Hits & Takes
Bcause Mining LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bcause is led by former CBOT executive Fred Grede. A side note disclosure, John Lothian Productions did a video project for Bcause two years ago.~JJL
The biggest unanswered question from the Bcause stories is why the US Customs and Border Protection is owed $737,041.90 by them.~JJL
MSD Partners, an investment firm tied to Michael Dell’s family office, acquired the Boca Raton
Resort & Club in Florida, the site of the FIA Boca, from an affiliate of Blackstone Group, according to Bloomberg.~JK
The Block is trying to raise $1.75 million as the crypto news site wants to value itself at $10 million and hopes to get a couple of thousand paying subscribers.~JJL
Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman gave a TED Talk on April 16, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC.~JJL
Congrats to Bloomberg’s Annie Massa, who will be the recipient of this year’s “Excellence in Journalism Award” at the STA’s Women in Finance event.~SD
Michael Bloomberg has contributed an additional $5.5 million to United Nations Climate Change Secretariat to again fill the United States federal funding gap. Bloomberg’s total contribution of $10m over two years keeps the U.S. on track to fulfill its funding commitments under the Paris Agreement.~JJL
For Earth Day yesterday, Glenstar Properties, the owners of the CBOT Building, had a number of tables in their south lobby with displays and giveaways, including light bulbs.~JJL
A new graduate who has been to our MarketsWiki Education program twice has approached me about helping him find a job. He has worked at a Chicago FCM and a major Chicago exchange the last two summers. Anyone looking for an entry level finance graduate?~JJL
Bonds to Save the Planet; Eco-friendly fixed-income funds can help create a stronger market for securities that back environmental projects.
Emily Chasen – Bloomberg
Green bonds could be a key tool to finance the fight against climate change. But good luck getting your hands on one, or figuring out exactly what it’s worth.
***** A tax benefit is not even needed; there is enough interest without it.~JJL
Public Tax Returns? No, Just Those of the Well-Off; Disclosure would discourage cheating and give better insight into the extent of U.S. inequality.
Noah Smith – Bloomberg
Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s reluctance to make his income-tax returns public recently caused a minor fracas within the Democratic Party. Eventually, he capitulated, and the world discovered that Sanders makes about a half-million dollars a year. This revelation is unlikely to cost Sanders support among voters — after all, Sanders’s policies would raise taxes on people like himself, meaning he’s the opposite of a hypocrite. And Sanders contrasts favorably with President Donald Trump, who still resolutely refuses to make his own tax returns public.
***** I am all for it. Transparency is a good thing.~JJL
Monday’s Top Three
Our top stories from Monday were led by Business Insider’s 13 Best Trading Floor Pranks of All Time from the old guys. Second was another Business Insider piece about the young folks, Wall Street banks juniorization. Third was Thom Thompson’s piece on Acuiti, Industry-Driven Derivatives Insights
149,340,531 pages viewed; 23,694 pages; 218,638 edits
Bcause LLC declares voluntary bankruptcy; Virginia Beach bitcoin mining company that won $500,000 city grant files for bankruptcy
Kimberly Pierceall – Pilotonline.com
BCause LLC, a cryptocurrency mining operation that expanded to a server farm in Virginia Beach over a year ago with help from a city grant of up to $500,000, has filed for bankruptcy protection along with its subsidiary BCause Mining LLC.
LME to shake up rules on responsibly sourced metals; Concerns over cobalt that may have been mined by children has prompted change
Neil Hume – FT
The London Metal Exchange will only allow responsibly sourced metals to be traded from 2022, as rising demand from consumers and investors for sustainable products prompts one of the biggest shake-ups in the organisation’s history.
**SR: See the LME press release below under Exchanges.
Weak spots and worries in the global financial system
Colby Smith – FT
Twice a year, the IMF unveils its Global Financial Stability Report. It’s the Fund’s opportunity to write about what keeps it up at night, and which of those worries could build up into vulnerabilities that in turn carry systemic concern. The most recent report comes as the credit cycle enters its later stages. In other words, as financial conditions remain loose, but fragilities continue to build.
The Market Knew About the Press Release Hackers Before the Cops
Sarah Ponczek – Bloomberg
Researchers studied stock sensitivity to stolen information; Trading in hacked companies twice as predictive as normal
Can stock traders tell when something fishy is going on in the market? Researchers who studied scandals in which hackers used inside information to profit from earnings announcements say: yes.
Big Oil’s $5tn investment is incompatible with Paris deal; Oil and gas output needs to fall nearly 40% by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5C
Murray Worthy – FT
The oil and gas industry is facing unprecedented pressure to prove its business model is compatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
CFTC Charges Forex Trading Firms and Principals in $75 Million Fraud
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil enforcement action in federal court in Florida against Sarasota area defendants Oasis International Group, Limited (OIG), Oasis Management, LLC (OM), Satellite Holdings Company (Satellite), Michael J. DaCorta (DaCorta), Joseph S. Anile, II (Anile), Raymond P. Montie, III (Montie), Francisco “Frank” L. Duran (Duran), and John J. Haas (Haas) (collectively, defendants). The defendants are charged with operating a $75 million foreign currency (“forex”) trading scheme involving over 700 U.S. participants and over $47 million misappropriated in order to return funds to certain participants and for personal use, such as exotic vacations, sports tickets, and college tuition.
****SD: Guaranteed 12% annual returns with “no risk of loss”? What sounds fishy about that? Of the misappropriated funds, $7,093,302.88 went to “personal expenses including but not limited to, private plane charters, exotic vacations, sports tickets, pet supplies, loans to family members, and college and study abroad tuition” and “vehicle purchases, including a Maserati and Land Rover.” I read the complaint, as I was hoping to find more details regarding the sporting events, exotic vacations and pet supplies, but there is no more information provided than what the above teaser quotes.
After the Bust, Are Bitcoins More Like Tulip Mania or the Internet?
Nathaniel Popper – WSJ
When you talk to tech industry insiders about where Bitcoin is heading, two vastly different comparisons are inevitable: the tulip bulb and the internet.
Barclays to cut bonuses for investment bankers; UK bank bolsters defences against activist investor Bramson with pay crackdown
David Crow and Stephen Morris – FT
Barclays is cracking down on its investment bankers’ pay as the UK bank steps up its defence against activist investor Edward Bramson ahead of next week’s annual meeting.
What’s Missing for a Market ‘Melt Up’; Stronger global fundamentals need to underpin elevated asset prices, and the Fed must maintain a tricky policy balance as the U.S. continues to outperform advanced countries.
Mohamed A. El-Erian – Bloomberg
It is no surprise that the possibility of a market “melt up” for the rest of 2019 is becoming a more common refrain among investors. After all, the unsettling volatility of the fourth quarter of 2018 is well within the rear-view mirror, and the first four months of this year have delivered ample gains with declining volatility. Although there are understandable reasons for this optimism about the future, two uncertainties risk being assumed away in this melt-up scenario, and they don’t relate to the trade and political issues that have persisted for so long and that investors feel comfortable sidelining.
‘It’s already begun’: Feedback loops will make climate change even worse, scientists say
David Knowles – Yahoo
When the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its dire report in October warning of humanity’s fast-approaching reckoning with global warming, one factor adding to the urgency was a new estimate about how much additional carbon dioxide was being added to the atmosphere as a result of the warming of Arctic permafrost.
Japan probes two cryptocurrency exchanges after management changes: sources
Japan’s financial regulator raided two cryptocurrency exchanges last week to investigate their internal oversight, including customer protection and anti-money laundering measures, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
CoinMarketCap wants to give its users more tools to weed out fake volumes
Frank Chaparro – The Block Crypto
‘Twas the report heard ’round the crypto world: Bitwise’s gangbuster reveals that 95 percent of reported trading volumes in the crypto market are fake.
PENCIL Announces Appointment of DTCC’s Cosgrove & JPMorgan Chase’s Warren to Vice Chairs of Board
New York, April, 2019 – Susan Cosgrove, Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), and Lewis M. Warren, Jr., Managing Director and National Industry Executive of Government Banking in the Commercial Bank of JPMorgan Chase, have been appointed as Vice Chairs of the PENCIL Board of Directors. Founded in 1995, PENCIL is a leading education nonprofit making it easy for business professionals, educators and students to work together—in schools and the workplace – to connect students to
success. PENCIL’s hands-on programs, including in-school partnerships, entoring, internships, and immersive experiences like Principal For A Day®, create targeted opportunities for companies like DTCC and JPMorgan Chase to make a real difference in the classroom and beyond.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
Daily record for Eurex’s ESG Futures
Two months after its launch, liquidity in Eurex’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) segment deepens. On 17 April, 13,090 traded contracts flagged a daily record, exceeding the mark of 10,000 contracts for the first time. The new types of futures help market participants address the challenges and opportunities of ESG-driven asset management.
The World Federation Of Exchanges Publishes Annual Sustainability Survey
The World Federation of Exchanges published the results of its fifth annual Sustainability Survey for the 2018 calendar year. The WFE sustainability survey captures the nature and extent of member engagement with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues in both developed and emerging markets. By carrying out this survey on an annual basis, the WFE is also able to track the evolution of members’ engagement with ESG issues.
Launch of a Proof of Concept Program for Utilizing Securities Data
Due to the diversification of data and the advancement of analytical technology in recent years, we are seeing an increase in new data and services (hereinafter referred to as “content”) with the potential to contribute to the development of the securities market.
China further relaxes rules for index futures trading
China’s financial futures exchange said it was further relaxing index futures trading rules, reducing margin requirements, cutting fees and allowing more trading activities.
China’s Banks Are Running Out of Dollars; The major Chinese commercial banks once had more dollar assets than liabilities. No longer.
Mike Bird – WSJ
China’s major commercial banks have a funding issue outside Beijing’s control: They’re running low on the U.S. dollars they need for activities both at home and abroad.
As Uber Nears Debut, New York Stock Exchange Plans IPO Test; Trading firms will have opportunity to hone systems before ride-hailing service goes public
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
The New York Stock Exchange said it would give trading firms an opportunity to test systems used in initial public offerings as it gears up for the blockbuster debut of Uber Technologies Inc. as soon as next month.
LME Launches Consultation On The Introduction Of Responsible Sourcing Standards Across All Listed Brands
The London Metal Exchange (“LME”) today launched a formal market-wide consultation on proposed rules for the application of responsible sourcing principles to all LME-listed brands. These rules build on the strong engagement with market stakeholders to the LME’s October 2018 position paper, and reflect the broad range of feedback which the LME has received.
Why Fintech Should Embrace The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Madhvi Mavadiya – Forbes
A recent report from the World Economic Forum highlighted why financial services should welcome what has been dubbed the “fourth industrial revolution” after the impact it has had on a range of sectors such as healthcare, retail and agriculture.
With the development of digital technology, automation and personalization have been put on a pedestal in these industries and propelled them further than first envisioned after upgrading infrastructure to truly benefit consumers.
Duke University and FDIC to Host Fintech and the Future of Banking
Brian J. Slagle – The National Law Review
This Wednesday April 24th, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative will host a conference titled “Fintech and the Future of Banking” in Arlington, Virginia. The FDIC describes the catalyst for the event as the belief that “at the intersection of research and experience lies good public policy.”
Robinhood angered banks. Now it wants to be one
Hannah Lang and Rachel Witkowski – American Banker
The fintech brokerage Robinhood was forced to rebrand its cash management product last year after misleading marketing caused a backlash among bankers and others. But now, the Menlo Park, Calif., company has mounted an even more ambitious effort: applying for a full-fledged bank charter.
Five fintech buzzwords that need to die
Ryan W. Neal – InvestmentNews
When it comes to confusing jargon and empty buzzwords, few fields are as guilty as the financial services or tech industry. When the two come together, it’s a Venn diagram of awful terminology.
The problem with jargon is it makes the industry intimidating for the average person. Most people don’t know what an ETF is, let alone bid-ask spreads, glide paths or basis points. It makes people feel like they need a business degree to understand investing, creating a barrier that prevents many from ever getting involved.
CFTC Chair Giancarlo Hints at What’s Holding Back Bakkt’s Bitcoin Futures
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo wouldn’t discuss specific proposals, but his general comments about crypto regulation offer hints at the reasons Bakkt is languishing
The question has been posed repeatedly since last summer, when Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, first revealed its grand vision for a bitcoin futures platform that would help take the cryptocurrency to the next level of mass acceptance. Bakkt has postponed its launch date twice now, including an indefinite delay at the end of 2018.
You Can Now Shop With Bitcoin on Amazon Using Lightning
Leigh Cuen – Coindesk
Bitcoin spenders can now use the lightning network to shop at e-commerce sites like Amazon. Crypto payment processing startup Moon announced today that any lightning-enabled wallet can now also be used through Moon’s browser extension. Before this lightning feature, roughly 250 beta users already used Moon to spend crypto on e-commerce sites by connecting the browser extension to exchange accounts like Coinbase.
Navigating The Enterprise Blockchain Wars
Dante Disparte – Forbes
As one major technology player after another enters the enterprise blockchain arena, each promising some blockchain-based magic bullet such as end-to-end supply chain tracking without fully answering the essential question of how data enters the blockchain in the first place. What is becoming increasingly clear in this emerging technology’s rapid prototyping phase is that to truly harness the potential underpinning blockchain, people should think of it more as a design principle rather than some newfangled technology craze.
Vitalik: Upcoming ETH PoS Algorithm will adopt higher staking rewards
Ethereum funder Vitalik Buterin recently posted on Github that Ethereum will use a higher staking reward metric after the deployment of Proof of Stake. Buterin’s proposal charts out the estimated annual returns for different amounts of validating ether.
Nuo Network crosses $2 million in crypto reserves, making it the largest lending protocol based in Asia
Nuo.Network, a non-custodial lending protocol backed by ConsenSys Ventures has recently cracked the top 5 of USD value locked-in DeFi projects, and is currently the largest lending protocol based in Asia, according to DeFi Pulse. The value of loans disbursed through the platform has now doubled over the past month, fueled in part by growth in DAI reserves which are now close to $500K and Maker stability fee hikes.
Coinbase Received Funding from Tennis Star Serena Williams
Arnab Shome – Finance Magnates
Renowned tennis player Serena Williams recently revealed that she has invested in the US-based crypto exchange Coinbase. The funding came through her venture firm called Serena Ventures and along with the digital asset exchange, the fund has invested in an array of other startups, most of which belong to fitness, fashion, and food industry, Williams revealed through an Instagram post.
Enigma’s Privacy Protocol Solves Key Blockchain Issues Preventing Global Adoption
Elliot Hill – Blokt
Blokt reached out to Tor Bair, Head of Enigma Growth and Marketing, to discuss the Enigma project and how its protocol is enabling better privacy for the decentralized web. Although blockchains are offering disruption to the way we store and distribute assets and data, they are fundamentally bad at privacy – as the very same technology which makes them open and auditable, allows tracking of potentially confidential transactions.
Blockchain Patent Granted to Cybersecurity Company Owned by U.S. Defense Contractor
Adrian Zmudzinski – Cointelegraph
Documents published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 16 reveal that Texas-based cybersecurity company Forcepoint has been awarded a blockchain-related patent. Forcepoint is owned by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, and Crunchbase estimates its yearly revenue to be $600 million.
Binance Launches Decentralized Exchange Ahead of Schedule
Yogita Khatri – Coindesk
Binance’s much anticipated decentralized exchange (DEX) has gone live ahead of its planned schedule.
BitGo receives new seal of approval around compliance from top auditing firm
The Block Crypto
The Palo Alto-based crypto custody provider BitGo has achieved a service organization control (SOC) 2 Type 2 certification from a leading audit firm, the company announced in a press release. According to the report, the company’s high level of design and implemented controls around its security warrant the highest certification, which judges a company’s risk management strategy, its data protection controls, and its attention to compliance. Last year, BitGo received a SOC 2 Type 1 report from Deloitte & Touche LLP after a year of scrutiny. The most recent audit suggests the company is following the controls outlined in the SOC 2 Type 1 report.
Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore called it a ‘travesty’ that women ‘feel free’ to play sports with men
Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc – CNN
One of President Donald Trump’s picks to serve on the Federal Reserve Board has written that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men’s college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life “where men can take vacation from women.”
As Herman Cain Bows Out of Fed Contention, Focus Shifts to Stephen Moore
Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport – NY Times
President Trump announced Monday that Herman Cain, one of his two embattled picks for the Federal Reserve Board, had withdrawn his name from consideration, even as his second candidate came under new scrutiny over his attitudes toward women.
Herman Cain Withdraws From Federal Reserve Board Nomination Process; Executive blames salary, not Senate opposition, in a setback for Trump agenda for the central bank
Paul Kiernan – WSJ
Herman Cain withdrew from consideration for the Federal Reserve Board on Monday, saying he did so primarily because of the salary, not the Senate opposition he faced, in a setback for President Trump’s efforts to place a political ally on the central bank.
Trump Is Placing Too Much Faith in the Shale Patch
Lauren Silva Laughlin – WSJ
The White House is leaning heavily on the booming U.S. shale patch.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the U.S. will end waivers for imports of Iranian oil, closing out a 180-day transition period granted to eight countries that rely on the Middle Eastern heavyweight to supply their energy needs. The administration hopes U.S. oil producers can fill in some gaps. Oil prices hang in the balance.
Trump Playing Hardball Gives Iran Oil Buyers Costly Headache
Serene Cheong, Heesu Lee, and Alfred Cang – Bloomberg
Asia refiners seek alternatives as U.S. ends sanctions waivers; While replacements can be purchased, they’ll come at a price
The biggest buyers of Iranian oil are being struck by deja vu, and it’s not conjuring up pleasant memories.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Attorney To Speak At Miami Money Laundering Conference
Organizers of the OffshoreAlert Conference announced that the leading whistleblower and qui tam attorney in the United States, Stephen M. Kohn, will speak at next week’s conference in Miami, Florida. The event will take place at the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel, April 28-30. Kohn is a partner in the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) publishes feedback statement on Duty of Care
The FCA has today published a Feedback Statement summarising the responses received to its Discussion Paper – ‘A duty of care and potential alternative approaches’ – published in July 2018, and setting out next steps.
SEC Approves Amendments to FINRA Rule 4570
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a proposed rule change to amend FINRA Rule 4570 (Custodian of Books and Records) to: (1) provide a member firm that is filing a Form BDW (Uniform Request for Broker-Dealer Withdrawal) the option of designating another FINRA member firm as the custodian of its books and records on the form; (2) clarify the obligations of the designated custodian; and (3) require the designated custodian to consent to act in such a capacity.
ASIC bans Gold Coast financial adviser
ASIC has banned Rodney Peters, of Mudgeeraba, Queensland, from providing financial services for 6 years. An ASIC delegate found Mr Peters represented to clients that he had authority to engage in discretionary trading when this was not the case.
More Work Needed to Improve Diversity at BOE, Court Minutes Show
Jill Ward – Bloomberg
The Bank of England needs to do more to meet its diversity targets for senior roles, according to minutes from its February Court of Directors meeting.
Student Gets 10-Year Jail Term for SIM-Swap Crypto Thefts Worth $7.5 Million
Yogita Khatri – Coindesk
A 21-year-old student from the U.S. who stole over $7.5 million in cryptocurrency via SIM-swapping hacks has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Investing and Trading
U.S. fed funds rate’s premium over interest on reserves hits record
The average borrowing cost for U.S. banks to borrow excess reserves overnight increased further above what the Federal Reserve pays on excess reserves on Friday, according to New York Federal Reserve data on Monday.
Fake meat maker plans real IPO that values company at $1.2 billion
Kate Gibson – CBS News
Beyond Meat is looking to raise nearly $184 million from an initial public offering, with the California maker of vegan burgers hoping to benefit from a trend that has more consumers eating plant-based options.
A Third Way in the Active vs. Passive Investing Debate
David Merrill, Tech CXO – TABB Forum
It’s time we move beyond the active-versus-passive investing debate and bifurcated strategy labeling. We need to add ‘enhanced passive’ strategies as a choice alongside active and passive approaches.
Tranquillity reigns but markets are scarred by last year’s mayhem; Fears are natural given December’s sell-off and concerns over the global economy
Robin Wigglesworth – FT
When markets careened lower late last year, it seemed that perennial predictions of a new “age of volatility” were finally coming true. Instead, tranquillity has reigned throughout 2019. Why?
From $1,600 to $1 Million: Research Costs Under MiFID II
Justina Lee – Bloomberg
How much does investment research cost? Anything from $1,600 to $1 million per client on average.
Barclays to Cut Investment-Bank Bonuses as Bramson Looms: FT
Dan Reichl and Donal Griffin – Bloomberg
Bonuses for first quarter at IB may decline by double digits; Separately, ISS recommends investors vote against Staley pay
Barclays Plc plans to cut bonuses for investment bankers in a bid to improve performance and ward off activist investor Edward Bramson, who wants the lender to rethink expansion in this business, the Financial Times reported.
Cash-Flow King for Templeton Seeing More Riches in China Stocks
Lilian Karunungan – Bloomberg
Chinese stocks comprise the biggest share in Templeton’s fund; EM stocks’ price-earnings ratio may rise to ‘mid-teens’ by 2H
In the midst of last year’s Chinese stock sell-off and the deepening trade dispute with the U.S., Franklin Templeton took a long, hard look at its China strategy before reaching an inescapable conclusion: stay the course.
Swedish Lawmakers Call on Government to Review Money Laundering
Niklas Magnusson – Bloomberg
Sweden’s Left Party and Christian Democrats called on the government to initiate a review to address money laundering at banks and make sure the financial regulator has adequate tools and capacity.
China Signals Less Stimulus, Undermining World’s Hottest Stocks
Politburo meeting refers to deleveraging, property speculation; Equity gauge tumbles 2.3% on Monday, biggest loss in a month
The world’s best performing stock market is looking vulnerable after Beijing officials signaled they’re less comfortable about adding stimulus.
Brexit shows flaws of ‘nationalistic’ politics, says Greek PM; Alexis Tsipras says Greece discovered the benefits of staying in EU through hard experience
Tony Barber and Kerin Hope – FT
Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, says the UK’s Brexit deadlock illustrates the flaws of a “nationalistic approach” and “chauvinist rhetoric” in addressing a country’s political, economic and social problems.
Is there any hope left for Theresa May’s Brexit deal?; UK prime minister is desperate to avoid likely European election defeat for Tories
Jim Pickard – FT
Theresa May, the UK prime minister, will step up cross-party negotiations on Brexit this week as MPs return to the House of Commons after the Easter break. But Downing Street is under no illusions that they will emerge from their one-week holiday in a more compromising frame of mind.
Samsung delays public rollout of Galaxy Fold phone
Smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Monday it will delay the public rollout of its Galaxy Fold without giving a new release date.
Transcript: WSJ Interview With Chicago Fed President Charles Evans
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans spoke with Wall Street Journal reporters on Monday, April 15, in New York. He discussed his outlook for the economy, inflation and interest rates. Here is a partial transcript of the interview, lightly edited for clarity and length.