Home / Tech / A Wall Street trading bonanza, how to benefit from the stimulus bill, and Silicon Valley steps up

A Wall Street trading bonanza, how to benefit from the stimulus bill, and Silicon Valley steps up

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I want to start this newsletter with an extract from an internal memo Citadel founder and hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin recently sent to staff. Here goes: 

In recent months, we have all been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. We are in an unprecedented moment of global distress as the entire world faces this common invisible threat. And when the chaos settles, we will be measured by the character we exhibit in our work and in our communities.

In the blink of an eye, we now find ourselves juggling countless new demands on our time, mental capacity and emotional energy. Amid great uncertainty, it is natural to feel thrust into a tailspin. Few of us have ever faced this level of uncertainty in our lifetimes, and the weight of a myriad of new demands will impact each of us differently. We will all have our moments.

That feels right. We will all have our moments. I hope you and yours are all doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances. For those interested, you can read the full memo here:

‘We are in an unprecedented moment of global distress’: Read the full memo billionaire Ken Griffin sent to Citadel employees on the coronavirus crisis

Two quick programming notes:

  • Our CEO, Henry Blodget, has launched an occasional newsletter called “Insider Today,” to provide you with information and insight about the big stories of the day, along with some inspiration. You can sign up here and read the first edition, titled ‘When will life go back to normal again?’ here.
  • 10 million have filed for unemployment in two weeks, and just this week we’ve reported on layoffs at companies ranging from buzzy lingerie upstart ThirdLove to rooftop solar company Sunrun to Bustle Digital Group. If you’re a subscriber and have been personally impacted, get in touch, and we’ll do what we can to make sure you’re able to maintain your access to BI Prime through this tough time. We’ll also have lots of actionable advice on how to succeed in this environment publishing in the coming weeks and months.

Read on for more on a Wall Street trading bonanza and how to navigate the stock market uncertainty, how to benefit from the stimulus bill, and how Silicon Valley is stepping up. 

A Wall Street trading bonanza

Alex Morrell and Dakin Campbell this week reported on Wall Street’s coronavirus-fueled trading frenzy, where historic shocks of volatility are creating massive paydays. 


  • Wall Street’s disaster playbook never included work-from-home trading. Insiders told Alex and Dakin how banks rapidly adjusted during one of the most chaotic markets in history.
  • Rebecca Ungarino reported that Bank of America is pausing financial adviser training for 650 people and reassigning them to handle surging calls from consumer and small-business customers.
  • A liquidity crunch for the hedge-fund industry’s biggest backers could force redemptions on even top-performing funds, Bradley Saacks reported. Meanwhile, macro hedge funds are soaring while quants and stock-pickers tank. Here are the biggest winners and losers.
  • Dakin reported on how a massive New York hospital secured 130,000 N95 masks from China with help from a senior partner at Goldman Sachs, private jets, and a call to Warren Buffett.

I’ve written before that there will be no going back to normal. The finance team had two great stories on that theme this week. 

  • Lee Olesky, cofounder and CEO of electronic-marketplace operator Tradeweb, which oversees more than $1 trillion in trades on its platforms every day, said having the vast majority of employees work remotely is a “fundamental game changer.”
  • And Casey Sullivan reported that law firms are pulling the trigger on pay cuts and layoffs — and they’re already rethinking tech, office space, and recruiting for the long term.

And for those looking for help navigating the current market turmoil, here are some highlights from our investing team:

  • Bank of America examined the stock market during every recession since 1929 and concluded the recent meltdown is not over. Akin Oyedele broke down its trading strategy for a deeper crash.
  • 200-plus money managers pay thousands to see which stocks are on Jim Osman’s buy list. He talked to Chris Competiello and identified three he says are set to soar “at least 50%” from their coronavirus-stricken levels.
  • RBC polled 185 investors during the worst first quarter in stock-market history. They revealed what they’re buying and selling as the coronavirus crisis persists.
  • A new survey of 159 pro investors shows experts are looking to buy stocks again. Here’s what 9 of them had to say about where they’re putting money to work.

President Donald Trump hands a pen to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., after signing the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Washington. From left, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, McConnell, Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarty, R-Calif., and Vice President Mike Pence. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

How to benefit from the stimulus bill

Our team of reporters focused on entrepreneurs and small businesses has been hard at work this week covering the government’s $349 billion relief program. 

  • Bartie Scott, Dominick Reuter, and Jennifer Ortakales put together a guide on how your small business can cash in on the relief program so you can quickly pay rent, keep staff employed, and restructure your debt.
  • Jennifer put together a guide on how to figure out if your startup qualifies for coronavirus relief funding — and what options you have if it doesn’t
  • There are other small business programs out there, too. Dominick has a guide on how to know if your business qualifies for Facebook’s $100 million in grants so you can apply with confidence when submissions open.
  • And Libertina Brandt had a story on how the $2 trillion stimulus package can help real estate agents at a time when the coronavirus is bringing the housing market to a halt

In related news, Kimberly Leonard got her hands on a leaked document from Senate Democrats that provides clues on how the federal government will allocate $100 billion from the coronavirus stimulus to hospitals.

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

Silicon Valley steps up

While Wall Street has been adjusting to wild market moves while WFH, and small businesses have been poring through the stimulus bill to see a way to survive, big tech has been positioning itself as the solution to some of the challenges we’re now faced with.  

  • Julie Bort talked to David Silver, a top Google computer scientist, who said AI researchers are coming out in force to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. It could finally usher in the era of AI-aided healthcare.
  • Google is also fighting COVID-19 by monitoring location data in 131 countries, Hugh Langley reported. It’s a reminder of how much info Google has about us and how easily the pandemic could blow up privacy.
  • Hugh also talked to Google‘s misinformation chief about fact-checking the pandemic. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Alexios Mantzarlis told him.
  • Rob Price reported that Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has seized upon the pandemic to recast his image from tech oligarch to reliable talkshow host.
  • Ben Pimentel and Rob reported that Oracle told employees it donated a COVID-19 “therapeutic learning system” that can help speed up the development of a treatment to the US government.
  • Eugene Kim reported that Amazon told sellers this week its price gouging policy could cause “confusion” as unfair suspensions increase, just a week after 32 attorneys general called for action.
  • Callum Burroughs reported on Wagestream, a UK fintech that’s helping 50,000 furloughed staff access wages early as coronavirus ravages hospitality and travel.
  • Joe Williams reported on ASAPP, a secretive AI startup that is helping corporations manage the dramatic increase in customer-service calls from the coronavirus pandemic. He also reported on how SAP helped a client secure 500 hospital beds in just 30 minutes.
  • And with Isobel Asher Hamilton, he got a sneak peak at the NSO platform that dozens of countries are testing to track citizens infected with coronavirus. A privacy advocate warned us could lead to “nefarious” uses.

Stay safe, everyone.

— Matt

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