We Must Start Planning For a Permanent Pandemic

Mar 24, 2021

First Read

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Eurex Derivatives Forum Takes a Look At German Blockchain Innovation
Thom Thompson – John Lothian News

Day One of the Eurex Derivatives Forum, held this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, offered a discussion of German developments in blockchain innovation. Germany has implemented not only detailed legislation on custody of cryptocurrencies and digital assets but has also recently adopted a law allowing electronic issuance of securities, including on blockchain.

The “Digital Securities and Tokenization” panelists seemed to agree that digital securities will find their first adoption either in new types of securities, such as carbon emission offset certificates, or bonds. Bonds, they said, are more immediately amenable to blockchain because the whole life cycle can easily be entered on the blockchain — origination, coupons and redemption.

To read the rest of this story, go here.


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

First it was volcano bonds, now rhino bonds, and it does not have anything to do with Republicans. A bond designed to raise funds to grow the population of endangered black rhinoceros in South Africa will be sold by the World Bank this year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve issued two white papers on March 22. The first was titled “Global Stablecoins: Monetary Policy Implementation Considerations from the U.S. Perspective” and the second was titled “Gender and Social Networks on Bank Boards.”

Last night I interviewed SGX CEO Loh Boon Chye for our industry leader series we normally do during FIA Boca. Today I have the first interview with the new Trading Technologies CEO Tim Geannopulos since he took over the role, this one in person since we both are in Chicago.

Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla will now accept bitcoin as payment for cars. And why not?

We are going to conclude our demographic survey at the end of March. If you have not filled it out, please do. We will pull names from those who do reply and give donations to a charity of their choice.

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

I sent JLN Editor-in-Chief Sarah Rudolph a quokka, a short-tailed scrub wallaby, to cheer her up during her recovery from surgery. She is progressing. And who knew she liked quokkas? I do now.

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


What looked like ErisX’s “Hail Mary” pass overshot the receiver. The cryptocurrency trading platform and derivatives exchange withdrew its proposed sports betting contract from the CFTC on Monday. The CFTC had set a 90-day clock on a deeper review of the proposal that was set to run out in a day or two. ErisX had certified to the CFTC that its futures based on the results of NFL regular season football games met the standards of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC’s review was essentially the commission wondering out loud if that were true. In written comments to the commission, both the NFL and the NBA called for a comprehensive study of the proposal be undertaken before the CFTC allowed ErisX to list the contracts. ~Thom Thompson

Please note a correction in last week’s story, “FIA Boca-V: Closing Ceremony Honors Outstanding Figures and Remembers the Lost.” Douglas Harris became general counsel of JPMorgan Futures when it was created in 1982. Harris helped organize the new entity after joining JPMorgan Futures in 1979.~MR


BrokerTec Launches First-Ever U.S. Treasury Benchmark Spread Trading Capability
CME Group
BrokerTec, a leading provider of electronic trading platforms and technology services in fixed income markets, this week launched Relative Value (RV) Curve spread trading, allowing clients to trade cash U.S. Treasury benchmark spreads in a single order for the first time. As a result, market participants are able to trade spreads across the yield curve more efficiently and without legging risk.

*****Some people have done some really good work to make spread trading easier. Nice work.~JJL


The Line Between NFTs and Fine Art Gets Even Blurrier in New Auction; The family of Russian modernist Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is auctioning off a non-fungible token that happens to come with a 100-year-old painting.
James Tarmy – Bloomberg
The art market has not been kind to the late Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné (1888-1944), an avant-garde artist whose sculpture sits in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since June 2011, art by Baranoff-Rossiné has come to auction 100 times; about 60% of it didn’t sell, according to data from Artnet’s price database.

*****I know art when I see it. It is never fungible.~JJL


After Complaints Of ‘100-Hour’ Workweeks, Goldman Sachs Is Allowing Bankers To Take Off On Saturdays
Jack Kelly – Forbes
In a magnanimous gesture of empathy after hearing the complaints of its junior bankers who were tasked to work 100-hour workweeks, Goldman Sachs is now enforcing Saturdays off for its bankers, in what has deemed the “Saturday rule.” In case you think you’re reading the Onion or Babylon Bee by mistake, sadly, you’re not.

*****Magnanimous is the word of the day.~JJL


Pet frog from Orlando is a finalist to become the next Cadbury Bunny
Fox35 Orlando
Her name is Betty — and she wants to be your next Cadbury Bunny.
The 1-year-old Australian White’s Treefrog from Orlando, Florida beat out thousands of other animals to become a top 10 finalist in Cadbury’s search for their 2021 Easter Bunny.

*****Not traditional, but somehow appropriate for year two of a pandemic.~SC


Most investors now say the stock market is “rigged”
Dion Rabouin – Axios
Nearly 50% of Americans now say the stock market is “rigged against individual investors,” a new survey from Bankrate.com and YouGov shows — and surprisingly a solid majority of those investing in the stock market (56%) believe the market is rigged as well.

*****Sailboats are rigged and it is a good thing.~JJL


Tuesday’s Top Three
On Tuesday, the top-read story came from Bloomberg Businessweek, Jamie Dimon May Soon Turn Away Deposits, and He’s Not Happy. The Wall Street Journal’s report on the stalling of of electronification at the LME was No.2, London Metal Exchange’s Overhaul Meets Resistance.
And Crain’s Chicago Business had the third most-read story, How Chicago became the Silicon Valley of pot.


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Lead Stories

We Must Start Planning For a Permanent Pandemic; With coronavirus mutations pitted against vaccinations in a global arms race, we may never go back to normal.
Andreas Kluth – Bloomberg
For the past year, an assumption — sometimes explicit, often tacit — has informed almost all our thinking about the pandemic: At some point, it will be over, and then we’ll go “back to normal.” This premise is almost certainly wrong. SARS-CoV-2, protean and elusive as it is, may become our permanent enemy, like the flu but worse. And even if it peters out eventually, our lives and routines will by then have changed irreversibly. Going “back” won’t be an option; the only way is forward. But to what exactly?

TP ICAP completes $700 million Liquidnet acquisition; The deal will see TP ICAP combine its high-touch derivatives and cash equities with low-touch block cash equities platform at Liquidnet.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Interdealer broker TP ICAP has completed its acquisition of institutional trading network and dark pool operator Liquidnet in a deal that is set to boost its electronic trading capabilities. TP ICAP confirmed its intentions to buy the company in September, entering into a definitive agreement to buy Liquidnet for $700 million swiftly afterwards in October.

BrokerTec launches US treasury benchmark spread trading solution; The Relative Value (RV) Curve spread trading tool at BrokerTec allows clients to trade cash US treasury benchmark spreads in a single order.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
CME Group’s fixed income platform BrokerTec has launched a benchmark spread trading solution for cash US treasuries that allows participants to trade spreads across the yield curve.

China’s SWIFT joint venture a ‘defensive move’ in US financial war after Alaska talks underlined ongoing tensions
Karen Yeung – South China Morning Post
Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service provides a network for financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions;But some Chinese medium and small-sized banks have reported unstable connectivity to the network, affecting their cross-border transactions
China’s latest joint venture with the Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service is a “defensive move” amid ongoing tensions with the United States, highlighted by last week’s fractious talks in Alaska.

JPMorgan, Citi join Goldman in rush to hire juniors amid busiest recruitment spree in a decade; Bank of America is also among major banks set to add more than 175 analyst- and associate-level hires across the US and Europe. ‘The market is manic,’ says one recruiter
Paul Clarke – Financial News
Banks including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America are scrambling to hire junior bankers as a surge in workload during one of the busiest starts to the year in decades has led to increasing concern over burnout and mental health.

A New Global Monetary Order Is Being Built Before Your Eyes; A worldwide tussle is underway over the spoils of ultra-cheap money.
Daniel Moss – Bloomberg
The Covid-19 pandemic and the extraordinary stimulus unleashed has re-written the role of central banks. Now that economic recovery is picking up, there’s a global tussle over the spoils and just how much power monetary authorities have to surrender.

Turkey’s War Against the Markets
Rodney Jefferson – Bloomberg
From state institutions to the media, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip on just about everything in Turkey since a failed coup against him in 2016. The one force he couldn’t seem to rein in was the free market. For a time, Erdogan got what he wanted: lower borrowing costs and a drop in inflation. But the economic toll mounted. The central bank used up its dollar reserves, inflation climbed, and foreign investors became more reticent to commit money to the country, abandoning the Turkish lira in droves.

Goldman Sachs complaints show long hours and Covid don’t mix; Remote work has been a disaster for businesses that rely on an apprenticeship model
Brooke Masters – FT
The PowerPoint presentation in which 13 young Goldman Sachs analysts complained that they were overworked and disrespected has divided opinion sharply. “Snowflakes,” scoffed one bank executive, remembering that he too worked 95 hours a week when deal flow was high. So what if 92 per cent of them felt “ignored” in meetings: “They’re 22 years old and have been working less than a year. What can they add?” Jim Cramer of CNBC was equally snarky: “if they can’t live on four hours [sleep] they should be miserable,” he tweeted.

The IRS Should Do More to Nab Wealthy Tax Dodgers; With greater resources, the agency could recover $175 billion a year.
Timothy L. O’Brien – Bloomberg
President Joe Biden has big, ambitious plans that will continue to ring up unwieldy bills for the federal government. His administration will have to fund a significant — but still undetermined — portion of those bills by raising taxes on affluent Americans. And that won’t go well unless Biden’s team can get ahead of well-heeled taxpayers who are inclined to outfox the system. As Bloomberg News reported this week, the Internal Revenue Service has spent years underestimating how much income those artful dodgers have masked to avoid paying taxes. The money has been stashed in complex structures, often offshore bank accounts or private business partnerships, shortchanging Uncle Sam by about $175 billion a year.

Wall Street Loosens Up as 100-Hour Weeks in Pandemic Take a Toll
Jennifer Surane and Donal Griffin – Bloomberg
Citi CEO calls for one day a week without video conferences; Goldman, Jefferies vow to be more attentive to junior bankers
Wall Street firms are lining up to show their kinder and gentler side as a pandemic-fueled malaise weighs on employees, including those in junior roles. Citigroup Inc. was the latest to chime in, with Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser banning internal video calls on Fridays and encouraging staff to take vacations. On Sunday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon promised to do a better job of keeping young bankers out of the office on Saturdays, and Jefferies Financial Group Inc. said last week that it would reward its youngest workers with coveted fitness perks, including Peloton bike

Fed’s Quarles Says ‘Finally Time’ for Everyone to Ditch Libor
Alex Harris – Bloomberg
Libor contracts outstanding have increased to $223 trillion; ‘Adjusting to a new reality can be difficult,’ Quarles says
Federal Reserve Governor Randal Quarles urged market participants to stop using the London interbank offered rate following an uptick in financial activity tied to the benchmark, which global regulators have slated for elimination.

Trading App Robinhood Says It Files Confidentially for IPO
Matthew Monks, Katie Roof, and Crystal Tse – Bloomberg
Robinhood is said to be going public as soon as late in Q2; Meme-stock frenzy added to company’s users: JMP Securities
Robinhood Markets Inc. said it filed confidentially for an initial public offering, in what will be a highly anticipated listing among investors — including the trading app’s own customers.

Slow-Vaccinating Asia Is Squandering Its Economic Advantages; Countries that suppressed or eliminated Covid-19 outbreaks lag in vaccinating, delaying a full recovery
Mike Bird – WSJ
As late as last autumn, suggesting that countries where Covid-19 outbreaks had been suppressed or controlled would suffer a longer-lasting shortfall in consumer demand than the U.S. would have seemed fanciful. It no longer does.

Boris Johnson warned not to leave City of London high and dry in EU financial services deal
Nicholas Cecil – Evening Standard
oris Johnson was today urged not to leave the City “swinging in the wind” by failing to strike a comprehensive deal with the EU on financial services. The Government and Brussels are expected to shortly sign a memorandum of understanding which could help to pave the way to reach a better agreement for the sector, which is so crucial to Britain’s economy.

Pfizer Begins Human Trials of New Pill to Treat Coronavirus
By Robert Langreth – Bloomberg
Protease inhibitor is similar to other successful virus drugs; Therapy could help Covid-19 patients not yet in the hospital
Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness. If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C.


Building a Covid Travel Passport Is a Serious Tech Challenge; Systems need to be secure, protect privacy, and be able to talk to each other.
Tara Patel, Natalia Drozdiak – Bloomberg
When Philippe Srour and his wife, Laurence, took an Air France flight to Paris from San Francisco in mid-March, they were given a novel opportunity to escape some of the madness of pandemic-era travel. In exchange for the promise of less hassle at border and security checks, the couple agreed to use a mobile app to display their Covid-19 test results. The trial wasn’t a total success. Srour, an engineer by training, initially couldn’t get the app to work, because it wouldn’t accept his leap-year date of birth: Feb. 29. Although the airport verification steps ultimately went smoothly, the glitch showed that the AOKpass system from travel-security company International SOS “might need a little more attention,” Srour said after stepping off his flight in Paris.

WHO Chief Says Rising Cases, Deaths Are ‘Truly Worrying Trends’
Bryce Baschuk – Bloomberg
Unequal access to Covid-19 vaccines is a ‘moral outrage’; We could all end up back at ‘square one,’ Tedros says
The recent increases in Covid-19 cases and deaths represent “truly worrying trends,” said World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who warned rich nations against hoarding vaccines. “Cases are increasing in most regions,” Tedros said at a virtual event hosted by the World Trade Organization. “We continue to see the impact of variants, opening up societies and inequitable vaccine rollout.”

Jabs vs. Jab-Nots: Vaccine Passports Will Exclude Less Fortunate; Passes for travel risk leaving the poor and vulnerable behind.
James Paton, Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
On March 15, Britain’s Parliament turned to the question of the moment: how to reopen pubs, cinemas, and soccer stadiums. Almost half the adult population, after all, has gotten a Covid-19 shot, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared that the end of the crisis “really is in sight.” At the heart of the discussion was the “vaccine passport,” a smartphone app or a slip of paper that would attest to inoculation, granting bearers the freedom to travel, go to concerts and cafes, or even just return to the office. Yet what sounds like a practical solution to an unprecedented problem opens the door to a host of ethical and legal concerns. “It would mean passes for the pub,” Conservative MP Steve Baker thundered in a parliamentary debate. “I did not think that is the society that we wished to live in.”

AstraZeneca’s shot at redemption sows further confusion; Dispute with independent scientists overseeing US trial is latest blow to tortured rollout
Hannah Kuchler, Sarah Neville and Oliver Barnes and Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
The latest blow to AstraZeneca’s tortured effort to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to the world arrived by way of a terse statement released on Tuesday at 22 minutes past midnight in Washington.

Boris Johnson under fire for putting UK vaccine success down to ‘greed’; Prime minister quickly retracted comment to 1922 Committee suggesting capitalism was catalyst
Jim Pickard – FT
Boris Johnson has been criticised after telling a private meeting of Conservative MPs that the UK’s successful Covid-19 vaccination programme was the result of “greed” and “capitalism”. “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends,” the UK prime minister said during a Zoom chat with backbenchers from the 1922 Committee.

EU prepares to tighten vaccine export rules after UK spat; Controls would allow Brussels to block shipments to countries not sharing production and take into account whether they are ahead in their rollout
Sam Fleming and Michael Peel and Jim Pickard – FT
Brussels plans to expand the EU’s capacity to stop coronavirus vaccine exports in supply disputes such as its escalating battle with the UK and AstraZeneca.

Doubts overshadow China’s pledge to vaccinate developing countries; Concerns over transparency, efficacy and supply weaken global demand for country’s Covid-19 jabs
Christian Shepherd – FT
Beijing has happily propagated the notion that China is leading the campaign to inoculate developing countries against coronavirus by donating its jabs while richer nations squabble over vaccine supplies.

Hong Kong halts BioNTech vaccinations over packaging concerns; Health authorities insist there is no reason to believe doses are unsafe
Primrose Riordan and Nicolle Liu – FT
Hong Kong has suspended administering BioNTech’s Covid-19 inoculation, in a move that threatens to further slow the pace of the city’s sluggish vaccine rollout and delay the easing of travel restrictions.

Policy missteps blamed for amplifying central and eastern Europe’s third Covid wave; Czech Republic has highest cumulative death toll in world in per-capita terms
James Shotter and Valerie Hopkins – FT
When spring arrives in Prague, its Old Town Square is usually packed with tourists. But this year, it is almost 25,000 white crosses that throng the cobbles, painted by activists to mark the brutal toll of Covid-19.

Pandemic reveals weak links in global supply chain; Vaccine nationalism, Brexit and US-China tensions reflect a political environment more hostile to global trade
Claire Jones – FT
From chip shortages shuttering car plants for weeks to shipping delays and soaring costs, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on global supply chain deficiencies.

The Most Important Thing You Should Know About AstraZeneca’s Vaccine; The intense public scrutiny is vaccine safety at work.
Keren Landman – NY Times
The most important thing to know about AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is that it’s safe and it works — in spite of the missteps that have marred nearly every stage of its rollout. New data shared Monday showed the vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infections in a trial of over 32,000 people, and the company said it would prepare to apply for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.

E.U. Will Curb Covid Vaccine Exports for 6 Weeks; The European Union presented new emergency rules that will most likely severely cut exports to Britain and other countries to ease supply shortages at home
Matina Stevis-Gridneff – NY Times
The European Union is advancing emergency legislation that will give it broad powers to curb exports for the next six weeks of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in its response to supply shortages at home that have created a political maelstrom amid a rising third wave on the continent.

EU inspection ‘finds’ 29m AstraZeneca doses in Italy; Senior French official warns Brussels would be prepared to block export outside the EU
Victor Mallet and Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
An EU inspection has identified a stockpile of 29m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab in Italy that Brussels is prepared to block for export if they are not destined for use in the bloc, a senior French official said.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

IEX Group Hires Rachel Barnett as Chief Legal Officer;Barnett brings experience with high-profile brands, tech companies, regulatory matters, and complex securities litigation
IEX Group, Inc. today announced the addition of Rachel Barnett as Chief Legal Officer. In this role, Barnett will oversee all legal and compliance matters for the company. Barnett has an extensive background working as a general practitioner and litigator. She has guided strategic business initiatives for private and public companies while also overseeing Board governance, mergers and acquisitions, real estate portfolios, complex commercial transactions, IP, litigation, and employment matters.

Cboe combines information solutions and market data businesses; Catherine Clay, senior vice president for information solutions, will become executive vice president at Cboe, responsible for its newly created data and access solutions division.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Cboe Global Markets has combined its information solutions and global market data and access businesses into a single division and has promoted a senior vice president to run the combined business.

Kyoto lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
Thermal battery producer Kyoto has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: KYOTO). Kyoto plans to operate and sell thermal batteries, enabling industrial consumption of low-cost heat sourced from excess solar and wind energy.

EcoOnline lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
EcoOnline, a leading provider of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Quality (EHSQ) software, has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: ECO).

Settlement of DLT-based securities in central bank money tested successfully
Deutsche Börse
Deutsche Börse, the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Federal Finance Agency, together with other market participants, have developed and successfully tested a processing interface for electronic securities. The securities based on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) can be processed with the help of a so-called trigger solution and a transaction coordinator in TARGET2, the Eurosystem’s payment system for large amounts.

HKEX Enhances Product Offering with Bilibili Debut
Bilibili Futures and Options to be introduced on 29 March;Bilibili shares to be included in Designated Securities Eligible for Short Selling on 29 March;Issuers can list derivative warrants on Bilibili shares on 29 March
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is pleased to announce today (Wednesday) that it will offer investors more options on Bilibili, Inc. (Bilibili, stock code: 9626) shares after its debut.

Dividend Letter

Change for Silver Brands
CME Group
The Exchange has made changes to the Silver brand list to reflect corresponding changes at the LBMA. This list of brands is located in the “Silver (SI) Brands” tab in the service providers table at the end of Chapter 7 of the COMEX Rulebook.

Shanghai Stock Exchange: Accommodate To The Structural Changes In The Market And Strengthen The Protection Of Investors’ Rights And Interests
Under the leadership of the Communist Party Committee of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) adhered to the working guideline of “Establishing Systems, No Interference and Zero Tolerance” and the working philosophy of “standing in awe of the market, the rule of law, professionalism and risks and giving full play to the synergy of all sectors”. The SSE took the opportunity of implementing the new securities law and put investor protection through all the work around reform and opening-up and innovative development in 2020. Facing the ongoing profound structural changes in the capital market, the SSE will continue its efforts in investor protection under the new situation. Priorities are to be given to four major aspects as follows.


NatWest to overhaul retail business as it tackles fintech rivals; State-backed UK bank to extend video access to staff and introduce new investment products
Nicholas Megaw – FT
NatWest is planning an overhaul of its core retail banking business to fight back against fintech rivals and increase revenues in an era of low interest rates. Changes will include making staff available for longer hours, introducing new investment products for less affluent savers, and boosting the size of its credit card business, according to people briefed on the plans.

Robinhood files for IPO amid GameStop controversy; Stock trading app’s zero-commission model has made it a favourite among retail traders
Miles Kruppa and Aziza Kasumov – FT
Robinhood has filed paperwork with regulators for a public offering, the company said on Tuesday, setting up what is expected to be one of this year’s largest and most contentious listings on US markets. The stock trading app confidentially submitted the filings for an initial public offering to the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the statement. Confidential submissions allow companies to submit materials for the SEC’s review before filing a public prospectus.

Covid-19 Relief Could Stimulate Fintech Stocks; Some high-flying digital banking and fintech stocks such as Square and PayPal have cooled a bit this year, but stimulus checks going out might bump up results later this year
Telis Demos – WSJ
Millions of Americans have started getting another round of stimulus—and so, by extension, could many fintech companies. So-called neobanks are enjoying a moment in the spring sun right now as relief checks go out. Upstarts such as Chime Financial and others often offer “early access” for many incoming direct deposits, in this case enabling customers to spend stimulus money headed into their accounts a few days before a typical bank customer might.

Trading Technologies platform goes live with Athens Stock Exchange derivatives; All Athens Stock Exchange derivatives products are now available to trade on the Trading Technologies platform including stock and index futures and options.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Chicago-based technology provider Trading Technologies (TT) has launched trading in all derivatives products on the Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX) via its platform.

Nigerian fintech of the unbanked Bankly raises $2M led by Vault
Tage Kene-Okafor – Tech Crunch
Nigeria remains a largely cash-dominated country. There are over 100 million adult Nigerians, of which more than half have little or no access to financial services. Today, Bankly, a Nigerian fintech startup digitizing cash for the unbanked, announced that it has closed a $2 million seed round. Founded by Tomilola Adejana and Fredrick Adams in 2018, Bankly is digitizing the informal thrift collections system known with different names such as esusu or ajo in Nigeria. In the absence of a banking system nearby or a disregard for one, the unbanked resort to these traditional systems because they work completely offline. The system allows them to collate and save cash with a thrift collector responsible for disbursing funds when due.

Cross-border fintech Airwallex raises $100M Series D extension at new valuation of $2.6B
Catherine Shu – Tech Crunch
Airwallex, the fintech company for cross-border businesses, announced today it has added $100 million more to its Series D round, bumping its valuation up to $2.6 billion. The extension was led by Greenoaks, with participation from Grok Ventures and returning investors Skip Capital and ANZi Ventures. Co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Zhang told TechCrunch that the new funding will be used for Airwallex’s United States launch in the second quarter of this year, expand its payment coverage to new regions like the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, and add more products, including physical cards. This latest extension brings Airwallex’s Series D round to $300 million, and total equity raised so far to $500 million. Airwallex first announced its Series D in April 2020 after raising $160 million, then another tranche that added $40 million in September 2020.

The fintech partnership helping Sterling Bancorp reach kids
Miriam Cross – American Banker
Kids who save money early are likelier to become adults who attend college, own stocks and exhibit other positive financial behaviors. That’s the philosophy behind Drafted, an initiative by the fintech Goalsetter to sign up 1 million Black and brown children for savings accounts. Several companies and organizations across various sectors, including Sterling Bancorp in Pearl River, N.Y., have joined in by seeding savings accounts and sponsoring subscriptions to the Goalsetter app. For the $30.6 billion-asset Sterling, this is part of a larger push to flesh out its fintech partnerships and offer banking-as-a-service through third parties. But joining forces with fintechs that connect children with bank accounts and encourage financial literacy can benefit any traditional financial institution trying to appeal to younger demographics. By forming relationships with young savers, banks can convert kids into valuable lifelong customers.

Citi Partners with Fintech Company Sharegain
Bilal Jafar – Finance Magnates
Citi, one of the largest banks in the world, announced today that it has partnered with the fintech firm Sharegain to launch a fully automated securities lending solution for wealth management companies. According to the official announcement, the newly launched solution by Citi will enable wealth managers to deliver a securities lending program to their clients. The bank mentioned that it has designed the solution in a manner to integrate with the existing IT infrastructure of the wealth managers.

Fintech Start-Up Altruist Hires Spotify Branding Chief
Ross Snel – Barron’s
Altruist, the upstart technology and custody platform for financial advisors, reached outside the financial industry to make its latest executive hire. Zach Pentel, who headed global brand strategy at popular music streaming app Spotify for the past four years, has joined Altruist in a newly created role of chief marketing officer. Before joining Spotify, Pentel served as a brand consultant at Coax, which has clients including PepsiCo, Microsoft, and Tinder, according to his LinkedIn profile. Pentel’s experience building consumer brands will help Altruist to assist financial advisors in finding and serving more clients, the Los Angeles-based company said in a news release.

Cristóbal Conde Appointed Chairman Of FinTech And GovTech Leader
Fimatix has announced the appointment of Cristóbal Conde as Non-Executive Chairman effective from 23 March 2021. Formerly Chairman of Calastone, the major global funds network recently sold to The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG), Conde brings a wealth of business, fintech and investment experience. He will work closely with the senior management team as Fimatix continues its growth and M&A drive, identifying opportunities to acquire other fintech and govtech firms.


The New York-based crypto exchange owned by the billionaire Winklevoss twins added 7 new tokens to its platform after an explosion of interest in digital art and NFTs
Shalini Nagarajan – Business Insider
Gemini, the digital currency exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, announced on Monday that it added seven new digital tokens that support decentralized finance, gaming, NFTs, and the decentralized web.

Tesla Now Accepts Bitcoin as Payment for Cars, Musk Says
Katrina Nicholas – Bloomberg
Tesla CEO tweets that payments won’t be converted to fiat; Carmaker earlier disclosed $1.5 billion Bitcoin investment
Having stunned the market with its audacious bet on Bitcoin earlier this year, Tesla Inc. will now start accepting the world’s largest electronic currency as payment for its electric cars.

Microsoft President Smith Is No Fan of Private Digital Currency
Catherine Bosley – Bloomberg
Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith cast doubt on whether financial technology companies should issue currencies, saying governments are still best-placed to play that role. “The money supply almost uniquely needs to be managed by an entity that is responsible to the public and thinks really only about the public interest, and that means governments,” Smith said on Wednesday at an online conference hosted by the Bank for International Settlements. “I’m not a big fan myself of encouraging or asking or wanting us to participate in the issuing of currency.”

Blockchain.com Raises $300 Million as Investors Find Other Ways Into Bitcoin
Paul Vigna – WSJ
Blockchain.com, a London-based firm that provides a variety of cryptocurrency services to retail and institutional clients, raised $300 million in a deal that highlights venture capital’s growing willingness to jump back into the bitcoin frenzy. The investment round gave the company a $5.2 billion valuation and was led by DST Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners and VY Capital. It comes just one month after the company raised $120 million in a funding round that valued it at $3 billion. Blockchain.com has 31 million verified users across 200 countries and 70 million digital “wallets,” or software used to store bitcoins. The firm offers retail trading and a range of services for professional investors like credit, structured products, trading and custody. Between debt and equity, the company has raised $1.5 billion since its inception in 2011, according to Chief Executive Peter Smith.

Chainlink Integration Connects Filecoin to Smart Contract-Enabled Blockchains
Jamie Crawley – Coindesk
Decentralized storage network Filecoin has integrated with decentralized finance (DeFi) oracle service Chainlink. An announcement Wednesday said the integration would enable connection between Filecoin and Ethereum and other smart contract-enabled blockchains. Developers will now be provided a full Web 3.0 infrastructure thanks to Chainlink oracles for off-chain computation and Filecoin’s decentralized data storage. Colin Evran, ecosystem lead at Filecoin developer Protocol Labs, said the integration will automate Filecoin storage functions and make Filecoin’s state accessible on other blockchains.

Uniswap Unveils Version 3 in Bid to Stay DeFi’s Top Dog
Zack Seward, Brady Dale – Coindesk
Uniswap, the leading decentralized exchange (DEX) on Ethereum and a centerpiece of the $42 billion decentralized finance (DeFi) sector, is releasing its third iteration. In a Tuesday blog post, the firm behind the platform said its aim is to make Uniswap “the most flexible and efficient [automated market maker] ever designed.” AMMs – once nearly solely the domain of Uniswap – have grown in stature along with DeFi’s emergence last year. Rivals like SushiSwap, 1inch and others have also made the exchange of Ethereum-based assets easy for many crypto natives. Uniswap v3 is expected to launch on mainnet on May 5, the firm wrote. Notably, Uniswap is eyeing an integration “soon after” with Ethereum throughput booster Optimism.

*****See also: “4000x more capital efficient: Uniswap team reveals details for v3” by Frank Chaparro, The Block; also, “Uniswap V3 Introduces New License to Spoil Future SUSHIs” by William Foxley, Coindesk.~MR

Coinbase execs explain why the soon-to-be-public crypto exchange opted against a security token
Michael McSweeney – The Block
Coinbase’s top brass detailed how the crypto exchange unicorn weighed a possible security token on its path to going public — but ultimately set the idea aside given technological and regulatory constraints. The crypto exchange hosted a Reddit ask-me-anything session last week, a move that came as it prepares to go public by way of a direct listing. That listing is expected to take place as soon as early next month. Coinbase was asked whether it has plans to provide special share access to Coinbase customers, airdrop shares or provide direct access to share purchases via its platform. In response, CFO Alesia Haas wrote that “[t]here’s no opportunity to invest in the company at this time, prior to that direct listing.”

Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help; As Coinbase prepares to be the first major cryptocurrency company to go public, it is struggling with basic customer service, users said.
Kellen Browning – NY Times
Michael Pierre was sitting in his Brooklyn apartment last summer when he received a text on his iPhone from an unknown number, then immediately lost service. Worried his phone was being hacked, he quickly checked his most valued app: Coinbase, a cryptocurrency company where he had stored digital coins worth $100,000.

How PayPal Became a Major Crypto Player
Ollie Leech – Coindesk
PayPal offering crypto services will go down as one of the digital asset industry’s biggest wins to date, even if it did take over seven years to arrive. Here’s how it all happened. PayPal is a global e-commerce payments platform founded in 1998 by Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Max Levchin. Originally known as “Confinity Inc.,” the U.S.-based software service merged with dogecoin proponent Elon Musk’s online banking company “X.com” in 2000 and rebranded to “PayPal” a year later. In 2002, the business was acquired by online marketplace giant eBay for $1.5 billion and became the default payment method for its 185 million users. Thirteen years later, PayPal was spun off from its parent company and went back to being a separate publicly traded company using the same PYPL ticker symbol it had prior to the eBay acquisition.

Zero knowledge proof-based blockchain network Mina goes live
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Mina Protocol, a privacy-oriented blockchain network based on zero-knowledge-proof technology, has gone live. The development means Mina’s mainnet has been launched and it now lets developers build decentralized applications, known as Snapps, in this case. Snapps, or SNARK-powered applications, deploy recursive zero-knowledge (zk)-SNARK technology to enable user privacy, data ownership, and verifiability. Put simply, zk-SNARKs enable users to prove that they know something without divulging any private information. The first application to integrate with Mina is the decentralized lending protocol Teller Finance. With the move, Teller’s users won’t have to share their actual credit score or their social security number with a requesting party. Instead, they will just be able to prove that their credit score is above the required number of 700.

The mayor of Miami is trying to rebrand the city as a crypto hub.
Ephrat Livni – NY Times
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami is selling his city as the world’s cryptocurrency capital. “We want to be on the next wave of innovation,” he told the DealBook newsletter.


Yellen Pledges to Work With Congress on Ways to Ease SALT Cap
Laura Davison – Bloomberg
Secretary says she wants to find ‘fair’ solution for the limit; Some Democrats are seeking repeal of $10,000 limitation
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledged to work with Congress to ease the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that’s been a key area of focus for New York and New Jersey lawmakers in recent years.

Dallas-based AT&T pledged to cut funding to GOP objectors after Jan. 6, but gave to PACs tied to them; The company maintains that it is continuing to suspend contributions to members who objected.
Elizabeth Thompson – Dallas Morning News
Dallas-based AT&T sent thousands of dollars through its PAC to Republican groups with ties to members of Congress who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, after announcing it would no longer contribute to those members in the days after the Capitol riot that day.


China’s tech giants face a reckoning with the regulators; The country’s ecommerce platforms are caught between consumers and government
Yuan Yang – FT
Consumers occupy a peculiar role in China’s tech landscape. They are valued customers of the gigantic platforms such as Tencent, ByteDance and Alibaba, whose strategists try to anticipate their every need. But they tend to lack a collective voice, meaning it is hard to fight privacy violations or manipulative selling strategies.

FCA warns over young people engaging in high-risk investing; Inexperienced investors face danger of excessive losses on volatile products, says regulator
Madison Darbyshire – FT
The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that financially vulnerable younger investors are engaging in “unsuitable” high-risk investing offered by rapidly growing investment apps. Almost two-thirds of new investors buying products classified as high risk, such as cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange, would struggle to afford their losses if their investments soured, said the UK regulator in a report published on Tuesday.

Request to amend Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rules 12904 and 13904 to allow FINRA to cease publication of expunged arbitration awards and to redact identifying information in expunged arbitration awards

ESMA appoints new chair of Market Integrity Standing Committee
The Board of Supervisors of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has appointed Rodrigo Buenaventura, Chair of the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV), Spain, as the new chair of its Market Integrity Standing Committee (MISC).

CCP Supervisory Committee Chair delivers keynote speech at the Derivatives Forum Frankfurt 2021
The Chair of ESMA’s CCP Supervisory Committee yesterday delivered a keynote speech on evolving risks and supervisory responses for CCPs.

ESMA Updates Brexit Statement on Provisions of the Benchmark Regulation (BMR)
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has updated its statement on the application of key provisions of the Benchmark Regulation (BMR).

Year in Review: The 2020 Exam and Risk Monitoring Program
2020 was a year of great change and transition for FINRA’s Exam and Risk Monitoring Program—and the pandemic wasn’t even the start of it. On this episode, the first in a two-part series, we hear from Ornella Bergeron, senior vice president of the carrying and clearing and diversified firm groups; Tom Nelli, senior vice president of exams and standards; Bill St. Louis, senior vice president of the retail and capital markets firm groups; and Tim Thompson, senior vice president of the trading and execution firm group on how the program faired in its first year after a major transformation.

Updated statement on non-damage BI settlements and deductions made for government support
On 3 August 2020, following complaints from policyholders and other stakeholders about insurers making deductions from business interruption (BI) insurance claim payout for some types of Government support given to policyholders, we issued this statement:

FCA launches campaign to encourage individuals to report wrongdoing
The campaign, ‘In confidence, with confidence’, encourages individuals working in financial services to report potential wrongdoing to the FCA, and reminds them of the confidentiality processes in place.

ISDA Guidance: SOFR Publication on Good Friday 2021
ISDA guidance for parties to over-the-counter derivative transactions affected by expected non-publication of SOFR on Good Friday in 2021.

Investing and Trading

Coffee Trade Reeling From Virus Faces ‘Nightmare’ Freight Snags
Marvin G Perez, Fabiana Batista, and Manisha Jha
March 23, 2021, 1:02 PM CDT
Freight disruptions leading to tight supply as demand rebounds; “Everybody is feeling the pinch,” coffee importer says
Coffee supplies in the U.S. are shrinking and wholesale prices are surging, with the hard-hit market bracing for further fallout from a global shortage of shipping containers that’s upended the food trade. Cafes and importers are facing tight supplies and higher costs because of a dearth of space on ship containers that transport beans from Brazil, the top exporter, and Central America. For now, roasters are able to draw on inventories rather than raise prices, but with stockpiles sliding and a smaller Brazilian crop coming, the strains are expected to persist.

Downtrodden stock pickers see opportunity in rebound; Recovering US economy brings chance to beat passive rivals by identifying winners
Michael Mackenzie – FT
Stock pickers are hoping for a sustained comeback as the market dominance of technology companies wanes in a recovering US economy. The initial pandemic-era rally in US stocks, which has reached its first anniversary this week, has been all about big tech, with a handful of giants such as Apple and Facebook at one point accounting for about one-quarter of the entire S&P 500 benchmark stocks index.

Young ETF Buyers Discover the Tech Sector’s Old Friend, the QQQ; The mysterious ticker name and branding of the ETF have helped to attract fractional and beginner investors
Julia Carpenter – WSJ
Everything old is new again in the markets, even popular exchange-traded funds. Take QQQ, the giant tech-focused ETF run by investment manager Invesco Ltd. Launched 22 years ago at the height of the dot-com boom, the fund has in recent months grabbed the attention of a new generation of investors via Reddit’s Wall Street Bets and other online investing communities.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Texas Utility Sues Suppliers for Price-Gouging After February Storm
Gerson Freitas Jr – Bloomberg
CPS Energy disputes at least hundreds of millions in charges; Skyrocketing energy prices during storm may lead to more suits
The lawsuits over exorbitant energy costs across the southern U.S. during February’s historic deep freeze have begun. CPS Energy, a utility that supplies over 1.1 million customers in the San Antonio area with power and gas, is disputing charges amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars at a minimum in 13 lawsuits against suppliers, including BP Energy Co., Chevron Corp. and Energy Transfer.

ECB Pushes for Deeper Analysis of Inequality in Gauging Policy
Carolynn Look – Bloomberg
‘Several puzzles remain’ on policy effects across households; Study suggests recent monetary stimulus has eased inequality
The European Central Bank says further efforts must be made to understand what the unequal distribution of income and wealth across the euro area means for the impact of its monetary policy. As households differ substantially in terms of sensitivity to business cycles and consumption patterns, “the distribution of income and wealth plays a key role in shaping the transmission of monetary policy to economic activity and inflation,” ECB researchers said in an economic bulletin article published Wednesday.

U.S. Oil Companies Lag Far Behind Greener Europe Rivals; A new Bloomberg ranking shows European firms invest far more in renewable energy and carbon-capture technology than American Big Oil.
Tim Quinson – Bloomberg
Europe’s largest oil and gas companies are leaving U.S. rivals further and further behind in the race to cut their reliance on fossil-fuel sales. Total SE, Galp Energia SGPS SA, Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Eni SpA are leading the pack, while Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. are among the laggards, according to newly released climate-transition scores from BloombergNEF and Bloomberg Intelligence.

What do businesses need to add to ESG disclosures? Their people; The corporate world seems more eager to talk about its efforts to protect the planet than its staff who have to live on it
Helen Thomas – FT
Companies are rather reluctant to talk about their staff. I do not mean “people are our greatest asset”, or puff about “harnessing talent” and “leveraging creativity”.

Global banks’ $750bn in fossil fuels finance conflicts with green pledges; Funding of oil, gas and coal projects 9% lower during pandemic year but remains at high levels
Billy Nauman and Stephen Morris – FT
Global banks provided $750bn in financing to coal, oil and gas companies last year, despite many having pledged to back the Paris climate accord and cut their funding for fossil fuels, according to a new study by an activist group.

U.K. Won’t Rule Out Ban on North Sea Oil and Gas Licenses
Jess Shankleman and Elena Mazneva – Bloomberg
Government’s transition plan will safeguard jobs, investment; Oil, gas licenses will be measured against climate objectives
The U.K. government could still ban new oil and gas exploration licenses, after releasing a strategy to support the North Sea transition that environmental groups said was at odds with its plans to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

World’s First Wildlife Bond to Track Rhino Numbers in Africa
Antony Sguazzin – Bloomberg
World Bank Bond aims to boost South Africa black rhino numbers; Program could later be expanded to lions, tigers and gorillas
A bond designed to raise funds to grow the population of endangered black rhinoceros in South Africa will be sold by the World Bank this year.


Ex-UBS Banker Wonders What He’s Doing in $5.3 Billion ‘Mess’
Gaspard Sebag – Bloomberg
UBS is appealing record French penalty as is Patrick de Fayet; Ex-UBS France banker says he’s proud of his time at unit
A former executive at UBS Group AG’s French unit says he’s still wondering what he’s being accused of a decade after the start of an investigation which led to a record 4.5 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) penalty for the Swiss bank. Patrick de Fayet, formerly general manager at the French unit, said that it was “an extraordinary opportunity” for him to join UBS France in 2003 and he’s proud of having worked there.

The little-known activist fund that helped topple Danone’s CEO; Bluebell Capital runs just EUR70m in assets but has big targets in its sights
Laurence Fletcher and Leila Abboud – FT
On January 18, a letter written by a little-known activist investor calling for the replacement of Danone chief Emmanuel Faber was leaked to a French magazine. It proved to be a call to arms among the French consumer goods company’s biggest shareholders, who began contacting London-based Bluebell Capital to understand more about its demands.

TSB chair resigns after sale of bank postponed; Richard Meddings to step down from lender’s board later this year
Nicholas Megaw and Stephen Morris – FT
TSB chair Richard Meddings has announced he will resign from the bank’s board later this year, after its Spanish owner Sabadell postponed plans to sell the British bank.

Thematic ETF assets surge to new record buoyed by Ark funds; Investors poured $42.6bn into the niche funds in the first two months of the year
Emma Boyde – FT
Ark ETFs have led a broader stampede into thematic exchange traded funds, which have seen assets under management rise to a record $394bn globally by the end of February.

HSBC Searches for China’s Wealthy With an Army of Roaming Bankers; Pinnacle is critical to CEO Noel Quinn’s plan to revive the bank’s lagging fortunes
Simon Clark – WSJ
HSBC Holdings HSBC -1.09% PLC has a new plan to find riches in China. It is hiring 3,000 branchless bankers to search prosperous coastal cities for wealthy clients who need advice on insurance and investments. The venture, known as HSBC Pinnacle, is led by Trista Sun, a 41-year-old Chinese banker with the enthusiasm of a financial-technology entrepreneur. She has set up a fintech platform in Shanghai to operate Pinnacle—HSBC says it is the first foreign company to get a license to do this—and is recruiting financial planners to roam Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen armed with digital tablets.

Goldman Sachs underlings have griped about work from home schedule for a year
Alexandra Steigrad – NY Post
Goldman Sachs underlings have been complaining about their grueling work-from-home routines for longer than previously known — since the start of the pandemic, in fact. Last spring — almost a year before a group of first-year analysts created last month’s viral PowerPoint presentation, begging to work 80 hours a week instead of more than 100 — a coterie of Goldman rookies put together a similar deck, just weeks after the start of the COVID-19 crisis.


U.S. Thirst for Russian Oil Hits Record High Despite Tough Talk; Even as Washington champions energy independence and warns European allies against becoming too dependent on Moscow, American refineries are buying more of the country’s oil than ever before.
Javier Blas – Bloomberg
The oil tankers docking at the refinery in Baytown, Texas, look exactly like many others plying the waters of the Houston Ship Channel. But stashed inside their capacious holds is an unusual cargo: Russian petroleum.

Cash Is King for Emerging Nations Facing Spike in Yields
Lilian Karunungan and Selcuk Gokoluk – Bloomberg
Russia, South Africa have announced cut in planned issuance; ‘All boils down to flexibility and buffers,’ Fim Partners says
Cash is king may well be the mantra for emerging markets this year. With the relentless increase in Treasury yields pushing up global borrowing costs, developing-nation bond investors are scrutinizing the cash reserves of governments as they look to pick future winners. Russia, South Africa and Indonesia may be among the best performers as they have each built up a sizable backstop.

Bank of Canada Set to Slow Its Bond Buying Ahead of G-7 Peers
Shelly Hagan – Bloomberg
Deputy governor maps out route to taper as soon as next month; Improving outlook puts Macklem on faster track than Fed
The Bank of Canada is signaling it will be the first Group of Seven central bank to clearly start taking its foot off the gas as the nation’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis accelerates.

Russian market valuation markdown reveals investor mistrust; Oil group Surgutneftegaz highlights broader concerns with its big discount to giant $50bn cash pile
Henry Foy – FT
There are valuation discounts and risk premiums, and then there is Surgutneftegaz. Russia’s fourth-largest oil producer pumps out more than 10 per cent of the country’s crude, has barely any debt and a cash pile of about $50bn. But investors value it at just $20.5bn.

Turkey’s money markets face ‘liquidity squeeze’ after lira tumble;Conditions make it more challenging to unwind positions or bet against lira, analysts says sAdam Samson, Ayla Jean Yackley and Joshua Oliver – FT
Turkey’s money market showed signs of stress on Tuesday, a day after the president’s firing of a respected central bank chief rattled investors and sparked heavy selling in the country’s assets.

City of London bosses warn against ‘gold plating’ new governance rules; Senior executives fear US-style changes could weaken UK boardrooms and make audits more costly
Daniel Thomas – FT
Senior City of London executives have warned the UK government not to “gold plate” US-style corporate governance rules with procedures that could weaken boardrooms and add cost and complexity to company audits.

Buenos Aires Bondholders Sue Over $7 Billion Debt Logjam; Negotiations over the provincial debts break off as Argentina seeks IMF deal
Andrew Scurria and Ryan Dube – WSJ
Bondholders filed suit in New York on Tuesday against Argentina’s Buenos Aires province after talks broke down over restructuring $7.1 billion in provincial debt as the country’s leftist government seeks a larger accommodation with the International Monetary Fund to regain market access.


EU keen to resume Brexit talks to end Northern Ireland row
Lisa O’Carroll – The Guardian
The EU is pressing to reopen Brexit talks with the UK in an effort to end the bitter row over Northern Ireland a week after it formally launched legal action against the government.
Ireland’s foreign minister has indicated that the EU is willing to show some flexibility despite the UK’s recent decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the special arrangements for Northern Ireland, which led to the threat of court action.

As Europe threatens to curb vaccine exports to Britain and other countries, the post-Brexit rift widens
Rick Noack, Karla Adam and Quentin Ariès – The Washington Post
The European Commission is expected to propose new curbs on coronavirus vaccine exports on Wednesday, in a move that is likely to widen the rift between the E.U. and its former member state Britain.
Though the revised rules would not constitute an outright ban, they are expected to make reciprocity, a country’s epidemiological situation and its vaccination rate key criteria for export approval, according to two European diplomats speaking on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday.

‘Festival of Brexit’: first events for divisive £120m project announced
Mark Brown – The Guardian
A celebration of the British weather and the largest grow-your-own food project of modern times will be among the events being staged for a nationwide festival of creativity aimed at bringing the UK together in 2022.
Organisers of the £120m festival, commissioned by Theresa May’s government and supported by Boris Johnson, announced 10 teams who had successfully pitched ideas.

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