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Pantera crypto blockchain fund lands Deutsche veteran William Healy

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As major financial institutions shake up their employee base, more veterans are trickling out of Wall Street and into crypto funds.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain hedge fund Pantera Capital announced Tuesday the hiring of former Deutsche Bank Managing Director William Healy. Healy joins the fund’s west coast headquarters as president, effective March 1.

The Wall Street veteran co-founded Deutsche Bank’s Hedge Fund Priority Client group and was a key player in establishing the Dutch bank’s U.S. hedge fund strategy, according to Pantera’s investor letter published Tuesday.

“This is a transformative time,” Healy said in a statement. “The blockchain and digital currency environment today remind me of the inflection points in emerging markets and the alternative asset management industry to a more institutional management approach.”

Healy’s former employer Deutsche Bank will cut up at least 250 investment bank jobs, and could be as many as 500, Reuters reported Monday, citing a person close to the situation. Key traders meanwhile are leaving Goldman Sachs Group, Reuters also reported in January, as the firm looks to overhaul a struggling commodities unit.

Healy said the industry broadly is trending smaller.

“The underlying trends in the financial services industry is I think going in one direction,” Healy said, noting music sharing service Spotify’s decision not to follow the traditional IPO route. “I think five years from now they’ll be smaller than they are today.”

Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead said the firm got 95 new limited partners in February alone, while it took his firm 10 years to get the first 95 investors. The number of hedge funds focused on crypto is up to 226, and has more than doubled in the past four months, according to the latest estimates from research firm Autonomous NEXT.

Pantera, which has roughly $724 million assets under management, also announced the launch of its third blockchain-focused venture fund Tuesday. The new fund also will focus on peer-to-peer transactions, fintech, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Pantera’s first fund launched in 2013, and was up 758.6 percent through the end of last year. That portfolio includes companies that help buy and store bitcoin including Ripple, Circle, Xapo and Bitstamp.

Pantera’s Healy is not the only new recruit in the crypto space announced Tuesday. Bitwise Asset Management, manager of the first cryptocurrency index fund, announced it would hire industry veteran Matt Hougan as vice president of research and development. Hougan was CEO of Inside ETFs and before that CEO of ETF.com.

Bitwise CEO Hunter Horsley said he’s seeing more of an appetite for folks like Hougan to jump into a new asset class.

“We’re seeing more top tier people come into the space,” he said. “Cryptocurrency’s bringing together software people, who tend to be those younger stereotypes, but also pulling in financial community who are really excited about the birth of a new asset class, or have been bored with low volatility or fee compression.”

Bitwise is still hiring, and Horsley said applicants are not the stereotypical Silicon Valley tech junkies. The company is getting applications from people on “both sides of the spectrum”, including Google and Blackrock.

“There are definitely industry veterans who are poking around,” Horsley said. “I don’t know how many will end up deciding to make the plunge but we definitely see a lot of senior people deciding to put out feelers.”

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Sweden’s high virus death toll may be linked to mild flu seasons: Chief scientist

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People walk on Stranvagen in Stockholm on September 19, 2020.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | Getty Images

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has partly blamed the country’s high coronavirus death toll on mild flu outbreaks in recent winters.

“When many people die of the flu in the winter, fewer die in heat waves the following summer. In this case, it was Covid-19 that caused many to die,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter earlier this week.

‘What has now been seen is that the countries that have had a fairly low mortality for influenza in the last two, three years, such as Sweden, [also] have a very high excess mortality in Covid-19,” he said, according to a translation provided in The Times newspaper.

“Those which had a high flu mortality rate, such as Norway, during the last two winters, have fairly low Covid mortality. The same trend has been seen in several countries. This may not be the whole explanation but part of it.”

Much attention has been paid to Sweden during the coronavirus pandemic because of its decision to not completely lock down its public life and economy. Most of Europe did so as coronavirus cases surged in spring.

Tegnell’s public health agency instead recommended mostly voluntary measures, such as good hygiene, social distancing guidelines and working from home if possible.

Bars, restaurants, most schools and businesses remained opened, however, and face masks are not widely worn. Sweden did ban mass gatherings and visits to elderly care homes, however, although this latter restriction is due to be lifted soon despite a high death toll from Covid-19 being seen in such institutions. 

Sweden’s no-lockdown policy was seen by Tegnell as a way to achieve a degree of herd immunity in the population, he told CNBC in April. 

Herd immunity among a population, usually achieved through vaccination, is reached when around 60% of citizens are deemed immune. With no vaccine available, however, scientists have been looking closely at whether exposure to and recovery from Covid-19 leads to long-term immunity.

Pursuing herd immunity has proved controversial in Sweden because allowing the virus to spread (albeit with some measures in place), has put vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with existing health conditions at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill and dying. In July, WHO officials warned that patients who recover from the virus may be able to get it again, saying that some studies suggest immunity may wane after a few months. 

Sweden has reported a higher number of infections and deaths than its neighbors, although, with around 10 million people, it has roughly double the population of its neighbors Denmark, Finland and Norway. To date, Sweden has recorded almost 90,000 cases and 5,870 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Denmark, by contrast, has recorded under 25,000 cases and 641 deaths.

Unlike major European economies France, Spain and the U.K., which are seeing coronavirus cases rise again in what is being described as a second wave of the pandemic, Sweden was initially thought to be avoiding a resurgence. However, outbreaks among sports teams have emerged in recent weeks, and rising cases in the capital Stockholm mean the city could now be headed for more restrictions.

“Stockholm has seen a clear increase recently, across all age groups,” Tegnell said in a press conference, Dagens Nyheter reported Tuesday. “We are discussing with Stockholm whether we need some additional possibility to take measures to reduce transmission.”

What possible measures could be introduced was not discussed, but Stockholm’s Health and Medical director Bjorn Eriksson, said an uptrend in the Stockholm region could lead to a “very serious situation again.”

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Tesla sues to overturn Trump administration tariffs on China

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U.S. faces dollar crash, high double-dip recession odds: Stephen Roach

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