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Satoshi's bitcoin fortune is at the center of a legal fight...
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November 15, 2021 View Online | Sign Up

Morning Brew

E*TRADE

Good morning. Not sure if you opened this newsletter thinking, "I'm about to make a life-changing decision!" but hey, if you're game we've got the goods. The Brew's MB/A, an 8-week virtual program designed to accelerate the careers of top-performing professionals, is now accepting applications for the Winter 2022 cohorts.

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Neal Freyman

MARKETS: YEAR-TO-DATE

Nasdaq

15,860.96

S&P

4,682.85

Dow

36,100.31

10-Year

1.563%

Bitcoin

$65,666.26

Oil

$80.66

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 8:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: A higher-than-expected inflation reading tripped up stocks last week, but the major indexes remain close to their record highs as Monday dawns bright and chilly on Wall Street. One crazy inflation stat: California gas prices hit an average of $4.676 yesterday, breaking the previous record from 2012.
  • Economy: When asked on Face the Nation what the government should do about alarming inflation data, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put the blame on Covid disruptions. "If we want to get inflation down, I think continuing to make progress against the pandemic is the most important thing we can do," she said.

CLIMATE

At COP26, Climate Change Meets Adam Smith

A giant sand artwork adorns New Brighton Beach to highlight global warming and the forthcoming Cop26 global climate conference

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Among the flurry of announcements at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which ended Saturday, was a deal to standardize an international carbon trading market.

Known as Article 6, this global carbon market had been introduced six years ago in the Paris agreement. But officials in Glasgow finalized the rules around the marketplace, with the hope it will lead to an explosion of carbon trading and renewable energy investments.

  • Despite minimal regulation and a lack of clarity around pricing, informal carbon markets are already thriving. Experts estimate that more than $1 billion in carbon units could be traded by the end of this year.

How it works

A carbon market allows countries and private firms to buy and sell emissions credits as if they're Pokémon cards.

  • For instance, if you're a country that's already limiting emissions below your targets, you could sell credits to another country that's behind on achieving its climate goals.
  • Companies also trade carbon credits when they aim to offset their emissions with carbon removal efforts, such as planting trees.

But what is a carbon credit? It's a permit representing 1 ton of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Credits are created through projects that reduce or eliminate CO2 and other greenhouse gases from being released.

A heated debate

  • Proponents of carbon markets believe they could unleash trillions of dollars in investments for renewable energy projects and environmental protection efforts. A standardized carbon market, they say, will allow for the efficient deployment of capital to the projects that best limit emissions.
  • Skeptics say unregulated carbon trading allows companies to "greenwash" their operations by using carbon offsets as window dressing to cover up their polluting ways.

Bottom line: With the standardization of a global carbon market and a pledge by 450+ major financial firms to focus their investments around emissions reductions, COP26 will go down as a landmark moment for climate finance.

+ While we're here: Read up on the main takeaways from the summit, which made progress but also cast doubt on the world's ability to limit warming to the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

        

CRYPTO

Bitcoin's Magical Mystery Trial

bitcoin

Ian McKinnon

The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of bitcoin, has remained a secret since the creation of the cryptocurrency in 2009. But he, or she, or they, is at the center of an ongoing Florida trial some are calling "bitcoin's trial of the century."

The trial concerns a stash of 1.1 million bitcoins believed to belong to Satoshi. Valued at more than $70 billion, it's one of the largest private fortunes in the world, per the WSJ.

Since 2016, Australian computer scientist and crypto pioneer Craig Wright has insisted that he is Satoshi. But the family of the late David Kleiman, who was Wright's business partner, argues that the two men created bitcoin together, and Kleiman is thus entitled to half of the fortune. So Kleiman's family has sued Wright.

The bitcoin community rejects Wright's claims that he is Satoshi, and the only way for him to prove it would be to produce the private key to the wallet that holds the 1.1 million bitcoins. If a jury rules in the Kleiman family's favor and forces Wright to hand over a chunk of the fortune—and he is unable to access the wallet—Satoshi's identity will remain a mystery.

        

COVID

Countries Go Split Screen in Covid Fight

As another Covid wave sweeps through Europe and elsewhere, some governments are increasingly splitting their populations into vaxed and unvaxed camps.

Austria is reinstituting a lockdown today only for residents who haven't gotten fully vaccinated. It's considered one of the first national lockdowns that specifically targets the unvaccinated, per the NYT.

Latvia has banned unvaccinated lawmakers from doing their basic job functions—participating in discussions and voting on legislation—and docked their pay. The country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU.

Singapore is wielding the stick through hospital bills: The country said it would no longer cover the cost of Covid-19 treatment for unvaccinated people, which will leave some who end up in the ICU with bills of $18,000+.

The US has not gone nearly as far as these countries in cracking down on its unvaccinated population. President Biden mandated that businesses with 100+ employees must enforce a vaccine mandate or weekly testing for their workers, but that rule is up in the air after an appeals court upheld a ruling to suspend its rollout.

        

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Pass the Financial Knowledge, Please

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GRAB BAG

Key Performance Indicators

Falcon 9 rocket set up for launch of Endeavour

NASA/Joel Kowsky

Stat: More than 600 human beings have now gone to space, after a SpaceX mission sent three more astronauts to the great beyond on Friday. The first person to go to space was Russian Yuri Gagarin, 60 years ago.

Quote: "I keep forgetting that you're still alive."

Elon Musk got real nasty over the weekend, mocking Bernie Sanders after the senator said extremely wealthy people should "pay their fair share" of taxes. Musk, who sold about $6.9 billion worth of Tesla shares last week, said he'd sell more if Bernie wanted. "Just say the word."

Read: How Britney Spears got free, and what comes next. (The New Yorker)

        

CALENDAR

The Week Ahead

President Biden at his desk

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Government: President Biden will sign the infrastructure bill today, injecting $550 billion of fresh funds into upgrading the country's roads, trains, EV charging networks, and more. The White House's top economic advisor expects the second item on Biden's to-do list, the $1.85 trillion social spending bill, to pass the House this week.

Economy: October's retail sales data on Tuesday will give investors more insight into how decades-high inflation and supply chain bottlenecks have impacted shopping trends.

Earnings: Keeping with this week's theme, retailers including Walmart, Home Depot, Macy's, Target, and Alibaba will all report earnings as they gear up for the holiday season.

Everything else:

  • President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit today amid rising tensions between the two superpowers.
  • Sweetgreen is going public this week.
  • Don't forget to book your Thanksgiving travel ASAP. It's expected to be nearly as busy as pre-Covid.
        

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • The Trump Organization is selling the rights to the family's hotel in Washington, DC, to an investment firm that plans to rebrand it as the Waldorf Astoria. The deal is valued at $375 million.
  • New Mexico joined Colorado and California in opening up booster shots to all adults.
  • A Southwest Airlines employee was hospitalized after being "verbally and physically" assaulted by a passenger, the company said.
  • Kaiser Permanente reached a deal with an alliance of unions to avert a strike of 32,000 employees at the health care network.

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BREW'S BETS

Brew's Bets

Bookmark this: Whenever you feel boredom creeping on, or just need a quick break from work, check out this long list of unusual Wikipedia articles. There's enough interesting content to last you 20 lifetimes.

Dive back into the week:

GAMES

The Puzzle Section

Turntable: If you like playing Boggle, you're going to love playing Turntable, a game that asks you to pluck words from a jumble of letters. Better yet, no cleanup. Play it here.

Guess the stock chart

This apparel company's share price has surged more than 2,000% in the past five years, with most of those gains coming in 2020–21. Can you name the company?

Crocs share price

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ANSWER

Crocs

HOW WAS TODAY'S NEWSLETTER?

GREAT GOOD BAD
         

Written by Neal Freyman

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