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USDT, a threat to the banking system? The opinion of Paolo Ardoino

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Stablecoins have grown dramatically in 2020 and 2021, attracting many users and capturing a large share of the cryptocurrency market. Some of these digital assets have subsequently suffered repression from regulatory authorities while others have faced a lot of turbulence. Situations that have slowed the overall growth of this class of digital assets, but from which survivors like USDT have emerged invigorated to the point of being now considered as competitors by banks, even as a threat to global financial stability. Paolo Ardoino thinks that is not the case. Tether’s CTO recently said that the largest stablecoin issuer does not pose a threat to banks.

The article USDT, a threat to the banking system? Paolo Ardoino’s review appeared first on Cointribune.

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Property E&S Momentum Slows but ‘Some More Hay’ to Be Made

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When it comes to observations of the excess and surplus lines market, there is a difference between the momentum of liability and property lines, said W.R. Berkley CEO W. Robert Berkley, Jr.

Addressing some talk that has painted a picture of an E&S market that is, in general, losing momentum, the chief executive suggests using “somewhat of a finer brush.”

“As far as we can see, the momentum for the liability lines continues to be as strong as ever,” Berkley told analysts on a conference call to discuss first quarter earnings. “To the extent you’re seeing any slowing in the momentum of E&S, it’s likely to be property related.”

Related: W.R. Berkley Reports 50.4% Increase in Q1 Net Income

There remains opportunity within the property line, but momentum is not what it was last year, Berkley added.

W. Robert Berkley Jr.

“We’re still seeing rates moving up and we expect that they will continue to move up for the immediate future,” he said, adding that the insurance market has caught up to what the reinsurance market had done to correct costs of capacity. “I expect that we’ll try and make some more hay on property before we call it a day,” Berkley added.

Speaking more on reinsurance, Berkley said property catastrophe “has run a bit of its course” barring significant future weather events. Property catastrophe has “perhaps seen the peak…we’ll see with time.” However, good margins can still be had. In looking at the company’s property reinsurance business, Berkley said, “We view it as still a healthy line.”

“Right now we think that opportunity, generally speaking, still exists in property,” Berkley said. “How quickly that will dissipate—I don’t know. But we play close attention to it and we will not have an issue shutting off the spigot if we don’t think it is a good use of capital.”

Meanwhile, general liability “remains very robust” in the admitted and nonadmitted markets, driven by social inflation, Berkley said. Auto, in particular, he added, “continues to be in the crosshairs of social inflation,” which will cause “considerable additional firming”—especially for commercial auto.

Berkley said W.R. Berkley in the first quarter continued to see “very robust activity on the E&S front, particularly on casualty or liability.” He said there is “nothing that leads me to believe the momentum is going to be subsiding anytime soon.” Reinsurance is becoming more aware of the impact social inflation is having, and will likely put pressure on the casualty and liability insurance marketplace but the insurer’s role as a small-limits player ($2 million or less) curbs its exposure to potential reinsurance increases. Berkley said the insurer looks forward to reinsurers “embracing greater discipline on the casualty lines.”

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Tesla stock up after Elon Musk says new affordable EV models coming

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Elon Musk speaks onstage during The New York Times Dealbook Summit 2023 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, Nov. 29, 2023.

Slaven Vlasic | Getty Images

Tesla shares surged 15% on Wednesday morning after CEO Elon Musk said the electric-vehicle company plans to begin production of new affordable EV models by early 2025.

Musk’s comments came during Tesla’s earnings call on Tuesday after the company reported disappointing first-quarter numbers. Revenue fell 9% year over year, its steepest annual decline since 2012.

The company previously expected to start production of the new EV models in the second half of 2025.

Tesla reported 45 cents in adjusted earnings per share on $21.3 billion in revenue, falling short of the 51 cents in expected earnings per share and $22.15 billion in expected sales, per LSEG.

Revenue dropped from $23.3 billion a year before and from $25.17 billion in the previous quarter.

Analysts of Bank of America said in an investor note Wednesday that Tesla’s first-quarter results and leadership’s commentary “addressed key concerns” and “revitalized the growth narrative,” prompting them to upgrade the stock from neutral to buy while maintaining their $220 price target.

They also expressed bullish optimism that Tesla demonstrated a positive business outlook as it prepares to launch new vehicle models and license its driver assistance system.

“In the near-term the tide in news flow appears to suggest the risk to the stock is skewing more positively,” the analysts wrote.

UBS analysts on Tuesday reiterated their neutral rating of Tesla stock and lowered their price target to $147 from $160, saying they remain skeptical of the company’s talk.

“Increasingly, TSLA is a play on autonomy, and while progress is being made, we are cautious on near-term viability,” they wrote in a note. “We see limited growth for current lineup and lack of clarity on what these ‘new vehicles’ could bring.”

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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FAU Gets Grant to Study Seaweed Harvesting, Just as Blobs Approach South Florida

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Researchers at Florida Atlantic University are using a $1.3 million grant to see if huge blobs of seaweed can be harvested to help mitigate the economic impact on Florida beaches.

The FAU Harbor Beach Oceanographic Institute this month announced the grant from the Florida Department of Emergency Management, just as another big patch of Sargassum seaweed appears headed for parts of south and southwest Florida, potentially disrupting beach-dependent businesses.

Sargassumis becoming a devastating mainstay in parts of Florida’s coastal communities, particularly in the Florida Keys, where massive blooms continue to recur,” Brian Lapointe, principal investigator and a research professor at FAU Harbor Branch, said in a statement. “Economically, a ‘severe’ Sargassumevent could have more than a $20 million impact in just the Keys alone.”

The blooms can produce hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, making them harmful to humans and sea life – and discouraging to tourists. On the other hand, the blobs provide habitat for loggerhead sea turtles and other creatures, the Institute noted.

In the last 10 years, the Sargassum blooms have grown, threatening beach areas across the Caribbean. This year, a six-ton patch has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to hit some south Florida beaches in May, National Public Radio reported.

The researchers will study the biomass to help determine the best time to harvest it and how it can be utilized.

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Elon Musk is keeping investors’ dreams of a Tesla robotaxi alive

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pictured during a visit at the company’s electric car plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, eastern Germany, on March 13, 2024, as employees resumed work after production had to be halted due to a suspected arson attack that caused a power outage. 

Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images

By just about every measure, Tesla’s first-quarter earnings report on Tuesday was dreary. The company missed estimates on the top and bottom lines. Revenue fell by 9% year over year, the worst decline since 2012. Auto sales dropped 13% from the same period in 2023. Free cash flow turned negative.

But CEO Elon Musk downplayed most of that and suggested investors focus their attention elsewhere.

Rather than dwell on quarterly financials or the massive restructuring announced last week, Musk reiterated his vision of Tesla as a company that’s building artificial intelligence software to turn existing cars into self-driving vehicles, dedicated robotaxis that will make money for their owners and a driverless transportation network.

This is the Tesla Musk is selling to Wall Street, and he’s telling anyone with doubts to stay away.

“If somebody doesn’t believe Tesla’s going to solve autonomy, I think they should not be an investor in the company,” Musk said on the earnings call. He added, “We will, and we are.”

Tesla shares soared 13% in extended trading Tuesday after the earnings report, despite the disappointing results. Some of the optimism was tied to Tesla’s announced plans to start production of new affordable electric vehicle models in “early 2025, if not late this year.”

The stock’s rally picked up steam during the earnings call as Musk veered to the future. He casually mentioned that the company’s robotaxi, which he has long said is coming, will be called the CyberCab. In a shareholder deck that Tesla published before the call, the company featured a “preview of ride-hailing in the Tesla app.”

Musk also talked up a driverless network that’s like Uber with Tesla autonomous vehicles.

“When the car is not moving,” Musk said, “there’s potential to actually run distributed inference,” through the hardware that’s in the cars.

Elon Musk needs to stop talking about robotaxis, says Requisite Capital's Bryn Talkington

Musk has been making these kinds of pronouncements for years.

In 2015, Musk told shareholders that Tesla cars would achieve “full autonomy” within three years. They didn’t. In 2016, Musk said a Tesla car would be able to make a cross-country drive without requiring any human intervention before the end of 2017. That hasn’t happened either.

And in 2019, on a call with institutional investors that would help him raise more than $2 billion, Musk said Tesla would have 1 million robotaxi-ready vehicles on the road in 2020, able to complete 100 hours of driving work per week each, making money for their owners.

The robotaxis would make Tesla a company worth $500 billion, he said at that time. Tesla’s market cap is around that mark now and even topped $1 trillion in 2021, but the company has never managed to deliver on its driverless promises.

NBC News reported recently that the company hasn’t even sought permits that would allow it to test and operate robotaxis in three states, including California and Nevada, where it employs thousands of people.

Separately, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has filed a legal complaint against Tesla, saying it engaged in false advertising and marketing concerning its driver assistance systems — Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems. Autopilot is the standard, and FSD costs $99 per month or $8,000 upfront. Both require human drivers at the wheel, ready to steer or brake at any time. Tesla is defending itself in court against the accusations.

‘More valuable than everything else’

On the earnings call, Musk said he believes FSD will soon be ready to expand geographically to China pending regulatory approval. He didn’t mention the California regulator’s lawsuit.

Musk said people who haven’t tried Tesla’s latest FSD updates “really don’t understand what’s going on.”

His bluster isn’t limited to cars.

At an AI Day in August 2021, Musk said Tesla would build a humanoid robot, now known as Optimus. The company didn’t have a hardware prototype to show at the time, so an actor dressed in a spandex bodysuit danced onstage in its place. In 2022, Tesla unveiled its hardware prototype of Optimus.

On Tuesday, Musk said Optimus is already capable of doing some unspecified factory tasks.

A mockup of Tesla Inc.’s planned humanoid robot Optimus on display during the Seoul Mobility Show in Goyang, South Korea, on Thursday, March 30, 2023. The motor show will continue through April 9. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“We may be able to sell it externally by the end of next year,” he said. “Optimus will be more valuable than everything else combined because if you’ve got a sentient humanoid robot that is able to navigate reality and do tasks at request, there is no meaningful limit to the size of the economy.”

Whether all of these capital-intensive and far-out projects belong at Tesla is a question that many investors and analysts are asking.

Musk owns a 20.5% stake in Tesla, ​​more than 715 million shares, as of March 31, according to the company’s recent proxy filing. He’s used around 238.4 million of those shares as collateral to secure personal debt. In January, he began angling for even more control of Tesla.

“I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without having ~25% voting control,” he wrote in a post on X. “Enough to be influential, but not so much that I can’t be overturned.”

Musk created a new startup, xAI, to develop AI products to rival those from Microsoft-backed OpenAI. Before starting xAI, he was already serving as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and was technology chief at X, which he owns. He’s also the founder of brain computer interface company Neuralink and tunneling venture The Boring Co.

Alex Potter, an analyst at Piper Sandler, asked Musk on the earnings call if he’d “come up with any mechanism” to ensure he would have the requisite level of voting control at Tesla because, if not, “the core part of the thesis could be at risk.”

“No matter what, even if I got kidnapped by aliens tomorrow, Tesla will solve autonomy, maybe a little slower but it would solve autonomy for vehicles at least,” Musk said. “I don’t know if it would win with respect to Optimus, or with respect to future products, but there’s enough momentum for Tesla to solve autonomy, even if I disappeared, for vehicles.”

But he was quick to tell investors that the company needs him to achieve his loftiest goals.

“If we have a super sentient humanoid robot that can follow you indoors, and that you can’t escape, we’re talking Terminator-level risk yeah I’d be uncomfortable if there’s not some meaningful level of influence over how that is deployed,” he said.

Tesla profits and margins might go lower even as volumes go higher, says shareholder Ross Gerber

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Biogen (BIIB) earnings Q1 2024

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A test tube is seen in front of displayed Biogen logo in this illustration taken on, December 1, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Biogen on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit that topped estimates as the company’s cost-cutting efforts took hold and sales of its closely watched Alzheimer’s drug, Leqembi, came in higher than expected.

Biogen and Eisai‘s Leqembi became the first drug found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease to win approval in the U.S. in July. The treatment’s launch has been sluggish, but uptake appeared to accelerate in the first quarter. 

Leqembi brought in about $19 million in sales for the quarter, up from the $10 million the drug generated last year. That blows past the $11 million analysts had expected, according to estimates compiled by FactSet. 

The number of patients on the therapy increased nearly 2.5 times since the end of 2023, according to Biogen. The company added that the number of new patients who started Leqembi jumped in March, making up more than 20% of the cumulative patients now on the treatment. 

Biogen did not provide a specific number of patients using Leqembi. In February, Biogen CEO Chris Viehbacher told reporters that there were around 2,000 patients currently on Leqembi.

The company hopes the drug and other newly launched products will drive growth as it cuts costs and sees sales plummet for its multiple sclerosis therapies, some of which face generic competition.

Here’s what Biogen reported for the first quarter compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG: 

  • Earnings per share: $3.67 adjusted vs. $3.45 expected
  • Revenue: $2.29 billion vs. $2.31 billion expected

The biotech company booked sales of $2.29 billion for the quarter, down 7% from the same period a year ago. It reported net income of $393.4 million, or $2.70 per share, for the first quarter, up from net income of $387.9 million, or $2.67 per share, for the same period a year ago. 

Adjusting for one-time items, the company reported earnings of $3.67 per share.

Biogen reiterated its full-year 2024 adjusted earnings forecast of $15 to $16 per share. Analysts surveyed by LSEG had expected full-year earnings guidance of $15.49 per share. 

The company also reiterated its 2024 sales guidance of a low- to mid-single digit percentage decline compared with last year. 

Newly launched drugs top estimates

Apart from Leqembi, investors also have their eyes on other newly launched drugs. 

That includes Skyclarys, brought in by Biogen’s acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals in July. That drug notched $78 million in fourth-quarter revenue.

Analysts had expected sales of $68.8 million, according to FactSet estimates. 

The FDA cleared Skyclarys last year, making it the first approved treatment for Friedreich ataxia, a rare inherited degenerative disease that can impair walking and coordination in children as young as 5. In February, European Union regulators approved Skyclarys for the treatment of Friedreich ataxia in patients ages 16 and up. 

Biogen has also partnered with Sage Therapeutics on the first pill for postpartum depression, which won FDA approval in August. But the agency declined to clear the drug for major depressive disorder, which is a far larger market. 

Biogen said that pill, called Zurzuvae, generated first-quarter sales of $12 million. Analysts had expected just $5 million in sales of that drug, FactSet said.

Multiple sclerosis drugs, other treatments

Meanwhile, Biogen’s first-quarter revenue from multiple sclerosis products fell 4% to $1.08 billion as some of its therapies face competition from cheaper generics. 

The company’s once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, which is facing competition from a generic rival, posted revenue of $254.3 million in the first quarter, down from $274.5 million from the same period a year ago. 

Still, that came in higher than analysts’ estimate of $227.7 million, according to FactSet. 

Vumerity, an oral medication for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, generated $127.5 million in sales. That came in below analysts’ estimates of $137.9 million, FactSet estimates said. 

Biogen’s rare disease drugs recorded $423.9 million in sales, down from the $443.3 million in the same period a year ago. 

Spinraza, a medication used to treat a rare neuromuscular disorder called spinal muscular atrophy, recorded $341.3 million in sales. That came under analysts’ estimate of $415.1 million in revenue, according to FactSet. 

Biogen said the timing of Spinraza shipments and increased competition affected first-quarter revenue comparisons outside of the U.S.

The company’s biosimilar drugs booked $196.9 million in sales, up slightly from the $192.4 million reported during the year-earlier period. Analysts had expected sales of $192.5 million from those medicines.

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MANIA, SOL et BNB en plein essor, selon les experts

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Le sentiment actuel sur le marché des cryptomonnaies est largement haussier. Il est alimenté par une combinaison de facteurs techniques et fondamentaux qui suggèrent un mouvement potentiellement important à la hausse. L’analyse indique que le marché s’aligne de manière similaire à des périodes passées où une croissance substantielle a suivi des corrections importantes. Ce schéma a renforcé la confiance des investisseurs, conduisant à des prédictions d’une expansion du marché intéressante par rapport aux niveaux actuels. Ce niveau d’optimisme est-il justifié ? Il est difficile de le dire pour le moment.

Cependant, il est clair qu’il est alimenté par une augmentation de l’intérêt tant des particuliers que des institutions, élargissant ainsi la base d’investisseurs et augmentant le flux de capitaux sur le marché. Les avancées technologiques et une plus grande clarté réglementaire contribuent également à un environnement de marché plus stable et prometteur. Dans le texte d’aujourd’hui, nous allons discuter des cryptomonnaies qui pourraient commencer à croître plus tôt que les autres.

ScapesMania : Des avantages imbattables

Le premier opère dans la niche des jeux occasionnels et se distingue de la foule. Vous voyez, il y a de nombreux projets qui n’ont pas une liste bien définie d’avantages clés. Avec ScapesMania, le projet innovant de jeux occasionnels, c’est différent. Depuis le premier jour, le projet n’a pas hésité à mettre en avant ses nombreux avantages.

Liste des principales caractéristiques

Pour vous donner un bref récapitulatif, voici les meilleures caractéristiques de ScapesMania :

  • Engagement Actif avec la Communauté. L’équipe considère clairement que la communauté est importante, c’est pourquoi elle reste en contact avec les fans à travers des réunions mensuelles AMA, des mises à jour de la communauté et des discussions ouvertes à tous.
  • Plans Ambitieux pour Élargir l’Utilité du Jeton. ScapesMania a de grands projets pour rendre le jeton utile de plus de façons, offrant aux utilisateurs de nouvelles chances de tirer le meilleur parti de leur actif numérique. L’équipe s’engage à trouver de nouvelles façons pour que les jetons créent de la valeur.
  • Audit par BlockSafu. Chez ScapesMania, la confiance et la sécurité sont très importantes. C’est pourquoi le projet a été soumis à des audits complets par des entreprises de sécurité de premier plan comme BlockSafu.
  • Mécanismes de Falaise et de Dotation pour Maintenir l’Équilibre Offre/Demande. Pour maintenir un environnement sain et s’assurer que la croissance est durable, ScapesMania utilise des mécanismes de falaise et de dotation. Cela aide à maintenir une demande élevée pour le jeton et encourage les utilisateurs à rester engagés pendant longtemps.
  • Excellente Performance le Premier Jour sur PancakeSwap. Après le succès de la prévente, ScapesMania a lancé son projet sur PancakeSwap (l’une des plus grandes bourses décentralisées). En seulement 24 heures, des jetons d’une valeur de 2,25 millions de dollars ont été échangés. Cela montre qu’il y a une forte demande pour lui et que l’intérêt des traders est plus fort que jamais.
  • Potentiel de Croissance dans la Niche des Jeux Occasionnels. Selon Statista, le secteur des jeux occasionnels devrait croître très rapidement. D’ici 2027, il devrait atteindre une valeur de 19,12 milliards de dollars. En tant que l’une des nouvelles sociétés les plus en vogue à associer la technologie blockchain aux jeux occasionnels, ScapesMania est parfaitement placée pour profiter de cette énorme expansion du marché.
  • Présence sur les Traqueurs de Cryptomonnaies. Être répertorié sur des sites bien connus comme CoinMarketCap et CoinGecko rend ScapesMania encore plus visible et digne de confiance.
  • Communauté Forte et Active. Le groupe de plus de 60 000 personnes qui compose ScapesMania est ce qui le rend génial. Les détenteurs fidèles sont une grande partie de la raison pour laquelle ce projet est un succès. Ils participent à la conception du projet, donnent leur avis, et diffusent les objectifs de ScapesMania ainsi que ses succès continus.
  • Plan Marketing Post-Cotation Solide. Grâce à des efforts publicitaires ciblés, des relations intelligentes et une couverture médiatique, ScapesMania est déterminée à rendre le projet aussi connu que possible.
  • Prévente Très Réussie. L’effort de vente a été vraiment incroyable. Le projet a rassemblé plus de 6,125 millions de dollars auprès d’un groupe passionné de soutiens. Avec plus de 18 400 personnes contribuant, le succès de la prévente montre à quel point les soutiens ont confiance et foi en ScapesMania.

Au-delà des avantages – Pourquoi agir maintenant ?

Lorsque vous achetez ScapesMania, ce n’est pas seulement une cryptomonnaie ; c’est un moyen d’accéder à une croissance potentielle inégalée et à une opportunité d’influencer un projet au sein d’une niche en expansion.

>>> Découvrez ScapesMania dès aujourd’hui <<<

Solana (SOL) : Vitesse et innovation pionnières sur le marché des cryptomonnaies

La deuxième cryptomonnaie sur notre liste est Solana (SOL), un projet mieux connu. Il a récemment démontré une reprise notable, portée par une activité accrue au sein de son écosystème. L’intérêt ouvert total pour les jetons Solana (SOL) a explosé, avec une hausse marquée de plus de 31 % par rapport à son point bas ce mois-ci. Cette hausse est le reflet de l’enthousiasme plus large dans la finance décentralisée (DeFi), où Solana (SOL) continue d’exceller.

Le prix de Solana (SOL) a atteint un nouveau sommet mensuel de 162,90 dollars, propulsé par de fortes performances dans son écosystème, notamment des gains importants dans des jetons comme Bonk et Solend. Le volume des transactions sur le réseau Solana (SOL) a considérablement augmenté, atteignant des milliards, ce qui souligne l’engagement robuste sur le marché et la liquidité circulant à travers les plates-formes de Solana.

La trajectoire des prix de Solana (SOL) semble extrêmement haussière, avec des indicateurs techniques comme l’indice de force relative (RSI) et l’oscillateur stochastique signalant un fort momentum haussier. La croissance substantielle du réseau en DeFi, ainsi que son nombre croissant de protocoles et d’adresses, le positionnent comme un acteur majeur dans l’espace des cryptomonnaies. À l’avenir, le jeton Solana (SOL) pourrait potentiellement atteindre plus de 200 dollars, ce qui représenterait une augmentation significative par rapport à ses niveaux actuels.

BNB Coin (BNB) : Un pilier central dans l’écosystème en expansion de Binance

Enfin, il y a BNB Coin (BNB), le jeton natif de l’écosystème Binance. Il navigue actuellement dans un environnement de marché volatile. Les récentes tensions géopolitiques ont influencé les activités de trading, mais la cryptomonnaie continue de faire preuve de résilience malgré les corrections du marché.

Malgré de légères baisses dues à des pressions de marché externes, BNB Coin (BNB) maintient sa position en tant qu’actif crucial au sein de la plateforme de trading Binance et de ses chaînes associées. Les fluctuations reflètent les sentiments plus larges du marché, mais mettent également en évidence les forces fondamentales de la cryptomonnaie alors qu’elle se remet de ces baisses.

Les perspectives pour BNB Coin (BNB) restent optimistes alors qu’il bénéficie de l’expansion continue de Binance et de l’utilité croissante de son infrastructure blockchain. Alors que le jeton navigue à travers les incertitudes actuelles du marché, son rôle essentiel dans la facilitation des transactions et des applications décentralisées sur Binance Chain constitue une base solide pour une croissance potentielle. L’avenir de BNB Coin (BNB) devrait voir la poursuite de son rôle central dans l’écosystème, ce qui pourrait conduire à une valorisation accrue à mesure que les conditions du marché se stabilisent.

Conclusion

Une analyse récente fait écho aux conditions actuelles du marché avec des cycles précédents ayant conduit à une croissance robuste, renforçant les prédictions d’une expansion potentielle par rapport aux niveaux actuels. Des cryptomonnaies émergentes comme ScapesMania captent une attention significative, suggérant une opportunité d’achat stratégique comme le soulignent les experts. Le lancement de cette cryptomonnaie sur des bourses renommées et son approche innovante dans le secteur indiquent des perspectives prometteuses.

Site Web : https://scapesmania.io/

Twitter : https://twitter.com/ScapesMania

Telegram : https://t.me/scapesmania

Groupe d’annonces : https://t.me/scapesmaniaAnn

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L’équipe éditoriale de Cointribune unit ses voix pour s’exprimer sur des thématiques propres aux cryptomonnaies, à l’investissement, au métaverse et aux NFT, tout en s’efforçant de répondre au mieux à vos interrogations.

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3.6 million Medicare patients could get heart health coverage

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More than 3 million people with Medicare could be eligible for coverage of Wegovy now that the blockbuster weight loss drug is also approved in the U.S. for heart health, according to an analysis released Wednesday by health policy research organization KFF.

But some eligible beneficiaries could still face out-of-pocket costs for the highly popular and expensive drug, KFF said. Certain Medicare prescription drug plans may also wait until 2025 to cover Wegovy.

Medicare’s budget could be strained as more plans cover the costs of Wegovy. The program’s prescription drug plans could spend an additional net $2.8 billion if just 10% of the eligible population, an estimated 360,000 people, use the drug for a full year, according to KFF.

Under new guidance issued in March, Medicare Part D plans can cover Wegovy for patients as long as they are obese or overweight, have a history of heart disease and are specifically prescribed the weekly injection to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. The Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy for that purpose in March.

KFF said that applies to 3.6 million, or 7%, of total beneficiaries, based on 2020 data. That group also makes up 1 in 4 of the 13.7 million Medicare patients who are obese or overweight. Those numbers may be higher based on more recent data, the nonprofit group said.

The analysis suggests that, for the first time, certain Medicare beneficiaries will be able to access Novo Nordisk‘s Wegovy without having to shoulder the total $1,300 monthly price tag alone.

Notably, Medicare prescription drug plans administered by private insurers, known as Part D, currently cannot cover Wegovy and other GLP-1 drugs for weight loss alone. GLP-1s are a buzzy class of obesity and diabetes treatments that work by mimicking a hormone produced in the gut to suppress a person’s appetite and regulate their blood sugar. 

But KFF’s analysis found that Medicare beneficiaries who take Wegovy could still face monthly out-of-pocket costs of $325 to $430 if they have to pay a percentage of the drug’s list price for a month’s supply.

A new Part D cap on out-of-pocket spending would limit beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs to around $3,300 in 2024 and $2,000 in 2025. Still, those sums are a significant burden for those who live on modest incomes.

Some patients also may struggle to access Wegovy if Part D plans that decide to cover it implement certain requirements to control costs and ensure the drug is being used appropriately. That could include “step therapy,” which requires plan members to try other lower-cost medications or means of losing weight before using a GLP-1 such as Wegovy.

“These factors could have a dampening effect on use by Medicare beneficiaries, even among the target population,” KFF wrote in its analysis.

Some Part D plans have already announced that they will begin covering Wegovy this year, but it’s unclear how widespread coverage will be. KFF said many plans may be reluctant to expand coverage now since they can’t adjust their premiums mid-year to account for higher costs associated with use of the drug.

That means broader coverage in 2025 could be more likely, KFF added.

Medicare already covers GLP-1s and other treatments for diabetes, such as Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster Ozempic. 

Among the Medicare beneficiaries who are obese or overweight and have a history of heart disease, 1.9 million also have diabetes, according to KFF. That makes them already eligible for Medicare coverage of other GLP-1 drugs approved for that condition.

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Société

U.S. seeks 36-month sentence for ex-Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao

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Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris on June 16, 2022.

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

U.S. prosecutors are seeking an above-guidance sentence of 36 months for the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance on charges of enabling money laundering, according to a sentencing memorandum out late Tuesday.

The memorandum, which was filed with the court for the western district of Washington, states that Zhao should serve a higher sentence that suggested under advisory guidelines to “reflect the gravity of his crimes.”

Under advisory guidelines, Zhao’s sentencing would come in at a range of 12 to 18 months in prison.

“A custodial sentence of 36 months—twice the high end of the Guidelines range—would reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for law, afford adequate deterrence, and be sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing,” U.S. prosecutors said.

Zhao is accused of wilfully failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program as required by the Bank Secrecy Act, and of effectively allowing Binance to process transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activity, including transactions between Americans and individuals in sanctions jurisdictions.

Binance has separately been sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over the alleged mishandling of customer assets and the operation of an illegal, unregistered exchange in the U.S.

This crypto cycle is different from past ones, Binance CEO says

The U.S., which separately accuses Binance and Zhao of violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and sanctions on Iran, ordered Binance to pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeiture. Zhao agreed to pay a $50 million fine.

Zhao stepped down as Binance’s CEO in November last year after reaching this plea and was replaced by the former Abu Dhabi markets regulator’s chief, Richard Teng.

Zhao was not immediately available for comment when contacted via social media platform X. Binance has yet to return a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.

‘Unprecedented scale’ of financial crime

Prosecutors say that Zhao violated U.S. law on an “unprecedented scale,” and that he had a “deliberate disregard” for Binance’s legal responsibilities.

In the memorandum of Tuesday, prosecutors said that, under Zhao’s control, Binance operated on a “Wild West” model.

“Zhao bet that he would not get caught, and that if he did, the consequences would not be as serious as the crime,” the memorandum stated.

“But Zhao was caught, and now the Court will decide what price Zhao should pay for his crimes.”

Zhao’s official sentencing is expected to take place on April 30.

New Binance CEO: Building a robust compliance program after an immature past
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Société

Standard Chartered Faces £1.5 Billion UK Claim in Iran Sanction Case

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Standard Chartered Plc is facing about £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) worth of investor claims at a London trial over allegations it systematically breached Iranian sanctions to win new business.

A London judge ruled on Friday [April 19] that the trial, that will also probe accusations of bribery, should be split into two parts with the first scheduled for October 2026.

The bank was sued by hundreds of investors over the claims of widespread misconduct, which has so far cost the bank more than $1.7 billion in penalties. The lender is facing the claim after it told watchdogs that it processed hundreds of millions of dollars in clearing transactions between 2008 and 2014 through its Dubai offices on behalf of Iranian entities.

The case over alleged lack of shareholder disclosure is “without merit” and the bank “will continue to vigorously defend the claim,” a spokesperson for the bank said in an emailed statement. “We consider that the bank fully complied with its reporting and disclosure obligations throughout the relevant period.”

The ruling follows a decision last year when the court had refused the bank’s request to strike out claims that the alleged sanctions violations and bribery was more systematic and extensive than it had previously admitted to US regulators in 2019. Earlier this year, the bank won permission to appeal the decision, which will be heard in May.

The plan, known to high-level officials as “Project Green,” allowed for an internal department in Dubai to “create fraudulent records” to disguise Iranian-connected clients.

Photograph: Standard Chartered headquarters in London. Photo credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Copyright 2024 Bloomberg.

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Société

Jury Awards $80M to 3 Former Zurich NA Employees for Wrongful Termination

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Zurich North America was ordered by a California jury to pay three former employees a total of about $80.2 million to end a wrongful termination case earlier this month.

Melinda Brantley, Nicholas Lardie, and Daniel Koos worked as claims examiners in Zurich’s Rancho Cordova branch but were fired late in 2017 over the use of “off the record” paid time off—utilized by then manager Chris Omen as an employee incentive, according to the Bohm Law Group, who represented the plaintiffs.

During the trial in Sacramenta, California, Omen testified the days, also nicknamed “Omen Days,” were doled to deserving employees with his boss’s knowledge and encouragement since it was “a way to offer better compensation without impacting increasing operational expense,” said information from the Bohm firm. The performance incentive was offered without reducing PTO.

However, soon after Omen was fired over a state audit failure, the practice of “Omen Days” was investigated and Zurich claimed the employees stole time from the company. Given what Zurich supervisors called the “gravity of this offense,” Brantley, Lardie and Koos were terminated.

The jury sided with the former Zurich employees, awarding each of them more than $26 million including $25 million each in punitive damages. Other damages were awarded for economic harm, non-economic harm, and reputation.

In an emailed statement, Zurich North America said it is “disappointed by the recent jury verdict,” and that the company is “committed to maintaining a culture of fairness, equity and integrity in all our business practices and interactions with employees.”

“We will pursue all available legal options, including appeal,” Zurich said.

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