Double-digit percentage drop will hit stocks in 2023: Morgan Stanley

A lot of two-way risk in the market right now, warns Morgan Stanley's Mike Wilson

Investors may be on the doorstep of a deep pullback.

Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson, who has an S&P 500 year-end target of 3,900 for next year, warns corporate America is getting ready to unleash downward earnings revisions that will pummel stocks.

“It’s the path. I mean nobody cares about what’s going to happen in 12 months. They need to deal with the next three to six months,” he told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Tuesday. “That’s where we actually think there’s significant downside. So, while 3,900 sounds like a really boring six months. No… it’s going to be a wild ride.”

Wilson, who serves as the firm’s chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer, believes the S&P could drop as much as 24% from Tuesday’s close in early 2023.

“You should expect an S&P between 3,000 and 3,300 some time in probably the first four months of the year,” he said. “That’s when we think the deacceleration on the revisions on the earnings side will kind of reach its crescendo.”

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 closed at 3,957.63, a 17% decline so far this year. Wilson’s year-end price target was 3,900 for this year, too.

“The bear market is not over,” he added. “We’ve got significantly lower lows if our earnings forecast is correct.”

And he believes the pain will be widespread.

“Most of the damage will happen in these bigger companies — not just tech, by the way. It could be consumer. It could be industrial,” Wilson said. “When those stocks had a tough time in October, the money went into these other areas. So, part of that rally has been driven just be repositioning from the money moving.”

Wilson’s forecast comes on the heels of prior pullback warnings on “Fast Money.” In July, he warned the June low was probably not the final move downward. On Oct. 13, the S&P 500 reached its 52-week low of 3491.58.

‘Not a time to sell everything’

Yet Wilson does not consider himself a full-fledge bear.

“This is not a time to sell everything and run for the hills because that’s probably not until the earnings come down in January [and] February,” he said.

Wilson expects bullish tailwinds to push stocks higher over the next few weeks.

“It’s our job to call these tactical rallies. We’ve got this one right,” Wilson said. “I still think this tactical rally has legs into year end.”

Disclaimer

South Africa’s economy at a pivotal point as outlook improves but political, energy risks remain

LONDON – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a press conference in central London on November 24, 2022

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa’s long-awaited economic reforms have begun to improve the country’s outlook, but the age-old problems of political uncertainty and a failing power system still pose significant risks.

The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan has been a key tenet of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s agenda since he succeeded Jacob Zuma as the country’s leader in 2018. But deep divisions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and his own cabinet have made for sluggish progress.

The suite of reforms — focused on energy security, infrastructure development, food security, job creation and the green transition — is designed to create a “sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy,” the government says.

And — some at least — appear to be working. S&P Global Ratings earlier this month affirmed its positive outlook on the country, saying that government measures to stimulate private sector activity could boost growth, and the measures had the potential to ease economic pressures.

“There is some hope in the public finances in South Africa, mainly due to the increase in government revenues as a result of higher commodity exports, and also due to the progress made in reducing debt and debt distress, and to ushering a public deficit,” Aleix Montana, Africa analyst at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC last week.

However, political frailties and persistent issues at a state-owned utility continue to pose present economic risks.

Ramaphosa faces a “perfect storm of inflation, electricity cuts and corruption accusations that will continue to deteriorate South Africa’s profile and to pose risk for investments in the country,” Montana said.

A report into an alleged corruption scandal surrounding Ramaphosa is set to be examined by the National Assembly on Dec. 6, just 10 days before the party conference of his ruling ANC (African National Congress).

Energy woes

Though Ramaphosa is expected to secure a second five-year term, Montana said he will have to improve his credibility on economic and anti-corruption reforms in order to continue pushing through his agenda. The economy also remains at risk from persistent disruptions at state-owned companies, such as power utility Eskom.

South Africans have faced rolling blackouts as Eskom — which has long been a thorn in the side of the country’s economy — contends with shortfalls in generation capacity due to equipment failures and diesel shortages.

The company has warned that power outages, known as “load-shedding,” will continue for the next six to 12 months, and recently said it had run out of funds to acquire the diesel needed to run auxiliary power plants that are deployed during periods of peak consumption or emergencies.

Montana said that in order to secure sustained economic growth, the South African government will need to prioritize energy sustainability.

“Energy will require financial assistance from international players, but they will also need to ensure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on South African society,” he said.

Sorting electricity issue in South Africa like 'fixing a plane as it's flying': Cyril Ramaphosa

“Apart from financial challenges, a lot of citizens of South Africa are employed in Eskom or in the fossil fuels sector, so the government will need to ensure that in their plan, they mitigate this potential impact of transitioning from a fossil fuels-based economy to the implementation of renewables in order to sustain electricity stability.”

Asked about this issue on a recent state visit to the U.K., Ramaphosa told CNBC’s Arabile Gumede that the problems at Eskom started long before 2014, when former President Jacob Zuma appointed him to address the country’s energy problems.

“As we are generating electricity, power stations keep breaking — many of them are old — but we are trying with a new boat, the management that’s in place to address this problem,” Ramaphosa said.

“So the problems of Eskom were seeds that were planted many years ago, rather than in 2014, and because we’re dealing with huge, complicated and complex machinery, it’s not a one-day fix, it can never be as these are very complex processes.”

Economic recovery in South Africa exposed to civil unrest, Verisk Maplecroft analyst says

He added that the government was working to reduce load-shedding requirements and to “ensure that the money’s there,” noting that Eskom “used to be the best utility in the world.”

“Do I have confidence that we will solve these problems? Yes, I do. I do have enormous confidence that we will solve them,” he said.

“But I think it’s important to have an appreciation of where we’ve come from, and obviously, it is very easy to put all the blame on the president, to put all the blame on the government, and yet these problems have come way back from the past.”

‘Taming the monster’ of inflation

Along with the domestic issues unique to South Africa, the country also faces the same inflationary pressures that have plagued economies around the world over the past year.

Annual headline inflation rose to 7.6% in October, defying the South African Reserve Bank’s expectations for price pressures to ease. This prompted the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to hike interest rates by an aggressive 75 basis points last week, taking the benchmark repo rate to 7%.

This marked the seventh consecutive meeting at which monetary policy had been tightened, and central bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said in a press conference that it must “tame the monster of inflation.”

With prices rising much faster than the central bank’s 3-6% target, Kganyago noted that the SARB needs to see clear evidence that inflation has not just peaked, but begun to sustainably decline toward the midpoint of the range.

But further monetary tightening will place additional pressure on the economy.

“We think that inflation is unlikely to return within the target range (let alone the midpoint) in the coming months, keeping policymakers in tightening mode well into 2023,” said Virág Fórizs, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

Difficult to tell if close to the end of the rate hiking cycle, South African Reserve Bank governor says

She flagged that food inflation continues to increase, offsetting some of the effects of softening fuel price pressures, while core inflation is likely to remain high. Capital Economics expects inflation to hover around 7.5% annually until early 2023, before dropping markedly around the middle of the year.

Fórizs said the weakness of the economy is unlikely to prevent further rate hikes, with growth concerns playing second fiddle to inflation worries. South African GDP contracted by 0.7% in the second quarter.

“While the end of the tightening cycle is not yet in sight, we expect the pace of tightening to slow over the next MPC meetings,” she noted.

Three MPC members voted to hike rates by 75 basis points last week, while two voted for 50 basis points. It marked an apparent softening of approach by some who voted for a 100-basis-point rise at the previous meeting.

“All in all, we’ve penciled in 100bp of further increases in the repo rate, to 8.00%, by Q2 2023,” Fórizs said.

After years as nuclear powerhouse, France makes play in offshore wind

This image, from Sept. 2022, shows French President Emmanuel Macron speaking with workers on board a boat during a visit to the Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm.

Stephane Mahe | AFP | Getty Images

A facility described as “France’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project” is fully operational, multinational utility EDF said this week.

The news represents a significant step forward for the country’s offshore wind sector, with more projects set to come online in the years ahead.

In a statement Wednesday, EDF said the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals, which include targets to generate 32% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.” EDF’s majority shareholder is the French state.

Located in waters off the south west coast of France, the Saint-Nazaire project consists of 80 turbines. Its first electricity was generated in June 2022.

Looking ahead, EDF said the wind farm would “supply the equivalent of the consumption of 700,000 people with electricity every year.”

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While the Saint-Nazaire project represents a significant shot in the arm for France’s nascent offshore wind sector, the country has for decades been something of a powerhouse when it comes to nuclear.

According to the World Nuclear Association, France is home to 56 operable reactors. “France derives about 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy,” it adds.

In wind power, the country has an established onshore sector. Its offshore industry is by contrast miniscule, with a cumulative capacity of just 2 MW in 2021, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.

This is set to change in the coming years. “Offshore installations are finally set to take off as of 2022, and we expect 3.3 GW of offshore wind installations from now until 2026,” WindEurope’s Wind Energy in Europe report, which was published in Feb. 2022, said.

In a statement, EDF Renewables’ CEO Bruno Bensasson expressed pride in commissioning what he called “France’s first industrial offshore wind farm.”

“Over the past 10 years, this project has contributed to the construction of the offshore wind power industry in France and has mobilized a significant number of jobs during construction and now in the operating phase,” he later added.

Europe fails to thrash out details on gas price cap

EU energy ministers fail to agree on a cap for natural gas prices. New emergency meeting due in mid-December.

Kenzo Tribouillard | Afp | Getty Images

BRUSSELS — European energy ministers failed to reach a compromise over a cap on natural gas prices after “heated,” “ugly” and “tough” discussions.

The 27 EU leaders agreed in late October to give their political support to a limit on natural gas prices after months and months of discussions on how to best tackle the current energy crisis.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, and the bloc’s energy ministers were then tasked to solve the more specific, and practical, differences on the measure.

However, the divergences are so acute in Brussels that energy ministers have not managed to find a compromise and instead have convened a new emergency meeting for mid-December.

“The tension was touchable,” one EU official, who followed the discussions but preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC via telephone. The same official said the conversations were “very tough” because of a “fake price cap.”

In an attempt to bring everyone on board, the European Commission proposed a cap at 275 euros per megawatt hour. The cap would also only kick in when prices are 58 euros ($60.46) higher than a global LNG (liquefied natural gas) reference price for 10 consecutive trading days within a two-week period.

Greek energy minister: EU gas price cap at 275 euros/MWh is 'not a price cap'

Countries eager to implement the cap, most notably Poland, Spain and Greece, say this proposal is not realistic as it is so high that it is unlikely to ever be triggered.

“The gas price cap which is in the document currently doesn’t satisfy any single country. It’s a kind of joke for us,” Anna Moskwa, Poland’s minister for climate, said in Brussels Thursday.

Other EU officials, speaking to CNBC on the condition of anonymity, mentioned how the conversations were “heated.” One of them went as far as saying that “at one point, it got really ugly.”

This reflects how poorer and more indebted EU nations feel about the energy crisis that’s impacted the region since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine back in February. With less fiscal room to support domestic consumers, these countries need EU-wide measures to contain energy costs at home.

“I hope we get there next week,” another official following the meeting told CNBC under the condition of anonymity.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Jozef Sikela, the Czech minister for industry and trade, also said: “We’re not opening the Champagne yet, but putting the bottle in the fridge.”

We do not have several months, Malta energy minister says on gas price cap

Energy ministers are expected to meet again on Dec. 13, just before the heads of state meet in Brussels for their final EU summit of the year. Until then, the commission’s proposal is likely to suffer alterations in the hope of bringing everyone on board.

Prices on the front-month Title Transfer Facility (TTF) European benchmark closed at around 129 euros per megawatt hour on Thursday. They had reached a historic peak back in August at almost 350 euros per megawatt hour.

Renault plans to harness geothermal energy and help heat plant

A Renault logo photographed in Bavaria, Germany. The French automotive giant says it’s targeting carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040 and globally by 2050.

Igor Golovniov/Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The Renault Group is working with French utility Engie on the development of a geothermal energy project at the automaker’s Douai facility, with the collaboration set to last 15 years.

In a statement, Renault said Thursday a subsidiary of Engie would start drilling work at Douai — which was established in 1970 and focuses on bodywork assembly — in late 2023.

The plan centers around taking hot water from a depth of 4,000 meters, or more than 13,100 feet.

According to Renault, this water will be used to help meet the Douai site’s “industrial and heating process needs from 2025.” The temperature of the water will be between 130 and 140 degrees Celsius.

“Once implemented, this geothermal technology would provide a power of nearly 40 MW continuously,” the company said.

“In summer, when the need for heat is lower, geothermal energy could be used to produce carbon-free electricity,” it added.

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The Renault Group’s CEO, Luca de Meo, described the program planned for Douai as “one of the most ambitious decarbonisation projects on a European industrial site.”

According to the International Energy Agency, geothermal energy refers to “energy available as heat contained in or discharged from the earth’s crust” which can be utilized to produce electricity and provide direct heat.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Energy says geothermal energy “supplies renewable power around the clock and emits little or no greenhouse gases.”

News about Renault’s geothermal project with Engie was accompanied by details of other projects centered around decarbonizing operations at a number of the automotive giant’s industrial facilities.

Looking at the bigger picture, Renault says it’s targeting carbon neutrality in Europe by the year 2040 and globally by 2050.

Despite these aims, a top executive at the firm recently told CNBC that the firm saw the internal combustion engine as continuing to play a crucial role in its business over the coming years.

Earlier this month, it was announced the Renault Group and Chinese firm Geely had signed a non-binding framework agreement to establish a company focused on the development, production and supply of “hybrid powertrains and highly efficient ICE [internal combustion engine] powertrains.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Charlotte Reed, Renault Chief Financial Officer Thierry Pieton sought to explain some of the reasoning behind the planned partnership with Geely.

“In our view, and according to all the studies that we’ve got, there is no scenario where ICE and hybrid engines represent less than 40% of the market with a horizon of 2040,” he said. “So it’s actually … a market that’s going to continue to grow.”

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Renault’s continued focus on the internal combustion engine comes at a time when some big economies are looking to move away from vehicles that use fossil fuels.

The U.K., for example, wants to stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030. It will require, from 2035, all new cars and vans to have zero tailpipe emissions.

The European Union, which the U.K. left on Jan. 31, 2020, is pursuing similar targets. Over in the United States, California is banning the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles starting in 2035.

Offshore floating desalination plant aims to produce drinking water from the ocean

Ocean Oasis’ Gaia system has been designed to use wave power to desalinate water.

Ocean Oasis

Plans to use marine energy to desalinate water received a further boost this week, after a Norwegian firm presented a system that will be put through its paces in waters off Gran Canaria.

In a statement Monday, Oslo-headquartered Ocean Oasis said its wave-powered prototype device, which it described as being an “offshore floating desalination plant,” was called Gaia.

The plant — which has a height of 10 meters, a diameter of 7 meters and weighs roughly 100 tons — was put together in Las Palmas and will undergo testing at the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands.

Ocean Oasis said its technology would enable “the production of fresh water from ocean waters by harnessing the energy of the waves to carry out a desalination process and pump potable water to coastal users.”

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The company said the development of its prototype had received financial backing from a range of organizations including Innovation Norway and the Gran Canaria Economic Promotion Society.

The main investor in Ocean Oasis is Grieg Maritime Group, which is headquartered in Bergen, Norway.

Desalination

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With the above in mind, projects looking to desalinate water in a more sustainable way will become increasingly important in the years ahead.

The idea of using waves to power desalination is not unique to the project being undertaken in the Canaries. In April, for example, the U.S. Department of Energy revealed the winners of the last stage of a competition focused on wave-powered desalination.

Back on the Canary Islands, Ocean Oasis said it would be looking to construct a second installation after testing at the PLOCAN facility had taken place. “In this phase, the prototype will be scaled with the capacity to produce water for consumption,” the company said.

While there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the footprint of wave and tidal stream projects remains very small compared to other renewables.

In data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal stream capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020.

For wave energy, 681 kW was installed, which OEE said was a threefold increase. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave energy came online in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal stream capacity was installed.

By way of comparison, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021, according to figures from industry body WindEurope.

DCG’s Barry Silbert writes letter to investors after FTX collapse

Barry Silbert, the founder of crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group, has joined a growing list of industry leaders in trying to settle investors’ nerves after the sudden collapse of FTX.

In a note to shareholders on Tuesday, Silbert addressed all the “noise” about the financial health of DCG’s subsidiaries, which includes trading firm Genesis, Grayscale Investments and mining company Foundry.

Since FTX’s rapid winddown two weeks ago, investors have worried about a crypto contagion affecting every corner of the industry. Lenders have stopped lending, withdrawals have been more difficult and unregulated, little-understood tokens have plunged in value. The leading cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ether, have also continued their year-long descent.

Silbert, an early bitcoin evangelist who founded DCG in 2015, said that despite the crypto winter, the overall company is on pace to generate $800 million in revenue this year on the back of just $25 million raised in primary capital since inception. Forbes estimates Silbert’s net worth at $2 billion.

“We have weathered previous crypto winters,” Silbert wrote, adding that “while this one may feel more severe, collectively we will come out of it stronger.” 

Coinbase, Binance and Crypto.com have similarly done their best to assuage customer concerns to avoid an FTX-type run on customer deposits. They’ve each expressed shock at FTX’s apparent deceit of investors and customers and emphasized that client assets are secure.

That’s all with an awareness that FTX and founder Sam Bankman-Fried betrayed the trust of an industry that was already in the midst of a brutal year of losses. Bankman-Fried said his company’s assets were “fine” two days before he was desperate for a rescue because of a liquidity crunch.

Specific to DCG, investor confidence took a hit in the last week, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Genesis had been trying to raise $1 billion from investors before ultimately halting some withdrawals. There were reports that Genesis would soon file for bankruptcy, which the company publicly refuted.

Fear spread to the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, known by its ticker GBTC, which lets investors get access to bitcoin through a more traditional security. GBTC is currently trading at a 42% discount to bitcoin, up from a discount of closer to 30% two months ago.

Regarding Genesis’ lending business, Silbert said in the letter that the suspension of redemptions and new loan originations on Nov. 16 was “an issue of liquidity and duration mismatch” in the loan book. These issues, he said, had “no impact” on Genesis’ spot and derivatives trading or custody businesses, which “continue to operate as usual.”

He acknowledged that Genesis has hired financial and legal advisors, as the firm considers its options.

DCG’s debts amount to just over $2 billion. The company loaned Genesis roughly $575 million, priced at “prevailing market interest rates,” which is due in May 2023. It also absorbed the $1.1 billion debt that the bankrupt crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital owed Genesis.

With Three Arrows in bankruptcy, DCG “is pursuing all available remedies to recover assets for the benefit of creditors,” Silbert wrote. DCG’s only other debt is a $350 million credit facility from “a small group of lenders led by Eldridge.”

Read the full letter from Silbert below:

Dear Shareholders, 

There has been a lot of noise over the past week and I want to get in touch directly to clarify where we stand at DCG.

Most of you are aware of the situation at Genesis, but to recap up front: Genesis Global Capital, Genesis’ lending business, temporarily suspended redemptions and new loan originations last Wednesday, November 16 after market turmoil sparked unprecedented withdrawal requests.  This is an issue of liquidity and duration mismatch in the Genesis loan book.  Importantly, these issues have no impact on Genesis’ spot and derivatives trading or custody businesses, which continue to operate as usual.  Genesis leadership and their board decided to hire financial and legal advisors and the firm is exploring all possible options amidst the fallout from the implosion of FTX.

In recent days, there has been chatter about intercompany loans between Genesis Global Capital and DCG.  For those unaware, in the ordinary course of business, DCG has borrowed money from Genesis Global Capital in the same vein as hundreds of crypto investment firms.  These loans were always structured on an arm’s length basis and priced at prevailing market interest rates.  DCG currently has a liability to Genesis Global Capital of ~$575 million, which is due in May 2023.  These loans were used to fund investment opportunities and to repurchase DCG stock from non-employee shareholders in secondary transactions previously highlighted in quarterly shareholder updates.  And to this day, I’ve never sold a share of my DCG stock.

You may also recall there is a $1.1B promissory note that is due in June 2032.  As we shared in our previous shareholder letter in August 2022, DCG stepped in and assumed certain liabilities from Genesis related to the Three Arrows Capital default.  As stated in August, because these are now DCG liabilities, DCG is participating in the Three Arrows Capital liquidation proceedings on the Creditors’ Committee and is pursuing all available remedies to recover assets for the benefit of creditors.  Aside from the Genesis Global Capital intercompany loans due in May 2023 and the long-term promissory note, DCG’s only debt is a $350M credit facility from a small group of lenders led by Eldridge.

Taking a step back, let me be crystal clear: DCG will continue to be a leading builder of the industry and we are committed to our long-term mission of accelerating the development of a better financial system.  We have weathered previous crypto winters and while this one may feel more severe, collectively we will come out of it stronger.  DCG has only raised $25M in primary capital and we are pacing to do $800M in revenue this year.

I bought my first bitcoin a decade ago in 2012 and made the decision that I would commit to this industry for the long term.  In 2013, we founded the first BTC trading firm – Genesis – and the first BTC fund, which evolved into Grayscale, now the world’s largest digital currency asset manager.  Foundry runs the largest bitcoin mining pool in the world and is building tomorrow’s decentralized infrastructure.  CoinDesk is the industry’s premier media, data, and events company and they have done phenomenal work covering this crypto winter.  Luno is one of the most popular crypto wallets in the world and is an industry leader in the emerging markets.  TradeBlock is building a seamless institutional trading platform and as the newest subsidiary, HQ is establishing a life and wealth management platform for digital asset entrepreneurs.  Each of these subsidiaries are standalone businesses that are independently managed and are operating as usual.  Lastly, with a portfolio of 200+ companies and funds, we’re often the first check for the industry’s best founders. 

We appreciate the words of encouragement and support, along with offers to invest in DCG.  We will let you know if we decide to do a financing round.

Despite the difficult industry conditions, I am as excited as ever about the potential for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology over the coming decades and DCG is determined to remain at the forefront. 

Barry

WATCH: Grayscale files lawsuit against SEC over bitcoin ETF denial

Here’s the apology letter Sam Bankman-Fried sent to FTX employees

Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and CEO of FTX, in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

Lam Yik | Bloomberg | Getty Images

FTX’s ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried blamed his “irrational decisions” on “sh—y” circumstances in a letter obtained by CNBC that was sent to employees of the bankrupt crypto exchange.

Bankman-Fried said he “froze up in the face of pressure and leaks” as his crypto empire quickly lost investor confidence and customers rapidly withdrew billions of dollars from the platform.

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“I lost track of the most important things in the commotion of company growth. I care deeply about you all, and you were my family, and I’m sorry,” continued the letter.

“It’s too little too late,” a current FTX employee told CNBC. “I’ve never seen an empathetic version of Sam, so I can’t imagine he’ll change his tune now.” 

Bankman-Fried did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Bankman-Fried post-mortem to employees outlines the ex-CEO’s take on the events that led to FTX’s ultimate downfall, along with an approximated accounting. The crypto exchange went from a $32 billion valuation to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in about a week.

Even as Bankman-Fried accepted blame for the course of events, he still appeared convinced that he was close to saving his crypto empire in the final hours before it entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“We likely could have raised significant funding; potential interest in billions of dollars of funding came in roughly eight minutes after I signed the Chapter 11 docs,” wrote Bankman-Fried.

“Between those funds, the billions of dollars of collateral the company still held, and the interest we’d received from other parties, I think that we probably could have returned large value to customers and saved the business,” continued the letter.

Read the full letter from Bankman-Fried below.

Read Bankman-Fried’s full letter

“Hi all—

I feel deeply sorry about what happened. I regret what happened to all of you. And I regret what happened to customers. You gave everything you could for FTX, and stood by the company—and me.

I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, and I would give anything to be able to go back and do things over again. You were my family. I’ve lost that, and our old home is an empty warehouse of monitors. When I turn around, there’s no one left to talk to. I disappointed all of you, and when things broke down I failed to communicate. I froze up in the face of pressure and leaks and the Binance LOI and said nothing. I lost track of the most important things in the commotion of company growth. I care deeply about you all, and you were my family, and I’m sorry.

I was CEO, and so it was my duty to make sure that, ultimately, the right things happened at FTX. I wish that I had been more careful.

I want to give you a better description of what happened—one I should have written out as best I understood it much earlier.

Piecing things together recently, making approximations—I don’t have full data access right now to get precise answers—and marking everything to market, regardless of liquidity, I believe that the events that led to the breakdown this month included:

1) A crash in markets this spring that led to a roughly 50% reduction in the value of collateral;

a. ~$60b collateral, ~$2b liabilities -> ~$30b collateral, ~$2b liabilities

2) Most of the credit in the industry drying up at once;

a. ~$25b collateral, ~$8b liabilities

3) A concentrated, hyper-correlated crash in November that led to another roughly 50% reduction in the value of collateral over a very short period of time, during which there was very little market bid-side liquidity;

a. ~$17b collateral, ~8b liabilities

4) A run on the bank triggered by the same attacks in November;

a. ~$9b collateral

5) As we frantically put everything together, it became clear that the position was larger than its display on admin/users, because of old fiat deposits before FTX had bank accounts:

a. ~$9b collateral, ~$8b liabilities

I never intended this to happen. I did not realize the full extent of the margin position, nor did I realize the magnitude of the risk posed by a hyper-correlated crash. The loans and secondary sales were generally used to reinvest in the business—including buying out Binance—and not for large amounts of personal consumption.

I deeply regret my oversight failure. In retrospect, I wish that we had done many many things differently. To name a few:

a) being substantially more skeptical of large margin positions

b) examining stress test scenarios involving hyper-correlated crashes and simultaneous runs on the bank

c) being more careful about the fiat processes on FTX

d) having a continuous monitor of total deliverable assets, total customer positions, and other core risk metrics

e) Putting in more controls around margin management.

And none of this changes the fact that this all sucks for you guys, and it’s not your fault, and I’m really sorry about that. I’m going to do what I can to make it up to you guys—and to the customers—even if that takes the rest of my life. But I’m worried that even then I won’t be able to.

I also want to acknowledge those of you who gave me what I now believe to be the right advice about pathways forward for FTX following the crash. You were right, of course: I believe that a month earlier FTX had been a thriving, profitable, innovative business. Which means that FTX still had value, and that value could have gone towards helping to make everyone more whole. We likely could have raised significant funding; potential interest in billions of dollars of funding came in roughly eight minutes after I signed the Chapter 11 docs. Between those funds, the billions of dollars of collateral the company still held, and the interest we’d received from other parties, I think that we probably could have returned large value to customers and saved the business.

There would have had to be changes, of course: way more transparency, and way more controls in place, including oversight of myself. But FTX was something really special, and you all helped make it that. Nothing that happened was your fault. We had to make very hard calls very quickly. I have been in that position before, and should have known that when shitty things happen to us, we all tend to make irrational decisions. An extreme amount of coordinated pressure came, out of desperation, to file for bankruptcy for all of FTX—even entities that were solvent—and despite other jurisdictions’ claims. I understand that pressure and empathize with it; a lot of people had been thrust into challenging circumstances that generally were not their fault. I reluctantly gave in to that pressure, even though I should have known better; I wish I had listened to those of you who saw and still see value in the platform, which was and is my belief as well.

Maybe there still is a chance to save the company. I believe that there are billions of dollars of genuine interest from new investors that could go to making customers whole. But I can’t promise you that anything will happen, because it’s not my choice. In the meantime, I’m excited to see some positive steps being taken, like LedgerX being turned back on.

I’m incredibly thankful for all that you guys have done for FTX over the years, and I’ll never forget that.

—SBF”

Crypto lending company Genesis suspends withdrawals, reportedly considering bankruptcy

Europe’s gas price cap leaves some nations dismayed

Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson is talking to media. EU countries are debating new steps to deal with the energy crisis.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Several EU member states are not happy with the bloc’s proposed cap on natural gas prices — at 275 euros per megawatt hour — which aims to prevent sky-high costs for consumers.

Introducing a cap on gas prices has been one of the more controversial measures for Europe amid an acute energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 27 EU leaders gave political backing to the idea in late October, after several months of discussions. But, a handful of nations are demanding concrete safeguards before greenlighting the proposal, while others say the cap is too high.

“A price cap at the levels that the commission is proposing is not in fact a price cap,” Kostas Skrekas, Greece’s environment and energy minister, told CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum Tuesday, hours after the proposed level was set by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU.

“So [a] price cap at 275 euro is not a price cap, nobody can, can stand buying gas at this expensive price for a long time. We surely believe that the price cap below 200 euro, between 150 and 200 euro would be more realistic,” he added.

EU energy ministers are due to meet Thursday to debate the price cap proposal.

Poland, Greece, Belgium and Spain are among the nations supporting the cap. The Netherlands and Germany have been more skeptical about the benefits of the measure. Presenting a cap that looks tough to implement, in practice, could be a way for the European Commission to bring all the 27 nations together on the issue.

Greek energy minister: EU gas price cap at 275 euros/MWh is 'not a price cap'

“It will be a meeting with grumpy people,” an EU official, working for one of the member states and who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, told CNBC regarding the upcoming meeting.

The same official said the commission needs to present further guarantees on how the measure will not distort markets.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Kadri Simson, the European commissioner for energy, said the proposal is “balanced” and it will help the bloc avoid excessively high prices.

Read more about energy from CNBC Pro

A group of energy exchanges in Europe, Europex, also said earlier this week it was “deeply concerned” about a market correction mechanism, given it could impact financial stability — but also security of supply.

Simson said the proposal, known as the Market Correction Mechanism or MCM, has taken this into consideration and “the risks are minimal” for supply.

The commission proposed the introduction of a cap when prices on the front-month Title Transfer Facility [TTF] — Europe’s main benchmark for natural gas prices — reaches 275 euros per megawatt hour and when prices are 58 euros ($59.53) higher than the LNG reference price for 10 consecutive trading days within the two weeks. Both conditions need to be met for the cap to be triggered.

Dutch TTF prices reached a historic high of 349.9 euros per megawatt hour in August. Under the proposal, the price cap would have not been triggered as it was only a brief spike.

“This is not a silver bullet,” Simson said at a press conference Tuesday. She added, however, the measure provides “a powerful tool that we can use when we need it.”

“Everybody is aware of the possible risks but there is a clear expectation. We will send signals that despite the difficult situation, we will not pay at whatever the market platform will bring to market participants — like it happened in August,” she said.

European natural gas prices closed at 124.5 euros per megawatt hour on Tuesday evening.