Where finance and media intersect with reality


Spot Markets Live, 10/11/23 (Repo markets, Adam Glapinski, Ozempic)

(Comments directed towards audience members in bold)
Julian Rimmer 10:30

Good morning, Aloha and greetings fellow market wizards

Izabella Kaminska 10:30

Morning. How are you today? I have a bit of a headache I confess.

Julian Rimmer 10:30

I’m very sorry to hear this

Izabella Kaminska 10:30

.Not just because I had to do three back-to-back panels at a Politico event yesterday, but because I ended up having drinks afterwards and the beverage of choice was Kylie Minogue’s sparkling prosecco.

I suspect this horrifies you, Julian.

Julian Rimmer 10:31

Yes it does.

Celebrity drinks rarely work out well.

Ian Botham’s red wine

same for Ernie Els

Although Miraval by Brangelina is not bad

the problem is not the prosecco, Izzy, it’s how much you have of it.

Izabella Kaminska 10:32

I guess this is true. Anyway…

 where should we start?

 Suspect we should reference the 30yr treasury auction wobbler which coincided with a hack at ICBC.

ICBC is one of the largest UST cash-clearing banks.

And as one treasury market watcher noted in a chat: “Some would have to wonder about the timing of this “hack” on the same day as an important 30 year auction”.

Julian Rimmer 10:33

This isn’t very diplomatic ahead of the Biden-Xi summit

maybe sending a not-so-subtle message to the Americans.

Izabella Kaminska 10:33

Market Watch has the story about the bond auction:

Thursday afternoon’s $24 billion sale of 30-year Treasury bonds drew weaker-than-expected demand, according to Greg Faranello, head of U.S. rates trading and strategy at AmeriVet Securities in New York, citing the bid-to-cover ratio and yield concession which came in. The 1 p.m. Eastern time auction caps a trio of sales that have taken place since Tuesday, totaling $112 billion, and which were seen as important tests of demand. Treasury yields moved up slightly after the Thursday’s auction results came out, reflecting a further selloff in underlying government debt.

Here meanwhile is the FT story about the ICBC hack:

Chinese bank says it has contained a hack that affected some fixed income and equities transactions

Repo watcher Scott Skyrm had this assessment, which I found quite interesting:

Julian Rimmer 10:34

interesting nomenclature

Izabella Kaminska 10:34

Rumors started flying around the market this morning about a Chinese

bank that had a cyber attack overnight and their systems were down. When

they realized they were hacked, they shut down all of their connections to

the market. This meant they and their customers were forced to stop trading.

They need an “attestation” that their systems are working correctly before they

are allowed to reestablish their connections to FICC and Bank of New York. As of

now, there is still no connection.

In order to get trades settled, they sent a messenger with a USB flash drive to

deliver their settlement details to BONY* and it seems their settlements were


If the broker-dealer is able to get direct funding from their bank parent, it

means they financed their securities though the interbank market and not in the

Repo market. This should mean there are fewer securities in the Repo market – less

supply – and Repo rate should move lower. Overnight Repo rates were slightly

more volatile today and they closed soft. In general, the event had a limited impact

on the market.

Julian Rimmer 10:35

Sounds like a mission impossible

for Tom C

Izabella Kaminska 10:35

Exactly, the idea of a flash drive being couriered to BONY in the nick of time definitely has a Tom Cruise aspect to it

Julian Rimmer 10:35

(Although given the franchise is on No 6 or No 7 it’s clear by now that they are all frankly mission quite possibles)

Izabella Kaminska 10:37

Of course, not to over-promote my panels yesterday, this is what we were discussing in the last session with respect to banks being Quantum secure. And how really once someone builds a quantum computer the only way to guarantee that financial transactions can be settled properly is by direct transfer of data in flash drives.

Quantum risk, who knew eh.

Julian Rimmer 10:37

This is all very well, Izzy, but what about the climate emergency? “The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.” “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” “We can do this”

Izabella Kaminska 10:38

Oh, do F**k off JR.

Julian Rimmer 10:38

Ah right, I’m going to tell Greta you said that

Izabella Kaminska 10:38

Don’t worry, we haven’t really fallen out. That is of course our own dramatization of this famous episode from last night:


“Just closing the fucking door”.

For those who didn’t see it, Powell was interrupted by some climate protestors

This episode may have done more for Powell’s image as an “in-touch man of the people” than anything he’s ever done.

Julian Rimmer 10:39

If he were English he would have done a Larry Grayson and said ‘Ooh, shut that door’

Izabella Kaminska 10:39



Also interesting as they floated this image when the disturbance occurred:

I didn’t realise they were holding a “celebrating Ken Rogoff’s contributions to international economics” day

The man who famously made the world’s worst Excel spreadsheet error.

Julian Rimmer 10:40

Ken Rogoff resembles Philip Larkin but he’s made more contributions to intl economics

Izabella Kaminska 10:41

I’ve met him quite a few times. Super smart. chess player. Etc etc.

Huge self-promoter though.

When I worked at CNBC and was a gatekeeper for media appearances, he would invite me to lunch and bring gifts and all that malarky. When I stopped being at CNBC, that kinda went away.

Julian Rimmer 10:42

My favourite media fiasco yesterday was when Putin turned up in Astana to meet the Kazakhs and obviously simply expected his underlings to speak to him in Russian.

Tokaev demonstrating that he is no vassal any longer surprised the Russian delegation by speaking in Kazakh.

Cue much confusion and embarrassment.

This is both interesting, amusing, satisfying and most importantly emblematic of a real change in the geopolitical dynamic in Kazakh.

Kazakhstan is likely to be a big bone of contention between China and Russia as the emergent superpower looks for resource security close to home and the broken, disintegrating empire tries to preserve its influence over its former satellite.

The Chinese are trying to pull Kazakh into its orbit, and the Kremlin Ripper trying to maintain Russia’s stranglehold

Resources are obviously the reason why, and Tokaev is doing what any leader should, playing off one side against the other and getting the best deal possible

Putin in 2014: “Kazakhs never had any statehood” and “their desire for closer ties with Russia is profound”, now even Macron is over there trying to secure decent line of uranium.

France values … the path you are following for your country, refusing to be a vassal of any power and seeking to build numerous and balanced relations with different countries,” Macron said at a meeting with Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Here’s why:

Reminder Kazakh has 45% of the world’s uranium.

Kazakhstan is endowed with abundant mineral resources including coal, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.  Kazakhstan is the world’s largest uranium producer (33% of world output in 2021, USGS), as well as having extensive coal, gold, and manganese reserves. Kazakhstan also ranks third in the world in terms of titanium production, seventh for zinc, eighth for lead, and eleventh for gold.  More than 230 separate enterprises produce or process coal, iron and steel, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, gold, aluminum, titanium sponge, uranium, and barites among others.  The mining sector accounts for an estimated 17% of GDP and in 2021 hard minerals and metals made up approximately 16% of the country’s exports by value.  For example, in 20201r the country earned USD 2.5 billion from exports of refined copper to non-EAEU countries, USD 792 million from zinc exports, USD 538 million from silver, USD 369 million from aluminum, USD 251 million from lead and USD 121 million from titanium.

The country has the world’s 8th largest reserves of iron ore with 12.5 billion tons.  The nation ranks second, globally, in manganese ore reserves, estimated at 600 million tons.  The country’s current reserves of copper are estimated at 36 million tons.  Kazakhstan also hosts 30% of the worldwide chromite ore deposits, as well as 95% of the total chromium reserves.

Izabella Kaminska 10:49

Changing topics a little bit…

Julian Rimmer 10:49

Seamless segue.

Izabella Kaminska 10:49

The larger-than-life docu-drama that is the life of Adam Glapinski, president of the national bank of Poland continues on.

For those who missed it, the NBP held rates yesterday at 5.75%, but the real story was the evolving spat between Glapinski and fellow PiS appointee Pawel Mucha.

On Wednesday, the NBP put up a note on its website accusing Mucha of unbecoming and intimidating behaviour. But the details of what happened were sketchy. Mucha then took to Xitter, and dumped a load of documents he sent to the MPC, but it was all very convoluted and confusing.

Julian Rimmer 10:49


I see what you did there

Izabella Kaminska 10:50

You know pronounced like President Xi.

Somebody of course asked Glapinski about the drama at the press conference, and it turns out – at least according to Glapinski – that it was all about wages. So Mucha wants a higher salary but according to Glapinski he doesn’t deserve it.

Now to be fair, I didn’t watch the whole conference, as I was myself moderating panels – and interviewing City Minister Andrew Griffith at the time.

(Very sparkly eyes, despite getting off a red-eye)

Julian Rimmer 10:51

I didn’t realise the govt has a cabinet member dedicated to the city.

Izabella Kaminska 10:51

Actually, I don’t know why people always call him that. His formal title is economic secretary to the Treasury. And all his aides call him EST.

Julian Rimmer 10:51

(Too late to help me)

Izabella Kaminska 10:51

He used to be a big wig at SKY.

Julian Rimmer 10:51


Izabella Kaminska 10:52

Economic secretary to the treasury  🙂

Anyway, the Polish NBP presser was in Polish with no translation. So I outsourced the job of monitoring what was going on to my dad who provided me with this seamless real-time update

Julian Rimmer 10:53


Izabella Kaminska 10:53

Julian Rimmer 10:53

That sounds like a reasonable commentary so far

Izabella Kaminska 10:54

He also provided graphic support

Relative to the usual cryptography that Dad sends, I thought his reporting wasn’t too bad


Julian Rimmer 10:56

That’s much more coherent than my mum would offer.

Izabella Kaminska 10:56

But he did miss the more interesting element, which is that Glapinski confirmed the MPC wants to buy even MORE GOLD.

Julian Rimmer 10:56

They bought 48t in 2q23.

Izabella Kaminska 11:56

Yeah, so according to Glapinski, they are aiming to have at least 20% of reserves in gold


Because …

“We do buy gold, we are making intense purchases, we want to get to 20% of reserves in gold. because the market is looking at how much gold a cbank has as reserves. A cbank with a lot of gold is trustworthy”

Julian Rimmer 10:57

It’s shiny?

Izabella Kaminska 10:57

Putting the zloty in zloty basically.

But that’s enough about Poland.

Julian Rimmer 10:58

What did my old mate, Griffo tell you about the City?

Izabella Kaminska 10:58

So it was all about regulatory expectations, and how the UK can better differentiate itself as a big draw for finance.

He’d just returned from the US where he was advocating for the UK and City.

anyway the big question relates to …. PENSION REFORM

Julian Rimmer 10:59

Oh lordy, a subject on which I am very weak

Izabella Kaminska 10:59

Well, it’s not really that complex. Dario will be pleased as I asked about meme stocks.

Julian Rimmer 10:59

right for you to say

Izabella Kaminska 11:00

So basically Jeremy Hunt outlined in July in his mansion house speech, which became – as all these govt declarations seem to become – an official “compact”.

That the UK needs to mobilise capital that is locked in pension schemes, mostly by re-equitising pension holdings and allowing them to invest in less liquid assets.

Julian Rimmer 11:01

They have a very low limit on equities and alternatives, right?

Izabella Kaminska 11:01

Specifically private equity and such.

Everything skews towards gilts at the moment. So ironically the government is talking itself out of a Gilt bid. But whatever. (Exact opposite of what all the hard-up Europeans are doing, which is trying to encourage more local bond purchases).

But the idea really is to get the UK into the same capital market mindset that the average US holder of a 401k already has.

So that Dario for example goes to the pub and talks about his memestock investments with his mates.

Julian Rimmer 11:02

Now he has a driving licence, he can drink and drive.

Izabella Kaminska 11:03

Anyway, luckily my colleague wrote the interview. Here’s the quick POLITICO story on it:

UK pension tweaks don’t need ‘long and slow’ legislation: Griffith
By Bjarke Smith-Meyer · Nov 9, 2023, 5:37 PM · View in your browser


Plans to give pension fund managers in the U.K. more leeway when it comes to picking riskier assets can be done without legislation, according to the Treasury’s economic secretary.

“Legislation is long and slow,” Andrew Griffith said at POLITICO’s U.K. Financial Services Summit in London. “I’m very, very comfortable and happy with a world where we get on and do everything that we can within the existing legislative environment.”

Part of Griffith’s planned changes would allow pension funds to go beyond fixed-income securities for the sake of satisfying daily liquidity thresholds.

A small percentage of those institutional investments should be reserved for less liquid assets in energy and infrastructure, for example, “where you’re going to see outsized growth,” he told Izabella Kaminska, POLITICO’s senior finance editor.

These plans didn’t make it into the King Speech on Tuesday, precisely because new rules won’t be needed. More details are due in the Treasury’s autumn statement on November 22.

Griffith’s vision involves more risk-taking and encouraging British citizens to become more involved in investing, much like in the U.S., where he had just jetted back from.

“If you go to a barbecue in America, they’ll talk about their soccer game. But they may well also talk about what’s in their 401k,” he said. “We’ve got a good pensions system but very, very few people know what’s in their pensions.”

The angle here is that everyone was expecting the pension reform to be flagged in the King’s speech, but it wasn’t.

And that’s because, as EST told me, they don’t think they need legislative change to get through. So more details will come in the Autumn statement.

There’s a bit of conlfict, because on one hand they want to encourage the removal of frictions to trade, make it easier to list etc etc,… and trade in and out of stocks. ON the other hand they want pension capital to be mobilised into very illiquid investments for the sake driving “UK GROWTH COMPANIES”.

seems a bit conflicting.

Julian Rimmer 11:05

@johndc77 – Rishi needs some very big rabbits but has a very small hat

Izabella Kaminska 11:06

Anyway, I didn’t get to ask him about fintech and crypto regulation. Which is a shame. But I did sneak in a closer question about whether he owns Bitcoin.

The answer is no.

Julian Rimmer 11:06

That does surprise me

Ok, so talking UK economy

I remember Gordon Brown being ridiculed in the House of Commons for announcing ‘growth of 0.0%’ when he was chancellor.

No danger of that from Jeremy Hunt but the message is the same with the UK flatlining in 3Q and expected to do the same in 2024.

The problem for the Tories ahead of the autumn statement, however, is that it feels like a recession and that’s enough to condemn Sunak’s govt in elections a year from now.

Feels is the keyword

“The Autumn Statement will focus on how we get the economy growing healthily again by unlocking investment, and so on and so forth

Good luck with that…

Not sure what the chancellor can do, given the limited tools at his disposal and Andrew bailey’s commitment to ‘restrictive policies’. No chance of a rate cut until summer next year at the earliest.

Unfortunately, As Capital Economics points out this morning, the situation is tricky to manage. While economic growth is clearly feeling the weight of higher rates, the economy is still ‘not weak enough to reduce core inflation and wage growth quickly’.

that’s the essential dilemma the govt faces

I remember you wrote a piece recently for the blind spot, Izzy, about Ozempic

Izabella Kaminska 11:10

Oh yeah

what now about it? I am seriously frustrated with the market mania about it. Totally overhyped IMHO.

Julian Rimmer 11:11

Yes, it’s having a big impact on the stock market, however

Izabella Kaminska 11:11

Otherwise known as a terrible misallocation of capital

Julian Rimmer 11:12

The impact of GLP-1s on food and restaurant stocks is not favourable. There have been downgrades to Krispy Kreme, for example, on the popularity of Wegovy and Ozempic

So now we are getting serious – restos are having to change their menus.

And include all sorts of awful stuff like salads, apparently

Story on bberg:

Restaurant bosses serving everything from Mediterranean fare to steak and burgers see fresh opportunities even if more diners start taking appetite-suppressing drugs, no matter how little those customers eat.

and yesterday a note from UBS on the subject

Yesterday, the US FDA approved Eli Lilly’s drug Zepbound for the treatment of obesity. Zepbound is the second once-weekly injectable GLP-1 drug approved for obesity in the US, following last year’s approval and launch of Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy. Like Daily Europe 02 Wegovy, Zepbound was previously launched as a diabetes treatment (under the brand name Mounjaro), but widely used off-label for obesity. The approval was widely expected. According to media reports, Zepbound’s list price will be approximately USD 1,060 per month, although we note that obesity drugs are heavily discounted and the net price is not yet available

On a list basis, this is slightly lower than Wegovy. Due to high media coverage and the large number of untreated obesity patients in the US, demand for obesity drugs has soared this year and both manufacturers are currently supply-constrained

Izabella Kaminska 11:14

So, this is total hysteria nonsense

The idea that “obesity” is solved is just completely incredulous.

I’m with the Oreo boss: https://www.barrons.com/articles/mondelez-ceo-weight-loss-drugs-ozempic-sales-eaf31b4b

Dirk Van de Put, CEO of Mondelez International, says investors are too worried about the effects of new diet drugs on food sales.
Julian Rimmer 11:15

I prefer Krispy Kreme. not a fan of Oreos.

Izabella Kaminska 11:15

And exhibit A for my standing on this… is Gemma Collins

Julian Rimmer 11:16

@johndc77 – I have a stetson

Izabella Kaminska 11:16

on Oct 19, 2020… this was the narrative about Gemma who had used these drugs

Reality TV star Gemma Collins, 39, has had a serious transformation over lockdown, shedding three stone using the weight loss injections, SkinnyJab. After battling with brutal fad diets for years, Gemma seems to have found a weight loss method that works for her.

Gemma has tried lots of different slimming methods in the past, from a £5,000-a-week juice camp to a hypnotherapist that convinced her she had a gastric band fitted, but none of them allowed her to keep the weight off. Gemma has also revealed her battle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which she was diagnosed with in her 20s, which she claims has been a contributing factor to her weight gain.

At the time they were sub-branding it as SkinnyJab, but it was Ozempic.

This was Gemma earlier this year tho

Julian Rimmer 11:18

Let me guess, she is very slender now?

Izabella Kaminska 11:18

Julian Rimmer12:18

Izzy consulting the Bodliean Library archives

ah, so not slender

Izabella Kaminska 11:19

Now to be fair, she has had a bit of another go. And her latest celebrated instagram weightloss is this:

Julian Rimmer 11:19

she looks like she has her packed lunch in her hat

Izabella Kaminska 11:19

But here’s the kicker!

Mail Online11:19Gemma Collins vows to lose weight naturally   | Daily Mail Online
News Image
The TOWIE star, 42, has always been candid about her weight loss struggles and in her latest video, she revealed she was kickstarting a new slimming regime.
Julian Rimmer 11:20

I never thought I’d discuss Gemma Collins in a financial forum

Izabella Kaminska 11:20

The point is, Ozempic doesn’t work. It’s not a miracle drug. I tried it, TWICE, im fatter than ever.

Maybe at the margin, a few people might benefit from it. But on a mass scale, it’s not the revolution that justifies those sorts of equity allocations IMHO.

Julian Rimmer 11:21

UBS are diametrically opposed in their opinions at present…

Their view: Without commenting on individual securities, we see investment opportunities in tackling obesity. More than half the world population is forecast to be overweight (and near a quarter obese) by 2035, according to World Obesity Foundation data. The direct and indirect cost of obesity may reach USD 4.3tr by 2035, absent improvements in treatment and prevention (based on World Obesity Atlas analysis). Our Obesity Long Term Investment Theme identifies investible opportunities with mid- to high single-digit annual growth prospects. We see particular value in health and wellness, food and beverage, sportswear, dialysis products and services, prescription weight-loss drugs, and diabetes drugs to tackle this long-term trend.

I guess the point is, even if these things don’t work, there is plenty of money to be made by exploiting people in the process

Izabella Kaminska 11:23

There will always be demand for M&S eclairs.

Julian Rimmer 11:23

Choc or coffee?

Izabella Kaminska 11:23

Only the M&S ones.

There’s only one sort there. Cream/choc.

Julian Rimmer 11:23

Perhaps this informs the amazing share price performance of M&S this year?

the stock is up +94% on a resurgence in food sales and clothing, predicated on its value proposition and now reinstating a tiny dividend

that’s a lot of eclairs.

Izabella Kaminska 11:25

The interesting thing about the outperformance is the relative underperformance of John Lewis, right?

Which recently lost its exec, because it turned out she didn’t really know what she was doing.

Julian Rimmer 11:26

I wouldn’t hold that against anyone

Izabella Kaminska 11:26

And was put in a position arguably that she was not competent, and I think she herself has kind of admitted it.

It all went pearshaped JL around 2019 after her appointment, and suddenly all the stuff you could trust JL on, like getting your carpets measured right, stopped working. All staff were very pissed off, and blamed everything on irrational “Centralisation”.

So you couldn’t call a local store and deal with a salesperson locally.

And JL’s loss, I think was M&S’ gain. Tho the latest boost, who knows.

Julian Rimmer 11:27

@johnk – the only explanation i saw on DGE was a slump in the caribbean and so sales of hard liquor fell. fewer pirates, I guess

Izabella Kaminska 11:27

Anyway, good excuse to put up the latest John Lewis Christmas ad:

YouTube11:27 Watch the 2023 John Lewis Christmas advert – YouTube
News Image
John Lewis has turned to a cheeky carnivorous plant – and an operatic superstar – for its Christmas advertising campaign. After last year’s low-key charity-l…
Julian Rimmer 11:28

I’ll end with an anecdote to match that of your father, Izzy

when I started at Salomon bros in 1989, one of my first days on Wall st occasioned a huge drop in the dow a mini-crash.

and when I got back to my apartment that night, my mum had left a message on my answering machine asking me 3 things:

1) what time is it there? standard enquiry

2) is it cold – standard enquiry

and 3. Who is this dow jones bloke anyway?

Izabella Kaminska 11:30


Very funny.

I’ve had time to watch the John Lewis ad in the meantime, and it’s very weird and focused on a plot about a little boy and a Venus fly-trap that grows and grows.

I think someone is obviously having a bit of a veiled laugh at the recent JL horror show with that ad, as it seems to be emulating the plot of “Little Shop of Horrors”

which if you haven’t seen involves a Venus fly trap.

Julian Rimmer 11:31

@johnk – Salamander Brothers was more like a reptilian environment

Izabella Kaminska 11:31

On that note, it’s goodbye from me…

Julian Rimmer 11:32

And adios amigos from here

nunc tempus taciendi

Izabella Kaminska 11:32

Take care!

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