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Massachusetts Regulators Fine Bitcoin Mining Firm $1 Million


Lagarde says Russians are using crypto to avoid economic sanctions

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said there were signs that some Russians were trying to circumvent war-related sanctions in Ukraine by converting rubles into cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. “When you see the ruble volumes in stable, in cryptos, at the moment it’s the highest level we’ve seen since maybe 2021,” Lagarde said at a virtual event on Tuesday. Crypto assets “are certainly being used, as we speak, as a way to try to circumvent the sanctions that have been decided by many countries around the world against Russia,” she said. The measures announced by the United States and the European Union aim to limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars and other international currencies. They include sanctions on big banks and restrictions on the country’s elite. As of last week, there was no evidence that Russia or President Vladimir Putin were using cryptocurrencies to evade restrictions, according to Jonathan Levin, co-founder of blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. He and several industry experts told the US Senate Banking Committee that the crypto market was too small to facilitate any large-scale sanctions evasion by the Russians. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS


Elon Musk opens Tesla’s first European factory

Tesla officially began manufacturing cars in Europe on Tuesday, opening an assembly plant in a critical market where company CEO Elon Musk plans to build 500,000 electric vehicles a year. Musk escorted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other officials on a tour of the massive $7 billion factory just outside Berlin. It was built in just over two years, a speed that amazed German officials and commentators. Musk celebrated the day by handing over the first 30 European-built Teslas to customers who ordered them and were invited to the event. Tesla will build its Model Y SUV at the factory. The plan for the factory, called Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, was first revealed in a surprise announcement by Musk just over two years ago, and he overcame a number of legal and political challenges to get its production certification. The 2.4 million square foot factory puts Tesla in one of the most important electric car markets in the world. More than 20% of new cars sold in Europe and Britain in December were powered solely by electricity. The German site is Tesla’s third major factory after factories in Fremont, California, and Shanghai. Another plant, outside Austin, Texas, is expected to open soon. The new plants are expected to double the company’s production capacity to around 2 million vehicles per year. – NEW YORK TIMES


Demand for ‘renewable gas’ set to soar over two decades

U.S. demand for natural gas that can be produced from waste and other renewable sources could increase 45-fold over the next two decades as utilities seek to reduce carbon emissions, according to BloombergNEF. Consumption of so-called renewable gas, which until now has mainly been used to replace diesel in truck and bus fleets, could reach up to 3.15 trillion cubic feet per year by 2040, as it is becoming a “key decarbonization tool” for gas utilities, BNEF analyst Jade Patterson said in a report Tuesday. That would compare to about 70 billion cubic feet in 2021. Renewable gas could potentially replace up to 12% of current US demand, up from less than 1%, if technologies still in the early stages of development are implemented at commercial scale, according to the report. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS


Study says recession likely without Russian oil

The global economy is unlikely to avoid a recession without a recovery in Russian energy exports this year, according to a study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “If the bulk of Russian energy exports are off the market for the remainder of 2022, a global economic slowdown seems inevitable,” economists Lutz Kilian and Michael Plante wrote in a Dallas Fed article released Tuesday. “This slowdown could be more prolonged than that of 1991.” The authors drew a parallel with the global recession of 1991, triggered by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait the previous year, which caused an oil shock. At the time, Saudi Arabia partly mitigated the impact by pledging to increase production, helping to ensure what the researchers called “only a brief American recession”, which lasted less than a year. year. The refusal of financial institutions to support Russian energy exports has been the main development putting these shipments at risk, Dallas Fed economists wrote. Replacing this supply may be difficult, given that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have signaled that they will not provide relief, the researchers said. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS


Goldman Sachs CEO to perform at Lollapalooza Festival

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive David Solomon is set to take the stage at Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival in July, joining a roster of artists including Machine Gun Kelly and Doja Cat. Solomon is among the musicians listed in the lineup released Tuesday by organizers of the four-day event, which also includes legendary bands such as Metallica and Green Day. Solomon, who started out as DJ D-Sol, now prefers to use his CEO name as his stage name. Since assuming the top spot at Goldman, he has performed at a variety of high-profile events, including a Super Bowl party this year and an Amazon.com Inc. conference in 2019. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS


Ford recalls F-150 pickup trucks and SUVs to repair brake fluid leak

Ford is recalling nearly 215,000 pickup trucks and large SUVs in the United States and Canada because brake fluid can leak, which extends stopping distances. The recall affects the 2016 to 2018 F-150 pickup, as well as the 2016 and 2017 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. All feature turbocharged 3.5-liter six-cylinder engines. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents released Tuesday that fluid may be leaking from the brake master cylinder. This can increase brake pedal travel, requiring more effort and longer stopping distances. The documents state that dealers will replace the master cylinder and front brake booster if necessary. Owners must be informed by mail from April 25. ― ASSOCIATED PRESS