Hits & Takes
Today is the last edition of JLN for 2018. There will not be an issue Monday. We will see you next on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. We at JLN wish you a Happy New Years and a great 2019.~JJL
Steve Sears is back at Barron’s as a contributor, writing his old Barron’s column just on the weekends. He is still at Stratifi, which is going strong. He is happy to back writing at Barron’s again.~JJL
The National Law Journal has named Katten Muchin Rosenman and Gary DeWaal as 2018 “Go To Thought Leaders” in Financial Law for the blog, Bridging the Week.~JJL
Nasdaq posted 185 initial public offerings and 20 exchange transfers in 2018. IPOs raised $277 billion this year.~[[JK
Eris, which transitioned its swap futures contracts to CME products on December 3, 2018, has seen average daily volume in its first two weeks on Globex more than triple to more than 7,000 contracts.~JK
On January 2, 2018, we reported in this newsletter MarketsWiki had 116,982,778 pageviews. Today the pageviews stand at 138,355,660.~JJL
I have had a bit of a set back in my recovery from the infection in my hip and will be extending my IV antibiotics treatment by two weeks.~JJL
For the rest of the year, the weather is supposed to be in the 40’s and 50’s here in the Midwest – better break out the Fall clothes for New Year’s. I usually love Fall clothes, but the apparent impact of climate change nulls that enthusiasm somewhat.~MR
Line of Inquiry: John H. Cochrane on how to prevent financial crises
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Many economists and policy makers agree the US financial system has gotten safer since the 2008-10 financial crisis. But is it safe enough? John H. Cochrane, senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and distinguished senior fellow at Chicago Booth, says what’s made us safer is the obligation of banks to hold more capital—but they still don’t hold enough to make us immune from crisis. Cochrane suggests offering the most well-capitalized banks a regulatory reward—namely, less regulation—and keeping the regulatory pressure on those banks that prefer to remain highly leveraged. Making banks even safer should be a priority, Cochrane says, because the next crisis may well be more severe, and more difficult to resolve.
***** There is no stopping the next financial crisis. Period. If you stop it, then it is not a crisis.~JJL
Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story of the day was another Trump nonsense story, this time from Huffington Post, Trump Brags To Troops About A Fictional Giant Pay Raise He Got Them. Not sure what you say about the commander in chief who misleads the troops. Second was the story of Jim Zhou and four major banks, who found out just how far spoofing enforcement can reach in Sydney trader pleads guilty to manipulating Chicago futures market from the Sydney Morning Herald. Third was Bloomberg’s piece, U.S. Shale’s Blows Leave Middle East Oil Sellers Staggering
138,355,660 pages viewed; 23,362 pages; 216,025 edits
‘Completely Bizarre’ Stock Moves Leave Traders Scratching Heads
Abhishek Vishnoi , Min Jeong Lee , and Matthew Burgess – Bloomberg
Explaining moves is ‘exercise in futility,’ investor says; Some Asia traders decide to stay out of the stock market
As a turbulent December in equity markets draws to a close, there’s one idea traders and investors can agree on: these are not usual times, especially for this time of year.
Euronext raises stake in Oslo Børs VPS to support full acquisition offer; Euronext increases stake in Norwegian stock exchange to support considered EUR625 acquisition bid.
John Brazier – The Trade
Euronext has increased its stake in Norwegian stock exchange and national CSD operator, Oslo Børs VPS, from 49.6% to 50.6%.
Taking Stock of the World’s Debt; Growing debt goes hand-in-hand with growing economies, but it can also be a warning sign
Aaron Kuriloff – WSJ
The world has never had as much debt as it has right now—nearly $250 trillion. That figure is three times what it was two decades ago, according to a Citigroup analysis of data from the Institute of International Finance. The biggest borrowers: the U.S., China, the eurozone and Japan, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s household debt, three-quarters of corporate debt and nearly 80% of government debt.
U.K. Investigates Leaks in Insider Trading Probe; Britain’s top law-enforcement body examining allegations that translator was paid to tip off target of investigation
Bradley Hope – WSJ
The U.K.’s top law-enforcement body is examining allegations that an employee leaked information to a suspect in exchange for money, undermining a probe into a suspected network of European insider traders, according to people familiar with the matter.
China Has the World’s Worst Stock Market With $2.4 Trillion Loss
Shanghai Composite Index is a quarter down from start of 2018; Trade war, slowing economy and deleveraging have hurt stocks
For China’s stock investors and forecasters, 2018 has been a gloomy year marked by unwelcoming milestones. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index is 25 percent below where it started this year, making it the worst-performing major stock market in the world. The breakout of a trade war between the U.S. and China has wiped out $2.4 trillion this year, while a deleveraging drive has squeezed margin debt to just one-third of its peak in 2015.
A Flood of Questionable Cryptocurrency Offerings
The Wall Street Journal
Search for hundreds of projects showing signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of improbable returns.
U.S. regulator SEC to operate on partial basis due to federal shutdown
Katanga Johnson – Reuters
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Thursday that it will partially operate with reduced staff during to the ongoing federal shutdown.
Biggest Stock Reversal Since 2010 Rings of Bear Market Bounce
Lu Wang – Bloomberg
Big turnarounds likes this clustered during last major plunge; Along with Wednesday’s 5% rally, is this a sign of bottom?
For most of December, no rally had been safe in the S&P 500. On Thursday the script was reversed. The S&P 500 erased a 2.8 percent drop in an afternoon rebound, finishing the day with a 0.9 percent gain. It’s the first time since May 2010 that the index has posted such a huge upward reversal, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The Investment That Cost Apple $9 Billion in 2018; Tech giant used much of its windfall from tax overhaul to buy back shares, but recent plunge in stock prices makes strategy look like a bad idea
Michael Rapoport and Theo Francis – WSJ
Apple Inc. AAPL -0.65% has lost more than $9 billion this year on an underperforming investment—its own stock.
Finland’s Erkki Liikanen most likely to head ECB, say economists; Central banker who played key post-crisis role seen as favourite for top job, FT poll shows
Claire Jones – FT
Erkki Liikanen, the former Bank of Finland governor, is the most likely — but not necessarily the best — candidate to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, according to economists polled by the Financial Times.
Bank profits need to fall in fight against money laundering -ECB’s Knot
Banks need to step up the fight against money laundering and accept lower profits in return, European Central Bank board member Klaas Knot said, after a year in which investigations into criminal use of accounts implicated several EU lenders.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
Trading Overview in Year 2018 & December 2018; Japan Exchange Group released Trading Overview in Year 2018 & December 2018.
Cash Equity Market – In 2018, annual trading value for the TSE 1st Section (domestic common stocks) was JPY 740.5187 trillion, an all-time high.
Derivatives Market – In 2018, total derivatives trading volume was 388,342,871 contracts, an all-time high; Total derivatives trading value was JPY 3,217 trillion, an all-time high. Trading value for equity index derivatives was JPY 1,664 trillion, an all-time high.
Euronext has raised its commitment in Oslo Børs VPS Capital to 50.6%
Euronext, the leading pan-European exchange, announces today that it has raised its commitment from 49.6%, as announced on 24 December 2018, to 50.6% of Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA (“Oslo Børs VPS”) outstanding shares in the context of the tender offer to be launched. This 50.6% commitment is comprised of irrevocable pre-commitments from Oslo Børs VPS shareholders to tender 45.5% of the outstanding shares, and share purchases performed by Euronext, representing a further 5.1% of the capital (2,193,000 shares).
With the VIX Spiking, It’s Time to Revive the Chaos Trade
Steven M. Sears – Barron’s
While the best investing strategy for these unusual times might be constantly watching cable-TV news to anticipate President Donald Trump’s tweets, it seems more broadly effective to use an out-of-favor strategy: buying upside VIX calls.
AI Competition Is the New Space Race; The technology still has a long way to go despite progress in 2018. The EU, U.S. and China are all determined not to be left behind.
Leonid Bershidsky – Bloomberg
It’s been another year of relentless artificial-intelligence hype and incremental AI achievement. Machines still beat humans only in carefully constructed environments or at narrow tasks. The good news is that, as the technology progresses, the race for leadership is still wide open, and even Europe, where politicians fret that the continent is lagging behind China and the U.S., is still quite competitive.
Why Piper Jaffray Is Cooling on Fintech – Bloomberg
Jason Deleeuw, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, explains his reduced 2019 estimates for fintech companies with Bloomberg’s Taylor Riggs on “Bloomberg Technology.”
Top ten fintech analysis features in 2018 – FinTech Futures
A dive into all things fintech – our top ten analysis features of 2018:
Why banks shouldn’t make online banking too easy
Nathan DiCamillo – American Banker
In an effort to offer customers an Amazon-like experience, some lenders may be making it too easy for consumers to access financial offerings.
That is the argument put forth by an academic who says banks and other financial services companies must make customers consider the consequences of taking out a loan or signing up for a product.
2019 banking & finance preview: Banks, fintechs prepare to battle over customers’ wallets
Mark Calvey – San Francisco Business Times
JPMorgan Chase starts construction in 2019 on its fintech campus in Palo Alto that will eventually employ more than 1,000 people as the bank pulls out the checkbook to compete against fintechs.
“It is unquestionable that fintech will force financial institutions to move more quickly, and banks, regulators and government policy will need to keep pace. Services will be rolled out faster,” JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon once told his shareholders.
Your Bitcoins Are Hidden in the Painting; A virtual-art-world niche means real money for puzzle-solvers, and startup funding for at least one creator.
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Marguerite deCourcelle lives at the peculiar intersection of Bitcoin and art. Under the pseudonym @coin_artist, she’s credited with inventing the crypto-art puzzle, a genre of images hiding complicated ciphers that reward the first solver with a walletful of virtual currency. The most famous of these is an @coin_artist oil pastel from 2015 called Torched H34R7S, the final work in a series known as The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto. Depicting a turtledove, chess pieces, and a phoenix surrounded by flames, the painting incorporates symbolic references to Bitcoin’s creator, as well as to Shakespeare and deCourcelle’s personal life. An anonymous person solved the riddle in 2018, unlocking 5 Bitcoins, at the time worth about $50,000.
The Fed wants no part of a national cryptocurrency
Matthew De Silva – Quartz
Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund, made the case for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) at the Singapore Fintech Festival in November. CBDCs, she suggested, could enhance financial inclusion, security, and privacy. Lagarde also touched upon cryptocurrencies, explaining that bitcoin and its cousins are “vying for a spot in the cashless world.”
Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom
Alex Gladstein – Time
In the border city of Cúcuta, Venezuelan refugees stream into Colombia, searching for food to feed their families. Years of high inflation, projected to top 1 million percent, has turned bolivares into scrap paper. More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled since 2014, and 5,500 exit for good each day. According to the United Nations, the exodus is “on the scale of Syria” and is now one of the world’s worst refugee crises. As Venezuelans escape, they leave with close to nothing, desperate and vulnerable.
Blockchain Opportunities Finally Start To Perk Up Beyond Cryptocurrency
Joe McKendrick – Forbes
What does it take to get up to speed with blockchain, both from a personal career viewpoint, as well as to advance your organization’s interests?
Hackers used a clever new tactic to steal over $700k from the users of a popular bitcoin wallet
The Block Crypto
Admins of popular Bitcoin wallet, Electrum, are warning users of a phishing attack that tricks its users into downloading a malicious update that steals their password codes. According to ZDNet, these hackers added tens of malicious servers to Electrum’ wallet network which, when triggered, prompts users to download a wallet update containing malicious code. Users of this updated version will be asked to enter their 2-factor authentication code, which the hackers will use to access their wallet—emptying their balance. Hackers were able to steal over 200 bitcoins, approximately $730k at the time of this writing.
Blockchain Will Survive A Cryptocurrency Apocalypse
Jon Markman – Forbes
A year ago, the idea that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were going to change the world was becoming the consensus opinion. Today, not so much. The digital currency now trades below $5,000. It’s 77% off its high near $20,000 in January. Other cryptos are collapsing, too. There is a catalyst. People who follow digital tokens blame the hard fork of Bitcoin Cash.
As Bitcoin sinks, industry startups are forced to cut back
Kate Clark – Tech Crunch
Around this time last year, the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $20,000. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts everywhere boasted about the wealth 2018 would bring, initial coin offerings exploded and startups continued to pull in record amounts of venture capital. Fast-forward one year: Bitcoin is down 75 percent to a meager $3,700, sinking as quickly as its meteoric rise, and industry startups are paying the price.
Stories from Alternative Crypto Sources
Venezuela’s National Cryptocurrency Petro Has Yet To Show Itself As Useful
Bitcoin Exchange Guide
How To Handle Your Bitcoin And Crypto Losses For Tax Purposes
Binance CEO On The Future Of Cryptocurrency: “Industry Will Grow Stronger Than Ever”
Jeremy Wall – Invest in Blockchain
Bitcoin Miners Eviscerated: Japan’s GMO Shuts Down Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Division
Shaurya Malwa – Crypto Slate
Don’t trust, verify: A Bitcoin Private case study
The Inevitability of Impeachment; Even Republicans may be deciding that the president has become too great a burden to their party or too great a danger to the country.
Elizabeth Drew – NY Times
An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable. Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase. Too many people think in terms of stasis: How things are is how they will remain. They don’t take into account that opinion moves with events.
Isakson contacted FBI on behalf of MiMedx CEO
Scott Trubey, – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson contacted the FBI last year on behalf of a politically connected Atlanta area CEO engaged in a battle with a short-seller who had criticized the CEO and his Cobb County company, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Investors Are More Wary of Trump Than of Wall Street; The thriving economy was the one thing that sustained Trump’s approval ratings. Without that….
Conor Sen – Bloomberg
Stock market losses and volatility, particularly in financial stocks, have people worried about, well, everything.
Farmers Are Worried About Their Aid Payments in Trump Shutdown
Lydia Mulvany – Bloomberg
USDA warned about aid halt if shutdown lasts more than a week; Growers may be forced to sell crops to generate cash: analyst
Just when U.S. farmers thought they were catching a break with a second round of federal aid, now there’s concern the impasse in Washington could hamper payments.
FINRA Foundation Debunks Seven Myths About Millennials and Investing During Washington, DC Public Forum; FINRA Foundation Debunks Seven Myths About Millennials and Investing During Washington, DC Public Forum
On December 12, 2018, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation held a public forum on Capitol Hill to discuss national research findings regarding the financial behaviors and attitudes of millennials in the United States with remarks by the Co-Chairs of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, U.S. Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Steve Stivers (R-OH).
Florida biotech billionaire settles SEC stock manipulation case
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Florida biotechnology billionaire Phillip Frost has agreed to pay $5.52 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges over his alleged role in “pump-and-dump” schemes that left investors with virtually worthless stock.
Morgan Stanley Fined Over Anti-Money Laundering Program
Ross Snel – Barron’s
Finra has slapped Morgan Stanley Smith Barney with a $10 million fine for problems in its anti-money laundering program that lasted more than five years.
Investing and Trading
Investors must realise that 2018 was no aberration; The level of uncertainty facing investors in the new year is particularly acute
Nikhil Srinivasan – FT
Being wrong does not appear to be a restraint for those making market predictions. The S&P 500 is down 7.7 per cent for the year while the 10-year US Treasury yield isn’t that far from where it began the year. That is quite the opposite of what was being forecast.
Swiss Re chief fears for catastrophe bond investors; Some will be ‘disappointed’ as alternative capital sector comes under strain
Ralph Atkins and Oliver Ralph i- FT
Global markets for “alternative capital” underwriting natural catastrophe and other insurance risks are flashing warning signals similar to the US mortgage industry before the global financial crisis, the chief of Swiss Re has warned.
There Is Logic Behind the Stock Market; Even after a rough decline, U.S. equities still aren’t cheap.
Shira Ovide – Bloomberg
Investors were bidding up U.S. stock prices because of climbing corporate earnings — juiced by tax cuts passed during the Trump administration — and expectations of continued healthy earnings, steady profit margins and further growth from markets outside the U.S. Stock buyers also weren’t expecting much up-and-down movements in share prices, which make investors want to pay less for stocks. The S&P 500 Index hit a record high in September. Sunny skies. Calm waters.
Investors flee risky US corporate debt; High-yield bonds and loans on course for worst month since 2011 as outflows swell
Joe Rennison and Nicole Bullock – FT
US investors have pulled back sharply from the riskiest corners of the debt markets, putting junk bonds and loans on course for their worst month since August 2011, when the market was reeling from a downgrade of the US government’s credit rating.
Thank Goodness the Fed Is Thinking Globally; The U.S. economy is not an island, and the central bank has stopped pretending that it is.
Daniel Moss – Bloomberg
Donald Trump’s reported musings about whether he could fire the Federal Reserve chairman eclipsed an important signal from the central bank last week.
J.C. Penney Is Now a Penny Stock After Its Share Price Falls Below $1
Kevin Kelleher – Fortune
The stock price of J.C. Penney, the longtime department-store stalwart, fell below $1 a share Thursday, pulling it down to the level of penny stocks.
What Investment Advisers Are Saying On the Dow’s 871-Point Bounce
Vildana Hajric and Elena Popina – Bloomberg
S&P 500 jumps 3.8% from its lows in frenzy of late-day buying; The last hour of trading is ‘where professional money is’
Wall Street mouths were again agape at the sight of frantic moves in equities. The S&P 500 climbed 3.8 percent from its lows, turning on a dime at about 2:20 p.m. in New York, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average swung 871 points straight up.
Danske Bank Has Half Its Value Wiped Away, But Will 2019 Be Better?
Christian Wienberg – Bloomberg
After a very bad 2018, investors are bracing for more bumps; An epic laundering scandal has undermined Danske’s reputation
Shareholders in Danske Bank A/S started 2018 pretty secure in the belief that they owned one of Europe’s best-run financial firms.
Omega, Jabre Capital Among Hedge Fund Casualties in Dismal 2018
Saijel Kishan and Shelly Hagan – Bloomberg
Hedge fund industry is headed for worst performance since 2011; Closures picked up toward the end of the year after sell-off
It has been yet another year to forget in the world of hedge funds.
Euro Exit Should Not Be Taboo, Former ECB Chief Economist Says
Carolynn Look – Bloomberg
In the run-up to the euro’s 20th anniversary, one of its chief architects says the idea of quitting the common currency can no longer be off limits if a member flouts fiscal rules.
Inside China’s strategy in the soybean trade war
Josephine Mason, Hallie Gu, Karl Plume – Reuters
The executive from one of China’s biggest soybean crushers sat on a panel at a Kansas City agricultural exports conference, listening to an expert beside him explain why China would remain dependent on U.S. soybeans to feed its massive hog herds.
China’s middle class hit by shadow banking defaults; Scale of problem underestimated as investors keep losses under wraps
Lucy Hornby and Archie Zhang – FT
Shanghai office worker Jin Linglan had just put a downpayment on a car when she realised her savings were gone. Like many prosperous Chinese, Ms Jin invested in financial products that promised a high rate of return. And, like many of her fellow investors, she has made the painful discovery that her money has been swallowed up by the recurring defaults in China’s shadow banking market.
Australia swelters through heatwave as records tumble
Australia looks set to sweat through one of its hottest Decembers ever, the national weather bureau said on Friday, prompting fire bans, health warnings and big crowds trying to cool off at beaches.
China says new financial information rules aimed at providers for institutions
China’s internet regulator said on Friday the recently published rules governing financial information providers are aimed at firms supplying information to an institutional audience and to specific investors, rather than the general public.
Venezuela cocoa growers fear new pest: the government
Luc Cohen – Reuters
Venezuela cocoa trader Freddy Galindo has battled highway robberies, kidnappings of family members and declining quality in his 19 years exporting the nation’s legendary beans.
Brexit: conscious uncoupling from Europe turns out to be painful; Theresa May is discovering that leaving the EU is much harder than anyone thought
Chris Giles – FT
One of the more interesting divisions created by Brexit has been between those who see Britain’s split with Europe as a divorce and those who regard it as a conscious uncoupling.
‘Brexit economic news continues to be bad, horrid or disastrous’ – experts debate data; Two former members of Bank of England’s rate-setting committee on the economic outlook
The economic news on Brexit continues to be bad, horrid or disastrous. The growing risk of a no-deal Brexit is inevitably hitting business activity. Oh what a surprise!
BBC aims to lead fight against fake news after turbulent year; Tony Hall wants tech giants, academics and the media to confer on tackling misinformation
Matthew Garrahan – FT
The BBC will stage an international conference next year on fake news, in an attempt by director-general Tony Hall to tackle media misinformation that is likely to spiral as video manipulation becomes more prevalent.