Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff
We recently learned of some sad news: Joe Levin, a longtime Cboe vice president, passed away on July 29, 2018 at the age of 71. Before leaving the Cboe in June 2014, he served as the company’s vice president of research and product development. Among his many contributions to the exchange, Levin was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Cboe’s volatility products, including futures and options on the VIX index.
Memorial contributions may be made to Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (www.psp.org).~SR
CFTC Commissioner Chris Giancarlo played banjo on Mike Marlin’s album “Grand Reveal” – album credits here. This audience is more likely to know Mike Marlin from his previous life as one of the founders of systematic trading firm AHL.~SD
Dr. Richard Jarecki, the brother of Dr. Henry Jarecki, passed away on July 25. He was known for having developed a technique for beating roulette machines.~JLN
The New York Post has a story about Hetty Green called “Why Wall Street’s ‘witch’ was actually a woman to be admired.” The story is about a museum exhibit in New York City, “Rebel Women: Defying Victorianism” at the Museum of the City of New York through Jan. 6. I’ll have to make a trip. ~SR
MWE World of Opportunity – How is Bitcoin Like a Motorboat?
“When the government seizes a boat or a house or a car, they auction it off. When the government seizes illegal narcotics – cocaine, heroin you name it – they don’t auction it off to the American people. So, to me, when they seized bitcoin and auctioned it off to the American people, I thought ‘This is legal, this is going to be OK and I need to pay a lot more attention to this.'”
In this video from MarketsWiki Education’s New York event, Jeff Bandman paints a holistic view of the digital asset regulatory landscape, from money laundering to retail investor protection to the lack of a shared vocabulary to describe the instruments in question.
Watch the video here »
Billionaire Trader Seeks $80 Million for David Hockney Painting
David Hockney, the 81-year-old British painter of saturated landscapes and portraits, could become the most expensive living artist at auction this year.
Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” is being offered for sale to auction houses by billionaire Joe Lewis, who’s seeking at least $80 million for the work, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The current highest price for a living artist is $58.4 million for Jeff Koons’s orange balloon dog.
****Soccer fans know Lewis for his ownership role at Tottenham, boating fans know him as the owner of the nearly 100 meter long superyacht Aviva, and Christie’s sees him as a big fat commission.~SD
The Battery Pioneer Who, at Age 96, Keeps Going and Going
In the race to make the next leap in battery technology, there is a 96-year-old who won’t give up.
Four decades ago, John Goodenough helped invent the battery that is used to recharge cellphones, iPads and many other of today’s electronic goods. His work made batteries more powerful and portable by introducing lithium cobalt oxide to their inner workings.
****Most people at half his age would be happy to be doing half as much.~JB
Richard Jarecki, Doctor Who Conquered Roulette, Dies at 86
Daniel E. Slotnik – NY Times
Many gamblers see roulette as a game of pure chance — a wheel is spun, a ball is released and winners and losers are determined by luck. Richard Jarecki refused to believe it was that simple.
****Jarecki was also a precious metals trader and governor of Comex.~SD
And now professional golf is being ransomed for bitcoin
Jack Morse – Mashable
Raise that single gloved-hand to your mouth in shock: The hackers have gone after golf.
America’s last bastion of proud visor-wearers is scrambling this week, after unknown criminals took over the PGA of America’s servers on Tuesday — locking the golf association out of its files just days before the official Aug. 9 start of the PGA Championship in Missouri. And you better believe those hackers want bitcoin.
Wednesday’s Top Three
It must be summer time. Our top read stories on Wednesday were led by Forbes’ 6 Books That Will Teach You About The Real Wall Street. Second was another top read from Tuesday, the New York Post’s Inside the bitter divorce war between billionaire exes. Third was the FT’s ‘Skin in the game’ is vital, says Gerald Beeson of Citadel
130,856,513 pages viewed; 23,234 pages; 214,507 edits
Trump administration cuts staff at financial markets watchdog: source
Pete Schroeder – Reuters
The Trump administration moved on Wednesday to shrink a government agency tasked with identifying looming financial risks, notifying around 40 staff members they would be laid off, according to a person familiar with the changes. The employees at the Office of Financial Research (OFR) were formally told on Wednesday they will lose their jobs as part of a broader reorganization of the agency that was created in the wake of the 2007-2009 global financial crisis, the source said.
City watchdog adds staff ahead of Brexit
Lucy McNulty – Financial News London
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is recruiting to fill senior Brexit-related roles, offering insight into its priorities as finance firms on both sides of the Channel begin to prepare contingency plans for a chaotic exit.
US regulators warned against reducing bank capital requirements; Systemic Risk Council says proposals should be modified to protect financial resilience
Robert Armstrong – Financial Times
A group of former government officials, executives and financial experts has warned US regulators against softening a crucial leverage metric for banks. In a letter made public by the Systemic Risk Council on Wednesday, it warned that proposals from the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about capital ratios, if enacted, would cause “the equity in US banks?.?.?.?to fall materially” and should be modified or replaced to protect the resilience of the financial system.
CFTC Proposes Rules To Simplify Process For Foreign Clearing Organizations To Obtain DCO Registration Exemption
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today voted unanimously to approve a proposal to codify policies and procedures for clearing organizations located outside of the U.S. to obtain an exemption from registration as a derivatives clearing organization (DCO). The proposal will also reduce CFTC staff time and utilize fewer resources to grant exemptions.
****Giancarlo’s statement here.
The World’s Dominant Crypto-Mining Company Wants to Own AI
Max Chafkin and David Ramli – Bloomberg
In a rare interview, Bitmain’s Jihan Wu talks about his plans to take on Nvidia, Intel, and AMD.
Even by the standards of Bitcoin, things are crazy in China. As the boom in cryptocurrencies has become the biggest speculative bubble in recorded history, a single company in Beijing’s Haidian District has been selling the chips that generate as much as 80 percent of the world’s cryptocoins. “We feel lucky,” says Jihan Wu, the co-chief executive of Bitmain Technologies Ltd., which was more or less unknown two years ago and, according to Wu, booked revenue of $3.5 billion in 2017.
Bill Gross’s Bond Fund Assets Fall to Lowest Since November 2014
John Gittelsohn – Bloomberg
Investors pulled money from Bill Gross’s bond fund for the fifth consecutive month in July, reducing assets to the lowest since November 2014, less than two months after he took over the go-anywhere pool.
Thomson Reuters on offense as Blackstone deal nears
Matt Scuffham – Reuters
Thomson Reuters Corp said it was thinking about acquisition opportunities after reporting quarterly earnings that were ahead of expectations on Wednesday and reaffirming its 2018 forecast.
****Press release of Thomson Reuters’ Q2 results here
Wall Street doubts recent pledge of top Fed officials that central bank can keep balance-sheet reduction plan
Greg Robb – MarketWatch
Even though the New York Federal Reserve’s top markets official recently insisted the central bank’s campaign to shrink its $4.2 trillion balance sheet is running smoothly and will continue, Wall Street is abuzz with talk that it will end sooner rather than later.
These Three Women Made It to Chief Economist at Big Banks. Here’s How They Got There
Lucy Meakin and Jeanna Smialek – Bloomberg
While women may be taking on prominent roles from Wall Street to the City of London, gender equality is still a long way off.
States Spar with Trump Administration Over Fintech Oversight
Yuka Hayashi – WSJ
The Trump administration’s plan to expand the federal government’s role in overseeing financial-technology startups has prompted pushback from some states, setting up a fight over who will regulate new markets for online lending and other banking products.
Global Participants are Flocking to U.S. Ag Markets
Tim Andriesen – CME OpenMarkets
If you haven’t seen a compelling investment story in agricultural markets in a few years, that may be about to change. Several fundamental and macroeconomic factors are converging to create a busier than normal summer season for ag markets.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
Do Stock Exchanges Deserve Absolute Immunity?
Themis Trading Blog
Earlier this year, the SEC swore in two new Commissioners, Hester Peirce and Robert Jackson. While we have seen a few comments recently from Commissioner Peirce (she wanted to approve the bitcoin ETF and thought the Reg ATS amendments were a bit verbose), we haven’t seen much from Commissioner Jackson. But the folks at Markets Media were able to track him down this week and get his comments on some important issues related to exchanges.
****Full Markets Media piece here.
Hong Kong stock exchange operator posts record first-half earnings, as blockbuster IPOs help it reclaim No 1 fundraising ranking
Enoch Yiu – South China Morning Post
Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing reported on Wednesday a 44 per cent increase in interim earnings, boosted by a raft of initial public offerings that helped it regain the top spot in global fundraising rankings.
CME Group Declares Quarterly Dividend
CME Group Inc., the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today declared a third-quarter dividend of $0.70 per share, payable September 25, 2018, to shareholders of record as of September 10, 2018.
NSE says working on a structure to address SGX issue
New Delhi: Locked in arbitration proceedings with SGX, the National Stock Exchange on Wednesday said it is working on a “structure” to address the issues and more clarity is likely to emerge in the next two-three weeks.
Regtech sandboxes: who’s helping the market?
Innovative fintech products are fast-becoming the lifeblood of global economic prosperity. Fresh and exciting developments have the power to expand financial inclusion across developing economies, unlock new sources of funding for businesses and help individuals to better understand how they buy, spend and invest. Yet it’s worth pointing out not every pie-in-the-sky fintech concept ends up bearing fruit – and some can even lead down a rocky road to disaster.
Fintech Frenzy: Hype or Reality? A Closer Look at 6 Key Sectors
Matt Harris – Fortune
I’ve been proven wrong once again.
For eight years running, I’ve predicted that fintech investment is going to plateau. Based on the start of 2018, it hasn’t yet. In fact, we saw more than $5.4 billion invested in fintech during the first quarter of the year, with no signs of slowing momentum. For perspective, fintech investment for all of 2014 was just under $4 billion, so that’s “5x” growth in four years. In 2001, per data from Venture Scanner, it was something like $300 million.
Market Leader INTL FCStone Leverages Paxos Technology To Automate Precious Metals Trade Confirmations
Paxos, a financial technology company and the first blockchain-powered trust announced that INTL FCStone Inc.’s Precious Metals Division, is now using Paxos Confirmation Service, a tool built specifically for the post-trade needs of the precious metals market. The new technology automates trade confirmations, reducing errors and securing instantaneous reconciliation. INTL FCStone will use Paxos Confirmation Service to confirm all of the thousands of trades it executes daily for the division.
Lower taxes lift Broadridge income
Long Island Business News
Lake Success-based Broadridge Financial Solutions’ fourth quarter net earnings increased 11 percent to $207 million, even as revenues slipped, as the firm’s taxes tumbled. – libn.com
CEO Rich Daly said the firm had a “strong fourth quarter to cap off a very strong fiscal 2018,” which he attributed to a “strong performance and lower tax rate.”
BMO Harris teams up with fintech programme participants
Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank has begun working with two local fintech startups that it met through a mentorship programme.
Genivity and SpringFour were among six firms to take part last year in the first BMO Harris/1871 Fintech Partnership programme, operated by the bank with Chicago tech and entrepreneurship centre 1871.
Crypto Coin Tether Defies Logic on Kraken’s Market, Raising Red Flags
Matthew Leising, Mira Rojanasakul, Demetrios Pogkas and Brandon Kochkodin
In the traditional world of securities exchanges, it would be akin to defying gravity. But at Kraken, one of the most popular venues for trading cryptocurrencies, a coin called Tether does it again and again.
Yale economists share strategy for buying Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum
Ali Montag – CNBC
…it might seem impossible for the average investor to figure out which way the digital asset is headed, but a new report by two Yale University economists analyzing historical price patterns suggests there are actually two indicators you can use to get an idea.
****The paper by the Yale economists can be found here.
Opera to Launch Built-In Cryptocurrency Wallet for Desktop Browser
Marie Huillet – Cointelegraph
Opera is launching its desktop web browser with built-in crypto wallet functionality, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Wednesday, August 8.
Japan to Focus Cryptocurrency Regulation on Speculative Investments
Ricardo Esteves – NewsBTC
The Financial Services Agency, the government agency that oversees banking, securities, and exchange services in Japan, plans to set up stricter requirements on cryptocurrencies and its use for speculative purposes.
With Blockchain Technology, You Gotta’ Collect Them All
Andrew Rossow – Forbes
Like Ash Ketchum was first told by Professor Oak in the world of Pokémon, you gotta’ catch them all. But, in the real world, we opt to collect them all.
The SEC Will Decide on 9 Bitcoin ETFs in the Next 2 Months
Muyao Shen – Coindesk
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to make final decisions on nine proposed bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the next two months.
Blockchain Will Disrupt E-Commerce
Giri Devanur – Forbes
The winter of 2017 was spectacular for the cryptocurrency markets, which reached an unprecedented high. 2017 Google Trends indicated how hot Bitcoin was last year — it was the second most searched topic under the global news category, while “How to buy bitcoin” was the third most sought-after “how to” question. Then, in an equally spectacular manner, bitcoin crashed and has lost 70% of its value ever since.
‘Bitcoin [Mining] Threatens Our Existence’ Academic Says, Calls for Intervention
Mark Emem – CCN
The ever-increasing amounts of electricity that bitcoin mining consumes threaten to reverse the efforts and gains made so far in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, an academic has claimed.
According to Dr. Jon Truby, the director of the Centre for Law and Development at Qatar University, bitcoin was designed with no considerations made on its environmental impact and as such ‘threatens our existence’. Truby has thus called for solutions aimed at preventing similar blockchain technologies from emerging.
Congressman Collins, son charged with insider trading
Brendan Pierson, Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Christopher Collins, a Republican U.S. congressman from New York who was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, was criminally charged on Wednesday with taking part in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company on whose board he served.
Trump’s trade policy is an exercise in futility
Douglas A. Irwin – Chicago Booth Review
President Donald J. Trump has long believed that other countries have been taking advantage of the United States, treating it unfairly in trade. The consequence, in his view, has been large trade deficits, massive job losses in manufacturing, and the destruction of the middle class. He sees pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement as badly negotiated and disastrous, and he has pledged that his administration will begin to undo the damage.
Hackers Already Attacking Midterm Elections, Raising U.S. Alarms
Alyza Sebenius – Bloomberg
The U.S. midterm elections are at increasing risk of interference by foreign adversaries led by Russia, and cybersecurity experts warn the Trump administration isn’t adequately defending against the meddling.
At stake is control of the U.S. Congress. The risks range from social media campaigns intended to fool American voters to sophisticated computer hacking that could change the tabulation of votes.
Is Xi Jinping’s Bold China Power Grab Starting to Backfire?
Peter Martin and Alan Crawford – Bloomberg Businessweek
A few months ago, Xi Jinping seemed unstoppable. He’d just abolished presidential term limits and announced the most sweeping government overhaul in decades. Having hosted Donald Trump for a successful visit in November, Xi seemed to have prevented a trade war with the U.S. Party propagandists were distributing hagiographic accounts of the newly anointed leader for life.
Handling of U.S. trade dispute causes rift in Chinese leadership: sources
Ben Blanchard, Kevin Yao – Reuters
A growing trade war with the United States is causing rifts within China’s Communist Party, with some critics saying that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position, according to four sources close to the government.
SEC Inquired About Tesla CEO Musk’s Tweets
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Securities regulators have inquired with Tesla Inc. about Chief Executive Elon Musk’s surprise announcement that he may take the company private and whether his claim was factual, people familiar with the matter said.
Study: How Financial Regulation and Innovation Vary Across the World
Regulators in the U.S. and internationally are adopting common strategies to promote financial innovation while maintaining rules in financial services industries, but the policies in the U.S. are often divided between state and federal oversight, according to new research from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Nadex temporarily suspends member over spoofing
Maria Nikolova – FinanceFeeds
North American Derivatives Exchange (Nadex), a subsidiary of IG Group Holdings plc (LON:IGG), has imposed a fine and has temporarily suspended from trading one of its members over suspicious trading activities. According to a notice, published on Nadex’s website, Eric Leung has violated Nadex’s rules regarding prohibited transactions and activities.
Bitcoin dealt a blow after SEC delays ETF decision
Top Wall Street regulator now has until September 30 to decide on SolidX Bitcoin ETF
Adam Samson – The Financial Times
After a bruising performance this spring, things were finally looking up for bitcoin in July, with the digital currency tacking on $2,000 in a matter of weeks. But it is back on the slide once again — a move that accelerated on Wednesday after Wall Street’s top regulator pushed back an eagerly-waited decision on a bitcoin ETF.
Investing and Trading
Four reasons why the stock market is nearing another record
Jeff Cox – CNBC
From tweets to tech to trade wars, investors have had multiple reasons to bail out of stocks this year. Instead, the S&P 500 is just another nudge away from setting a fresh all-time high.
eVestment’s Top Hedge Funds In July
Nasdaq subsidiary eVestment published its monthly ‘most searched funds’ on its platform for July, seeing Contrarian Capital Management’s Contrarian Emerging Markets fund leading the way in both number of total views and largest month-on-month change from June.
Many Americans Still Feel the Sting of Lost Wealth; The housing crash hurt the poor and middle class more than the rich, who rode the bull stock market.
Noah Smith – Bloomberg
The financial crisis and the Great Recession were absolutely devastating for the wealth of middle- and lower-income Americans. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis shows just how big of a hit they took:
Banks and Private Markets: Making Fresh Connections
Paul J. Davies – WSJ
Private equity and private credit are on fire, but one thing that has kept regulators cool is the idea that banks aren’t deeply tied in to these markets.
Further legal exposure exposed in new ITG filing
Matt Hurd – Meanderful
In addition to employing too many people for the services offered, ITG has added some indication of further legal rumbling it hopes may be soon behind it. Again, POSIT is the subject of historical meandering over at the SEC.
Fidelity Bets on Zero-Fee Index Funds
Charles Stein and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Free mutual funds. It sounds fishy—something that might be advertised on a late-night infomercial. But when Fidelity Investments unveiled two index funds without annual expense charges on Aug. 1, it was the real deal. And if you’ve been watching the money management industry closely, it felt almost inevitable. Several index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds from Fidelity and others were already charging less than a dime for every $100 invested. Why not let the last pennies drop?
Money Managers Aren’t Dead
They still have a role to play—and ways to get paid—even if they don’t beat the market.
Justin Fox – Bloomberg
“Many academics have concluded that the value of investment advice is virtually zero,” Princeton economists William Baumol and Burton Malkiel wrote in 1968. “There seems to be no evidence that the selections of professional investment men are superior to selections that are made by throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal.”
The relentless decline of the Turkish lira, as told through exasperated Financial Times headlines
Edmund Heaphy – Quartz
Buying the Turkish lira, according to one analyst, is like “catching a falling knife.” Writing imaginative headlines about the currency’s unceasing ability to hit new lows, however, is even harder.
Hong Kong’s IPO Takeoff Is Running Out of Runway; Repeated flops are causing investor fatigue.
Nisha Gopalan – Bloomberg
Brace, brace. Hong Kong’s IPO takeoff is going to come to a screeching halt. There’s a flood of deals still in the pipeline, it’s true, from food delivery giant Meituan Dianping to biotech unicorn Innovent Biologics Inc. But investor fatigue is setting in, with many of the hot sales that helped to reignite the market in the past year trading below their offer prices or showing lackluster gains.
Vanishing boss of Chinese US$5.1 billion hedge fund casts financial regulations in harsh light
Daniel Ren and Maggie Zhang – South China Morning Post
Regulation in mainland China’s financial markets has come under the spotlight again after the disappearance last month of the head of a Shanghai-based hedge fund that has put at risk some 35 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion) of investors’ money.Zhu Yidong, 36, the chairman of Shanghai Fuxing Group, disappeared at the beginning of July, about five months after China Central Television (CCTV) reported that he had pocketed illicit gains of 600 million yuan by manipulating the stock price of Shenzhen-listed Dalian Insulator Group between 2016 and 2017.
Why Japan is an unexpected threat to financial stability In a crisis, the ability of banks to fund their dollar lending would be in question
John Plender – Financial Times
The reversal of globalisation is by now in full swing in goods markets but nothing remotely comparable is happening to capital flows. Indeed, it is impossible to understand US monetary policy or the gyrations of the Treasury market without considering the distorting impact of central bank asset-buying in Europe and Japan.
China Says It Will Set ‘Red Lines’ for State Firms to Curb Debt
China is increasing its monitoring of indebted state-owned enterprises by creating watch lists and setting alarm levels, underscoring that the government hasn’t abandoned the goal of controlling borrowing.
Saudi Arabia Threatens More Retaliation Against Canada
Sarah Algethami and Maciej Onoszko – Bloomberg
Kingdom begins to sell Canadian assets in diplomatic dispute; Canada will ‘speak strongly’ on human rights, PM Trudeau says
Saudi Arabia said it will continue to ratchet up pressure on Canada for criticizing the recent arrests of women activists, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upheld his stance on human rights.
Bank of England’s Iain McCafferty: ‘Exodus’ of EU bankers from London
Michael Selby-Green – Business Insider
European bankers are leaving London in an “exodus”, a senior Bank of England official claims.
Britain’s No-Deal Brexit Woes Sink Sterling
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
The Bank of England has raised its benchmark rate to the highest level in almost a decade. Figures on Friday are expected to show the pace of expansion in the U.K. economy doubled in the second quarter from the first. And yet the pound is at its weakest in about a year against the dollar and the euro. What gives?
The Outsider Who Will Decide If Brexit Is Good for Britain
Jess Shankleman and Lucy Meakin – Bloomberg
Google “Clare Lombardelli” and one of the first items to come up is a description of a fight at the top of government, in which a furious Cabinet minister angrily dismissed her as “that woman.”
It was 2010 and Lombardelli was working as a senior official for George Osborne, then chancellor of the exchequer, during his battle with the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith over welfare reforms. According to reports at the time, Lombardelli stood her ground during the argument, telling Duncan Smith his proposals were “unworkable,” a verdict that provoked the angry minister to demand she “show some respect.”
The tectonic shifts in British politics, explained
Anand Menon – The Washington Post
Roughly a month ago, two British Cabinet ministers involved with Brexit negotiations resigned, objecting to Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to dealing with the European Union. That moment exposed startling changes within the British party system — and indeed the nation at large — that had been felt first with the Brexit vote.
‘Computer Says No’ to Jacob Rees-Mogg on Brexit
Therese Raphael – Bloomberg
Brexiters see the World Trade Organization as their best hope for a clean break from the European Union. Maybe it is. But it’s not a very good one.
Nobody can say now where Brexit negotiations will lead, but as the choice looks increasingly between either close alignment with the European Union and no deal at all, Brexit supporters have warmed to a no-deal exit, which they now refer to as trading under WTO rules. Leading Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative MP, says “Trading with the EU on WTO terms would work well for the U.K. and allows us to achieve Brexit sooner.”
‘I’m already stockpiling’: readers preparing for a messy Brexit
Britain could run out of food by this time next year if it cannot maintain the flow of goods after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has said. After it emerged that the government was drawing up plans to stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the British Retail Consortium and drug manufacturers issued more warnings about possible supply shortages, we asked for your views.
Wellness-Obsessed Workaholics Get $375-a-Month Private Club
Nikki Ekstein – Bloomberg
You know the type: the corner suite executive who manages to reply to every email within 15 minutes – whether it’s from their office, a SoulCycle studio, or through the hole of a massage table.