost five years after Britons voted to leave the European Union, the government said it would wave through some goods arriving at British ports from the continent until January 2022 — a tacit admission that it lacks the capacity to perform the border checks required by Brexit. The latest postponement to the Brexit process came as a relief to British businesses because it averts the risk of supermarkets running out of fresh produce, or car factories missing out on parts supplies.

Exports to EU plunge by £5.6bn in first month since Brexit
Richard Partington – The Guardian
UK exports of goods to the EU plunged by 40.7% in January during the first month since Brexit and the toughest Covid lockdown since the first wave of the pandemic, contributing to the biggest monthly decline in British trade for more than 20 years. In the first month since leaving the EU on terms agreed by Boris Johnson’s government, the Office for National Statistics said goods exports to the bloc fell by £5.6bn, while imports fell by 28.8%, or £6.6bn. Exports of food and live animals to the EU, which includes seafood and fish, were the hardest hit by Brexit, collapsing by 63.6% in January. This reflected heavier disruption and additional checks for consignments from this sector that prompted furious protests from the fishing industry. However, food and live animals account for only 7% of total UK exports.

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