LVMH, Richemont and Prada unite behind a blockchain consortium.

Three rival names in the European luxury sector have established a new blockchain consortium that will allow shoppers to track the provenance of their purchases and authenticate goods.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which first unveiled plans for a global blockchain-based system in 2019, will be joined by Prada Group and Compagnie Financière Richemont in the Aura Blockchain Consortium, a nonprofit group that will promote the use of a single blockchain solution open to all luxury brands worldwide.

Many sectors are looking at the possibility of using blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Because blockchains are unchangeable and decentralized, the data stored on them is trustworthy and secure.

In this case, each product will be given a unique digital code during the manufacturing process that will be recorded on the Aura ledger. When customers make a purchase, they will be given login details to a platform that will provide the history of the product, including its origin, components, environmental and ethical information, proof of ownership, a warranty and care instructions.

Bulgari, Cartier, Hublot, Louis Vuitton and Prada are already using the system, with “advanced conversations” being held with a number of other luxury brands, according to a statement released Tuesday. Participating luxury brands pay an annual licensing fee and a volume fee. Aura, based in Geneva, was developed in partnership with Microsoft and ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company in New York.

“The Aura Consortium represents an unprecedented cooperation in the luxury industry,” said Cartier’s chief executive, Cyrille Vigneron, adding that he invited “the entire profession” to join the consortium.

“The luxury industry creates timeless pieces and must ensure that these rigorous standards will endure and remain in trustworthy hands,” he said.

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Dogecoin Traders Push ‘Doge Day’ in Effort to Raise Its Price

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency started as a joke, now has a market value that can’t be laughed at: more than $50 billion. On Tuesday, traders of Dogecoin were trying to push up the price to coincide with 4/20, or April 20, a date associated with smoking cannabis.

On Twitter, the hashtags #DogeDay and #Doge420 were trending. Dogecoin’s price, which has surged lately, fluctuated between gains and losses on Tuesday, trading at about 40 cents, according to Coindesk. A month ago, it was about 5 cents.

The ripple effects of the boom in crypto markets are being felt far and wide. Coinbase, the cryptocurrencies exchange that went public last week and is helping force the industry into the mainstream, has a market value of $66 billion. Central banks have ramped up plans to explore digital currencies to offer people an secure alternative to cryptocurrencies, which are out of their control. On Monday, the Bank of England was the latest to announce it was looking into a central bank digital currency.

On Tuesday morning, prices of cryptocurrencies and related stocks slipped lower. Bitcoin’s fell 1 percent, trading just above $55,000. Shares in Coinbase and Riot Blockchain were slightly lower in premarket trading.

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Corporate Profits Expected to Rally as the Economy Recovers: Live Updates

U.S. economy. It might also help set expectations for the stock market, after a big rally already this year.

The consensus among 76 economists polled by Bloomberg is that gross domestic product will expand by 6.2 percent in 2021, which would make it the best year for economic growth since 1984. And sentiment among analysts covering the stock market is almost universally bullish, given that strong economic tailwind.

“You’d almost have to be self-deceiving to expect U.S. companies overall to underperform consensus, given how the macro backdrop is driving revenues so well,” wrote John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management.

The expectations for profit growth are even more elevated for the current quarter: Analysts expect that the three months ending in June will see companies in the S&P 500 notch a 54-percent rise in profits, compared with the prior year.

That increase, of course, reflects a rebound from the worst of the pandemic-bred downturn. But it also is a result of “economic re-acceleration, and a rebound in commodity prices,” said Jonathan Golub, a stock market analyst at Credit Suisse.

Of course, if everyone is expecting such a surge in profits, the good news could already be fully incorporated into stock prices — and that means anything short of perfect results would make for a difficult stretch for stocks.

That has certainly been the case with some of the banks that reported earnings last week. Shares of Morgan Stanley, for example, dropped 2.8 percent on Friday even though the bank reported record revenue and profit.

The S&P 500 is already up more than 11 percent in 2021, and hit yet another record high on Friday.

That could mean the market is due for a pullback anyway. The index is relatively expensive by metrics such as the price-to-earnings ratio, which compares stock prices as a share of expected corporate profits over the next 12 months.

The S&P 500 is trading at nearly 23 times expected earnings. That’s roughly the valuation the index has held for most of the past year, but it’s very high by historical standards.

Over the last 20 years, the S&P 500 has traded at an average of 16 times expected earnings.

By comparison, a valuation of 23 times expected earnings is closer to where stock market valuations stood at the tail-end of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. When that ended, the S&P 500 fell roughly 50 percent before it hit bottom.

ABN Amro’s head office, center, in Amsterdam. An inquiry by Dutch authorities found the bank ignored signs that some clients were criminals using it as a conduit for dirty money.
Credit…Peter Dejong/Associated Press

The Dutch bank ABN Amro said Monday that it would pay a $580 million fine to settle money laundering charges, prompting a former ABN manager to resign his new job as chief executive of Danske Bank after acknowledging he was a target in a related criminal investigation.

The resignation of Chris Vogelzang is an embarrassment for Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, which hired him in 2019 to rebuild trust following a money laundering scandal there. Before becoming chief executive of Danske, Mr. Vogelzang had been a member of the management board of ABN Amro responsible for retail and private banking services.

Mr. Vogelzang acknowledged that Dutch authorities considered him a suspect in the investigation that led ABN Amro to agree to pay 480 million euros to settle money laundering charges. In numerous cases, according to a report by Dutch authorities, ABN Amro ignored warning signs that some clients were criminals using it as a conduit for dirty money.

Mr. Vogelzang said in a statement that he was “surprised” to learn that Dutch authorities consider him a suspect. During his time at ABN Amro, he said, “I managed my management responsibilities with integrity and dedication.”

Noting that Danske Bank remains under “intense scrutiny” because of money laundering at its former unit in Estonia, Mr. Vogelzang said he did “not want speculations about my person to get in the way of the continued development of Danske Bank.”

Danske named Carsten Egeriis, previously the bank’s chief risk officer, to succeed Mr. Vogelzang.

Gerrit Zalm, a member of Danske’s board who was chief executive of ABN Amro from 2009 to 2017, will also resign, the bank said. It did not give a reason.

Danske Bank admitted in 2018 that its headquarters and its Estonian branch, which it has since closed, failed for years to prevent suspected money laundering involving thousands of customers.

In the ABN Amro case, Dutch authorities found that the bank failed to act on obvious signs of illicit activity, including large cash transactions. In several cases, authorities said, the bank continued to serve clients whose criminal activities had been reported by the media, or who had a known history of fraud.

“As a bank we do not merely have a legal, but also a moral duty to do our utmost to protect the financial system against abuse by criminals,” Robert Swaak, the ABN Amro chief executive, said in a statement. “Regretfully, I have to acknowledge that in the past we have been insufficiently successful in properly fulfilling our important role as gatekeeper.”

More people are flying every day, as Covid restrictions ease and vaccinations accelerate. But dangerous variants have led to new outbreaks, raising fears of a deadly prolonging of the pandemic.

To understand how safe it is to fly now, The Times enlisted researchers to simulate how air particles flow within the cabin of an airplane, and how potential viral elements may pose a risk.

For instance, when a passenger sneezes, air blown from the sides pushes particles toward the aisle, where they combine with air from the opposite row. Not all particles are the same size, and most don’t contain infectious viral matter. But if passengers nearby weren’t wearing masks, even briefly to eat a snack, the sneezed air could increase their chances of inhaling viral particles.

How air flows in planes is not the only part of the safety equation, according to infectious-disease experts. The potential for exposure may be just as high, if not higher, when people are in the terminal, sitting in airport restaurants and bars or going through the security line.

“The challenge isn’t just on a plane,” said Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist specializing in infection prevention. “Consider the airport and the whole journey.”

Credit…Robert Neubecker

Members of the National Association of Realtors — the nation’s largest industry group, numbering 1.4 million real estate professionals — are challenging a moratorium on evictions put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both the Alabama and the Georgia Associations of Realtors sued the federal government over the matter, and the national association is paying for all of the legal costs. A hearing is scheduled for April 29, Ron Lieber reports for The New York Times.

The N.A.R. spends more money on federal lobbying than any other entity, according to the Center for Responsive for Politics. To puzzle out its actions and advocacy, let’s first be crystal clear about what the N.A.R. is and whose interests it serves. As its own chief executive boasted to members in 2017, it’s really the National Association for Realtors, not of them.

And of those million-plus members, according to the association, about 38 percent own at least one rental property. The N.A.R. isn’t shy about this, stating on the lobbying section of its website that it wants to “protect property interests.”

Why would it do this? The N.A.R. expert on the topic was unable to schedule a phone call, according to a spokesman.

But if you’re selecting a listing agent for your house from among their members, ask that person about this issue if you’re curious or concerned. Many of them have no idea what the N.A.R. is advocating on their behalf.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; Photo by Alexander Drago/Reuters

Here come the lobbyists.

The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, the asset manager Fidelity, the payments company Square and the investment firm Paradigm have established a new trade group in Washington: The Crypto Council for Innovation. The group hopes to influence policies that will be critical for expanding the use of cryptocurrencies in conjunction with traditional finance, Ephrat Livni reports in the DealBook newsletter.

Cryptocurrencies are still mostly held as speculative assets, but some experts believe Bitcoin and related blockchain technologies will become fundamental parts of the financial system, and the success of businesses built around the technology may also invite more attention from regulators.

“We’re going to increasingly be having scrutiny about what we’re doing,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, said on CNBC. “We’re very excited and happy to play by the rules,” he added, but regulation of crypto should be on a “level playing field with traditional financial services.”

Here are four of the issues that will keep crypto lobbyists busy:

  • The Crypto Council’s first commissioned publication is an analysis of Bitcoin’s illicit use, and it concludes that concerns are “significantly overstated” and that blockchain technology could be better used by law enforcement to stop crime and collect intelligence.

  • New anti-money-laundering rules passed this year will significantly expand disclosures for digital currencies. The Treasury Department has also proposed rules that would require detailed reporting for transactions over $3,000 involving “unhosted wallets,” or digital wallets that are not associated with a third-party financial institution, and require institutions handling cryptocurrencies to process more data.

  • When is a digital asset a security and when is it a commodity? Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are released via a decentralized network generally qualify as commodities and are less heavily regulated than securities, which represent a stake in a venture. Tokens released by people and companies are more likely to be characterized as securities because they more often represent a stake in the issuer’s project.

  • The Chinese government is already experimenting with a central bank digital currency, a digital yuan. China would be the first country to create a virtual currency, but many are considering it. Some crypto advocates worry that China’s alacrity in the space threatens the dollar, national security and American competitiveness.

Peloton shares were lower in premarket trading after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a safety warning about the company’s treadmill.
Credit…Roger Kisby for The New York Times

European stocks were mixed on Monday, and U.S. stock futures drifted lower, at the beginning of a week when hundreds of public companies will report earnings, including Coca-Cola, Netflix and United Airlines.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.1 percent, pushing further into record territory. The European index has climbed for the past seven weeks. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 hit a record on Friday after a string of strong economic reports and company earnings. On Monday, futures indicated it would open about 0.4 percent weaker.

European government bond yields climbed higher on Monday as investors awaited the European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decisions, which will be announced on Thursday. Last month, the central bank said it would quicken the pace of its asset purchases to tamp down an increase in bond yields.

  • Peloton shares dropped nearly 6 percent in premarket trading after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an “urgent warning” about the exercise equipment company’s treadmill. The agency said users with small children at home should stop using the machine after reports of injuries and one fatality.

  • Coinbase shares slipped nearly 4 percent in premarket trading with other crypto-related stocks. Over the weekend, the price of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, plummeted by more than $7,000, or about 9 percent.

  • GameStop shares rose 6 percent in premarket trading as the video game retailer announced that its chief executive would be stepping down by the end of July. The company, which was at the center of a retail trading frenzy earlier this year, has been shaken up by the incoming chairman, Ryan Cohen, who is an activist investor in the company pushing for a digital turnaround.

  • Oil prices were slightly lower. Futures of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, fell 0.3 percent to just below $63 a barrel.

  • The U.S. dollar fell against other major currencies, including a 0.4 percent drop against both the euro and the British pound. It was also 0.6 percent weaker against the Japanese yen.

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Corporate Giving Has Changed After the Capitol Riot, a Little

After the January 6 riot at the Capitol, scores of companies vowed to pause their political donations. Some stopped giving to all politicians, while others shunned only those 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the presidential election results. A recent deadline for candidates to release fund-raising details for the first quarter revealed more details about how corporate giving has changed.

Companies largely kept their word. Only a handful of corporate PACs gave to the Republican objectors, whose total corporate and industry PAC donations dropped precipitously in the first quarter versus the comparable period in the last election cycle. The losers include powerful party leaders like the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, whose two PAC donations came from the California Beet Growers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. Mr. McCarthy had more than 100 donations from business groups in the same period in 2017.

But there are shades of gray. Some companies gave money to specific Republicans, taking the view that not all of the 147 lawmakers are the same, a stance adopted by the Chamber of Commerce (and one that DealBook hears is being contemplated by other PACs).

  • Toyota gave to more than a dozen of the Republicans who voted against certifying the election results. A company spokesperson said Toyota “does not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.” The company decided against giving to unspecified others, who “through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.” After the Capitol riot, the company said it would assess its “future PAC criteria,” a more vague pledge than those of many other companies.

  • Cigna gave to Florida’s Byron Donalds, South Carolina’s Tom Rice and other House members after it said in January it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered the peaceful transition of power.” A spokesperson for the insurer said that congressional votes are “by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power,” and that its cutoff of donations “applies to those who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts.”

Lawmakers at the forefront of the push to overturn the election raked in cash from other sources. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas each brought in more than $3 million for the quarter, tapping into the outrage of their individual supporters. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia similarly raised $3.2 million, more than nearly every other member of House leadership. The financial haul for those with the loudest and most extreme voices, against the backdrop of the corporate pullback, highlights a shift in the Republican Party’s longtime coziness with corporate America. It also raises questions about big business’s ability to influence policy, as pressure builds on companies to weigh in on hot-button issues like restrictions on voting.

A decision on the pause to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could come soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he expected federal health officials to decide whether to resume giving the shot as soon as Friday. The halt was reportedly imposed because of concerns that doctors would mistreat the rare instances of blood clots potentially related to the shot, according to The Wall Street Journal.

coalescing around 25 percent as the new rate, according to Axios — down from the 28 percent that President Biden has proposed, but up from the current 21 percent.

Crypto prices take a tumble. Over the weekend, cryptocurrencies suffered a big drop in value: Bitcoin, for instance, fell 15 percent. (It has since recovered somewhat.) The potential culprits: speculation about impending enforcement actions by financial regulators and power outages in the Chinese region that is home to major Bitcoin mining operations. Or crypto is just being volatile again.

selling his stake in Ant Group, the fintech company he co-founded, according to Reuters. The deliberations come amid pressure from Beijing officials on his business empire, including Ant and Alibaba.

withdrew after deciding it would be too difficult to turn The Chicago Tribune into a national publication, The Times’s Katie Robertson writes.

A dozen of the top European clubs announced plans to create a new soccer league that would rival the longstanding Champions League, The Times’s Tariq Panja reports. The plan could concentrate the billion-dollar sport’s economics with just a handful of teams — if it survives the potential legal challenges.

Meet the Super League. Twelve teams so far have signed up for the new league, which was hatched in secrecy over several months. Among them are Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United of England; Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain; and AC Milan and Juventus of Italy. (A few more teams are expected to join.) The idea is for the league to hold exclusive midweek matches in between domestic league matches. The closed league would operate more like the N.F.L. or the N.B.A., doing away with different teams appearing in the pan-European Champions League tournament each year, based on their domestic league performance.

  • The share prices of publicly traded clubs, like Juventus and Manchester United, jumped more than 10 percent in early trading.

There’s a huge amount of money at stake. The Super League’s founding clubs would split 3.5 billion euros, or more than $4 billion, as part of its formation, or more than $400 million per team. That’s four times what the Champions League winner took home last year.

The news spurred an outcry from the establishment. The organizer of the Champions League, UEFA, criticized the proposal as a “cynical project” and has been exploring ways to block it. The governing body of European soccer also noted that FIFA, the global soccer governing body, has threatened to expel players who participate in unsanctioned leagues from tournaments like the World Cup.


— The Times’s Jeanna Smialek, on how the U.S. central bank is facing criticism as it wades into climate and racial equity issues, leading some to question its political independence.


increase in investor demand for company disclosures on things like climate-related risks, board and leadership diversity and political donations. Most recently, it issued a risk alert about the “lack of standardized and precise” definitions of E.S.G. products and services, which could lead to confusion among investors and inconsistent reporting by companies.

Blank-check companies: Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have been proliferating, raising many regulatory concerns. These include “risks from fees, conflicts, and sponsor compensation, from celebrity sponsorship and the potential for retail participation drawn by baseless hype, and the sheer amount of capital pouring into the SPACs,” said John Coates, the acting director of the S.E.C.’s corporate finance division, in a statement.

Bringing cryptocurrency into the mainstream: Mr. Gensler was confirmed on the day that the crypto exchange Coinbase went public, signaling a new era of legitimacy at a time when crypto rules are in flux. Blockchain executives and their growing lobby told DealBook that they welcome working with Mr. Gensler, who is more versed in crypto technology than most other policymakers. “He gets what’s going on,” Hester Peirce, an S.E.C. commissioner and vocal crypto champion, said of Mr. Gensler.

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Coinbase’s Washington Debut

Players, observers, lobbyists and the lobbied alike consider this a critical moment for crypto and its influencers. Succeeding or failing to persuade officials now will determine whether regulation allows the digital gold rush to accelerate or slows it to a sputter.

Here are four of the big issues keeping crypto lobbyists busy:

Reputation. The impression that crypto facilitates crime is voiced with some frequency by lawmakers and regulators, and it remains a significant hurdle to legitimacy. The Crypto Council’s first commissioned publication is an analysis of Bitcoin’s illicit use, and it concludes that concerns are “significantly overstated” and that blockchain technology could be better used by law enforcement to stop crime and collect intelligence.

Reporting requirements. New anti-money-laundering rules passed this year will significantly expand disclosures for digital currencies. The Treasury has also proposed rules that would require detailed reporting for transactions over $3,000 involving “unhosted wallets,” or digital wallets that are not associated with a third-party financial institution, and require institutions handling cryptocurrencies to process more data. The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental watchdog and standards body, recently provided draft guidance on virtual assets that would require service providers to hand over further information.

Securities insecurities. When is a digital asset a security and when is it a commodity? Not technically a riddle, this question has puzzled regulators and innovators for some time. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are released via a decentralized network generally qualify as commodities and are less heavily regulated than securities, which represent a stake in a venture. Tokens released by people and companies are more likely to be characterized as securities because they more often represent a stake in the issuer’s project.

Catching up with China. The Chinese government is already experimenting with a central bank digital currency, a digital yuan. China would be the first country to create a virtual currency, but many are considering it. Some crypto advocates worry that China’s alacrity in the space threatens the dollar, national security and American competitiveness.

For more, see our previous weekend edition about the future of crypto regulation.

“With any new industry, figuring out Washington isn’t easy,” said Ms. Peirce, the S.E.C. commissioner. Entering a heavily regulated industry like finance and talking about technology that few officials understand only compound the difficulty for the crypto crowd.

Since joining the S.E.C. in 2018, Ms. Peirce has been a vocal supporter of blockchain both in the halls of power and in crypto insider circles, sharing her thoughts on hot topics like when there will finally be a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the United States. (Not soon enough, in her view, but perhaps soonish.)

As the sector matures, some things will get easier even while the landscape of players gets more complex. Blockchain businesses will increasingly speak to regulators who understand their language, Ms. Peirce said, like the new S.E.C. chair, Gary Gensler, a former M.I.T. professor who taught crypto classes and was coincidentally confirmed on the day that Coinbase listed.

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Kevin Durant and Nas Stand to Win Big From Coinbase Debut

Heavy trading volume greeted the highly anticipated market debut of Coinbase on Wednesday, which ended the day worth some $86 billion. The cryptocurrency company’s coming-out party made some insiders very rich, opened up new possibilities for cementing its position in the blockchain economy and blazed a trail for other crypto companies to follow its lead onto the public markets, the DealBook newsletter writes.

The stake held by Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s co-founder and chief executive, is now worth roughly $13 billion. Shares held by its other co-founder, Fred Ehrsam, are worth about $6.7 billion. (Andreessen Horowitz’s stake is worth $11.2 billion, while Union Square Ventures’ holding is worth $5.3 billion.) Other investors who stand to collect big paper profits — if they held on to their shares — include the National Basketball Association star Kevin Durant, the rapper Nas and Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit.

The market listing makes it easier for Coinbase to negotiate mergers and acquisitions. “We want to be able to have a public mark on our stock price because it helps us do more and more M.&A.,” Emilie Choi, the company’s chief operating officer, told the technology site Protocol. “There’s so much innovation happening in the crypto ecosystem, and we can’t possibly do it all in-house.” But the listing also brings more scrutiny of the company’s internal culture, which has included accusations of unfair treatment of Black and female employees and poor customer service.

Coinbase could lead the way for others. The tech investor Ron Conway called Coinbase “the Google for the crypto economy.” As crypto goes mainstream, others with similarly big ambitions may follow Coinbase onto the public markets, including rival markets like Binance, the biggest crypto exchange, and Gemini, the company founded by the Winklevoss twins. Exchange-traded funds that hold Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies directly also haven’t yet been approved by the S.E.C., but proponents believe that could happen soon.

original Hacker News post from March 2012 looking for a co-founder for his crypto venture, which drew dismissive comments like, “Because bitcoin worked out so well. Have fun with that, dude.” Bitcoin was worth about $5 then; it’s more than $60,000 now.

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How Coinbase Performed in the Market on its First Day

Shares in Coinbase, the first major cryptocurrency company to list its shares on a U.S. stock exchange, jumped in their market debut on Wednesday, showing that investors are hungry to get a piece of the hot market for digital currencies.

Coinbase began trading on Wednesday afternoon at $381 a share, a 52 percent increase over a $250 reference price set by Nasdaq on Tuesday. (A reference price is set by a stock exchange based on expectations for where the stock will open.)

The stock swung as low as $310 and as high as $429 in a volatile day of trading that reflected the unpredictable nature of cryptocurrency prices. Coinbase ended the day at $328.28, valuing the company at $85.7 billion counting all of its outstanding shares — more than 10 times its last valuation as a private company.

prices to new highs.

avoid political discussions, a stance that has caused controversy. Some of the company’s former Black and female employees have also spoken out against unfair treatment and were found to have been underpaid in a company report.

their pleas for help.

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Fervor Over Coinbase I.P.O. Spreads: Live Business Updates

Coinbase, a company that allows people and companies to buy and sell various digital currencies, begins publicly trading on Wednesday, after its shares received a reference price of $250 each on Tuesday evening.

Coinbase, which makes money through transaction fees, estimated it took in $1.8 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year as crypto prices have soared. On Wednesday, the fervor continued: Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which started as a joke, jumped to a new high (albeit just 14 cents), and Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, climbed above $64,000 to its own record high.

Shares in blockchain-linked companies also rose in premarket trading. Riot Blockchain shares rose nearly 5 percent. Shares in Bit Digital, a Chinese bitcoin mining company, rose nearly 25 percent in premarket trading in the United States.

Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive of Coinbase, at the company’s office in San Francisco in 2017.
Credit…Michael Short/Bloomberg

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday — and probably at a much higher valuation than the $65 billion preliminary estimate set last night. Here’s what you need to know about crypto’s move into the mainstream.

The company is the first major crypto business to trade publicly in the U.S. Its size means that its stock is likely to be held by mainstream index funds, giving average investors (indirect) exposure to the world of crypto. “Hopefully Coinbase going public and having its direct listing is going to be viewed as kind of a landmark moment for the crypto space,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, told Andrew in a CNBC interview.

Digital currency, once mocked as a tool for criminals and reckless speculators, is sliding into the mainstream. On Wednesday, Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, goes public on Nasdaq, marking the biggest step yet toward wider acceptance.

From Crypto Art to Trading Cards, Investment Manias Abound

Each market frenzy seems crazier than the last. But all have the same roots.

Why an Animated Flying Cat With a Pop-Tart Body Sold for Almost $600,000

A fast-growing market for digital art, ephemera and media is marrying the world’s taste for collectibles with cutting-edge technology.

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.

Cryptocurrency Start-Up Underpaid Women and Black Employees, Data Shows

An analysis of internal pay data at the San Francisco company Coinbase shows disparities that were much larger than those in the tech industry.

Satoshi Tsunakawa, the chairman of Toshiba, in 2017. He will succeed Nobuaki Kurumatani, the company’s chief executive and president, whose departure was announced Wednesday.
Credit…Toru Hanai/Reuters

Toshiba announced on Wednesday the resignation of its top executive, Nobuaki Kurumatani, a move that comes as the Japanese conglomerate faces a potential buyout and a shareholder-initiated investigation into its management practices.

The board appointed Satoshi Tsunakawa — the current chairman and previous president — to replace Mr. Kurumatani, the company said in a brief statement. It did not explain the reason for the change.

Toshiba, once among the crown jewels of Japanese industry, a maker of products ranging from personal printers to railroad locomotives, has struggled in recent years, overshadowed by the legacy of a major accounting scandal and its acquisition of the American nuclear power company Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy in 2017.

Seeking to rebuild, Toshiba looked for a new leader from outside its own ranks, and in 2018 it appointed Mr. Kurumatani, an executive with CVC Capital Partners, a private equity company based in Europe, as chief executive. It was an unusual decision for a company that had long been headed by company insiders. Last year, he was appointed president, solidifying his control over the firm.

During a news conference Wednesday, board member Osamu Nagayama deflected questions about the resignation, saying that Mr. Kurumatani, 63, had been considering the move for months and had come to the decision with his family. Unusually, Mr. Kurumatani did not make an appearance, but in a letter that was read aloud to reporters, he said he had chosen to resign after “achieving my mission to rebuild the company.”

The announcement on Wednesday followed months of unrest at Toshiba as disgruntled shareholders agitated for reforms aimed at improving the company’s performance and increasing its value.

Toshiba investors tried to shake up the company’s management at the annual general meeting last summer. But Mr. Kurumatani was re-elected — albeit with less than 60 percent of the vote — following a showdown that angered some key shareholders and raised questions about whether the company had inappropriately interfered in the decision.

Effissimo Capital Management, a Singapore-based hedge fund that holds about 10 percent of the company and had led the campaign to unseat its management team, subsequently called for an investigation into the outcome. Other shareholders agreed, voting, over management’s objections, to begin an independent inquiry in March.

Earlier this month, Toshiba announced that it had received a buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners for a reported $20 billion, a substantial premium on the company’s share price. The offer has raised questions of conflict of interest, as Mr. Kurumatani had previously served as president of CVC’s Japan office.

In recent years, Japanese companies have increasingly been the focus of activist investors from abroad, who believe that sclerotic management and opaque governance practices have prevented many of Japan’s blue chip firms from achieving their full value.

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.

Lemonade, which sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July. Individual investors make up about half of its shareholder base.
Credit…Associated Press

Dozens of companies are suddenly paying more attention to individual investors.

Small investors who buy single stocks have not been a major force in financial markets for the better part of half a century. They were growing in influence before the pandemic, partly because of the popularity of free trading apps such as Robinhood.

But with millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the trading trend escalated, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.

“Retail trading now accounts for almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined,” Amelia Garnett, an executive at Goldman Sachs’s Global Markets Division, said on a recent podcast produced by the firm. “So, the retail impact is really meaningful right now.”

Tesla has long eschewed traditional communications with Wall Street. Ark Investment Management — the high-flying, tech-focused exchange-traded fund company run by the investor Cathie Wood — and Palantir Technologies, are also trying to reach small investors directly.

Before Lemonade, a company that sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July, it went on a traditional tour of Wall Street, meeting big investors and talking up its prospects. However, the company has since discovered that more than half of its shares are held by small investors, excluding insiders who own the stock, said Daniel Schreiber, its chief executive.

That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.

“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”

East Austin, Texas, in February, when a huge storm left more than $10 billion in losses that insurers could dispute.
Credit…Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press

Two months after the storm crippled large swaths of Texas, insurers are sketching out a legal strategy to pin the costs on utilities and power companies that they say failed to adequately prepare for bitterly cold weather.

At stake could be more than $10 billion in insured losses for insurers and their business partners, as well as almost-certain premium increases for property owners if the insurers have to pay for the damage themselves, Mary Williams Walsh reports for The New York Times.

But decades of deregulation have made the state’s power grid a dizzying web of companies that could make determining fault tricky. Insurers will also have to show that the damage was the result of “gross negligence.” And there are dozens of small companies in the supply chain — some of which have gone bankrupt since the storm — that interact with one another in myriad ways.

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