Securities Industry Commentator by Bill Singer Esq

April 8, 2020

Greed and Fear Collide: Wall Street Calls Traders Back to Office (Bloomberg by Michelle F Davis, Max Abelson, and Donal Griffin)
As noted in part in the Bloomberg article:

One trading executive at a major New York brokerage said he wanted to be the last person on his staff to stay at the office. Just before he left for home last month, he was exposed at work to the virus. He eventually developed a cough. Now outside New York, he has been working in solitude and staying up until 1 a.m. He recently got tested but still hadn't received his results as April began.

Inside BGC Partners, an affiliate of Cantor Fitzgerald, workers received a memo marked "important" last month notifying them that no government orders were stopping them from showing up. "We remain open," the memo said. "Driving to the offices and using mass transit are permitted in order to travel to and from our office." Some BGC employees privately complained they felt pressured to keep coming downtown -- even as other memos laid out the option of working from home. A BGC spokesman declined to comment.

Bill Singer's Comment:

Just a thought here:

A member, in the conduct of its business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.

Maybe Wall Street's self regulatory organization should file Complaints against some Large Member Firms for endangering the lives of their employees?
As set forth in pertinent part in the SEC Release:

The Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) has issued two risk alerts: Examinations that Focus on Compliance with Regulation Best Interest and Examinations that Focus on Compliance with Form CRS. These risk alerts provide broker-dealers and investment advisers with advance information about the expected scope and content of the initial examinations for compliance with Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS.  Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS are key components of a broader package of rules and interpretations, adopted contemporaneously on June 5, 2019, to enhance the quality and transparency of retail investors' relationships with broker-dealers and investment advisers.  The compliance date for Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS is June 30, 2020.

Initial examinations of Regulation Best Interest will focus on assessing whether broker-dealers have made a good faith effort to implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to comply with Regulation Best Interest, including the operational effectiveness of broker-dealers' policies and procedures.  Initial examinations of Form CRS will focus on assessing whether firms have made a good faith effort to implement Form CRS, including reviewing the filing and posting of a firm's relationship summary as well as its process for delivering the relationship summary to existing and new retail investors.

Examinations that Focus on Compliance with Regulation Best Interest

Examinations that Focus on Compliance with Form CRS

Bill Singer's Comment:
Is there something seriously wrong with you folks at the SEC? Are you clueless or just heartless? The compliance date for Regulation Best Interest and Form CRS is June 30, 2020. What planet are you living on -- or are you just visiting Earth? In case you don't actually know what's going on here with the rest of us:

Regulators allow city cemeteries to work around the clock to deal with the overwhelming need, It [sic] reported the Wall Street Journal. Federal and local agencies have sent about 130 refrigerated cars to serve as temporary homes for the Brooklyn Hospital Center and other facilities around the state.

Cremation has increased in recent years, but with the increase in coronavirus cases and the inability to have normal wakes and funerals, the number has risen sharply since the crisis began. "We've never seen anything close to this," said Brooklyn funeral director.

Dennis Warner, Head of St. Michael's Cemetery in Queens said half of the cremations at its All Souls Crematory are for people who died of coronavirus-related causes. Up to 24 cremations a day are scheduled, up from just eight before the pandemic.

From "NYC crematoria are backed up as coronavirus deaths grow"

Grocery workers are beginning to die of coronavirus (Washington Post by Abha Bhattarai)
As reported in part by Abha Bhattaran:

Industry experts say the rise of worker infections and deaths will likely have a ripple effect on grocers' ability to retain and add new workers at a time when they're looking to rapidly hire thousands of temporary employees. Walmart, the nation's largest grocer, is hiring 150,000 workers, while Kroger is adding more than 10,000. Many are offering an extra $2 an hour and promising masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. But finding people willing to work on the front lines for little more than the minimum wage could be an increasingly tough sell, according to supermarket analyst Phil Lempert.

Bill Singer's Comment:
It's time for a nationwide policy that imposes the following obligations upon grocery store employers during the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • Guaranteed paid leave for all workers who isolate or self-quarantine instead of coming to work
  • Reinstatement of health care coverage for part-time and seasonal workers
  • Increased funds to cover coronavirus testing and treatment for all team members, including part-time and seasonal
  • Guaranteed hazard pay
  • Implementation of new policies that can facilitate social distancing between workers and customers
  • Commitment to ensuring that all locations have adequate sanitation equipment and procedures in place
  • Immediate shutdown of any location where a worker tests positive for COVID-19. In such an event, all workers should continue to receive full pay until the store can safely reopen.
Pence Tells U.S. Food Workers 'Do Your Job' as They Fall Ill (Bloomberg by James Attwood and Isis Almeida)
As the Bloomberg article notes in part:

The coronavirus, which has claimed more than 81,000 deaths globally, is upending meat markets as plant workers fall ill. Shortly after Pence spoke, food giant Cargill Inc. said it was idling a beef plant in Pennsylvania after employees tested positive for Covid-19, joining the ranks of food companies across the U.S. shutting or reducing operations as the outbreak sickens more of their ranks and begins to affect production.

The slowdowns have fanned fears of potential food shortages just as supply chain disruptions are already keeping some basic goods such as beef, rice and pasta off grocery shelves. The U.S. Chicken Council said its members are doing everything they can to keep their employees safe and product on the shelves.

Rice prices surge to 7-year high as coronavirus sparks stockpiling (Bloomberg by Huileng Tan)
In detailing the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food supply, report Tan notes in part that:

North America, Europe and China are now facing labor shortages and supply line disruptions for spring planting, he added. "If they miss the planting window, they are done for the entire year."

In other parts of the world like India and other South Asian countries, it is now harvest time for winter crops such as wheat, potato, cotton and some fruits and vegetables. Farmers need migrant workers to operate machinery and perform other manual work like loading and unloading the produce.

"Although import buying of some commodities has accelerated in recent weeks, logistical challenges are being reported as movement constraints and quarantine measures become widespread," the International Grain Council said in a recent report. It also acknowledged a sharp upturn in near-term demand, especially for rice and wheat-based foods.

( Blog)
In a Complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the SEC charged Jonah Engler, Joshua W. Turney and Hector Perez with antifraud violations, and also charged Barbara Desiderio with aiding and abetting Engler's, Turney's and Perez's violations. Hmmm . . . why do some of those names seem familiar?