Financial markets brace for impact of Archegos Capital
In Today’s Digital Newspaper
• Progress freeing ship blocking Suez Canal… partially refloated
• Asia crude oil falls as trade route could reopen soon, ending global supply disruptions
• U.S. crude up around $61.65 per barrel
• U.S. stock futures drop as banks warn of losses
• WSJ: In a resurgent American Farm Belt, hottest commodity around is dirt
• Summers again warns U.S. risks rising inflation
• China’s factories raising prices for global goods, stoking inflation fears
• New Mideast crude contract may test OPEC’s grip on oil: WSJ
• Wheat Quality Council Tour to occur mid-May this year
• Bull run for industrial metals is faltering this month
• Freezing temps unlikely to cause permanent U.S. soft wheat crop damage
• Russian, Ukrainian wheat export prices slide
• Ukraine’s spring planting season begins
• Economy Ministry tweaks 2020-21 crop estimates for Ukraine
• Monsanto and India’s NSL reach an agreement regarding GM cotton seed
• Biden to focus on infrastructure vision in two parts
• Biden, Democrats hold off detailing tax revenue ideas
• Vilsack comments on trade, climate, food policy issues
Biden Administration Personnel
• Biden taps Manchin wife for federal post
• USTR Tai: U.S. isn’t ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports in near future
• China helped rev up, and then slow down, global commodities boom
• Demand for wheat offered at China’s weekly auctions continues to fade
• Chinese anti-dumping duties of nearly 176% on Australian wine took effect Sunday
• China’s coal habit
Energy & Climate Change:
• BP, oil giants bump climate suit to Maryland Federal Court
• Biden taps Putin, Xi for virtual climate summit
• Global cases of coronavirus rose for the fifth straight week
• Vaccinating children will likely be necessary to reach herd immunity:
• Vaccine passports gaining momentum
Politics & Elections:
• Sullivan vows Murkowski election support
Other Items of Note:
• Iran and China signed a wide-ranging economic and security cooperation agreement
• Poland beats California regarding dog policy
Equities today: U.S. futures are down as a large investment fund unwound billions of dollars in holdings, triggering concerns that stocks in the portfolio and banks who dealt with the firm could face sharp losses. Shares in Credit Suisse and Nomura fell sharply. Traders will be “glued to their screens,” one portfolio manager told Bloomberg. Archegos Capital, the family office run by Bill Hwang that was pushed to liquidate, was forced to sell more than $20 billion of stocks on Friday after margin calls. Archegos led to a tumble in ViacomCBS, Discovery and Chinese internet stocks after a margin call. Hedge fund manager Bill Hwang formerly ran Tiger Asia Management, a spinoff from hedge fund legend Julian Robertson's Tiger Management. Some bankers told the Financial Times that Archegos’ downfall highlighted the risk of one firm taking on so much leverage from multiple banks. In Asia, major benchmarks were mixed by the close of trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7% and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite added 0.5%, whereas Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended the day flat. It’s a holiday-shortened week for many countries that will see their markets closed on Friday to observe the Good Friday holiday ahead of Easter Sunday, including the United States.
U.S. equities Friday: The Dow added 453.40 points, 1.4% to 33,072.88, a fresh high.
S&P 500 rose 65.02 points, 1.7% to 3,974.54, a new high. Nasdaq gained 161.05 points, 1.2% to 13138.72.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note topped 1.7% earlier this month for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, settling Friday at 1.658%. That was up from 0.913% at the end of last year but down from around 5% 15 years ago and 8% 30 years ago.
Investors have plowed $11.5 billion into U.S. large cap value exchange-traded funds so far this year, versus nearly $4 billion in outflows from similar growth funds, according to FactSet. The biggest beneficiary of those inflows has been Vanguard’s Value Index Fund, whose top holdings include stocks closely tied to the economy, including JPMorgan Chase, Coca-Cola and Walmart.
On tap today:
• Dallas Fed's manufacturing survey for March is out at 10:30 a.m. ET.
• Federal Reserve governor Christopher Waller speaks on Fed independence at a Peterson Institute for International Economics event at 11 a.m. ET.
• Grain Export Inspections report, 11 a.m. ET.
• President Biden delivers remarks on the Covid-19 response and the state of vaccinations.
Ship blocking the Suez Canal is partially freed. Tugboats are now working to straighten its course, which could soon reopen the vital trade route and end days of global supply disruptions. Engineers partly freed a wedged ship blocking the Suez Canal. The nearly week-long blockage of the channel has left billions of dollars of goods stuck on ships with 453 vessels queuing to cross the canal by yesterday evening. There is also a growing traffic jam on the other side of the world, with waiting times for ships to unload at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California lengthening amid shortages of equipment and labor. The vessels are waiting to pass through the canal, blocked since the Ever Given ran into its east side during stormy weather on March 23. Shipping executives told the WSJ that even if the vessel is removed imminently, a backlog of ships waiting to pass through the canal would linger for days, and diversions of cargo could wreak havoc on port traffic around the world for weeks, upsetting the usually carefully orchestrated management of the world’s containers. In normal circumstances a maximum of 106 ships can cross the waterway daily.
The 220,000-ton ship is not quite in the middle of the waterway, but the Suez Canal Authority is hopeful a high tide today will allow for a final push (and tug) to bring it into position. The boat will then head north for further inspection. Meanwhile, navigation is to resume “immediately” afterward, according to the Suez Canal Authority. Mohab Mamish, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s adviser for the Suez Canal, said it will take roughly a week to clear the remaining ships out of the canal once the Ever Given is under way. Dealing with the backlog that has accumulated north and south of the canal will likely take more than twice as long.
Meanwhile, Suez Canal insurance claims loom as Ever Given blocks shipping. More than $3 billion of liability coverage is in place for the owner of the grounded container ship but it is unclear whether that will be enough to cover losses that are likely to be claimed. About 10% of global trade passes through the canal, or nearly $10 billion of goods daily. Meanwhile, containers are piling up at ports, which don’t have the workers to store and move them. And congested ports have lengthened the time it takes truckers to pick up or drop off containers.
WSJ: In a resurgent American Farm Belt, the hottest commodity around is dirt. Across the Midwest, prices to buy and rent farmland are climbing as demand is driven by rallying grain markets, historic government payments and low interest rates, according to economists, agricultural lenders and land managers cite in a Wall Street Journal article (link). Farmland values rose during 2020 as soaring grain prices last fall revived farmers’ fortunes. Land prices in the Chicago Fed region, which covers parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, climbed 6% last year, the largest such increase since 2012. Land values had sagged over recent years but rebounded as soaring grain prices last fall revived farmers’ fortunes. That’s having a big impact on rural communities. Fewer, bigger farmers now dominate the country’s remaining 900 million acres, and higher prices hasten consolidation by making it tougher for smaller, less-profitable farmers to afford a down payment or compete for leases. That’s creating a cut-throat market for some farmers. But the surge in grain markets is boosting suppliers, including freight railroads that have seen grain transports grow 27.2% so far this year, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Summers warns U.S. risks rising inflation. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers reiterated his warning that the U.S. risks rising inflation amid massive government stimulus, easy monetary policy and an expected surge in consumer spending as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes. “The idea that it can’t ratchet up quickly is just plain wrong,” Summers said on Bloomberg Television. The debate over the path of inflation has been intensifying among economists, lawmakers and Wall Street — especially with the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law earlier this month.
China’s factories are raising prices for global goods, stoking fears it may add to global inflationary pressures, the WSJ reports (link). Rising raw-materials costs and unrelenting supply-chain constraints are prompting many Chinese exporters to increase prices for the goods they sell abroad (link). Prices of some industrial metals are falling, however, as China pulls back from its state-investment stimulus. Amid fresh concern that some battery-making metals could be globally oversupplied, benchmark metals fell in March from records a month earlier — nickel by 18%, cobalt 13% and copper 9%.
• Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index near steady after hitting a 4.5-month high late last week. Nymex crude oil prices are slightly lower and trading around $60.85 a barrel. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently 1.657%.
• Crude oil futures are moving higher, with U.S. crude up around $61.65 per barrel and Brent around $65.05 per barrel. Crude prices fell in Asian action, with U.S. crude down $1.04 at $59.93 per barrel and Brent down 96 cents at $63.47 per barrel.
• New Mideast crude contract may test OPEC’s grip on oil: WSJ. Abu Dhabi’s Murban futures begin trading as the emirate prepares to relinquish control over prices and resales of its crude in a bid for Asian buyers. Link to details via WSJ.
• Growing congestion at Brazil’s ports is delaying dry-bulk vessels by several weeks, tying up vessel capacity and triggering higher freight rate.
• Wheat Quality Council Tour to occur mid-May this year. The HRW Wheat Quality Council Tour will take place the week of May 18 instead of the traditional early May this season. That means the tour will take place after USDA’s May 1 survey release. The tour will cover the same routes as in years past.
• Bull run for industrial metals is faltering this month as demand from China slows, underscoring the increasingly pivotal role its state-led economy plays in global commodity booms. China last year put some $500 billion in state investment to prop up its pandemic-pummeled economy. The stimulus drew imports of everything from crude oil to steel. A budding global economic recovery helped the rally. But China, which accounts for as much as 60% of the world’s resource consumption, has in recent weeks pulled back from its investment-led playbook, as policy makers refocus on containing bad loans and retooling the economy onto a consumer-led footing.
Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include (Link to subscribe to FTT):
• Freezing temps unlikely to cause permanent U.S. soft wheat crop damage
• Russian, Ukrainian wheat export prices slide
• Ukraine’s spring planting season begins
• Economy Ministry tweaks 2020-21 crop estimates for Ukraine
• Monsanto and India’s NSL reach an agreement regarding GM cotton seed
— Biden and Democrats’ infrastructure proposals are mostly known in broad outline, but details to be fleshed out soon, including tax revenue needed. President Joe Biden is expected to lay out more details of his infrastructure package in a visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, ahead of negotiations with Capitol Hill that will likely continue to unfold over the next several months. Coming in two parts, the first focusing on physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and expanding broadband to rural communities, and the second on human infrastructure, like education and childcare, it is expected to cost at least $3 trillion to $4 trillion.
“The total package we’re still working out,” White House press secretary Jan Psaki told Fox News Sunday, but added Biden is “going to introduce some ways to pay for that, and he’s eager to hear ideas from both parties as well.” Aides suggest his proposals might not be entirely paid for, with some one-time spending increases offset by increased federal borrowing.
Revenue estimate for Biden 2020 campaign proposals (over ten years)
- Payroll tax increase on high-income households $740 billion
- Corporate income tax increase from 21 to 28 per cent $730 billion
- Minimum tax on foreign earnings of U.S. companies $440 billion (minimum 15% tax on the book income of large corporations, effectively disallowing many deductions)
- Higher capital gains and dividend taxes for ultra-wealthy $370 billion
- Individual income tax increase for high earners $310 billion
Source: Tax Policy Center
The Tax Foundation estimates that Biden’s corporate tax hike would slash 159,000 jobs and that an average 0.7% wage reduction would harm the bottom quintile of workers, who would see a 1.45% decrease in after-tax income. Prices would likely go up, and retirement accounts would be smaller than otherwise.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said last week that Biden’s infrastructure plan was “going to be enormous” and that its costs needed to be covered. He signaled openness to making changes to the 2017 tax overhaul, adding that the benefits in that legislation were “weighted in one direction to the upper end… Where do they think it’s going to come from? How are they going to fix America?” he said, when asked about Republican resistance to tax increases. “I don’t think that’s reasonable.”
There are disputes among Democrats, with some favoring Biden’s plan to set the corporate rate at 28% and others preferring a lower one, like 25%. There are also questions over which high-earning individuals should see a tax increase.
“He wants a massive tax increase, and he wants to allocate the tax responsibility in this country, on the basis of class,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “That’s a hell of a way to make tax policy. Sound tax policy is made on the basis of economics.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said that her committee would examine changes to the gas tax, or a related tax that also charges a fee to users of electric vehicles, as discussions continue about a funding mechanism.
The top tax writer in the Senate, Ron Wyden of Oregon, is drafting a series of bills to raise taxes, many of them overlapping with Mr. Biden’s campaign proposals. “I’ll be ready to raise what the Democratic caucus decides is required to move forward,” Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview with the New York Times.
— Biden to push another coronavirus recovery bill on top of $1.9 billion package: Psaki. President Biden will have "more to say" in April about his coronavirus recovery plan focused on issues like health care and women leaving the workforce after pushing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday. "When the president advocated for the American Rescue Plan, he talked about this being two stages: rescue then recovery. What the American people will hear from him this week, is part of his plan, the first step of his plan toward recovery which will include an investment in infrastructure," Psaki told Fox News Sunday.
"He's going to have more to say later in April about the second part of his recovery plan, which will include … health care, childcare, addressing that. It's a crisis right now, the number of women who have left the workplace," she continued. "The total package, we're still working out." That package and the Democrats' expected infrastructure bill will be "two separate proposals," Psaki said.
As for whether the two proposals mean two separate legislative bills, Psaki said "We'll work with the Senate and the House to see how it should move forward.” Psaki told Fox News Sunday the White House had yet to settle on its legislative strategy, “but I will say that I don’t think Republicans in this country think we should be 13th in the world as it relates to infrastructure… Roads, railways, rebuilding them, that’s not a partisan issue,” she said.
— Biden administration will release this week its proposed discretionary budget for fiscal 2022, which begins Oct. 1. That will provide insight into the president’s top priorities and laying down a marker for Congress. The budget proposal will include funding levels by agencies and guidance on investments. The proposed budget will be the first in a decade not to be limited by caps on discretionary spending, making it easier for Biden to propose spending increases for longtime Democratic priorities such as education and housing.
— Highlights of Vilsack comments to National Press Club on Friday:
- Expanding export markets for U.S. ag and food commodities remains a keen focus for USDA, Vilsack said. “The key here is deepening our presence in [export] markets by having more people on the ground, understanding those markets, making sure that we're working with our collaborators and developing partnerships and promotions,” he said.
- Mexico’s GMO corn ban does not extend to feed. Asked how he will respond to Mexico’s plan to stop importing genetically modified (GM) corn, Vilsack said Mexico is only considering such a ban for corn used in human food products, not animal feed. He called the distinction a “big difference here to producers in the United States.” He revealed he has been in contact with his Mexican counterpart and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the GM corn issue, noting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes provisions for formal consultations, and, if needed, a dispute resolution process. However, he stressed, “we're not anywhere near there yet,” referring to invoking dispute settlement provisions of the trade pact. “We’re just having these conversations.” Bottom line: “It is important to distinguish between what Mexico is currently thinking about doing, and the fact that it's not going to have as great an impact it would if it was everything all at once, all right now,” referring to fears of a broader GM corn import ban.
- Regarding trade with China, Vilsack noted they are “buying significant amounts of many commodities” under the Phase 1 U.S./China deal, but they could “be doing more” to meet commitments, including more purchases of biofuel, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and dairy. “But certainly corn, soybeans and some of the other commodities, they are purchasing fairly significant amounts to the point where we're probably back to where we were pre-tariff and pre-pandemic for sure,” he added.
- Unclear about more trade aid for farmers. “I'm not sure that there's necessarily a need for any trade-related assistance at this point.” He pointed to high commodity prices and the rapid clip of ag purchases by China under the Phase 1 accord.
- SNAP/food stamps: Asked to weigh in on a call by some congressional Democrats to make a temporary 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits permanent, he said the budget baseline benefit — without the additional 15% — is based in part on calculations drawn from the Thrifty Food Plan but suggested some of the assumptions in the plan are outdated. “I'm told, for example, that one assumption is that families spend about an hour and a half preparing meals at home, from scratch, every day,” Vilsack remarked of the food plan. “I don't think that's happening in a lot of American households.” The Ag secretary called out another assumption that the average American family consumes 20 pounds of beans each week, adding “that’s probably not happening either.” USDA is looking at the Thrifty Food Plan to determine whether it adequately reflects current realities, Vilsack explained. “With that information, I think Congress can make an informed decision about the increase, or not, that SNAP should undertake, and how to structure that,” he said. Other considerations, he added, include how those benefits can be best used to buy nutritious foods, such as expanding the ability to use the benefits online.
- Future of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program (FFFBP), which is currently set to expire April 30. One of the “key drivers” of any decision about extending the effort will be what financial resources set aside by Congress remain, Vilsack said, repeating that USDA is currently reviewing the program to identify what aspects worked well and which did not and acknowledged its popularity among farmers and food banks alike. One possibility is that an extension of FFFBP might take the form of fruit and vegetable-only boxes, which food banks have said are easier to manage than the current combination boxes that include meat, seafood and dairy products, he said.
- Climate change plans: Regarding his plans for rolling out climate smart ag policies, Vilsack signaled initial moves may harness existing conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). “Congress has basically authorized and approved up to  million acres to go into that program,” he explained. The data on what is currently in CRP is 20.8 million at the end of January, Enrolling an additional 4 million acres to meet the cap can “begin the process of addressing some of the challenges that we face” related to climate, he said. USDA may work with states to come up with ways to encourage farmers to enroll more marginal lands in CRP, potentially including additional incentive payments. A key will be ensuring a balance between promoting climate goals and not distorting markets in regions across the country, he added. For CRP and other USDA conservation programs, Vilsack said he hopes to focus them on climate smart ag practices. “We need to provide incentives, we need to provide resources, we need to provide cost-share for all the activities that are currently taking place and see if we can expand them and build upon them.” Vilsack reiterated that harnessing carbon markets will be another focus and ensuring they serve the needs of farmers will be critical. “You can set up the prototype if you will, or the pilot, and then see how it works,” he said of an ag carbon bank, suggesting the move could tap extra funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Should the pilots prove successful “then we basically go back to Congress and say, ‘How can we get this thing ramped up to a point where more and more farmers are participating?’”
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL
— Biden taps Manchin’s wife for federal post. President Biden plans to nominate Gayle Conelly Manchin, an educator and wife of pivotal Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), to a regional economic development position after the senator has emerged as a key swing vote in the chamber. The White House said that Gayle Manchin is Biden’s choice for federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between the U.S. and 13 states, including West Virginia, where the Manchins reside.
— WSJ interview with Tai: U.S. isn’t ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports in near future but might be open to trade negotiations with Beijing. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai, in her first interview since Senate confirmation, said she recognized that the tariffs can exact a toll on U.S. businesses and consumers, though proponents have said they also help shield companies from subsidized foreign competition. “I have heard people say, ‘Please just take these tariffs off,’” Tai said. But “yanking off tariffs,” she warned, could harm the economy unless the change is “communicated in a way so that the actors in the economy can make adjustments.” “Whether they are companies, traders, manufacturers or their workers,” she added, “the ability to plan” for changes that affect their future is essential. The negotiator also cited tactical reasons for her reluctance. “No negotiator walks away from leverage, right?” she said.
— China helped rev up, and then slow down, the global commodities boom. Prices of industrial metals that go into batteries and electric vehicles have fallen from records, as China eases buying, and oversupply worries grow. Link to WSJ for details.
— Demand for wheat offered at China’s weekly auctions continues to fade. China sold 1.03 MMT of state reserve wheat put up for auction the March 23-24, representing just 25.75% of the total and more than a 602,000 MT slide from the tonnage sold the week prior. Global wheat prices are easing, which is likely easing demand for the feed ingredient. The average sales price for the latest auction at 2,354 yuan per metric ton was down 2 yuan from the week prior. Both the sales tonnage and the average price were the lowest of 2021.
— Chinese anti-dumping duties of nearly 176% on Australian wine took effect Sunday. China’s Commerce Ministry recently issued a final ruling imposing anti-dumping tariffs on imports of Australian wine from March 28 forward, with these duties to remain in effect for five years. Treasury Wine Estates Ltd TWE.AX, the world's largest standalone winemaker whose biggest market is China, said that Beijing had imposed a final combined 175.6% anti-dumping and countervailing duty rate. Australia Treasury Wine says it will redirect sales to the U.S., Europe and other areas of Asia.
— China’s coal habit. China’s coal consumption rose 1.7% in 2020, according to a new report from Ember, an energy and climate think tank. In a further challenge to China’s plans for carbon neutrality, China’s electricity demand has grown 33% over the past five years, with per capita demand now higher than the United Kingdom, but still less than half of U.S. per capita demand.
ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE
— BP, oil giants bump climate suit to Maryland Federal Court. Energy companies and one industry group swung Annapolis’ climate lawsuit from state to federal court, launching another jurisdictional battleground in the fight over climate liability, Bloomberg reports. The American Petroleum Institute, BP Plc, Chevron, and 23 other energy companies were targeted by the Maryland city in February over claims that they have been misleading the public about the contributions of their products to worsening climate change impacts.
— Biden taps Putin, Xi for virtual climate summit. President Biden included Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping among 40 world leaders he invited to a White House climate summit next month, showing he plans to include friends and foes in his administration’s first major international gathering. The virtual summit will bring together 17 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions and gross domestic product, the White House said in a statement. It will be open to the public through a webstream, the White House said.
— Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 127,248,728 with 2,785,008 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 30,262,381 with 549,335 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 143,462,691 doses administered, 48,542,049 have been fully vaccinated, or 14.8% of the U.S. population.
— Global cases of the coronavirus rose for the fifth straight week, with the death toll continuing to accelerate. India and Brazil are seeing some of their worst periods of the pandemic. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened to exert federal authority over regions on Covid restrictions as cases mount. Some restrictions are being relaxed in the U.K. today, while the U.S. saw more than 3 million vaccine doses administered for the last three days in a row.
— Vaccinating children will likely be necessary to reach herd immunity, experts say. Children aren’t going to be vaccinated for several months at least because drugmakers are still testing shots in younger ages. That means health authorities can’t be confident of securing community protection against the virus, known as herd immunity, until later this year at the earliest, because children under 18 make up a significant proportion of many countries’ populations. Health authorities say children don’t need to be vaccinated to start resuming certain activities like in-person learning at schools that are taking precautionary measures. Some experts caution against focusing too heavily on a specific herd-immunity target, as building up population-level protection is an incremental process.
— Vaccine passports are gaining momentum. The Biden administration is working with private companies to create a standard version that people can show to prove that they have been fully vaccinated, the Washington Post reports (link). New York State is rolling out one such app this week.
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
— Sullivan vows Murkowski election support. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said he’ll support colleague Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) re-election campaign despite a vow by former President Donald Trump to campaign against her in 2022. Murkowski was one of seven Republicans to join Democrats in a vote in February to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for his role in inciting the U.S. Capitol attack. “We don’t agree on everything, but we make a good team for Alaska,” Sullivan said.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
— China and Iran’s new deal. China and Iran signed a 25-year security and economic cooperation agreement on Saturday, in a move that could allow give Iran some breathing room amid international sanctions. The deal reportedly includes Chinese investments in Iran’s nuclear energy and oil industry as well as port and rail infrastructure in return for Iranian oil. Notably, the deal includes an agreement to set up an Iranian-Chinese bank, giving Tehran a financial foothold outside of the Western-dominated banking system.
— Poland’s Interior Ministry has proposed new legislation that would provide pensions for the dogs and horses that serve in the country’s police, border and fire services — giving their new owners state payments to cover expensive medical care. When it comes to guardianship, the draft law would also give right of first refusal to animals’ handlers before putting them up for adoption. The Polish government currently employs roughly 1,200 dogs and 60 horses, with about 10% retiring each year. Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said the law is a “moral obligation” and expects to see it pass unanimously in parliament once it reconvenes.