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Daily briefing - 26 September 2019

Legal cannabis production is one of the fastest growing industries in the USA, despite the fact that most banks cannot touch cannabis cash due to its continued federal prohibition. (Have a look at the great Netflix documentary Grass is Greener, which traces how cannabis prohibition started in the 1930s, with all the famous jazz musicians from Cab Calloway to Louis Armstrong getting jailed and harassed for cannabis use.) Now that cannabis is legal is some states, banks are embracing the green revolution. "Banks have thrown their weight behind the legislation, telling lawmakers they need clarity on whether they can do business with cannabis companies where it is legal at the state level despite the fact that marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government," reports Reuters. In a letter to lawmakers sent on Tuesday seeking their support, the American Bankers Association said: "Our members are committed to serving the financial needs of their communities - including those that have voted to legalize cannabis." Fighting talk from the US banks.

Christian Sewing continues Deutsche Bank's tradition of blaming everyone else for the doom apparently enveloping Europe. Maybe it's just enveloping Christian Sewing, following him around SIBOS like a cloud. From the FT: "Especially for Europe, the sky has darkened," Mr Sewing said in a speech at the Sibos payments and technology conference in London on Wednesday. "During my meetings and sessions in Asia last week, America and China were the hot topics of conversation. Europe was much less of an issue. We simply aren't that interesting any more for many investors and companies." Mr Sewing blamed central bankers for using up all of their ammunition and criticised politicians for not doing enough. He criticised EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vesthager for preventing the mergers of Europe's two biggest train manufacturers. This is coming, remember, from a man who not long ago was trying to force together Germany's two biggest banks.

A sucker and his money are easily parted, goes the proverb. So a new day means a new crypto scam. Chinese police are investigating PlusToken, where funds worth nearly three billion dollars appear to have vanished. "As much as $2.9 billion appears to have vanished in what could be one of the largest cryptocurrency exit scams to date, but the main suspects are still on the run and might have recently moved the swindled funds, according to cryptocurrency AML software provider CipherTrace and Chinese police officials." PlusToken claimed to have four million users. "As part of the company's elaborate ten layer marketing plan, users were given a yield on their crypto that was contingent on them bringing new customers to the firm." Multi-level marketing schemes and incentives to bring in greater fools might seem like obvious warnings. Sadly, there are plenty more fools out there.

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