Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff
Caroline Pham has been sworn in as a commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which means all the new commissioners have been sworn in and we can now officially wish Dawn Stump well in her next endeavors.
Here is a picture Pham posted to LinkedIn of her being sworn in:
Fleur Sohtz, the chief revenue officer and GM Americas of Noogata and formerly managing director and global head of marketing at Markit, is a lifelong swimmer who last August swam the 29 miles around the island of Manhattan. She wants to share the gift of swimming with others because she notes that: 79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability (USA Swimming Foundation), 69% of Black children, 58% of Hispanic children, and 42% of White children do not know how to swim (USA Swimming Foundation), Black children drown at almost triple the overall national rate (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and formal swimming lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by as much as 88% (USA Swimming Foundation).
So she is running a fundraiser for Summer Bluefish, which is a + POOL program that provides free swim lessons to underserved youth ages 8-13 who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn how to swim. You can donate to Fleur’s campaign HERE.
Citadel’s Ken Griffin is in the news a bunch here today.
Griffin was interviewed by David Rubenstein on Bloomberg TV. Here is the interview, posted to Youtube. In the interview, Griffin discusses “his outlook on global markets, factors that have contributed to the firm’s success and his perspectives on philanthropy and civic engagement.”
And finally, in the Leads section of JLN, Griffin has been identified as the top donor to the Republican party.
Cboe’s Bryan Harkins was profiled in Traders Magazine about his passion for philanthropy, particularly supporting the charity Wall Street Rides, which supports the Autism Science Foundation (ASF). The story is titled ‘Bryan Harkins: Finding Passion in Philanthropy.’
Debbie Carlson has a story for Barron’s titled “Why Savers Aren’t Getting Higher Rates With Today’s Red-Hot Inflation.”
ICE and its management, including Jeffrey Sprecher and former ICE executive Kelly Loeffler, rang the closing bell at NYSE yesterday in celebration of the accomplishments of its board and management team.
Back on April 9, the Financial Times published an in-depth look at the recovery of the airline industry titled “How the world’s airlines took off again” by Niko Kommenda and Philip Georgiadis. It is a well researched piece and has nice graphics to help tell the story.
Have a great Easter weekend for those of you who are Christian believers, or doubters or seekers of something greater than yourself.
Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL
Following Cboe’s press release “Cboe to Add Tuesday and Thursday Expirations for SPX Weeklys Options,” Cboe is holding a webinar on April 20 called “Trading SPXW Options with Expirations Five Days a Week.” The webinar features Scott Bauer, Prosper Trading Academy; Joe DeSipio, Arin Risk Advisors; and Anthony Montesano, Cboe. You can go here to register. You must be a financial professional or a sophisticated market participant to attend.~SR
Catherine Clay on How Cboe Global Markets is a Different Company Now at Boca 2022
Cboe Global Markets is a very different company today than it was the last time people gathered together at FIA Boca, said Catherine Clay, the company’s executive vice president, global head of data and access solutions. Cboe has made a number of strategic fintech acquisitions in recent years, acquiring Hanweck Associates, a real-time risk analytics company, FT Options, a portfolio management platform, and TradeAlert, a distributor of market intelligence, in 2020, and acquiring the Canadian fintech company NEO and the digital asset spot market ErisX in 2021.
C.I.A. Director Airs Concern That Putin Might Turn to Nuclear Weapons; William J. Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, cautioned that he had seen no “practical evidence” that would suggest such a move was imminent.
David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes – NY Times
The director of the C.I.A. said on Thursday that “potential desperation” to extract the semblance of a victory in Ukraine could tempt President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to order the use of a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, publicly discussing for the first time a concern that has coursed through the White House during seven weeks of conflict.
***** If this story does not say “Good Friday,” then nothing does. This is a dark statement from the CIA director.~JJL
Your Office Is Open and the Liquor Is Flowing
Callum Borchers – WSJ
Almost anytime is a good time for alcohol in Jude Maboné’s office these days. The 26-year-old marketing professional in Washington, D.C., says her workday usually ends at 6 p.m., but on a recent Tuesday most of the staff called it quits and broke out the drinks at 4:30 p.m. Then there was a Thursday when her bosses—some two or three times her age—started scooping liquor-infused ice cream with the same alcohol content as a Budweiser at 2:30 p.m. Ms. Maboné and her 20 or so colleagues have been back at their desks for about a month, and she has noticed alcohol is “always in the center of social things here.”
*****So we are bringing the 1990s back? Kewl!!!~JJL
Interns Are Making Over $16,000 a Month as Wall Street Talent Wars Heat Up; Top global investment banks boosted intern compensation by 37.2% this year.
Paulina Cachero – Bloomberg
As top firms shell out millions in the battle for Wall Street’s best and brightest, even interns are seeing their compensation soar. Top global investment banks boosted intern pay by 37.2% for the current internship season from a year earlier, while other large banks are paying 36.9% more, according to finance career site Wall Street Oasis.
***** Time for me to apply to be an intern. If Robert DeNiro can do it, then I can.~JJL
The Wolf of Crypto; Jordan Belfort, the inspiration for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is marketing himself as a cryptocurrency guru.
David Yaffe-Bellany – NY Times
Jordan Belfort was lounging by the pool on a sunny April morning, sipping Red Bull and sharing a cautionary tale. Not the usual one about his imprisonment on 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering: This time, he’d been the victim. Last fall, he explained to a group of businessmen gathered at his palatial home, a hacker had stolen $300,000 of digital tokens from his cryptocurrency wallet.
***** The great thing about crypto hype is the last part.~JJL
Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was Cryptocurrencies may all ‘come crashing down’: Michael Lewis, from Yahoo! Finance. Lewis also acknowledged in the article that the “jerry-rigging of the stock market” he described in his book about high frequency traders isn’t happening in cryptocurrencies. Second, there was good news for London bankers in City of London Firms Are ‘Desperate to Hire’ in Tight Job Market, from Bloomberg. And third was the Elon Musk news of the day, Elon Musk Makes $43 Billion Unsolicited Bid to Take Twitter Private, from Bloomberg via Yahoo! Finance.
26,803 pages; 238,101 edits
Trades fail in US corporate bonds as banks avoid Russia links; Value of unsettled transactions has doubled since invasion of Ukraine in February and imposition of sanctions
Joe Rennison – FT
The number of failed trades in the US corporate bond market shot higher following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with investors linking the settlement problems to sanctions imposed after the war began. Nearly $70bn of transactions failed in the week ending April 6, and for the past six weeks failed trades have averaged just over $86bn, according to data updated on Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Citadel’s Griffin Rises as Top GOP Donor, Urges Business Leaders to Join Him; Billionaire is among leading donors behind groups looking to boost prospects of Republicans winning control of Congress this year
John McCormick – WSJ
Hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin is raising his total investment in this year’s midterm congressional elections to roughly $40 million and calling on American business leaders to become more involved in politics. Day to day, the Citadel founder is either the first- or second-biggest individual donor to outside spending groups on the Republican side for federal races this election cycle, according to rankings by the nonpartisan OpenSecrets watchdog group, making him a top force behind the GOP’s drive to retake Congress in November.
Data is too expensive and here’s why; Amid a slew of regulatory reviews over current pricing models, and with a consolidated tape on the cards in both the UK and the EU, Annabel Smith explores how and why the cost of market data is increasing, and what this means for both providers and participants on the buy- and sell-side.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Institutions across the buy- and sell-side are expressing frustration with the soaring cost of data – and when nearly every participant is complaining about something, it might need to be looked at. Fixed income data spend for sell-side institutions has increased by half in the last five years according to a recent report by AFME, with market data spend more generally rising by a quarter. Spend on data on exchanges has also risen by 42% since 2017. These costs are all felt keenly across the street.
Citadel Securities forks out $2.6 billion annually for payment for order flow and most of it’s on options; Market maker paid out the most in payment for order flow in 2020 and 2021, including $1.7 billion spent on options, followed by Susquehanna and Virtu Financial.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Citadel Securities takes the top spot when it comes to payment for order flow (PFOF), forking out $2.6 billion in 2020 and 2021 according to 606 reports gathered by the US’ Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). The market maker due to its dominant market share accounted for around a third of the total market spend on PFOF in 2020 and 2021, followed by Susquehanna (G1X global execution brokers), which spent a $1.5 billion and Virtu which spent $654 million in the same period.
U.S. ties North Korean hacker group Lazarus to huge cryptocurrency theft
The United States has linked North Korean hackers to the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency tied to the popular online game Axie Infinity, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday. Ronin, a blockchain network that lets users transfer crypto in and out of the game, said digital cash worth almost $615 million was stolen on March 23.
Wall Street banks detail Russia losses and warn of more volatility; Executives say losses are manageable but are wary of possible spillover effects
Joshua Franklin and Imani Moise and Stephen Morris – FT
Wall Street banks detailed billions of dollars in potential losses from the war in the Ukraine this week, while warning that they saw no end in sight for the market turbulence unleashed by the Russian invasion. Industry analysts and executives described the losses as manageable, but expressed worries about the potential for spillover effects of the kind that led to the cancellation of some nickel trades on the London Metal Exchange last month.
Investors’ voices are missing in corporate flight from Russia; Boards facing costly choices over Ukraine war need to know where shareholders stand
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson – FT
There has been much talk in recent years about companies as increasingly powerful political — even geopolitical — actors. As executives have spoken up about voting rights in the US or forced labour in China, the notion of CPR — corporate political responsibility — has begun to elbow out CSR, the decades-old acronym for corporate social responsibility.
NFA orders Connecticut-based Interactive Brokers LLC to pay a $250,000 fine
NFA has ordered Connecticut-based futures commission merchant and forex dealer Member Interactive Brokers LLC to pay a $250,000 fine. The Decision, issued by NFA’s Business Conduct Committee (BCC), is based on a Complaint issued by the BCC and a settlement offer submitted by Interactive Brokers, in which the firm neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the Complaint. In its Complaint, the BCC alleged that Interactive Brokers canceled retail customer forex orders contrary to the reasons permitted under NFA Compliance Rule 2-43(a)(1) and failed to adequately supervise its employees in the conduct of their forex activities on behalf of the firm to ensure compliance with the relevant NFA requirements, contrary to NFA Compliance Rule 2-36(e). In its Decision, the BCC found that Interactive Brokers violated NFA Compliance Rules 2-43(a)(1) and 2-36(e).
Brokers using this controversial practice are ‘skimming rent, getting rich’: Michael Lewis
Max Zahn with Andy Serwer – Yahoo Finance
Shares of trading platform Robinhood (HOOD) have plummeted nearly 35% so far this year, taking a 5% tumble last Friday alone after Goldman Sachs issued a Sell rating and raised concerns about soft user growth. The company’s revenue prospects could dim further if the Securities and Exchange Commission banned the controversial practice of payment for order flow, David Trainer, the CEO of investment research firm New Constructs, told Forbes. High-profile proponents of regulating the practice abound, including best-selling author Michael Lewis. In a new interview, Lewis said the SEC should make a “big change” on payment for order flow. Lewis, whose landmark 2014 book “Flash Boys” drew attention to the lucrative use of high frequency trading on Wall Street, said that brokers who use payment for order flow are “skimming rent” and “getting rich.”
Elon Musk, After Toying With Twitter, Now Wants It All; The billionaire executive recently became one of the company’s largest shareholders. Now he says he wants to buy the whole thing and change how it handles speech.
Mike Isaac, Kate Conger and Lauren Hirsch – NY Post
For the past two weeks, Elon Musk has made it clear he wants to own a piece of Twitter. First, he revealed that he bought 9 percent of the company. Then he toyed with joining its board of directors. And then he backed out, while tweeting a string of insults about Twitter to his 81 million followers. But on Wednesday night, he made his boldest move yet: He said he wanted to buy the whole company.
Mark Cuban: Elon Musk is ‘f – king with the SEC’ with Twitter buy offer
Thomas Barrabi – NY Times
Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share and take the company private is just the latest elaborate dig in the billionaire’s ongoing battle with the SEC, fellow tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban claims. Musk’s made the offer — complete with a 420 reference — alongside a declaration that Twitter “needs to be transformed as a private company” to unlock its full potential. Cuban noted the offer was quite similar to the incident that originally landed Musk in hot water with the SEC.
JP Morgan Chase unveils its new Park Avenue headquarters tower
Steve Cuozzo – NY Post
The coy colossus of Park Avenue — also known as JP Morgan Chase’s new headquarters tower — has finally come out of hiding. The financial giant on Thursday unveiled the long-secret design of its new, 1,388-feet-tall cloudbuster, which it kept under wraps even after construction started two years ago.
This Wall Street Investing Legend Once Lost $3 Billion in Six Weeks
Brian O’Connell -TheStreet via Miami Herald
All investors make bad decisions, Real Money Columnist James ‘Rev Shark’ Deporre notes, but the best ones learn from them. No doubt, many traders and investors are having an extremely difficult time with the current stock market. “It’s especially tough since it’s the first time that many have traded without a dovish Federal Reserve providing a tailwind: wrote Real Money Columnist James “Rev Shark” Deporre recently.
Musk says U.S. SEC ‘bastards’ forced settlement over Tesla tweets
Hyunjoo Jin and Sheila Dang – Reuters
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk on Thursday stepped up criticism of the U.S. securities regulator, calling Securities and Exchange Commission officials “bastards” for bringing fraud charges against him over his 2018 tweets regarding taking the company private. On the day he made major news by unveiling a $43 billion cash takeover offer for social media company Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), Musk aired his grievances toward the SEC during remarks at the TED Conference in Vancouver.
Citi Began Deepening Its Russia Retreat Before Ukraine Invasion; Bank has cut $2 billion of exposure to country since January; No one can call ‘when this ends and how this ends’: CFO Mason
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Citigroup Inc. began scaling back its operations in Russia weeks before President Vladimir Putin even invaded Ukraine. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser and her team had spent months watching as tensions between the two countries rose. By January, the firm — which has the largest presence in both Russia and Ukraine of any U.S. bank — was ready to act.
Germany’s Faustian Pact With Russia Haunts Industrial Giants; As the government weighs cutting off imports over the Ukraine invasion, economists are divided over how much pain the nation could suffer.
William Wilkes and Monica Raymunt – Bloomberg
Along the banks of the Rhine, Europe’s biggest chemical factory churns out the building-block compounds for the country’s powerhouse car, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries—all fueled by pipelines filled with Russian gas. BASF SE’s plant in Ludwigshafen is emerging as a symbol of Germany’s opposition to a full embargo on Russian gas amid rising calls to punish President Vladimir Putin for his war on Ukraine. Cutting it off, BASF says, could render its factory—the biggest supplier of the base chemical acetylene—inoperative, sending shock waves through many industries and causing Germany’s economy irreversible damage.
BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink’s pay rose to $36mn in 2021; Increase of 21% comes after group surpassed $10tn in assets under management for the first time
Mark Vandevelde – FT
BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink’s pay increased 21 per cent to $36mn last year after the asset management group reported record profits as a tide of money flowed into its funds. The bumper 2021 pay award for BlackRock’s 69-year-old founder includes cash and equity incentives, as well as a $1.5mn base salary.
Biden nominates former US Treasury official to lead Fed regulation; Michael Barr to replace Sarah Bloom Raskin as pick for central bank’s vice-chair of supervision
Colby Smith – FT
Joe Biden has tapped Michael Barr, a former top Treasury official, to lead regulatory oversight at the Federal Reserve, after the US president’s previous pick withdrew her candidacy after fierce political opposition.
Putin warns Europe that switching away from Russian oil would be ‘very painful’
Rebecca Cohen – Business Insider
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned European countries that switching away from Russian oil imports would be “very painful.” “Attempts by Western countries to squeeze out Russian suppliers, to replace our energy resources with alternative supplies will inevitably affect the entire global economy,” Putin said, according to Russian state media Tass. “The consequences of such a step can be very painful — and first of all for the initiators of such a policy,” he said.
Ukraine war: Shenzhen smartphone maker AGM’s Russian business on thin ice after invasion
South China Morning Post
Shenzhen-based smartphone company AGM, which makes ruggedised models that can operate in extreme cold weather, saw sales in its second-largest market Russia briefly reduced to zero following that country’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. AGM co-founder Austin Ding told the South China Morning Post that orders from Russia, which accounts for about 30 per cent of its total sales by volume, evaporated in the first two weeks after the war in Ukraine started.
Russian Deputy PM says several buyers agree to pay in roubles for Russian gas
Several buyers of Russian gas have agreed to switch to payments in roubles, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday. “We expect the decision (to switch to roubles) from other importers,” he added, in comments published in the ministry’s in-house magazine. He did not disclose the identities of customers who had already switched.
Ukrainians Come Home to Wreckage, Booby Traps and Fresh Laundry; As migrant influx slows, increasing numbers are heading back; Perceived risk in Kyiv abates as Russia shifts invasion east
Volodymyr Verbyany and Aliaksandr Kudrytski – Bloomberg
As Russian forces shift their military focus to the east, some Ukrainians who fled their homes early in the invasion are venturing back to see what’s left of their lives and whether they can start to rebuild.
Ukraine battles to protect its churches and heritage from ravages of war; Human suffering compounded by damage and destruction to historic sites and national monuments
Andres Schipani in Zhovkva – FT
At Holy Trinity church in the Ukrainian city of Zhovkva, Father Vasyl Batyuk showed off one of the newer additions that is almost as precious as the centuries-old rows of religious icons that line its timber walls: a red fire extinguisher. “Have you seen how many churches the Russians have bombed in the east?” the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest asked, referring to the area hard hit by Vladimir Putin’s war. “We have to be prepared.”
Russia says warship Moskva has sunk in the Black Sea; Moscow blames stormy seas for loss of flagship that Ukraine claims was hit by missile
Polina Ivanova, Felicia Schwartz and Roman Olearchyk – FT
Russia’s defence ministry has said the Moskva missile cruiser, its flagship in the Black Sea, has sunk, dealing a significant blow to Moscow’s offensive in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that the Russian vessel had been hit by one of their anti-ship missiles, causing an explosion on board.
UK freezes £10bn of assets held by associates of Roman Abramovich; New round of sanctions target Eugene Tenenbaum and David Davidovich
Sarah Provan, Samuel Agini and Robert Smith – FT
The UK is to freeze an estimated £10bn of assets held by two longstanding business associates of Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch best known for his ownership of Chelsea Football Club. The sanctions on Eugene Tenenbaum and David Davidovich bring the total number of oligarchs, family members and associates with ties to Russia on the UK list to 106 since February, the government said on Thursday.
$100 Billion. Russia’s Treasure in the U.S. Should Be Turned Against Putin.
Laurence H. Tribe and Jeremy Lewin – NY Times
As Vladimir Putin vows to continue his genocidal invasion of Ukraine, investigators at the Treasury Department and Justice Department are scrambling to seize Russian yachts, mansions and the other spoils of his despotic regime. Meanwhile, in Washington, Representatives Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Joe Wilson of South Carolina have advanced a bipartisan measure to clarify exactly how much power the executive branch has to liquidate those assets.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
Is the stock market open on Good Friday?
Joy Wiltermuth – Marketwatch
Stock exchanges in the U.S. will be closed on Friday, April 15 in observance of Good Friday, but the bond market opens for an abbreviated session. In Europe, stock exchanges will be closed on Good Friday, April 15, through Easter Monday, April 18, reopening on Tuesday.
Review of Collateral Haircuts
April 14, 2022 In conjunction with the regular review of market volatility and to ensure adequate collateral coverage, please find below the current acceptable collateral and haircuts for CME Clearing. All assets utilized to meet PB requirements in different currencies are subject to an additional cross-currency haircut. For applicable haircuts and more details, please see the CME cross-currency haircut file and the CME Financial and Collateral Management page.
Derived Block Trade Eligibility
Effective Sunday, May 22, 2022 for trade date Monday, May 23, 2022 and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, please be advised that the Chicago mercantile Exchange, Inc. (CME or EXCHANGE) and the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago (CBOT or EXCHANGE) will permit derived block trading for all the CME Emini S&P Select Sector Futures and the CBOT Dow Jones US Real Estate Index Futures contracts listed below for submission for clearing on CME ClearPort.
Application of Dynamic Price Fluctuation Limits to all CME Foreign Exchange (FX) Futures Contracts
Effective Sunday, May 1, 2022 for trade date Monday, May 2, 2022 and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (“CME”) will amend CME Rule 589. (“Special Price Fluctuation Limits”) and the related Special Price Fluctuation Limits and Price Limits table (the “Table”) to apply Dynamic Price Fluctuation Limits to certain foreign exchange (“FX”) futures contracts, and their associated products, provided in Table 1 below. Upon the effective date, dynamic price fluctuation limits shall apply to all CME FX futures contracts.
Euronext Corporate Services expands its webcast studio network to London
Euronext Corporate Services, part of the Euronext Group, today announced the opening of a webcast studio in London, United Kingdom. This is the sixth European studio for Company Webcast, the webinar company of Euronext Corporate Services and one of the European leaders in professional webcast and webinar solutions. This opening marks a major step in fulfilling its ambition to build the largest studio network in Europe.
Cooperation in the Issuance of Japan’s First Wholesale Digitally Tracked Green Bond
Japan Exchange Group, Inc., Hitachi, Ltd., Nomura Securities Co., Ltd., and BOOSTRY Co., Ltd. today announce their cooperation in the issuance of a publicly-offered wholesale “Digitally Tracked Green Bond”*, the first in Japan, using a corporate bond-type security tokens scheme that utilizes a blockchain provided by BOOSTRY Co., Ltd.
Publication of Japan Exchange Group Green Bond Framework
On April 15, 2022, Japan Exchange Group, Inc. (JPX) published the Japan Exchange Group Green Bond Framework. This Framework has been created in line with the International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles 2021 and the Japanese Ministry of the Environment’s Green Bond Guidelines 2020. It describes JPX’s policies on a) use of proceeds, b) processes for evaluating and selecting projects, c) management of proceeds, and d) reporting, and has received a preliminary evaluation from Rating and Investment Information, Inc. (R&I).
Suspension of Designation as Good Delivery Materials for Russian Brand
I.Suspension of Designation as Good Delivery Materials for Russian Brand
Now, since LPPM (London Platinum and Palladium Market) has taken steps to exclude Russian platinum and palladium brands from the certification list, OSE have suspended the designation of the following brand as Good Delivery Materials in our futures market (Implementation date: April 8, 2022).
Please note that the precious metal bars produced on and after April 8, 2022 cannot be provided for delivery, though the ones before April 8, 2022 may be furnished for delivery.
Muscat Clearing & Depository Company S.A.O.C. signs agreement with Euroclear. Major milestone to enhance the Sultanate of Oman’s global connectivity to the international financial markets.
The Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced on Wednesday the official linking of the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX) with Euroclear, a major international clearinghouse. It follows the signing of an agreement between the Muscat Clearing and Depository Company (MCD), a subsidiary of MSX, and Euroclear, one of the world’s largest providers of domestic and cross-border settlement and related services for bond, equity, ETF and mutual fund transactions
Fireblocks and Fintech Major FIS Bring DeFi to Capital Markets
Ian Allison – Coindesk
Crypto custody firm Fireblocks has teamed up with FIS, the Fortune 500 technology provider to banks and capital markets firms. The partnership, announced Wednesday, will enable FIS’s 6,400 clients to access large crypto trading venues, liquidity providers, lending desks and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. Those clients include a buy-side assortment of asset managers and hedge funds, as well as banks and brokers.
The Twitter Investors Musk Hopes to Keep May Not Want to Stay; Alwaleed bin Talal rejects low-ball bid in a tweet Thursday; Cuban says Musk has opened floodgates for potential bidders
Kamaron Leach – Bloomberg
Elon Musk said Thursday — and later backed it up with a tweet — that he wants to retain as many of Twitter Inc.’s shareholders as possible if he’s successful in his bid to take the social-media network private. First, he might have to persuade them to accept his offer.
The Ukrainian-born engineer behind Solana Labs learned to code as a teen and had a ‘lightbulb’ moment about the blockchain
Anne Sraders, Declan Harty – Fortune
Anatoly Yakovenko was a kid when he came to the U.S. from Ukraine in the early 1990s. As a teenager, he was enamored with programming, having learned C, his first coding language. The dot-com boom was in full swing and “there was this magical possibility of writing a piece of code that just solves some incredible problem for the world” and becoming the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Yakovenko tells Fortune, seated at a long table at Solana’s Hacker House in Miami.
North Korean hackers linked to $620 million Axie Infinity crypto heist; A cryptocurrency address used in the theft last month was tied to the same group that hacked Sony Pictures in 2014
Aaron Schaffer – Washington Post
The U.S. government has linked a notorious gang of North Korean hackers to a cryptocurrency address that was used last month to steal more than $600 million from a popular video game. The hackers, known as the Lazarus Group, were also responsible for the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures, authorities previously said. North Korea has long denied allegations of orchestrating cyberattacks and cyberheists.
Elon Musk’s ‘top priority’ for Twitter includes cutting down on crypto scam tweets; “If I had a Dogecoin for every crypto scam I saw…” said the Tesla CEO to a TED Talk crowd in Vancouver.
Turner Wright – Cointelegraph
With a reported net worth of more than $300 billion, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he could “technically afford” to purchase Twitter outright and also had plans to change the user experience of the major social media platform.
How Elon Musk could fund his $43bn Twitter takeover; Share pledges and finding a deep-pocketed partner among ways Tesla chief could pay for his latest scheme
Eric Platt, Antoine Gara and James Fontanella-Khan – FT
Just like four years ago, when Elon Musk famously claimed he had “funding secured” to delist electric car maker Tesla, the mercurial entrepreneur’s $43bn bid to take Twitter private will come down to whether he has the cash to carry out his plan and can coax the company’s board to go along with it. Some analysts on Wall Street warned Musk’s $54.20 a share offer may not satisfy Twitter’s board — its stock traded above that level on most days last year. But assuming Musk is serious about pursuing his bid, Wall Street is watching closely to see how he could come up with the cash to make his Twitter takeover happen.
Crypto boss says fraudsters have ‘special place in hell’
Dan Whitworth – BBC.com
A senior director at one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges has told Radio 4 Money Box there’s a “special place in hell” for fraudsters. Curtis Ting spent eight years at the FBI before joining Kraken where he is now managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “I’m a former law enforcement official myself, I also have two living grandparents,” he says. “Frankly there’s a special place in hell reserved for scammers and fraudsters who try to rob the vulnerable and the elderly.”
‘Bitcoin widow’ reveals how she fell victim to her own husband’s $215m scam after his mysterious death; Gerald Cotten didn’t just cause investors to lose millions — he deceived his wife, Jennifer Robertson for years. Josh Marcus reports on the life and lies of the ‘Bitcoin Widow’
The first thing Jennifer Robertson says when she answers the phone is, with a laugh, “I’m not on an island with Gerry.” That would be with Gerald Cotten, her former husband, a controversial Canadian cryptocurrency businessman who suddenly died in 2018, leaving behind a trail of missing millions, lawsuits, investigations, and wild conspiracy theories related to his company QuadrigaCX.
North Korea’s Lazarus Group Accused of Involvement in Axie Infinity Hack
Bob Mason – FX Empire
As interest in digital assets and Web3 continues to grow, the opportunities are plentiful for cybercriminals. Governments and regulators across several key crypto jurisdictions have raised concerns over the rise in illicit activity. Such has been the level of scrutiny that the U.S launched a new FBI crypto unit to tackle cybercrime.
Crypto’s Top Decentralized Spot Market Aims to Dominate Web3; Uniswap code will let websites embed its trading capabilities; Echoes expansion tactic by PayPal at dawn of e-commerce era
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Uniswap Labs, the main developer of the biggest decentralized exchange for spot-market cryptocurrency trading, is launching computer code that can embed its capabilities into any website, a step that could expand its growth. The so-called swap widget, which can be added by pasting in a line of code, will let OpenSea users swap various tokens without leaving the web site that runs it. The widget will also be initially available on the sites Oasis.app and Friends With Benefits.
Cowboys agree to first cryptocurrency partnership in NFL
Chandler France – Beaumont Enterprise
The Dallas Cowboys agreed to the NFL’s first cryptocurrency partnership after making an agreement with Blockchain.com, according to an April 13 press release and conference. The $14 billion global crypto website will become an “exclusive digital asset partner” of the team, the press release said.
DAR Announces April 2022 Crypto Exchange Vetting Results; DAR’s vetting processes bring institutional-level diligence to crypto markets and the latest vetting process results in 21 Vetted Exchanges and 14 Watchlist Exchanges
Digital Asset Research
Digital Asset Research (DAR), a leading provider of crypto asset data and research, today announced the release of its April 2022 Crypto Exchange Vetting results. DAR’s vetting processes apply institutional-level diligence to digital asset markets to meet an industry-wide need for reliable crypto data in an environment where cryptocurrencies trade across hundreds of lightly regulated or unregulated exchanges.
Inca Digital Announces Series A Funding Round Led by GTS Venture Capital and Galaxy Digital
Inca Digital, a digital asset intelligence company that provides data, analytics and expertise to many of the world’s leading exchanges, financial institutions, regulators and government agencies, today announced that it has completed a Series A investment round led by GTS Venture Capital and Galaxy Digital, with support from Wedbush Capital, Menai Financial Group, Consolidated Trading, Richard Gorelick’s Aquamarine Holdings and early-stage Web3 investor Grant Gittlin.
Startup Betting on Crypto Appeal in Islamic World Raises Funds
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Fasset, a digital-asset gateway, is planning a major expansion in some areas of the Islamic world, as it seeks to boost the adoption of cryptocurrencies in places where it is still viewed with suspicion. The company closed a $22 million Series A funding round led by Liberty City Ventures and Fatima Gobi Ventures, it said in a statement, adding that regional family offices from the Middle East and South Asia also participated. The money will go toward product development and market expansion, the company said.
Singapore rapper Shigga Shay sells out 999 NFTs within 4 minutes
Eddino Abdul Hadi – Straits Times
Home-grown rapper Shigga Shay sold all 999 artworks from his debut non-fungible token (NFT) collection, Spacebars, within four minutes after they were released on April 13. Each NFT was sold for US$40 (S$54) through crypto-currency exchange Crypto.com, with total sales amounting to US$39,960. The value of the NFTs is expected to rise in the secondary market.
Biden to Nominate Michael Barr as Top Fed Banking Regulator; If confirmed, former Obama Treasury official would oversee the largest U.S. financial firms
Andrew Restuccia, Andrew Duehren – WSJ
President Biden will nominate Michael Barr, a former Treasury Department official, to serve as the Federal Reserve’s top banking regulator, the White House said, after Mr. Biden’s first pick for the job withdrew amid opposition from Republicans and a key Democratic senator. If confirmed, Mr. Barr would serve as the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision, charged with overseeing the largest U.S. financial firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.
Reporter Flatley moving to Bloomberg’s national security team
Chris Roush – Talkingbiznews.com
Bloomberg News reporter Daniel Flatley is moving to its national security team to focus on economic sanctions and diplomacy. He has been covering Congress for Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C., with a focus on foreign policy and national security.
Ukraine War Is Depleting America’s Arsenal of Democracy; Western allies face a choice: Send more weapons to Kyiv or save their stockpiles for their own defense.
Hal Brands – Bloomberg
America is following an “arsenal of democracy” strategy in Ukraine: It has avoided direct intervention against the Russian invaders, while working with allies and partners to provide the Kyiv government with money and guns. That strategy, reminiscent of U.S. support for Britain in 1940-41, has worked wonders. Yet as the war reaches a critical stage, with the Russians preparing to consolidate their grip on eastern Ukraine, the arsenal of democracy is being depleted.
The G.O.P. Is Still the Party of Plutocrats
Paul Krugman – NY Times
I recently wrote about how international trade has made some Western nations — Germany in particular — unwilling to confront autocracy. Germany hasn’t just been weak-kneed in its response to Vladimir Putin; it and other European nations have stood by and even continued to provide economic aid to Hungary while Viktor Orban dismantles democracy.
Russian Officials Charged With U.S. Disinformation Scheme; State duma deputy chair and two staff members indicted in N.Y.; They tried to advance Russia’s interest among Congress members
Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
Three Russian government officials were charged with conspiring to affect U.S. policy towards Russia with staged events and propaganda — including efforts to influence members of Congress. An indictment against Aleksandr Babakov, deputy chairman of the state duma, Russia’s lower legislative body, and two members of his staff was unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court. Babakov, Aleksandr Vorobev and Mikhail Plisyuk were accused of trying to influence members of Congress and others to advance Russia’s interests, with one unidentified lawmaker being offered a free trip to Crimea in 2017.
Swiss banker jailed in fraud case after putting strip clubs and dates on expenses; Ex-Raiffeisen Bank boss Pierin Vincenz sentenced to nearly four years
Justin Cash – Financial News
Switzerland’s former ‘banker of the year’ has been jailed after a fraud trial revealed he used company expenses for strip clubs, Tinder dates, holidays and dinners. Pierin Vincenz, who was previously chief executive of Raiffeisen Bank, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for charges including fraud after a Zurich court heard he had used his company credit card to rack up some £165,000 in strip club visits described as largely business-related, Reuters reported.
CFTC Charges Tennessee Trader and Two Entities with Engaging in Cross-Market and Single-Market Spoofing and Manipulative Schemes
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against David Skudder, Global Ag LLC, and Nesvick Trading Group LLC for spoofing—bidding or offering with the intent to cancel the bid or offer before execution—and for the use of manipulative schemes. The schemes involved both soybean futures contracts and options on soybean futures contracts traded on the Chicago Board of Trade. Some of their misconduct involved cross-market spoofing—i.e., spoofing in one market to benefit a position in another market, where the price of the two markets is correlated. Skudder is a founder, principal, and registered associated person of Global, a registered commodity trading advisor. Skudder is also a registered associated person of Nesvick, a registered introducing broker.
Statement on Jury’s Verdict in Trial of Tytus W. Harkins
Gurbir S. Grewal – SEC
Today, after a seven-day trial, a jury serving in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado ruled in favor of the SEC against Tytus W. Harkins for making false and misleading statements to investors in his company, Hartman Wright Group, LLC. The trial team included Nicholas Heinke, Terry Miller, and Matthew Skidmore.
“Working On ‘Team Cyber'” – Remarks Before the Joint Meeting of the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) and the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC)
Chair Gary Gensler – SEC
Thank you. It’s good to be with the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) as well as the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC). As is customary, I’d like to note that my remarks are my own, and I’m not speaking on behalf of the Commission or SEC staff. As some of you may know, I often like to talk about the founding of our nation’s securities laws in the 1930s.
SEC Charges Eight Participants in Cross-Border Penny Stock Fraud Scheme
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Ronald Bauer et al., No. 1:22-cv-03089 (S.D.N.Y. filed April 14, 2022)
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against eight individuals for participating in a long-running fraudulent scheme that generated over $145 million from unlawful sales of penny stocks and caused significant harm to retail investors in the United States and around the world.
SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against CEO of E-Commerce Startup Who Defrauded Investors
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today the entry of a final judgment on April 11, 2022, against Andrew J. Chapin, formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Benja Inc. Chapin agreed to pay $2,819,692 to settle charges that he defrauded investors in Benja, which declared bankruptcy in October 2020. The SEC’s complaint, filed on November 11, 2020, alleged that from 2018 to 2020, Chapin, the founder and CEO of Benja, told investors that Benja was a successful online advertising platform that generated millions of dollars in revenue from popular consumer clothing brands and retailers. In reality, the complaint alleged, Benja never did business with the companies.
SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Former Company Controller Charged with Insider Trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today the entry of a final judgment on April 11, 2022 against Mark Loman, formerly controller of OSI Systems, Inc., a California-based security, electronics, and healthcare manufacturing company. Loman agreed to pay $482,050 to settle the charges that he secretly used confidential information he obtained in his position to unlawfully trade securities.
SEC Charges Florida Recidivists with Fraud and Registration Violations
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against Boca Raton, Florida residents Joseph Salvatore DeVito (a/k/a Salvatore DeVito) and Dean Anthony Esposito (a/k/a Dean Anthony) for unlawfully acting as unregistered brokers and hiding their histories of securities law violations while soliciting investments in several unregistered offerings of securities.
Ofgem warns UK energy suppliers over unjustified increases in direct debits; Regulator says it will take action against ‘bad practices’ that could lead to ‘substantial fines’
Nathalie Thomas – FT
Britain’s energy regulator will investigate whether some electricity and gas suppliers have been raising households’ regular direct debit payments by “more than is necessary”. Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said the regulator had detected “troubling signs” that suppliers were allowing customer service “to deteriorate” as the cost of energy bills surge.
Investing and Trading
Good News for FX Platforms as Volumes Hit Two-Year Peak
Colin Lambert – The FullFX
The first group of FX platforms to report average daily turnover (ADV) had good news with one hitting a new record high and the others setting their highest volume marks since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
NEW! From COVID to Conflict
Bernstein Private Wealth Management’s Investment Strategy Group lays out their latest views on the economy and markets in the wake of high inflation, rising rates, and the war in Ukraine.
How to Boost Your Tax Refund With a Guaranteed Great Return; With interest rates on I Bonds set to approach 10%, taxpayers can use their tax refunds to buy more than the normal $10,000 limit
Veronica Dagher – WSJ
Sending your tax refund back to Uncle Sam could net you an attractive return. While most people tend to take their refunds in cash, taxpayers can choose to receive them as inflation-adjusted U.S. savings bonds, the interest on which is currently 7.12% and will rise to nearly 10% beginning in May.
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance
China Is Planning Record Wind and Solar Power Additions This Year; NDRC researcher forecasts 140 gigawatts of new capacity; Coal still needed to balance variable renewable generation
China is set to install a record amount of wind and solar power capacity this year as the country strives to meet climate goals while reducing its reliance on the rest of the world for energy. China will add 140 gigawatts of capacity from the clean energy sources, said Tao Ye, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency. That’s more than the rest of the world combined in 2020, according to BloombergNEF data.
Russia’s war should accelerate the green transition; Folly of clinging to fossil-fuelled energy systems has been laid bare
The editorial board – FT
Another global energy crisis has produced a series of political pledges to use energy more wisely. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought calls to embargo the oil and gas exports that support the country’s economy, and laid bare the folly of maintaining fossil-fuelled energy systems that are no longer fit for purpose. This time, world leaders must do what they have repeatedly failed to do in the past, and use the turmoil to make a shift to clean energy a security priority. History offers a guide to the risks of doing otherwise.
BlackRock Boosts Fink’s Pay 21% to $36 Million for Last Year; Package includes $18.4 million in long-term incentive awards; Firm’s total assets surpassed a record $10 trillion in 2021
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
BlackRock Inc. raised Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink’s total pay to $36 million for 2021, a 21% increase over the previous year. Fink, 69, received a $1.5 million base salary, $11.3 million bonus, $18.4 million of long-term incentive awards and deferred equity of $4.9 million, the New York-based money-manager said Thursday in its annual proxy filing.
Coronavirus: Shanghai finds a record 3,200 cases with Covid-19 symptoms as mass tests uncover Omicron lurking in families in cloistered homes
South China Morning Post
More residents in Shanghai are showing up sick, as more than half a dozen rounds of mass tests found the Covid-19 disease lurking among family members cloistered in locked-down homes across the city of 25 million people. Symptomatic cases rose by 20 per cent to a record 3,200, out of 23,072 infections, according to data of the previous 24 hours released on Friday. That brought Shanghai’s total to 303,000 cases since March 1, of which nine patients – unvaccinated, elderly residents from 70 to 93 years – were in “severe” conditions due to their underlying ailments.
Latino Mortality Rate Spiked 48% in Los Angeles During Covid
Ella Ceron – Bloomberg
The death rate of Latinos in Los Angeles rose dramatically more than any other ethnic group during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage rate of deaths for any reason for Latinos spiked 48%, data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show. Just under half of the city’s population is of Hispanic or Latino descent, according to Census data. While all ethnic groups suffered more than usual deaths during the first year of the pandemic, only the Latino population saw the trend continue the following year. The overall two year mortality-rate for Black people increased 23% and 22% for Asian people, consistent with the broader county statistics.
South Korea downgrades Covid to a ‘Class 2’ disease and removes restrictions; Curfews on bars to be dropped and people can gather for large-scale events from Monday
Christian Davies and Song Jung-a – FT
South Korea will ditch all remaining social-distancing measures next week while downgrading Covid-19 to a “Class 2” disease alongside conditions such as tuberculosis and cholera. The east Asian country’s decision to remove restrictions offers a stark contrast with neighbouring North Korea and China, both of which continue to wrestle with variations of their zero-Covid approach.
Shanghai’s Frozen Meat, Seafood Imports Stall on Port Congestion
Ann Koh – Bloomberg
AP Moller-Maersk A/S, one of the biggest shipping lines in the world, has stopped bookings to ship refrigerated containers into Shanghai as a strict Covid lockdown stalls the trucking of meat and seafood from the port into the city. Containers are piling up at the port of Shanghai due to supply chain disruptions caused by the lockdown, Ocean Network Express said in an advisory to customers on Thursday. The port is running out of electric plug slots to keep refrigerated containers cool, while trucking remains limited and terminals are congested, Asia’s second-biggest container shipping line said.
China cuts banks’ reserve rules in effort to combat economic impact of Covid; PBoC holds back on reducing key interest rate as it juggles capital outflows and weakening growth
Tom Mitchell – FT
China’s central bank has reduced the amount of reserves that banks must maintain in an attempt to boost the economy, which is struggling with the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns implemented by dozens of cities in recent weeks. However, it chose not to cut a key interest rate; Chinese policymakers are concerned that easing too aggressively could exacerbate capital outflows as the US raises rates to combat inflation.
Petrobras moves on from leadership fiasco with new chief; Technocrat José Mauro Coelho takes top job at Brazilian oil major after Bolsonaro sacked two previous bosses
Michael Pooler and Carolina Ingizza – FT
Brazilian oil major Petrobras sought to end weeks of turmoil on Thursday by appointing a new chief executive, after two previous bosses were removed within a year following tensions with President Jair Bolsonaro. The state-controlled company said its board had elected José Mauro Coelho, a public sector official specialising in the energy sector, as chief executive for a one-year term.
What ‘Severance’ Gets Right About Infantilizing Office Perks
Elizabeth Spiers – NY Times
Among the many brilliant touches in the dystopian workplace thriller “Severance,” on Apple TV+, are the perks offered by Lumon Industries, the cultlike, fluorescent-lit corporation where the series takes place: company-branded Chinese finger trap gag toys; cheery if mediocre caricature portraits; a baffling “waffle party”; the much-discussed “music dance experience”; and, more than once, a melon-ball buffet served on a rolling bar. It’s hard not to see real-world analogues — in the table tennis and kombucha taps of Silicon Valley, and especially in the post-pandemic flurry of office happy hours and gift card giveaways, as companies try to lure white-collar workers back to offices. At the high end, a real estate data company offered employees who returned to the office a daily chance to win $10,000, a trip to Barbados or a new Tesla; more common incentives are company swag, pop-up snack stands, Covid personal protection gift bags and stress balls.