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🐇 The battle over chocolate bunnies

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A villa that is still under construction broke the record for most expensive house sold in Dubai. The $82m property has 18 bathrooms and a 15-car garage.

In today’s email:

  • Malta: What the heck is a golden passport?
  • Chart: The Credit Suisse drama.
  • Bunnies: There can be only one?
  • Around the Web: Naming colors, an odd world record, too many chipmunks, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Rob break down the latest Credit Suisse drama, the EU’s golden passport battle, Kim K’s crypto fine, and more.

The big idea
golden passport

Zachary Crockett

What the heck is a golden passport?

Aside from breathtaking views, the small Mediterranean island of Malta offers a unique opportunity to the ultra-wealthy: investment citizenship.

  • For a hefty fee, people can become citizens of the country and procure a Maltese passport, one of several “golden passports” that allow visa-free travel throughout Europe.

The European Union isn’t a fan, and recently took Malta to court over the controversial program.

The golden passport…

starts at $677.8k (€690k), not including background checks and legal fees. Since 2013, Malta has raised $1B (€1.1B) through the scheme.

EU officials claim the practice breaks EU law and poses multiple problems, including:

  • Security risks: An investigation into a similar program in Cyprus found 30 applicants from 2017 to 2019 were under criminal investigation.
  • Ethical concerns: In the words of one EU official, “Citizenship is a right, not a commodity to be bought and sold.”

While it’s easy to imagine international criminals flocking to the program, most applicants are just looking for an easier way to travel, according to Dr. Kristin Surak, a professor at the London School of Economics.

Even if the EU wins…

… Malta has other options to lure investments from rich travelers.

Take Portugal, which offers a residence visa that allows non-Europeans to pay ~$200k for the right to live, work, and study in the country, and travel visa-free to most EU countries for five years, after which they can apply for full citizenship.

The country’s “golden visa” has raised ~$6B since 2012.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

Looking good: Dream, a YouTuber with 30m+ subscribers famous for his “Minecraft” videos, revealed his face after years of hiding behind a smiley mask.

SNIPPETS

Kim Kardashian will pay a $1.26m fine to settle SEC allegations that she hawked crypto on Insta without revealing it was a paid promo.

Peloton and Hilton announced a deal to outfit the chain’s 5.4k US hotels with at least one Peloton bike by the end of the year.

Wisk Aero unveiled the first autonomous flying taxi qualifying as a candidate for the FAA’s “type” certification, which comes before production and air carrier certifications.

Will Smith is back — kinda. Despite a 10-year Oscars ban, you’ll see him in Apple’s $120m Civil War-era film Emancipation, releasing in December.

Google discontinued Google Translate in mainland China due to “low usage.” Google dropped its search engine in China in 2010.

Wowza: TikTok’s European revenue grew 475% between 2020 and 2021, surpassing $990m last year.

Apple’s App Store saw revenue fall 5% in September, the biggest drop since Morgan Stanley started measuring the data in 2015.

Check out this cool pixelated, Minecraft-looking clothing from Paris Fashion Week.

10 Google Sheets templates: Tidy spreadsheets help teams get shit done. Use these templates to smooth out marketing, sales, and customer service ops.

Chart
Credit Suisse share price

Singdhi Sokpo

Not those credit default swaps again…

Shares in the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse have gone on a wild ride, following rumors about liquidity challenges that sent its credit default swaps surging.

What are credit default swaps?

Glad you asked. They’re financial contracts that work kinda like insurance:

  • Party A lends money to Party B, and then pays Party C for insurance in case Party B defaults, thus “swapping” the risk.
  • Speculators can trade them like cards, buying swaps on companies they think are in trouble.

The Big Short examined the role of these swaps in the 2008 financial crisis when sellers were undercapitalized, borrowers defaulted, and the market collapsed.

Is this happening with Suisse?

It appears not. (At least for now.) The bank reassured its finances, citing $100B to cover losses and ~$238B in liquid assets.

“I trust that you are not confusing our day-to-day stock price performance with… the liquidity position of the bank,” the CEO said in a staff memo.

The stock closed up 2.3% yesterday.

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Candy Wars
chocolate bunnies

The chocolate bunny wars

Swiss chocolatier Lindt and Sprüngli has been fighting in court for years over a quintessential Easter treat: the chocolate bunny.

Lindt’s been making its “Gold Bunny” — a seated bunny, wrapped in gold foil with a red ribbon and bell around its neck — since 1952.

Today, it produces 160m+ bunnies annually.

Last week…

… the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland decided that German discount chain Lidl must stop selling its bunnies in Switzerland because:

  • Lindt’s are protected by Swiss trademark law.
  • The two were similar enough that the public could confuse them.

Lidl was also ordered to destroy any remaining bunnies, but Lidl said it doesn’t have any because they’re seasonal, per The New York Times.

But that’s only one battle in the bunny wars

Lindt has repeatedly gone after other companies producing similar products, including Austria’s Hauswirth and Germany’s Heilemann. Also:

  • In 2001, Lindt achieved trademark approval on its bunny’s shape, per Fortune.
  • In 2021, a German court ruled Lindt’s gold foil had trademark protection after Lindt cited a survey that found 70% of respondents associated it with its bunny.

Some bunnies — like these standing, tuxedo-wearing ones you may remember from childhood — are likely safe (for now).

BTW: This video shows how the Gold Bunny is made. It’s narrated by the bunny, which is hilariously weird.

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AROUND THE WEB

🖥️ On this day: In 1985, Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation, which promotes the free study, distribution, creation, and modification of computer software.

🎨 Cure boredom: Name a color in the RGB/web space. Previous examples include “Spiced Terracotta,” “Anxiety But Muted,” and “Glumple Purple.”

🧀 Haha: This lady will put a smile on your face with her cheese and nut rankings.

⏲️ Wow: Breaking the world record for identifying the most company logos in one minute.

🐿️ Aww: And now, a chipmunk jungle gym.

Meme
European music tweet

Follow Sara on Twitter.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Golden driver’s license owner” Dent.

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