Apex Fintech Solutions Acquires PDQ Enterprises

Jan 7, 2022

First Read

Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

It is official: yes, the Adamske news, but I am talking about Rostin Behnam. He was sworn in as the CFTC’s 15th Chairman on January 4, 2022 after being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As for Steve Adamske, he confirmed he has joined the CFTC at the personal request of the new chairman to head the Office of Public Affairs and serve as a senior advisor to the chairman. Chairman Behnam wisely sought an experienced communications hand for this role as he takes on the challenges of the job and to blunt the media juggernaut his SEC counterpart Gary Gensler has turned into. Congratulations to both on their new jobs.

Adam Carter was promoted to senior analyst network operations control safety risk management at United Airlines. He was previously a project manager at the airline. You may remember him as a communications coordinator at the Chicago Board of Trade and one of the good guys from the industry.

Steptoe has the latest of its Financial Services University videos out, this episode about “The New Manhattan District Attorney’s Priorities.” It features Mike Miller as he “discusses the groundbreaking policies and priorities of Alvin Bragg, the newly-elected Manhattan District Attorney, and how his goals for the legendary office are expected to impact the prosecution of white-collar and street crime.” You can watch it HERE.

RFD TV has a remembrance of Robert J. O’Brien Sr. that includes two of his children speaking to RFD-TV’s Janet Adkison.

HKEX has published a megatrend whitepaper titled “Transformative Forces In ETF Investment.”

The OCC has an awards program named OCEO that recognizes colleagues who deliver significant, enterprise-wide contributions toward enhancing resilience or greatly improving a business process while demonstrating outstanding leadership and behaviors aligned with the values of the organization. The winners of the OCEO awards announced by the OCC are: Beth Bradshaw, Ryan Metcalfe, Ryan Golden, Galen Turner, Dana Bowie Earles, Chad Day, Alyse Zavala, Constantine Zhylenko, Lawrence Cerfoglio, Karen Bilek, Ryan Treftz, Michael Shore and Lindsey Jukes. Congratulations to all of them.

As for OCC itself, it was honored as one of Built In Chicago’s 2022 Best Companies to Work For. The 2022 list is littered with companies from the markets, including IMC, DRW, Belvedere Trading, Northern Trust, Morningstar, Wolverine Trading, Tastytrade, Peak6 and YCharts.

Former CFTC Commissioner Sharon Brown-Hruska, PhD has been named to the board of Athena Technology Acquisitions Corp. II (NYSE: ATEK.U), part of Athena’s family of SPACs.

There is nothing I love better than creative (and crazy) Germans. One of the latest examples of this is a program from Deutsche Börse Group, teaming up with Oper Frankfurt in an unusual melodic project. Every month Deutsche Börse has an artist from Frankfurt’s opera give a monthly performance of the DAX index turned into music. In December it was solo oboist Johannes Grosso who performed. Just wow! Watch it HERE.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


The FIA along with SIFMA’s Asset Management Group is hosting its annual Asset Management Derivatives Forum in February at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California. It is an opportunity to meet with market participants from all sides of a trade to examine the latest developments impacting the use of derivatives by asset managers. The hotel block at the Ritz-Carlton runs out on Friday, January 14. You can go here to register and receive booking information. ~SR



Facilitator of Smart Contracts Protocol Fined $1.4 Million by CFTC for Purportedly Enabling Unregistered Events-Based Binary Options Trading Platform
Gary DeWaal – Katten
Blockratize, Inc., d/b/a Polymarket, the owner of a website through which customers access smart contracts on the Polygon blockchain to place “winner-take-all” bets on enumerated future events, settled charges brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for purportedly offering binary options — a form of swaps — without being registered as one of two forms of a trading facility as required by law — either as a designated contract market or a swap execution facility. As reflected in a CFTC order announced on January 3, 2022, Polymarket agreed to pay a fine of $1.4 million to resolve the CFTC’s allegations, as well as to cease offering products that do not comply with applicable law by January 14, 2022.

*****You knew they were in trouble when they put “rat” in their name. What is “ratize” anyway?~JJL


Former CME Chairman Robert O’Brien, force behind exchange’s transformation, dies at 103; His trading firm, R.J. O’Brien & Associates, grew into the largest non-bank futures broker.
Steven R. Strahler – Crain’s Chicago Business
Robert J. O’Brien Sr., a former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange who helped prepare the transformation of an agriculture-based commodity trader into a financial futures pioneer, died yesterday at his home in Sea Island, Ga. He was 103. His firm, R.J. O’Brien & Associates, the last functioning founding member of the Merc, now known as CME Group, announced his death.

***** I forgot to include this yesterday. I only seem to hear from Steve Strahler these days when someone dies, as he writes obituaries for Crain’s. ~JJL


Larry Fink Wants to Save the World (and Make Money Doing It); CEO of giant asset manager BlackRock uses his position to push firms to address climate change
Dawn Lim – WSJ
Few private citizens wield more power in America today than Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock Inc. BLK 0.42% In pushing companies to embrace climate-friendly policies, that has made him a lightning rod. The firm he runs manages some $10 trillion for pension funds, endowments, governments, companies and individuals, equal to more than 10% of the world’s gross domestic product in 2020. Its funds are among the three largest shareholders in more than 80% of the companies in the S&P 500.

******Get in line behind Doc Sandor. He has been doing well by doing good for a long time.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was Fortune’s Meet the 45-year-old whose untraditional career path led to her becoming the second woman in history to lead the NYSE, about Lynn Martin, president of NYSE Group and chair of ICE Fixed Income & Data Services. Second was Bloomberg’s ‘Crazy’ Carbon Offsets Market Prompts Calls for Regulation, about “bogus offsets” and the lack of standards and oversight in the offsets market. Third was Trading Technologies Invests $6.35 Million in KRM22; Enters into Distribution Agreement for Risk Management Products, which was our top story Wednesday.


MarketsWiki Stats
26,685 pages; 236,672 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Apex Fintech Solutions Acquires PDQ Enterprises, Parent Company of Auction-based ATS Operator CODA Markets
Acquisition greatly enhances Apex Fintech Solutions’ suite of trading and execution capabilities
Apex Fintech Solutions
Apex Fintech Solutions (Apex), the “fintech for fintechs” powering innovation and the future of digital wealth management, announced today that it has acquired PDQ Enterprises (PDQ), the parent company of CODA Markets, Inc. (CODA), operator of an innovative auction-based alternative trading system (“ATS”) and smart order router that aims to optimize liquidity aggregation for all market participants. The acquisition of PDQ will enable Apex to expand and evolve its trading and execution capabilities, creating opportunities to deliver increased liquidity, improved execution quality and new products to clients. Founded by the former CTO of the New York Stock Exchange, PDQ is a pioneer in equity market structure and innovator of on-demand auction markets. CODA, an independent, agency-only FINRA regulated broker-dealer, offers a suite of auction-based execution solutions.

Conagra Sees Omicron Variant Stressing Food Supply Chains as Demand Stays High; Food maker says more of its employees are testing positive for Covid-19; quarterly profits fall as costs mount
Jesse Newman – WSJ
Conagra Brands Inc. CAG -1.82% expects Covid-19’s Omicron variant to stress food supply chains and stretch staffing at the maker of Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Slim Jim meat snacks. The Chicago-based food manufacturer said more of its employees are testing positive for Covid at a time when heightened consumer demand is already outstripping the company’s available supplies.

OCC Earns Placement on Built In Best Companies to Work For Lists; Built In recognized OCC on its ‘Best National Companies to Work For’ and ‘Best Large Companies to Work For – Chicago’ lists
This week, OCC was recognized by Built In – an online community for startups and tech companies – as part of its 2022 Best Places to Work Awards. OCC was listed on the ‘Best National Companies to Work For’ list and the ‘Best Large Companies to Work For – Chicago’ list.

Dark trading: navigating a post-Brexit divergent world; Following the European Commission’s recent changes to the MiFID II regulation, Annabel Smith takes a look at the UK and Europe’s opposing approaches to dark trading and market transparency post-Brexit and the potential for a fragmented liquidity landscape.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Brussel’s changes to MiFID II as part of its Capital Markets Union (CMU) review in November reaffirmed Europe’s stance on dark trading. Since the implementation of MiFID II in 2018, the continent has made it clear that it intends to hold transparency above all else in a bid to foster protection for retail investors in the capital markets, a crusade that would have included the UK, had it not been for Brexit.

Alleged Permian Ponzi Scheme Funded Jet, Bahamas Property Purchases; SEC files lawsuit against Heartland Group Ventures and its founders for Ponzi scheme and misleading investors.
Francesca Maglione – Bloomberg
The shale industry is no stranger to accusations of promising more oil than it could deliver and spending shareholders’ money unwisely, but one group of alleged Ponzi schemers in Texas took that to a whole new level. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week sued Heartland Group Ventures LLC, its founders and a slew of affiliates who raised $122 million from more than 700 investors from at least October 2018 and October 2021. The defendants only spent about half of the money they raised on oil and gas projects in the Permian Basin, generating less than $500,000 in revenue, according to the suit filed in a Chicago federal court.

BIS appoints Raphael Auer as Head of the Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre
Bank for International Settlements
Mr Auer is currently a principal economist in the Innovation and the Digital Economy unit of the BIS’s Monetary and Economic Department; He has contributed extensively to BIS policy publications and published widely in the field of central bank digital currencies, stablecoins and cryptocurrencies; The BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre will have locations in both Frankfurt and Paris
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) today announced that Raphael Auer will join the BIS Innovation Hub (BISIH) team as the head of the upcoming Eurosystem Centre, expected to open in the first half of 2022. Mr Auer is currently a principal economist in the BIS’ Monetary and Economic Department, working with the unit dedicated to Innovation and the Digital Economy.

Crypto cannot easily be painted green; A tricky question for mainstream investors in 2022: can you dabble in digital gold without getting your hands dirty?
Gillian Tett – FT
Can crypto ever be green? Until recently, this was a question that mostly concerned idealists. The crypto kids who dashed into bitcoin a decade ago were so focused on fomenting an anti-establishment financial revolt that they did not usually worry too much about carbon emissions.

Why Experts Think the SPAC Trend Can’t Last; New regulations may be on the horizon but so far there are still few signs that companies will stop racing to go public through SPAC mergers.
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin – Inc.
Last year 613 Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) went public in the United States. In doing so, they raised almost as much money as did traditional IPOs domestically. While the pace has declined slightly since a booming first quarter of 2021, there’s no sign that SPAC offerings will dramatically slow down anytime soon. The trend’s persistence flies in the face of skepticism among experts regarding the costly fees inherent to their structure, their corporate profit-generation ability, and the potential fallout from new government regulations.

IMF Critiqued for Dropping Tough Loan Standards for Covid Funds
Eric Martin – Bloomberg
Former chief economist Rogoff worries fund losing its focus; IMF created $650 billion in reserves, pushed emergency lending
The International Monetary Fund’s deployment of $818 billion, often without conditions, to help the world deal with the Covid-19 pandemic is spurring concern from some former officials that the institution is abandoning its focus as a hard-nosed lender of last resort for distressed economies.

Hong Kong Crypto Exchange Allegedly Hit by Frozen Funds
Sarah Ya-Ru Zheng – Bloomberg
Dozens of clients unable to make withdrawals since late Nov.; One VC backer has written off entire investment in Coinsuper
Customers of a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange run by a former senior UBS Group AG executive say they can’t withdraw money or tokens from the bourse, and at least seven have reported the matter to police. Dozens of clients have been unable to make withdrawals from Coinsuper since late November, based on a review of messages on the firm’s official Telegram chat. Five customers told Bloomberg News that they’d filed police reports after withdrawals were apparently frozen, leaving them unable to retrieve about a combined $55,000 of tokens and cash.


BofA to make $100 donation for each boosted U.S. employee
American Banker
Bank of America is donating $100 to local food banks and hunger-relief organizations for each U.S. employee who registers their COVID-19 booster.

Lifesaving Covid Treatments Face Rationing as Virus Surges Again; Scarce supplies and surging Covid cases have caused health officials, hospitals, doctors and patients to scramble for pills and infusions.
Rebecca Robbins, Noah Weiland and Christina Jewett – NY Times
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, scarce ventilators and protective equipment faced strict rationing. Today, as the pandemic rages into its third year, another precious category of products is coming under tight controls: treatments to stave off severe Covid-19.

Will ‘Forever Boosting’ Beat the Coronavirus? Everyone should get a booster shot. In the long run, though, doses every few months aren’t a viable public health strategy, scientists say.
Apoorva Mandavilli – NY Times
A year ago, just two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine — or even one, in the case of Johnson & Johnson’s formulation — were thought to offer sufficient protection against the coronavirus. Now, faced with the extraordinarily contagious Omicron variant, Israel has begun offering fourth doses to some high-risk groups. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility for boosters to adolescents and backed away from describing anyone as “fully vaccinated” because two shots no longer seem adequate.

Covid Cases Are Still Rising. Here’s When They Could Peak.
Sabrina Escobar – Barron’s
The surge in cases related to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 could peak within a month in the U.S., with cases in the most impacted states starting to decline by the end of January, according to some experts. Earlier this week, the U.S. surpassed 1 million new daily Covid-19 cases, with the seven-day average increasing by almost 100% to around 500,000 cases per day, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

Germany to Restrict Restaurant Access to Rein In Omicron’s Surge – Bloomberg
U.K. Study Fails to Prove Masks Work in Schools – Bloomberg

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Nodal Exchange records uptick in biofuel RINs trades in early 2022 after dormant 2021
Brandon Mulder – S&P Global
1.5 million D3 RINs futures sold in first week of January; Trend may indicate shift towards exchange market
North American environmental commodities exchange platform Nodal Exchange had traded 2.5 million renewable cellulosic biofuel credits Dec. 15-Jan. 5, signaling a surge of interest in renewable fuel futures heading into 2022 after a year of dormancy, representatives with exchange partner IncubEx said Jan. 6.

Listing Nominating Committee Seeks Candidates for Listing Review Committee
The Listing Nominating Committee of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is now seeking applications from individuals interested in serving on the Exchange’s Listing Review Committee and the GEM Listing Review Committee. 1

HKEX Finalises Operational Model for Derivatives Holiday Trading
Strong market support for operational model for Derivatives Holiday Trading; Holiday trading planned for April 2022; launch to cover Easter holidays, subject to market readiness and regulatory approval; HKEX’s MSCI futures and options contracts will be the first batch of holiday trading products
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is today (Thursday) pleased to announce it has finalised the operational model for non-Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) denominated futures and options trading and clearing services on Hong Kong public holidays (Derivatives Holiday Trading).

TMX Group Consolidated Trading Statistics – December 2021
TMX Group Limited today announced December 2021 trading statistics for its marketplaces – Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, TSX Alpha Exchange and Montréal Exchange.

ASX Group Monthly Activity Report – December 2021

Notice on the Announcement of the First Batch of International Price-Asking Contracts Market Makers
Shanghai Gold Exchange
In accordance with the relevant regulations on the qualification requirements and selection criteria of market makers in the Measures for the Administration of Market Makers of Shanghai Gold Exchange, Shanghai Gold Exchange now announces the first batch of international price-asking contracts market makers, which is hereby listed as follows ( in no particular order):

DGCX closes 2021 with a total value traded worth of around USD 150 billion
Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange
The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX), the largest and most diversified derivatives exchange in the Middle East, today reported its full-year market statistics. During 2021, the exchange recorded a yearly AOI a sum of 1,985,584 contracts and traded 7,076,350 contracts during the year – with the total value of the contracts amounting to USD 149.676 billion. The DGCX’s best performing product in 2021 was its Indian Rupee Options (DINRO) Futures Contract, which traded up 1,233% year-on-year (Y-O-Y).

They would if they could – the buy side and digital asset trading
Hardly anybody denies that there are great opportunities in digital asset trading for the buy side. There is a lot of interest but equally high barriers to entry. A recent customer review by Eurex shows the reasons. Sascha Semroch, Equity & Index Product Design at Eurex , knows more about the details of the report and why the recently launched Eurex Bitcoin ETN Futures are a perfect fit in the current situation.


New Blood Brings New Approach at New Change FX
Colin Lambert – The FullFX
Independent market data and analytics firm New Change FX (NCFX) is unveiling a number of changes at the top of the firm as it seeks to build on its position in the FX industry – and has tapped into the buy side for its new leadership team.

Goldman-Backed Fintech Boycotts Meta Over Fraud Concerns
Harry Wilson – Bloomberg
Starling Bank will no longer pay to advertise on Facebook; CEO says bank won’t advertise on platform used by ‘scammers’
The chief executive officer of Starling Bank Ltd., Anne Boden, has a blunt new year’s message for Meta Platforms Inc.: Get rid of the fraudsters if you want us to advertise with you again.


Predicting What 2022 Holds For Cybersecurity
Emil Sayegh – Forbes
2021 was a fascinating and somewhat terrifying year for cybersecurity, as all our fears regarding cyber-threats have come true in one way or another. 2021 was tricky, as many organizations have been slow to adapt to the new security climate. Predictions aside, complacency is not an option if you plan to survive and thrive in 2022. Rest assured, the future of cybersecurity is bright, but it will come with its own set of challenges. We look forward into the future because the sooner we can start adapting strategy, policies, and technologies, the better off everyone will be in the long run. Predictions can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time, so please put on your seat belt and helmets:

NIST Cybersecurity Framework: A Quick Guide for SaaS Security Compliance
Hananel Livneh – The Hacker News
When I want to know the most recently published best practices in cyber security, I visit The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). From the latest password requirements (NIST 800-63) to IoT security for manufacturers (NISTIR 8259), NIST is always the starting point. NIST plays a key role as a US standard-setter, due to the organization’s professionalism and the external experts who help to create NIST documents.

There’s massive opportunity for cybersecurity, says CrowdStrike CEO
CNBC (Video)
George Kurtz, Crowdstrike CEO, joins ‘Closing Bell’ to discuss his outlook on cybersecurity in markets.

How Your Employees Can Prevent And Detect Cybersecurity Threats
Dmitry Dragilev – Forbes
A few years ago, my software company was a victim of a cybersecurity attack in which the intruders were able to get a hold of our Stripe account and change the bank information so that all the funds were being deposited into their own account.
It took our team at JustReachOut months to get our funds back and restore our operations to normal. We had some of the best tools to detect and circumvent such an attack, but what we failed to do was educate our employees on how and why they should use these tools.

Cybersecurity: What To Watch In 2022
Tim Liu – Forbes
For enterprises, 2021 was indelibly marked by the stubbornly persistent pandemic, the proliferation of ransomware and other cyberthreats and an increasingly distributed or remote workforce. These trends will continue into 2022, but there are a number of emerging developments that cybersecurity professionals will also need to monitor, assess and respond to.


Estonia’s Crypto Market Vulnerable to Crime, Regulator Says
Ott Tammik – Bloomberg
Estonia’s crypto regulator says money-laundering and terrorist funding risks are high after customers numbers and transaction volume ballooned in recent years, according to a new report released by the agency. Crypto companies licensed in Estonia have 4.5 million customers overall, amassing around 20 billion euros in transaction flows between August 2020 and August 2021.

Meme Coins Return to Earth as Gloom Overtakes Crypto Fanatics
Crystal Kim – Bloomberg
Dogecoin, Shiba, other meme inspired tokens are near lows; Advocates wonder if a Shib price of one cent is still feasible
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts who piled into meme coins such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu amid the long-time industry rallying call of “to the moon” are finding this year’s journey back to earth pretty painful.

GameStop Plans to Launch an NFT Marketplace
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Gamer-focused forum is targeted to be ready by year’s end; Talks underway on token selections, creating investment funds
GameStop Corp. plans to launch a marketplace for nonfungible tokens for gamers by the end of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter, sending shares of the beleaguered gaming retailer soaring in extended trading.

Bitcoin Suisse Taps Barclays Wealth Manager Klee as New CEO
Dirk Klee – Bloomberg
Bitcoin Suisse AG hired Dirk Klee, the chief executive officer of Barclays Plc’s U.K. Wealth Management & Investments business, as its new CEO.

Cryptoland: a glimpse into the future we all deserve; A land where crypto bros can roam free and women can get to hear crypto in-jokes and work as receptionists that is definitely going to come to fruition.
Jemima Kelly – FT
Just when bitcoin and crypto and NFTs were finally being taken seriously with imminent mAsS aDopTiOn an inevitability as we headed for blockchain-based utopia, someone goes and puts something like this on the internet:
Talk about a party pooper. Yes that’s an 18 minute 35 second presentation of “the world’s first physical crypto island” which frankly is giving us quite uncanny déjà vu vibes but we just can’t work out what it reminds us of. Whatever it was, we’re sure it all worked out great.


Former Commodities Chair Criticizes Biden’s Crypto Regulation
Former Commodities Chair Criticizes Biden’s Crypto Regulation
Christopher Giancarlo is a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and he spoke out against the Biden Admin’s crackdown on crypto. Biden’s Administration has made it clear that he wants tighter controls on stable coins, which peg to the existing government currencies, and crypto more broadly speaking of the systematic risk. Giancarlo says these regulations are short sited and they fail to see how crypto could improve economic growth and efficiency. He also said that a new regulation bureau should be created to manage crypto and that the government should create its own digital dollar. Giancarlo was a republican appointed by the Obama administration, and this criticism could be very important.

Corporations Donated Millions to Lawmakers Who Voted to Overturn Election Results; One year after the Capitol riot, many businesses resumed corporate donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election.
Alan Rappeport, Madeleine Ngo and Kate Kelly – NY Times
At its annual summit on the state of American business last January, officials from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed disgust at the siege of the Capitol that had unfolded days earlier, and declared that lawmakers who discredited the 2020 election would no longer receive the organization’s financial backing.

Show us a way out of Covid Plan B, plead London bosses; WFH puts West End in near lockdown as numbers on Tube down two thirds
Jeremy Selwyn – Evening Standard
London needs a rapid “exit strategy” from Plan B restrictions, business leaders have demanded, saying the curbs had left its streets deserted and restaurants and shops once again fighting for survival. They warned that the work-from-home guidance issued by Boris Johnson to slow the spread of the Omicron variant had plunged the “desperately quiet” West End and the City back into near lockdown conditions at the start of the new year.


Commissioner Stump to Participate in a Fireside Chat at the Chamber of Digital Commerce

Treasury Issues Final Rule for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program to Support the Ongoing COVID Response; The final rule enables state and local governments to meet immediate pandemic response needs and promote long-term recovery.
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the Final Rule for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, enacted as a part of the American Rescue Plan, which delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEC Awards Over $13 Million To Whistleblower
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an award of more than $13 million to a whistleblower whose information and assistance prompted the opening of an investigation and significantly contributed to the success of an SEC enforcement action.

SEC Charges ICO Issuer and Founder with Defrauding Investors; Self-Proclaimed “Man behind the Machine” Diverted ICO Proceeds to Gold Mining in South Africa
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Australian citizen Craig Sproule and two companies he founded, Crowd Machine, Inc. and Metavine, Inc., for making materially false and misleading statements in connection with an unregistered offer and sale of digital asset securities.

SEC Charges Three Florida Residents in Multi-Million Dollar Insider Trading Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against three Florida residents for trading in advance of market moving announcements involving DSW Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, and an attempt to acquire Aphria Inc., a Canadian cannabis-related business.

ESAs publish list of financial conglomerates for 2021
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – published today the list of identified financial conglomerates for 2021. The 2021 list includes 66 financial conglomerates with the head of group located in the European Union or European Economic Area, one financial conglomerate with the head of group in Switzerland and one in the United Kingdom.

Ounapuu Ltd (formerly Ferratum UK Limited) enters a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation
On 31 December 2021 Ounapuu Ltd, formerly trading as Ferratum UK, was placed into a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Paul Boyle, David Clements and Anthony Murphy of Harrisons Business Recovery & Insolvency (London) Limited were appointed as Joint Liquidators. The firm’s name was changed from Ferratum UK Limited to Ounapuu Ltd on 4 November 2021.

Investing and Trading

Why Target-Date Funds Might Be Inappropriate for Most Investors; New research suggests that if you aren’t an average investor—and most people aren’t—the one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the way to go
Mark Hulbert – WSJ
Target-date funds are an appropriate investment for your retirement portfolio—if you’re an average investor. If you’re not—like most of us—you can do much better than the one-size-fits-all approach to equity allocations that target-date funds offer for your retirement portfolio.

How Financial Advisers Get Paid: What the Readers Think; An earlier Ask Encore column suggested many retirees might be paying too much. Many investors agreed; financial advisers, not so much.
Glenn Ruffenach – WSJ
Excellent article about financial advisers and fees. Why advisers get paid according to assets under management is a mystery. Your article about assets under management is somewhat misleading and, in many regards, inaccurate. Those are two of the many comments—the many divergent comments—I received in the wake of my November column about financial fees. Specifically, I looked at “assets under management,” which is how many advisers are paid. Using this method, advisers assess their fee as a share—typically 1% a year—of the money they’re managing for a client.

Look Ahead to 2032, at the Very Least; In this season for forecasts and resolutions, investors will be better off if they are able to think 10 or more years ahead, our columnist says.
Jeff Sommer – NY Times
If you want to know exactly how the markets performed in 2021, and about what the experts believe will happen this calendar year, you’re in luck. Brokerage and retirement account statements will soon be on their way, and Wall Street’s forecasts for 2022 are rolling in, along with earnest advice about how to manage your finances over the next 12 months.

Lumber Is Soaring Again Thanks to Supply Snags From Canadian Floods
Jen Skerritt – Bloomberg
Western Canada flooding caused persistent supply constraints; Rally adds $18,600 to average U.S. home price, industry says
Lumber prices are soaring to levels not seen in seven months as the lingering effects of flooding in Western Canada disrupt supplies and shipments. Lumber futures jumped 3.8% to the exchange limit of $1,219 per 1,000 board feet in Chicago Thursday, touching the highest price since June 7. Prices have been climbing since rainstorms hit British Columbia in November, damaging highways and rail lines and forcing sawmills to temporarily shutter operations. Persistent supply logjams and strong demand are fueling the rally.

Why Small-Cap Stock Pickers Crushed It; Active investors got some big things right in 2021 but also had help from the unusually broad array of winners.
Lue Wang – Bloomberg
It turns out that professional investors who spent the year complaining about how hard their lives had become, with retail day traders overrunning markets and the economy opening and closing and opening, came all out all right in the end. A surprising number of them pulled off the rare feat of beating the market. At least, that’s the case in one speculative corner of the mutual fund world, the core small-cap category. Early returns show that 86% of these managers beat the benchmark Russell 2000 index of small companies over the last 12 months, including a 90% beat rate in December. The proportion is the highest ever recorded in data compiled by Jefferies Financial Group Inc. starting in 1999.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Top U.K. CEOs Exceed Annual Average Pay in Just Four Days
Tasneem Hanfi Brogger – Bloomberg
CEO compensation surpassed average worker pay by 9 a.m.; First time since 2011 that CEOs need a fourth day of work
Chief executive officers running Britain’s biggest companies will have earned more by Friday morning than an average full-time employee makes in a whole year. According to a report published by the High Pay Centre, a London-based think tank, the milestone will have been reached by 9 a.m., just four working days into the new year.

Banks risk becoming new fossil fuel villains in 2022; Financing climate change culprits is becoming more visible — and troublesome — than ever before
Pilita Clark – FT
As businesses were gearing up for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, one of Europe’s larger banks released an update on how it planned to do its bit to combat global warming.


Ken Griffin’s Citadel Beats Multistrategy Rivals Gaining 26% in 2021
Hema Parmar – Bloomberg
ExodusPoint, Sculptor came in at the bottom of the group; The strategy attracted $28 billion last year through November
Ken Griffin’s Citadel bested its mega-multistrategy peers, posting a 26% return for 2021. The $43.1 billion firm’s Wellington fund, which runs a market neutral strategy, beat D.E. Shaw & Co. and Millennium Management even as their hedge funds had double-digit gains. Multimanager, multistrategy firms use separate pods of traders to invest across assets and geographies.

Hedge Fund Millennium to Expand in Paris With New Office for 100 Employees; The property is located at 22 Rue Bayard in central Paris; The hedge fund joins peers also adding staff in the city
Nishant Kumar and Alexandre Rajbhandari
Millennium Management has taken a lease in central Paris in a bid to expand its presence in the French capital. The hedge fund has struck a deal to rent the building located at 22 Rue Bayard, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The investment firm can house as many as 100 staff in the new office, which is expected to open in the second quarter, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. Millennium recently hired Bruno Benoit, former Societe Generale SA co-head of fixed income and currencies, to lead its expansion in the city.

Deutsche Bank leapfrogs Wall Street rivals to top German fee table after three-year hiatus; Deutsche Bank’s role on key initial public offerings in the region contributed to its rise up the ranks
Paul Clarke – Financial News
Deutsche Bank has topped the investment banking league table in Germany for the first time in three years, leapfrogging US rivals that have squeezed European peers across most products and regions during the 2021 deal boom.

TradeStation Crypto Offers Bonus for New Crypto Accounts
TradeStation, an award-winning*, self-clearing online brokerage for trading stocks, ETFs, options, futures and cryptocurrencies, announced that new TradeStation Crypto customers will be awarded $10 in a supported cryptocurrency after opening a TradeStation Crypto account, which provides full access to the TradeStation Crypto web trading platform and mobile app. The new offering reinforces TradeStation’s continued commitment to delivering market access and providing innovations that allow for increased participation in the growing cryptocurrency marketplace through TradeStation Crypto.

Chris Rokos: the trader receiving $1bn ‘benefit of the doubt’ after big losses; Media-shy hedge fund manager raises money despite painful performance during bumpy 2021 for bond markets
Laurence Fletcher – FT
There are few hedge fund managers who could raise $1bn shortly after losing investors a quarter of their money. But Chris Rokos is one trader whose star appeal still more than makes up for short-term performance losses.

Amundi predicts Lyxor acquisition to double passive ETFs in three years; The asset manager said the deal could help it to achieve 50% growth in passive assets under management and use of its alternative UCITS platform by 2025.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Amundi has predicted that its upcoming acquisition of Lyxor Asset Management will double its passive exchange traded fund (ETF) and liquid alternative businesses upon completion. The asset manager confirmed it was in talks to purchase Lyxor from Societe Generale for EUR825 million in April last year. The deal is expected to close in February.


Chinese Hedge Fund Responds to Investor Ire After 34% Loss
Bloomberg News
Loyal Valley investors grilled firm in letter to regulator; Manager denies wrongdoing, cites ‘irrational’ requests
Chinese asset manager Loyal Valley Capital Co. responded to pushback from clients who lost a third of their money on a product last year, as the 70 billion yuan ($11 billion) manager became the latest target of investor ire.

Argentina’s Central Bank Hikes Rate for First Time in a Year
Patrick Gillespie – Bloomberg
Central bank raised the key Leliq rate to 40% from 38%; IMF had urged country to have an ‘appropriate’ monetary policy
Argentina raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in over a year as it faces calls from the International Monetary Fund to tighten its monetary policy. The central bank lifted the key Leliq rate to 40% from 38%, the level it had stood for over a year even with annual inflation running at around 50%. The bank’s unorthodox approach until now had contrasted with a wave of rate hikes by central banks across the globe, seeking to battle accelerating inflation.

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