SocGen executives ordered Libor rigging, US prosecutors believed

Jun 8, 2018

Jeff Bergstrom

Jeff Bergstrom


First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

On Monday, the NYSE will launch a new equity option contract on the NYSE FANG+ Index – a new product that offers exposure to a select group of highly-traded next generation technology and tech-enabled companies. Yesterday, 2899 contracts of the FANG+ futures traded on ICE.~JJL

Invest Or Wait When The Stock Market Is At An All-Time-High? The short answer always seems to be, don’t try to time the market and invest when you can.~JB

As AI research continues in a myriad of fields, including finance, this should be worrying. I guess it’s like having a child – you need to be careful what you expose your fledgling AI to. Who knew? MIT Creates Psychopath AI By Making It Look At A Reddit Forum.~JB

Bloomberg has an opinion piece on the potential Deutsche Bank-Commerzbank merger (see story below in Leads) called Germany’s Banking Turkeys Won’t Fly Anytime Soon. Guess whether it’s pro or con.~SR


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Who really owns bitcoin now?; Long-term holders cashed out to short-term speculators, data show

Hannah Murphy – FT
On the final day in his insurance job last week after 14 years in the sector, Donnie wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a rocket logo, the symbol for bitcoin, and the slogan “to the moon”. The phrase, one that characterises the fervour espoused by bitcoin enthusiasts who say its price knows no bounds, was fitting.

***** Worth the read. Dive in the data.~JJL


Short-Termism Is Harming the Economy; Public companies should reduce or eliminate the practice of estimating quarterly earnings.
Jamie Dimon and Warren E. Buffett – WSJ
Every generation of Americans has a responsibility to leave behind a stronger, more prosperous society than the one it found. The nation’s greatest achievements have always derived from long-term investments. In both national policy and business, effective long-term strategy drives economic growth and job creation.

*****The average term of a CEO is how long?~JJL


Andy Warhol Is a Bitcoin Star for 15 Minutes
Thanks to the blockchain, anyone can own a tiny part of a masterpiece. They just can’t touch it.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg News
The world of finance isn’t done yet with its effort to turn artistic masterpieces into tradeable securities. A decade ago it was hedge funds and bankers selling small shares in works by Andy Warhol and his ilk as investment opportunities. Today it’s the cryptocurrency crowd.
If history’s a guide, the risk and cost of owning a tiny part of an illiquid, hard-to-value asset still outweighs the rewards. And all that without ever getting to hang the picture on your wall.


Thursday’s Top Three
Our most read article on Thursday was The Sunday Telegraph’s profile of the ICAP billionaire Michael Spencer, I don’t want to end my career on a losing battle
Next was Business Insider’s This woman made a business out of hooking up cryptocurrency holders with yachts and $4 million cars — now she’s launching a currency named after herself. In third was the Financial Times’ Howard Lutnick’s Treasury market return faces tough competition


MarketsWiki Stats
127,505,498 pages viewed; 23,148 pages; 213,317 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

SocGen executives ordered Libor rigging, US prosecutors believed; Two senior bank executives were named in 2015 letter to French authorities
Kadhim Shubber in Washington and David Keohane in Paris – FT
Top executives at Société Générale ordered the bank’s manipulation of the US-dollar Libor interest rate, according to previously unreported court documents that show US prosecutors had evidence in 2015 indicating high-level involvement in the scheme.

After the crisis, Silicon Valley overtook Wall Street as the place to be
Nathaniel Meyersohn – CNNMoney
Ten years after the financial crisis, Silicon Valley has replaced Wall Street as the place to be. The recession wiped out Wall Street as the go-to spot for young job recruits and accelerated the surge of elite business talent to Silicon Valley, recruiters and business school advisers say.

Trump Feuds With Leaders of France, Canada Before Summit; President to depart Group of Seven summit early; Macron, Trump exchange barbed tweets in spat over tariffs
Vivian Salama – WSJ
The White House said President Donald Trump would leave the Group of Seven summit earlier than planned, as a dispute erupted Thursday between Mr. Trump and two of America’s closest allies over the U.S.’s trade stance.

Phony bank accounts not a ‘systemic’ issue: U.S. regulator
Pete Schroeder – Reuters
A U.S. bank regulator said on Thursday that an industry-wide review prompted by Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) sales practices scandal had uncovered some instances of phony accounts at other lenders but little evidence of a “systemic” problem.

Inside Crisis Central With a German Central Banker; Bundesbanker Andreas Dombret reflects on the past and sees new risks ahead.
Nicholas Comfort , Neil Callanan , and Jana Randow – Bloomberg
At first glance, Andreas Dombret’s office at the brutalist Bundesbank building in Frankfurt epitomizes German banker clichés: black leather furniture, glass tables, chrome-encased lighting. But there are bursts of color amid the industrial aesthetic. Electric purple and red blare from a painting by Markus Prachensky. The suit Dombret is wearing is lined in bright orange. The scene hints at a distinctive feature of his eight years on the board of Germany’s central bank, which came to an end in April. The German American, who brought dynamism and a large Rolodex of contacts with him to the institution, is something of an extrovert in a world of introverts and technocrats.

Deutsche Bank Chair Has Talked to Shareholders About a Commerzbank Deal
Eyk Henning, Elisa Martinuzzi, Christoph Rauwald, and Dinesh Nair – Bloomberg
Achleitner is said to explore potential deal with investors; Key obstacle is Deutsche Bank’s deflated share price
Deutsche Bank AG Chairman Paul Achleitner has spoken with top shareholders about merging with cross-town rival Commerzbank AG as Germany’s largest lender struggles with its turnaround plan, people familiar with the matter said.

Exclusive: Iran slams U.S. for seeking Saudi oil output hike, says OPEC won’t comply
Alex Lawler – Reuters
Iran criticized a U.S. request that Saudi Arabia pump more oil to cover a drop in Iranian exports and predicted OPEC would not heed the appeal, setting the stage for a tough meeting of the producer group later this month.

Britain’s FCA goes ahead with disputed ‘Aramco’ listing rule
Huw Jones – Reuters
Britain’s markets watchdog will press ahead with a new premium listing next month aimed at attracting companies like state-controlled Saudi Aramco to London, although the rules have been “refined” following investor criticism.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Lutz Raettig named honorary chairman of the Exchange Council of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange; Honour for outstanding services to the stock exchange and the financial centre
Deutsche Börse Group
Today’s meeting of the Exchange Council of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange has named Lutz Raettig its honorary chairman. Raettig is being recognised for his outstanding accomplishments to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the financial centre of Frankfurt. He has been a member of the Exchange Council since 2001, and was chairman of the committee from 2002 to 2017. This is the first time the title has been conferred.

Swiss supervisors recognise Eurex Clearing as foreign central counterparty
Eurex Clearing AG has been recognised as a foreign central counterparty by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) under the Financial Market Infrastructure Act. Furthermore, the Swiss National Bank classified Eurex Clearing as a systemically important financial market infrastructure for the stability of the Swiss financial system. The new set-up enables Eurex Clearing to continue to serve its clients in the Swiss markets as usual.

Euronext announces quarterly review results for the AEX, AMX, AScX
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly review of the AEX®, AMX® and AScX® indices. The changes due to the review will be effective from Monday 18 June 2018.

Euronext announces quarterly review results of the PSI 20
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly review for the PSI 20®. The changes due to the review will be effective from Monday 18 June, 2018.

Euronext announces quarterly review results of the CAC® family indices
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly review of the CAC family indices. The changes following the review will be effective from Monday 18 June 2018.

Volatility as an asset class: Interview with Marshall Gause, Geneva Fund Partners
Question and Answer Session with Marshall Gause, Founder of Geneva Fund Partners on Volatility as an Asset Class and the ability to be opportunistic with equity index and volatility portfolio risk exposure.

EurexOTC Clear: Production launch announcement of EurexOTC Clear Release 8.1
With this circular, Eurex Clearing announces the production launch of
EurexOTC Clear Release 8.1 on 18 June 2018.

CCP Release 15.0: Feature to be introduced in production on 18 June 2018
As already announced in Eurex Clearing circular 027/18, the launch of CCP Release 15.0 is scheduled to take place on 18 June 2018.

TMX Group Equity Financing Statistics – May 2018
TMX Group today announced its financing activity on Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange for May 2018.

CME Group Announces Corn Futures Open Interest Record, Surpassing 2 Million Contracts
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced Corn futures open interest reached a record 2,006,600 contracts on June 6, surpassing the 2 million contracts milestone for the first time. The previous record was 1,995,835 contracts set on June 4, 2018.

Cboe Global Markets Announces Date of Second-Quarter 2018 Earnings Release and Conference Call
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE | Nasdaq: CBOE), one of the world’s largest exchange holding companies, today said it will announce its financial results for the second quarter of 2018 before the market opens on Friday, August 3, 2018. A conference call with remarks by the company’s senior management will begin at 7:30 a.m. Central Time (CT), 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET).


Hanweck Introduces Volume Weighted Relative Liquidity Measure; New Measure of Market Quality Complements Existing Suite of Hanweck Options Liquidity Metrics
Hanweck, a leading provider of real-time risk analytics on global derivatives markets and data provider for the Options Liquidity Matrix, introduced its new Volume Weighted Relative Liquidity (VWRL) measure. The Hanweck VWRL metric measures bid-ask spread as a percentage of option mid-point price. The measure normalizes metrics for different priced options, and places greater weight on those spreads with greater trading volume. The result is a metric that better reflects the true liquidity and spreads of a given options class.

This chart shows how China is dominating fintech
Elizabeth Schulze – CNBC
Even at a European conference about fintech, one country dominated the conversation: China.
This week, hundreds of fintech companies, from startups to tech giants, gathered at the Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. One key theme at the gathering was China’s leading role in the fintech industry.

Alibaba’s Ant Financial fintech affiliate raises $14 billion to continue its global expansion
Jon Russell – TechCrunch
Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate connected to Alibaba which operates the Alipay mobile payment service, has confirmed that it has closed a Series C funding round that totals an enormous $14 billion.
The rumors have been flying about this huge financing deal for the past month or so, with multiple publications reporting that Ant — which has been strongly linked with an IPO — was in the market to raise at least $9 billion at a valuation of upwards of $100 billion. That turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg here.

Options Recognized By Sunday Times HSBC Awards For Leading Growth – Financial Technology
Options, the leading provider of cloud-enabled managed services to the global capital markets, is proud to have been named to the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table for the second consecutive year. The prestigious list, which will be published this weekend, ranks the UK’s highest performing private firms by international growth.
The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 recognizes companies based on their overseas sales in the preceding two-year period. From 2015 to 2017, Options has continued to double its global revenues, with international sales of over £34.7 million and overall sales of £50.7 million in 2017.


Quebec Halts Bitcoin Mining Power Requests Amid Booming Demand
Frederic Tomesco – Bloomberg
Canadian utility says demand exceeds short-term capacity; Quebec takes measures to avoid need for rate increases
Hydro-Quebec will temporarily stop processing requests from cryptocurrency miners so that it can continue to fulfill its obligations to supply electricity to the entire province.

Bitcoin trading rules leave Plus500 to make an educated guess; New trading limits may prove tough test for would-be ‘professionals’
Matthew Vincent – FT
Attention all bitcoin traders with Plus500 and CMC Markets! A new study from Warwick Business School has found that: “Cryptocurrency prices are not influenced by any economic factors and instead are driven purely by the mood swing of investors?.?.?.?research studying the weekly trading patterns of 14 of the largest cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin?.?.?.?found no correlation with any economic indicators?.?.?.?pricing is entirely influenced by past returns?.?.?.?hype and emotion.”

Tokens all the way down
Dan McCrum
Today in solutions searching for problems, Blackmoon claims to be “the first company in history to tokenize an IPO”.

Mizuho Financial’s Blockchain Lead Is Leaving the Firm
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
The blockchain lead at Mizuho Financial Group has revealed he is leaving the firm, according to an internal email obtained by CoinDesk.
Ikuma Ueno, senior digital strategist at the Japanese banking giant, said in the leaving message to colleagues that he will depart on June 13 to take up a new role in Singapore later this year.

CFTC Commissioner Hails Digital Assets As A ‘Modern Miracle’
Ollie Leech –
In his emphatic address to the members of the Blockchain For Impact summit, Behnam opened with a retrospect of the creation of the United Nations, and how at the time the world was entering into a new age of global transformation. Now, he believes, we are witnessing a new era of change and “virtual assets are just the beginning”.

You Don’t Have to Own Crypto to Make Money Off of It
Rob Urban – Bloomberg
To make his fortune on cryptocurrency, Jake Benson doesn’t have to choose a winner among the hundreds of firms hawking digital tokens. He just needs to do their taxes.
Benson is following the ’49er model — as in 1849. Like industrious shopkeepers during the California Gold Rush, he’s offering the digital equivalent of picks and shovels. In his case, accounting services.


Erdogan Fought the Market, and the Market Won; The question is if central bank independence will survive the election.
Marcus Ashworth – Bloomberg
Turkey’s central bank has stepped out from the shadow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Hopefully it can stay there.

Putin’s Creeping Nationalization of Banks; The slow-motion grab of the sector by the state continues, though the central bank won’t admit it.
Leonid Bershidsky – Bloomberg
The Russian central bank reports that the state’s share of banking assets hasn’t increased, even though it has been taking over and closing private lenders for the past year. The Russian banking system is on a path toward almost total nationalization, and the central bank is pushing it along.

Trump Calls for Russia to Be Readmitted to G-7
Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear – The New York Times
President Trump called on the world’s leading economies on Friday to reinstate Russia to the Group of 7 nations four years after it was cast out for annexing Crimea, once again putting him at odds with America’s leading allies in Europe and Asia.
The president made the suggestion to reporters as he headed to Canada for the annual meeting of the G-7, a gathering that already was promising to be crackling with tension over trade, Iran and Mr. Trump’s sharp-edged approach to foreign leaders.

Trump’s Love for Coal and Republicans Who Want More Solar
Brian Eckhouse and Bill Allison – Bloomberg
Some Republicans are looking to bolster the solar industry; Trump’s energy policy puts some in party in tenuous position
While President Donald Trump searches for a way to save America’s coal country, some in his own party have their eyes set on what’s arguably the exact opposite: making solar shine.

Top Treasury aide to leave administration for private equity trade group
Nancy Cook and Bernie Becker – Politico
The Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Drew Maloney, is planning to leave the Trump administration next week and is expected take a job leading the top trade association for private equity, according to people familiar with the move.

Kennedy contrasts in an age of political disenchantment; Sepia-bathed reflections provide no comparison in the Trump era to the mass turmoil of the 1960s
Edward Luce and Rana Foroohar – FT
I write this fifty years to the day after Bobby Kennedy died. Even if the press were not awash with the anniversary of RFK’s death, I would still have recalled the date. I was born six days before Bobby was killed. My mother tells me that his assassination was the first outside news that penetrated her maternal bubble. Coincidentally, she was pregnant with my older brother when John F. Kennedy, RFK’s older brother, was killed in 1963.


This week on CFTC Talks, we speak with iCapital CEO Lawrence Calcano on the state of the alternative investment sector. We cover how iCapital chooses the funds they invest in, the way they use fintech and what are interesting sectors for future investment. This is part 2 of a 2 part series with Mr. Calcano.

FINRA Foundation Expands Efforts to Increase Financial Capability in Communities Nationwide
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) Board of Directors approved initiatives at its June meeting to expand personal finance programs and services for adults and children, and particularly those in underserved communities.

Proposed Rule Change to Amend the Security Futures Risk Disclosure Statement
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to update the 2002 security futures risk disclosure statement (“2002 Statement” or “Statement”) that would incorporate prior supplements pertaining to Sections 5.2 (Settlement by Physical Delivery) and 8.1 (Corporate Events), make a technical change to Section 5.2 to reflect that the normal clearance and settlement cycle for securities transactions is now two business days, amend Section 6.1 (Protections for Securities Accounts) to reflect the current address for the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”), and make other non-substantive and technical changes.

Investing and Trading

Money market funds benefit from political and economic upheaval; Inflows of $55bn for the past week are the largest since Q4 of 2013
Nicole Bullock in New York – FT
Investors poured $55bn of cash into global money market funds — the most in more than four years — amid political and economic uncertainties around the world and rising interest rates in the US.

Draghi’s Bond-Buying Era Expected to End as ECB Gears Up for Talks
Piotr Skolimowski and Andre Tartar – Bloomberg
Bloomberg survey shows economists expect decision is imminent; Italian politics and trade disputes top their list of concerns
Mario Draghi is ready to end the European Central Bank’s bond-buying program even if he puts off the decision for one more policy meeting, economists say in a Bloomberg survey.

Long-Term-Care Insurance Isn’t Dead. It’s Now an Estate-Planning Tool; Hybrid policies, aimed at affluent Americans, offer long-term-care benefits along with potential death benefits
Leslie Scism – WSJ
Last year, after finishing with college tuition for their three children, Jessica Galligan Goldsmith and her husband, James, treated themselves to something she had long wanted: long-term-care insurance.

Are you following the wrong small-cap index?; The widely-tracked Russell 2000 has done well, but not as well as a rival benchmark
Nicole Bullock in New York – FT
Small companies are setting a record pace on Wall Street this year, but many investors are missing out on the cream thanks to a divergence between the two main benchmarks that define the sector for fund managers.


Banks Don’t Share Wells Fargo’s ‘Systemic’ Account Problems, Regulator Says; The review by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s hasn’t been released publicly
Ryan Tracy – WSJ
A banking regulator’s review has concluded there weren’t “systemic issues” at other banks that were similar to the Wells Fargo WFC 0.09% & Co. phony-account scandal, though it found some instances of banks opening accounts without proof of customers’ consent.

Julius Baer looks to fixed price system to bolster returns
Angelika Gruber – Reuters
Swiss private bank Julius Baer (BAER.S) is shifting more customers to a pricing system that charges them a fixed fee for its services as part of a wider industry effort to buffer against choppy revenues.

BlackRock’s Biggest Hedge Fund Bleeds Talent
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Investment chiefs David Horowitz, Benjamin Brodsky have exited; The fund also shut a volatility strategy in the first quarter
BlackRock Inc. has lost senior talent at its largest hedge fund. Two deputy chief investment officers at the firm’s Fixed Income GlobalAlpha fund left: David Horowitz departed in the first quarter and Benjamin Brodsky exited in April, spokesman Ed Sweeney confirmed. The six teams they managed now report to Tom Parker, BlackRock’s chief investment officer of systematic fixed income.


Ant Financial Raises $14 Billion as Funding Round Closes
Lulu Yilun Chen – Bloomberg
Ant has been said valued at $150 billion in latest round; Funding includes U.S. dollar, yuan denominated tranches
China’s Ant Financial, the payments giant controlled by Jack Ma, raised about $14 billion in its latest funding round as it accelerates the expansion of Alipay globally and develops new technology.

Money-Laundering, Censorship Fears Fanned in Swiss Gambling Vote
Mara Bernath and Hugo Miller – Bloomberg
Law blocking foreign online gamblers passed by Parliament; Vote on law triggered by critics who say change is misguided
All Switzerland wanted to do was introduce rules to legalize online gambling. Instead it crafted a law that critics say amounts to Internet censorship, and sparked a nationwide referendum.

Just When They Need Leaders, Indian State Banks Are Headless
Anto Antony – Bloomberg
India’s government-owned banks are becoming increasingly rudderless, just when they most need a firm hand at the top.

Brazil stocks get whacked as real hits 2-year low
Joe Leahy in São Paulo – FT
Brazil’s stock market has joined the horror story created by a sell-off of the country’s currency, the real, which has sunk to levels not seen since the country’s impeachment crisis two years ago.

Russia and China set up yuan fund for joint investments
Reuters Staff
Russia and China signed an agreement on Friday to establish a new investment fund that will initially hold 1.5 billion yuan ($234 million) under management and support financial and industrial projects in Russia and China.

A Guide to China’s $10 Trillion Shadow-Banking Maze
Bloomberg News
Shadow banking in China has ballooned into a $10 trillion ecosystem which connects thousands of financial institutions with companies, local governments and hundreds of millions of households. The practice is now at the center of a Chinese government-led regulatory crackdown aimed at defusing financial risks that threaten the wider economy. Unlike in the U.S., traditional commercial banks drive shadow banking, or unregulated lending, in China. That’s because the banks have been able to keep shadow-banking assets off their balance sheets, thereby sidestepping regulatory constraints on lending. So what exactly makes up China’s giant shadow-banking network, the fastest-growing among major economies? Here’s a glossary:

China’s $11 Trillion Bond Market Tested by Rising Defaults
Gregor Hunter and Narae Kim – Bloomberg News
Potential refinancing of $1.3 trillion looms in coming year
China’s efforts to connect the world’s third-biggest bond market with the international financial system are hitting dual headwinds — a climb in global borrowing costs, and the country’s own campaign to reduce financial leverage.


Britain proposes one-year Brexit backstop plan to EU
Elizabeth Piper -Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled a one-year backstop plan for the Irish border after Brexit on Thursday, finding a compromise that may paper over differences in her government but may also struggle to win over the European Union.

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Get a FREE 90 day trial of John Lothian Newsletter First ReadHits & TakesJLN StaffThe FIA issued an advocacy piece titled "FIA Urges Regulators to Eliminate Barriers to Clearing."~JJLPart one of the 13th amendment of the US Constitution...

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