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Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 9:42pm
Bill Gates Says Climate Change Threat 'Dire' But Opportunities 'Immense'

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said that the “threat of climate change is dire,” in response to the sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change. 

What Happened: Gates tweeted the report on Wednesday and said, “the threat of climate change is dire. But if we act with ambition, unleash innovation, and meet this moment with the urgency it demands, the opportunities are immense.”

IPCC said the challenge “required to keep warming to 1.5ºC” has become even “greater” due to the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the Panel’s 2018 meeting.

See Also: Bill Gates On Long-Term Approach To Climate Change Says You Can Call Putin In 10 Years 'And Tell Him You Don't Need Him'

Why It Matters: “The solution lies in climate-resilient development. This involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits,” said IPCC in a statement.

Gates said in December that the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC goal is no longer achievable.

He said at the time that given “the overall scale of our industrial economy … we're going to have to do mind-blowing work to stay below 2 degrees.”

The Microsoft co-founder has pushed for a more realistic approach to climate change. He has invested $2 billion toward climate technologies spanning direct air capture, solar energy, and nuclear fission.

Read Next: Bill Gates Labeled 'Hypocrite' for Flying Around the World in Private Jet While Preaching Climate Change


Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 9:38pm
Joe Biden

The U.S. is reportedly worried about being backed into a corner as Xi Jinping visited his “dear friend” to discuss the Chinese proposal to end the war in Ukraine

What Happened: Washington has publicly expressed skepticism about China's blueprint to end the war in Ukraine, saying a ceasefire now would lock in Russia's territorial gains.

An official belonging to the Joe Biden administration, who asked not to be identified as discussing internal deliberations, told Bloomberg that the meetings and the proposal had provoked a sense of unease within the government.

Regardless of the U.S. reservations, dismissing China's plan outright could let Beijing argue to other countries that are weary of the war that the U.S. isn't interested in stopping the war, the source said.

See Also: Putin, Xi Jinping Tell US To Stop ‘Undermining Global Strategic Security’ As Russia Pushes For China’s Ukraine Peace Plan

If the Biden administration rejects the agreement, "China will likely ramp up messaging that the U.S. is opposed to a ceasefire, that the U.S. is opposed to the end of the war," according to Bonny Lin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"There will be lots of ways in which China will try to spin whatever comes from the China-Russia meeting in a way that seeks to portray the U.S. in a negative light."

Xi’s recent state visit to Russia brought many uncomfortable realities to light, one of which was the controversy surrounding China’s peace proposal.

Throughout the war, the Biden administration has tried to keep Xi on the sidelines, but the opposite appears to have happened as the "dear friends" Xi and Vladimir Putin agreed to implement their plan. 

As Xi departed, Russia pounded Ukraine with missiles, killing at least eight people in the Kyiv region and one in Zaporizhzhia, officials said.

Read Next: DeSantis Says Not Trump But Biden Is His Real Competition: ‘…He’s Failed The Country’

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 9:30pm
Stocks Photo by WHYFRAME on Shutterstock

Major Wall Street indices closed over 1.6% lower on Wednesday after Federal Reserve signaled it might soon pause future interest rate hikes but Chair Jerome Powell reasserted his commitment to bring inflation down to 2%. The Fed hiked the policy rates by an expected 25 basis points. Meanwhile, the following are the five stocks that are drawing investors' attention:

1. Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA): Shares of Tesla closed 3.25% lower on Wednesday, in line with the broader markets. However, the company's European sales grew faster than any other carmaker in February, per data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. In February, Tesla accounted for 2.4% of the new passenger car registrations in the European Union with 19,249 vehicles being registered.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Tesla Stock

2. Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ:COIN): Shares of the company closed 8.16% lower on Wednesday and lost another 15.8% in extended trading. The company has received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission over potential violations of U.S. securities law.

3. Chewy Inc (NYSE:CHWY): Shares of the company ended 5.32% lower and lost another 2.54% in extended trading despite posting better-than-expected earnings. The company's fourth-quarter revenue jumped 13.4% year-over-year to $2.71 billion, which beat an average market estimate of $2.64 billion, according to Benzinga Pro. However, the company's active customers came in at 20.4 million, down 1.2% from a year earlier, according to Yahoo Finance.

4. JATT Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:ZURA): Shares of the company closed 314.36% higher on Wednesday. Zura Bio Ltd announced the closing of its business combination with JATT Acquisition Corp, a special-purpose acquisition company. Upon the completion of the business combination, JATT changed its name to Zura Bio Ltd. The ordinary shares and warrants of the combined company are expected to begin trading under the new ticker symbols, "ZURA" and "ZURAW," respectively, on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

5. Manchester United Plc (NYSE:MANU): Shares of the company closed 6.66% higher on Wednesday. Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani made a debt-free, world-record bid to purchase Manchester United, according to Sky Sports.

Read Next: Silicon Valley Bank CEO Sold $3.6 Million In Stock And Could Be Hiding In Hawaii Now

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 9:06pm
Trump's Possible Indictment Politically Motivated, Majority Of Americans Believe

The possible indictment of former President Donald Trump is politically motivated, according to half of Americans polled by Reuters.

What Happened: Thirty percent of those surveyed in the Reuters/Ipsos opinion said they “Strongly Agree” Trump's possible indictment is politically motivated. Another 24% “Somewhat Agree” that this is the case.

On the other hand, 46% of the 1,003 respondents in the poll said it was “very believable” that Trump paid the porn star Stormy Daniels money “so she would not talk about their extramarital relationship during the 2016 presidential election.”

Twenty-Four percent of the respondents said that it was “Somewhat Believable” that the former president paid Daniels hush money.

Why It Matters: Meanwhile, a Manhattan jury probing the payment did not meet on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

There is reportedly no clarity on the reason behind the jury not meeting or how long it would take to complete its work.

If the jury indicts Trump, he would become the first U.S. president to face criminal charges. The panel meets three times a week and it could assemble on Thursday, according to the report.

In a social media post, Trump had expressed apprehension that he would be arrested this week and asked his supporters to protest. Authorities in New York were seen barricading the Manhattan courthouse on Monday. 

Read Next: Trump Reportedly Ready To Be Paraded Before Cameras If Arrested

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 7:29pm
NY Gov Hochul's Latest Crackdown On Illicit Cannabis Operations Has NYC In Its C

New York authorities would be given expanded power to shut down illegal pot shops and levy fines of up to $200,000 under legislation proposed Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is making yet another attempt to protect the stalled legal weed market.

The attempt is part of the push to get the state’s potentially billion-dollar adult legal market moving. So far only three legal shops have opened in New York City and two upstate NY.

“The continued existence of illegal dispensaries is unacceptable, and we need additional enforcement tools to protect New Yorkers from dangerous products and support our equity initiatives," Hochul said in a statement. Hochul created a $200 million public-private fund in Jan. 2022 to support social equity applicants.

The bill would give the cannabis office expanded authority to seize illicit products and establish procedures for the government to shut down unlicensed businesses, of which there are thousands in New York City in the form of smoke shops and all manner of bodegas and convenience stores. New York legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021.

What's Taking So Long?

New York reserved its first round of retail licenses for nonprofits, applicants with marijuana convictions and their relatives in an effort to address inequities resulting from the racially biased war on drugs. The process itself, however, has been besieged with lawsuits and legal challenges from cannabis companies arguing that the process favors New York residents over out-of-state residents in violation of constitutional interstate commerce protections. 

Emily Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Investment Management, credits New York with good intentions on social equity but said the state was shortsighted about the need to set up enforcement early on against illegal shops.

Paxhia, who is a featured speaker at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference this coming April 11-12 in Miami Beach said she views NY’s legalization rollout so far as “a disaster,” but not a lost cause, reported AP.

"I’m still hopeful that the New York market turns around,” said Paxhia, who grew up in Buffalo.

Come and meet Emily Paxhia and many others who are making positive and essential changes in the cannabis industry at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference on April 11-12. 

Other featured keynote speakers at the Benzinga event include Twitter executives Alexa Alianiello and Rohan Routroy who will discuss the role the social networking giant will play in the cannabis industry - a hot topic since Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTRmade headlines last month by allowing cannabis advertising on the platform.  

Get your tickets HERE before prices go up. Book your room HERE.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 7:04pm
Silicon Valley Bank CEO Sold $3.6 Million In Stock And Could Be Hiding In Hawaii

One of the banks at the center of the financial crisis of March 2023 saw several insiders sell shares before the bank had a run on withdrawals and was taken over by regulators. The CEO of that bank left his home state fairly quickly.

What Happened: Silicon Valley Bank, a unit of SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ: SIVB), was closed on Friday March 10, 2023, by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was announced as the bank’s receiver.

The U.S. government announced a program to backstop the banks and protect depositors. Under the backstop, shareholders and bondholders of the bank could see their holdings go to $0.

One of the people impacted by the bailout is former Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker. The former CEO lost his job with the bank and could be out of the value of the shares he owned in the company.

Becker had been the CEO of Silicon Valley Bank since 2011.

Benzinga previously reported that prior to the bank’s collapse, Becker sold 12,451 shares acquired through options. Becker paid $105.18 for the shares before selling them in a range of $285.79 to $288.55 on Feb. 27.

Becker netted a profit of $2,269,056 from the sale of $3,578,652 in shares. After the transaction, Becker owned 92,552 shares of SVB Financial Group in a revocable trust and 6,315 in a 401 (k)/ESOP.

Executives are allowed to exercise options and sell stock as they see fit, but the timing of the sale has caught the attention of the public. Some inside trades can be pre-scheduled and part of designated plans to sell shares at certain intervals.

The insider sales by executives are the subject of several investigations and could put Becker into the spotlight if he knew the bank was struggling with financing or how underwater it was on its bond holdings prior to the bank run and his stock sale.

Becker and others are also being sued by shareholders over whether they hid risks from the public.

Out of a job and the potential target of an investigation by the SEC and Department of Justice, Becker found a place to take a vacation — or hide out for the time being.

Related Link: The Big Picture: Why Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed, A Simple Explainer

On an Island: Becker and his wife Marilyn Bautista have left California and are currently residing in Maui, Hawaii, according to the New York Post.

The couple has a $3.1 million townhouse in the island city according to the report. Photos of the couple were shared by the Daily Mail showing their arrival and several stops in Hawaii.

Those who have lost money in shares of the bank or through bonds and investments wouldn’t likely be pleased seeing the details of the trip shared by the Daily Mail with a limo ride to the airport in San Francisco, first-class plane tickets and lush island living.

The home is located in a gated community according to the news stories.

Read Next: Silicon Valley Bank Merch Hits eBay And Etsy 

Photos: U.S. Department of Labor (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons; Hawaii, Shutterstock

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:42pm
SEC Targets Coinbase With Wells Notice And Threatens Enforcement Actions

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ: COIN) has received a Wells notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over potential violations of U.S. securities law.

What Happened: In a regulatory filing, Coinbase revealed the notice related to its spot market, staking service Coinbase Earn, Coinbase Prime and Coinbase Wallet with SEC seeking "injunctive relief, disgorgement, and civil penalties."

A Wells notice is a warning that the SEC is considering bringing an enforcement action against a company.

Coinbase described the investigation as "cursory" and said the notice provided "relatively little information" about the alleged violations.

The exchange's services will continue to operate as usual until any legal process has been resolved.

Coinbase's founder and CEO Brian Armstrong had previously spoken out against the SEC's regulatory approach to the cryptocurrency industry.

In a series of tweets, Armstrong defended Coinbase's compliance practices and called for clearer regulations.

He also expressed confidence in Coinbase's legal position, stating, "We are right on the law, confident in the facts, and look forward to sharing our story."

Also Read: Sending Crypto As Easy As Texting: Telegram Adds USDT To Its Chat System

Armstrong further stated that Coinbase was approved by the SEC two years ago to go public and that its S1 filing explained its asset listing process and included 57 references to staking.

He added Coinbase runs a rigorous asset review process and rejected more than 90% of assets that have applied to be listed on the platform.

"Going forward the legal process will provide an open and public forum before an unbiased body where we will be able to make clear for all to see that the SEC simply has not been fair, reasonable, or even demonstrated a seriousness of purpose when it comes to its engagement on digital assets," Armstrong said.

Why It Matters: This comes as the SEC has recently taken a more aggressive stance toward the cryptocurrency industry, with multiple enforcement actions against companies and individuals.

Paxos, another stablecoin issuer, also received a Wells notice from the SEC in February.

A Paxos spokesperson had said, "We will engage with the SEC staff on this issue and are prepared to vigorously litigate if necessary."

Read Next: Bitget's New 'Go Beyond Derivatives' Strategy Leads To $30M Investment In Crypto Wallet BitKeep

Photos: Shutterstock, courtesy Coinbase

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:27pm

It seems like everyone and their mother is talking about Banks nowadays.

I’m sure Silicon Valley Bank (NASDAQ: SIVB) rings a bell?

The whole situation has caused panic and fear within the banking industry:

“Should I withdraw my money?”

“Is there going to be another financial crisis?”

Well in this newsletter, I hope I can clear up some concerns and give you some tips moving forward.

What happened?

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was the 16th largest bank in the US that suffered a bank run it couldn’t keep up with.

What’s a bank run?

It’s when tons of customers try to withdraw money from a bank.

You see, SVB isn’t your regular bank.

Their customers aren’t people like you and me. Instead, their customers are companies like Roku, Etsy, Shopify, and Pinterest.

And for the past 3 years, companies like the ones above didn’t need loans to finance business activities.

Amidst low-interest rates and companies not seeking financing…SVB needed to find a way to make money.

So SVB started buying government bonds.

They purchased over $100 billion in government bonds & locked them away for 3-4 years at sub-2 % interest rates.

This strategy worked in the years preceding 2022…

But when the fed started raising interest rates something happened…

The bonds SVB invested in started to become worthless.

When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. And since SVB bought these bonds before the interest rate hikes…their bond prices fell causing them to lose significant value.

But that’s not all…

Companies that banked with SVB started withdrawing money to cover short-term obligations. Amidst layoffs and slower growth, they needed to keep the lights on. So SVB sold bonds to fund these withdrawals leading to a $1.7 billion loss.

On March 8, SVB sold over 30% more shares to raise capital to cover their losses.

Not only did SVB fail to raise enough capital, but their actions spooked customers.

A bank run ensued.

This all but ensured SVB would become insolvent.

Then what happened? 

The federal government seized SVB and said they would insure deposits.

The only problem?

The federal government only insures up to $250,000 for each depositor. And over 97% of accounts at SVB have more than $250,000…

But on March 12, the federal government announced all depositors would be made whole.

Meaning the $250,000 insurance cap was lifted.

There’s a heated debate on whether this counts as a bailout, and whether it should have been done in the first place…reply to this email with what you think!

So what does this mean for you?

Well, unless you have over $250,000 in your bank account… Not much.

Your deposits are insured up to $250,000 if your bank goes belly up.

But if you have more than that keep reading…

If you have more than $250,000 in your bank account and are afraid of it not being insured by the federal government…

You might want to consider holding multiple bank accounts.

Diversification preserves wealth.

This is especially true if you fear your money is at risk.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:02pm
Senators Elizabeth Warren Sounds Alarm Over 'Shady Audits' Threatening Financial

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have voiced their disappointment with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) over its failure to hold auditors accountable for “sham” crypto audits

The senators expressed their concerns about the role of “shady audits” in providing crypto firms with an illusion of financial stability.

In a letter addressed to PCAOB chair Erica Williams, Warren, and Wyden referred to the limited audits conducted by PCAOB-registered firms Prager Metis and Armanino for the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX before its collapse. 

“Given that the ongoing use of sham audits of crypto firms conducted by PCAOB-registered auditors mislead the public and threatens the integrity of that auditing system—and we now know, potentially the banking and financial systems—you have both the authority and responsibility to rein them in," Decrypt reported the letter as saying.

Warren and Wyden also criticized the validity of “proof-of-reserves” reports, an auditing practice for crypto firms that provides a report of the assets in reserve. 

Also read: Cruz Introduces Bill To Block Fed, 'Big Government' From Establishing A CBDC

The senators pointed out that PoR reports do not follow established standards, are not overseen by the PCAOB, and do not prove that listed assets actually belong to customers.

In response to the lawmakers’ concerns, PCAOB chair Williams explained in a February letter that “unfortunately, the PCAOB confronts statutory limitations when it comes to controlling the audits of specific cryptocurrency companies.” 

She added that the organization is exploring ways to address concerns related to emerging technologies.

Read next: XRP Tokens Skyrocket By Over 20% As Ripple Edges Closer To Victory Against The SEC

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:02pm
Janet Yellen's Comments Fail To Calm Investors As First Republic Stock Volatile

Growing concerns about the safety of bank deposits have prompted investors to approach community and regional banks with caution.

Recent events, such as the collapse of Signature Bank and SVB Financial Group's (NASDAQ: SIVBSilicon Valley Bank have raised questions about deposit insurance, prompting U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to testify before a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Yellen said Wednesday the FDIC was not considering providing "blanket insurance" for banking deposits.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, in particular, led to a widespread investor sell-off in many community and regional banks, including First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC).

Read Also: First Republic Bank Rescue Deal May Depend On Government Entering The Picture: Report

First Republic shares saw heightened volatility following Yellen's comments, and the situation isn’t over just yet for the stock.

The company’s tangible book value is currently far underwater, leaving a capital gap of up to $13.5 billion, according to Bloomberg, which cited Wedbush analysts.

Although a government-aided deal could potentially save the bank, it is unlikely to benefit stockholders. Wedbush analysts are unable to find a realistic scenario where there is residual value for First Republic common shareholders.

If First Republic's holdings were valued at current market prices, its tangible book value would be negative $73 per share, which means an acquirer would have to deal with a "$13.5 billion capital hole."

The recent injection of $30 billion in deposits from 11 of the largest U.S. banks was only a short-term solution, and a recapitalization of the bank would result in heavy dilution for current holders of common stock.

Unfortunately, the government's involvement in bank collapses has not been favorable for shareholders or unsecured-debt holders.

Yellen made it clear that they are not protected in the event of a takeover. That lack of protection led to bonds issued by First Republic trading at deeply distressed levels. As of Wednesday, its 4.375% subordinated bonds with a 2046 maturity were quoted at 62.5 cents on the dollar.

FRC Price action: Shares of First Republic are trading 1.58% higher in Wednesday’s after-market session to $13.33, according to Benzinga Pro.

Read next: Inflation Expert Says Markets Are In 'Sweet Spot' As End Of Fed Rate Hike Cycle Nears

Photos: Shutterstock