While You Were Working - April 11

Mnuchin said nyet to sanctioning all of Russia’s debt

As I wrote yesterday, the US’s preferred method of sanctioning Russia is to go after individual oligarchs and other friends of President Vladimir Putin. While that approach does bring a certain amount of risk in the form of Putin letting the US do his dirty work for him in weakening any oligarchs he might dislike, it is usually a nice and contained approach. Markets can look at the targeted oligarch and discern where the pain will be felt.

That would not be the case if the US opted to sanction all of Russia’s sovereign debt.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to remind Congress that the spillover effects of such move would be messy and unpredictable. Mnuchin is often maligned by market participants for this and that. But in this case, the markets have his back.

JPMorgan pulled the ol’ Bitcoin and switch

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan, JPMorgan Chase decided to change the way it let customers use their credit cards to buy Bitcoin; after they already bought the cryptocurrency.

A credit card company trying to change a transaction from a purchase to a cash advance sounds entirely believable. Especially when said credit card company’s own CEO was very public with his naysaying about Bitcoin, right up to the point when his firm thought they could make some money off of it.

The most entertaining aspect of the lawsuit is the teeny tiny dollar amount. The named plaintiff was hit with a whopping $143.30 in fees and $20.61 in interest charges for five cryptocurrency transactions he conducted with his Chase credit card.

Maybe this is a coincidence …

… And maybe it isn’t. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner has never done too good of job of hiding the disdain he holds for his successor Paul Ryan. So on the day that Ryan made news by announcing he would retire because he didn’t like his prospects of getting re-elected in his home district in Wisconsin, Boehner – coincidentally, I’m sure – also made headlines by joining the advisory board of a US cannabis producer. Now that is what I call stepping on someone’s news cycle. And I guess it makes sense … Boehner has always been a well-known chain-smoker.

WYWW Appetizers

  • Fed policymakers see good things.
  • Bravo to the FT’s Gillian Tett and her kids for doing some good.
  • Bayern cruised and Juventus got absolutely robbed.