First Read

My Picks for CFTC and SEC Commissioners
By John J. Lothian

Despite repeated inquiries to knowledgeable industry players, there is little buzz about prospective new CFTC and SEC Commissioners outside of the chairmen. So if there is no buzz, then let’s create some of our own in time for the FIA Boca Raton International Conference.

I am going to give you my top ten potential candidates for each commission in alphabetical order. That they are on the list does not mean they would be willing to serve, but it does mean I believe they are eminently qualified to serve.

I am also going to share with you honorable mentions. These are others I could also see in these positions. While my list is long, it is not exhaustive. I am sure you can come up with some more suggestions just like that. And I am sure I will hear about it in Boca.

Now, I am not sure that these positions will be filled under the current administration. One way to ensure the lack of new regulations is to not appoint regulators. This clearly seems like part of the strategy to shrink the size of the government, by showing how we don’t really need all these political appointees.

But let’s get away from the political discussion and talk about who should be nominated and could hit the ground running to deal with the issues facing the industry.

One last thing about politics. I am not breaking this list down into Democrats and Republicans because frankly I don’t know their party affiliation for the most part. I am sure you can find some Ds and Rs on both lists.

For the rest of the commentary, including the lists, go here


Corzine Blames ‘Loss of Confidence’ for MF Global Crash
Bob Van Voris and Chris Dolmetsch – Bloomberg
MF Global seeks $3 billion from its former auditing firm; Accounting firm blames Corzine strategy for broker’s failure
With as much as $3 billion on the line, Jon Corzine is trying again to explain away a spectacular blot on his business legacy.

***** He is right about the loss of confidence, whatever little there was. With no rogue trader to explain the $191.6 million dollar loss, he was the rogue trader.


Options Trading Pioneer Blames Retreat on Fast-Trading ‘Sharpshooters’
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
Thomas Peterffy was one of the pioneers of electronic trading in the 1980s. Now, he is pulling the plug on the business he created four decades ago, saying it has been outgunned by a new generation of ultrafast, data-driven traders.

***** “We are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned. We gotta make an all out stand, Ayo, I’m gonna need a right-hand man.” ~ Hamilton, the Musical


Why market reporters lean towards negative news; Journalists tend to avoid hype and have less to lose from being incorrectly bearish
John Authers – FT
The way that markets are reported affects the way they are perceived, and the way that investors behave. So can the way journalists report the markets be measured? Are we doing a good job?

***** Reporters don’t even like their eggs sunnyside up.


Luxembourg’s Wooing Is Working as Finance Firms Set Brexit Plans
Stephanie Bodoni – Bloomberg
Big insurers plan to set up base there, finance minister says; Gramegna says asset managers, fintech firms also choose nation
Luxembourg is becoming a serious contender among nations bidding for business to come their way after the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, as insurers, asset managers and financial-technology companies are interested in setting up shop in the Grand Duchy.

***** Wow! Luxembourg as a financial capital?


More evidence in the case against Luxembourg
Matthew C Klein – FT
Luxembourg sometimes resembles a criminal enterprise with a country attached. The Grand Duchy’s appetite for other nations’ tax revenues ranges from its unusually low petrol taxes, which siphon commuters from neighbouring Belgium, France, and Germany, to its unusually generous treatment of multinational corporations. These predations are distasteful, but they are more or less legal, at least for now. Less justifiable is Luxembourg’s role as a centre for money-laundering and outright tax fraud.

***** Or maybe not!


Oil Traders Are Having Some Fun Again as Price Bubble Bursts
Jessica Summers -Bloomberg
WTI dropped below $50 a barrel for first time this year; Bearish bias on WTI put skew rises to highest since January
Oil’s plunge is bringing some excitement back into the market.

****** See a trader jump for joy into a pool of oil.


U.S. Household Net Worth Reaches Record $92.8 Trillion; Fourth-quarter gains driven by stock market’s surge, according to Fed report
Josh Zumbrun – WSJ
U.S. household net worth climbed to a record $92.8 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016, as the end-of-year surge in stocks and a steady climb in home prices added more than $2 trillion of wealth to household balance sheets.


A Brand Name for a Hedge Fund Happy Hour: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Alexandra Stevenson – NY Times
The invitation suggests your run-of-the-mill weekday evening of drinks, canapÈs and networking for the hedge fund crowd. Except for one thing. It’s at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

***** Access to the U.S. President has never been easier.


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top three stories started with intrigue, with Bloomberg’s How to Become an International Gold Smuggler. Second went to the Wall Street Journal’s piece,
New Force on Wall Street: The ‘Family Office’. Third when to JLN’s part one interview CME Group CEO Terry Duffy on Business and Interest Rates Under the Trump Administration


MarketsWiki Stats
95,267,161 pages viewed; 22,383 pages; 204,284 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Chicago Wants to Be a Hub for China Stock Trading
Annie Massa, Dune Lawrence and Nick Baker – Bloomberg
After more than a century in the shadow of New York’s Big Board, the Chicago Stock Exchange has been short on cash and searching for relevance. Now the exchange, which handles less than half a percent of U.S. stock trades, is approaching the final hurdle in an audacious plan to become a player in international equity markets.

Wall Street’s Volatility Pioneer Searches for Latest Fear Trade; A researcher whose work foreshadowed the VIX now has his eye on an entirely different barometer of market uncertaintyóambiguity
Ben Eisen – WSJ
Investors these days are puzzling over the lack of volatility on Wall Street. Menachem Brenner hopes they’ll soon be buzzing about a new indicator: the heightened level of ambiguity.

Hedge fund redemptions a dismal end to a bad year
December was a fitting end to a difficult year for the hedge fund industry. While the level of outflows during the month was on par with prior years – an average of $18 billion removed over the last five Decembers – it marked the sixth month of outflows in the last seven, and resulted in Q4 not only being the fifth consecutive quarter of redemptions, but also the largest quarterly outflow from the industry since Q1 2009, and the height of the financial crisis

Trump’s S.E.C. Nominee Disclosure Offers Rare Glimpse of Clients and Conflicts
Ben Protess and Matthew Goldstein – NY Times
Jay Clayton, a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, is President Trump’s choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Credit Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
After spending years cultivating an elite roster of Wall Street and corporate clients, Jay Clayton will now be responsible for policing some of those same types of companies.

Share turnover by fund managers not helping business: expert
Barbara Lewis and Simon Jessop – Reuters
Fund managers who are usually seen as the market’s more patient investors are not holding shares long enough to encourage firms to adjust for a more environmentally sustainable future or deal with other long-term risks, an influential think-tank said.

Markets Defy Finance Theory on Fed Hikes
Ben Carlson – Bloomberg
Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave a strong hint that the central bank would be raising rates at the Open Market Committee meeting in mid-March. “We currently judge that it will be appropriate to gradually increase the federal funds rate if the economic data continue to come in about as we expect,” she said in a speech in Chicago.

Interactive Brokers to Stop Options Market-Making Activities
Zacks Equity Research
Interactive Brokers Group, Inc., one of the largest market makers and multi-asset retail brokers, has decided to discontinue its options market-making activities globally. The company had been conducting such activities through its Timber Hill companies.

Top investors to back Deutsche Bank despite uncertain future
John O’Donnell and Arno Schuetze – Reuters
Deutsche Bank’s top three investors, who together own almost 20 percent of its stock, are likely to back its latest capital hike, people familiar with the matter said, although smaller shareholders are skeptical about its turnaround plan.

Share turnover by fund managers not helping business: expert
Barbara Lewis and Simon Jessop – Reuters
Fund managers who are usually seen as the market’s more patient investors are not holding shares long enough to encourage firms to adjust for a more environmentally sustainable future or deal with other long-term risks, an influential think-tank said.

Interactive Brokers shuts down options market making business
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Interactive Brokers will discontinue its options market making business globally after 25 years of operation, shifting focus towards its brokerage platform.

On the stand, Corzine defends bet that led to MF Global demise
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine defended his big bet on European sovereign debt that was a major factor in the collapse of his company MF Global Holdings Ltd, and said the auditor of the futures and commodities brokerage should have flagged any accounting problems.

MEPs seek ‘extraterritorial’ oversight on London euro clearing; Regulators urged to make supervision a condition for allowing UK access after Brexit
Jim Brunsden – FT
Members of the European Parliament have urged regulators to press for “extraterritorial” oversight of the City of London after Brexit as a condition for allowing the UK financial centre to keep its dominance in the lucrative market for clearing euro-denominated derivatives.

Bonfire of Wall St analysts burns some big names; Active fund managers are seeking to reduce costs, cutting sell-side research
Tom Braithwaite – FT
“It sucks,” says Mike Mayo. One of the more visible Wall Street analysts, Mr Mayo lost his job last week when CLSA, the Chinese-owned broker which had employed him, abruptly shuttered its US research operations.

EU lawmakers want guarantees over euro clearing after Brexit
Huw Jones – Reuters
Britain could face limits on the number of euro financial transactions it handles unless it allows European Union supervision of clearing houses in London after Brexit, EU lawmakers said on Thursday.

On the Money: Best part of Bats’ KC tale? Its next chapters
James Dornbrook – Kansas City Business Journal
Reporter James Dornbrook writes that the sale of Bats Global Markets to a Chicago company reflects one of the area’s great entrepreneurial stories. The best part, though, is that the story isn’t done in Lenexa.

Was Kenneth Griffin Right? Was IEX A Mistake?
Kurt Dew – Seeking Alpha
New stock exchange IEX means to put its customers first.; Other exchanges abuse electronic markets, piling fees upon customers.; Yet Kenneth Griffin of Citadel opposed IEX. Griffin is being proven right.
I supported the SEC approval of IEX’s exchange designation with all my might and main in the spring of last year. IEX’s rival exchanges “encouraged” a cast of academic thugs to produce “end of days” forecasts of the disastrous effects of IEX’s existence. But, at the time, one opponent of IEX was a man I cannot dismiss. Kenneth Griffin.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Jacob Frenkel Appointed To CME Group’s Competitive Markets Advisory Council
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced the appointment of a new member to its Competitive Markets Advisory Council (CMAC), Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Group of Thirty (G-30), a private, nonprofit, international body comprised of financial industry leaders; as well as Chairman of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International.

Office Of Financial Research Update: Benefits And Risks Of Central Clearing In The Repo Market
The U.S. Office of Financial Research today posted a research brief, entitled, “Benefits and Risks of Central Clearing in the Repo Market.” The brief says the repurchase agreement (repo) market is a major source of short-term funding in the financial system. Many repo transactions between dealers are centrally cleared. This brief, using data from the OFR’s interagency bilateral repo data collection pilot, finds economic benefits for dealers in expanding central clearing to transactions between dealers and nondealer clients, but increased risks to the central counterparty.

Two Member Firms Resign from Silver Price Fixing
Chief Investment Officer
The two major firms that oversee the daily silver fixing for the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) are unexpectedly resigning from their appointments after the passage of a new European benchmark regulation has prompted a review of the group’s silver price-fixing administration arrangements.

Euronext announces quarterly review results of the CAC Family Indices
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly reweighting of the CAC family indices, which took place after close of the markets on Thursday 9 March 2017. The changes following the review will be effective from 20 March 2017.

HKEX Welcomes Government Appointments to its Board
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) welcomes the Government’s appointment of Stephen Yiu Kin-wah and the reappointment of Anita Fung Yuen-mei, Rafael Gil-Tienda and Margaret Leung Ko May-yee to its Board of Directors.

Euronext announces annual review of the AEX, AMX and AScX
Euronext, the leading exchange in the Eurozone, today announces the results of the annual review of the AEX, AMX and AScX indices. The changes due to the review will be effective from Monday 20 March 2017.

CE Monthly Softs Fast Facts

LSE to open a new securities market
London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LSE.LN) said Thursday that it will open a new securities market, International Securities Market, focused primary debt issuance.


Cloud9 Technologies Partners with Behavox to Provide Comprehensive Monitoring for Voice Trading in the Capital Markets
PR Newswire
Cloud9 Technologies, a cloud-based voice trading communication platform for financial firms and institutional traders, and Behavox, a compliance software company focused on the financial services sector, announced a joint partnership today. The collaboration provides an immediate solution for firms facing heightened regulatory requirements and adds significant value for those with no existing compliance solution, as well as those with inadequate legacy approaches.

Equinix opens ambitious data center in Brazil – Equinix, Inc. (NASDAQ:EQIX)
Seeking Alpha
Equinix (EQIX +3.2%) has opened a new data center in S„o Paulo, expanding its interconnection capabilities in Brazil and shoring up its position as home to the densest concentration of network carriers in the country.

Monetary Authority Of Singapore Working With Industry To Apply Distributed Ledger Technology In Securities Settlement And Cross Border Payments
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today announced the successful conclusion of the proof-of-concept project to conduct domestic inter-bank payments using distributed ledger technology (DLT). The project, in partnership with R31 and a consortium2 of financial institutions, was first announced on 16 November 2016 by MAS.

Cloudera Said to Tap Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, BofA for IPO
Alex Barinka – Bloomberg
Big-data company said to have filed paperwork with U.S. SEC; Cloudera backed by Intel Corp., Google Inc.’s venture arm
Cloudera Inc., the big-data company backed by Intel Corp., is working with Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. on its initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said.


Trump Hires Three Men for Every Woman
Polly Mosendz and Tom Randall – Bloomberg
Women have been named to 27 percent of the appointed roles filled by President Donald Trump so far, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of records newly released by the federal government. That number falls far short of overall representation in the U.S. labor force, where women account for 47 percent.

Arnold Schwarzenegger reportedly considering a Senate run – taking his quarrel with Donald Trump to the next level
Helena Horton – Telegraph
Arnold Schwarzenegger is reportedly considering running for the Senate, leading many to think he could be taking his argument with President Trump to the political stage.

Is Trump Being Investigated? ‘No Comment,’ Justice Dept. Says
Michael D. Shear and Eric Lichtblau – NY Times
President Trump’s weekend Twitter message asserting that former President Barack Obama had tapped his phones forced the White House into ever more verbal contortions on Thursday as aides struggled to defend the president’s charge.


SEC Charges Marijuana-Related Company and Executives With Touting Bogus Revenues
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a California-based company and its founder with falsely touting “record” revenue numbers to investors and claiming to be a leader in the marijuana industry while some of its earnings came from sham transactions with a secret affiliate.

***** NY Post headline would be “Feds Say Potheads Got Carried Away”

Sebi speeds ups investigation in MCX insider trading case; The regulator has sent show cause notices to Jignesh Shah, key management personnel and employees of Multi Commodity Exchange and 63 Moons, a source told Moneycontrol.
Tarun Sharma Moneycontrol
The Securities Exchanges and Board of India has expedited the investigation into insider trading charges against the former promoter and employees of 63 Moons group of companies, formerly the Financial Technologies India (FTIL) group.

After Snap IPO, U.S. regulator questions unequal voting rights
Lisa Lambert and Ross Kerber – Reuters
One of two current members of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission raised questions on Thursday for companies like Snap Inc (SNAP.N) that offer shareholders unequal voting rights, saying the agency should “focus on how some innovations may prove detrimental to investors.”

COMMENTARY: Congressional push to ease regulation ignores regulatory arbitrage
Lawrence Hsieh – Reuters
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a variety of measures to reform how administrative agencies issue regulations, mainly by requiring cost-benefit analyses before the adoption of significant regulation. Republicans and business interests say (here) the bills will boost the economy by reducing the regulatory burden on business. Democrats and consumer and labor interests counter (here) that the bills will work to erode consumer and worker protections.

ESMA Seeks a Head of the Markets Department and a Senior Risk Analysis Officer
ESMA has opened recruitment procedures for a Head of the Markets Department – AD12 and a Senior Risk Analysis Officer – AD7

Special Election to Fill FINRA Large Firm Governor Vacancy; Petitions for Candidacy Due: Monday, April 24, 2017
FINRA will conduct a special meeting of large member firms on or about Friday, May 19, 2017, to elect one individual to fill a vacant Large Firm Governor seat on the FINRA Board of Governors (FINRA Board). A formal notice of the meeting, including the precise date, time and location, will be mailed to executive representatives on or about Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

SIFMA Statement on the ASCE 2017 Infrastructure Report Card
SIFMA today issued the following statement from Michael Decker, managing director and co-head of SIFMA’s Municipal Division, on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 Infrastructure Report Card:

Remarks to the SEC Investor Advisory Committee
Acting Chairman Michael S. Piwowar – SEC
Good morning, and welcome to the first Investor Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting of 2017.

Remarks at the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee Meeting
Commissioner Kara M. Stein – SEC
I want to welcome everyone this morning. I also want to join Acting Chairman Piwowar in extending a special welcome to the newest member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, Jerome Solomon.

Ex-DBS Trader Convicted in Singapore’s First Spoofing Case
Andrea Tan and Livia Yap – Bloomberg
Tey admitted to deleting fraudulent orders after trades; Case is first joint effort by financial regulator and police
A former trader at DBS Group Holdings Ltd’s brokerage unit on Friday was convicted by a Singapore court for spoofing the securities market in the city’s first such criminal case.

Investing and Trading

The Market Is Suddenly Having Second Thoughts on Reflation
Luke Kawa and Sid Verma – Bloomberg
There’s a rebellion against reflation brewing in financial markets, with many Trump trades having a, um, crude awakening this week. Global stocks have stalled, with the MSCI Emerging Market Index, a benchmark gauge for developing-country equities, down about 3 percent from the more than one-year high reached last month. U.S. stocks are down for a fourth day. And they’re not alone. Global markets are a sea of red, fueled by carnage in commodities.

Exchange-Traded Protection
Michael Mell – S&P Indexology
New exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are being created, and while that means we can expect innovation throughout the fund and indexing industries, “a proliferation of new funds could mean heightened risks for investors, particularly regarding ETFs, because many of those funds don’t trade frequently, making them more volatile.”[1] ETFs are arguably responsible for a rapidly democratizing investment landscape.

Stocks Gain as U.S. Debt Stems Worst Run Since ’12: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter and Cecile Gutscher – Bloomberg
Gold on longest losing streak in 5 months; oil halts selloff; European bonds mixed after Draghi softens rate commitment
Energy stocks rallied with banks, propelling European equities toward a third day of gains as crude prices bounced. Treasuries were poised to halt the longest losing streak in five years even as a U.S. jobs report is expected to bolster the case for a rate hike next week.

Bitcoin May Go Boom: A Guide to This Week’s Big SEC Decision
Jeff John Roberts – Fortune
Bitcoin is at a critical juncture. Any time now, the Securities and Exchange Commission will issue a decision that could throw open the door to a flood of new capital, and change how many investors regard the digital currency.

This Crazy, Expensive Stock Market Is for Speculators, Not Investors
James Mackintosh – WSJ
Eight years ago today, investors were more pessimistic than they had been in many decades. Stocks had crashed back to where they stood almost 13 years earlier, banks were failing and comparisons to the Great Depression of the 1930s were routine. It was a great time to buy. Fast forward to 2017 and the S&P 500 has stormed up 254% from the March 2009 low, money is pouring into shares, confidence is high and stocks expensive. On the model used by legendary British investor Sir John Templeton, the aging bull market is definitely sustained by optimism, and perhaps already becoming euphoric.

Morningstar to launch liquid alts multi-manager fund; Research and ratings firm will look to invest across a diversified range of liquid alt strategies
Paul McMillan – HFM
Morningstar is to launch its own US liquid alternatives multi-manager vehicle as part of a range of funds which represent its first foray into investment management as a fund sponsor. The firm, which is best known for its research and fund ratings service, has filed with the SEC to launch


AIG CEO to resign as turnaround plan stalls
Leslie Scism – MarketWatch
American International Group Inc. said Chief Executive Peter Hancock will resign, a move that follows the giant insurance conglomerate’s recent failure to meet a series of financial targets.

Banks See Pressure on Capital Ratios as ECB Tackles Risk Models
Nicholas Comfort -Bloomberg
Central bank to start review of lenders’ internal models; Some banks take independent action ahead of ECB review
Some European banks are seeing their capital ratios come under pressure as the region’s top supervisor takes a more conservative view of their risk models.

At JPMorgan, Your Performance Review Is Now. And Now. And Now…
Hugh Son – Bloomberg
Bank offers staff technology to critique each other instantly; The feedback will help inform annual compensation decisions
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is shaking up the way it evaluates employees, introducing a mobile tool that lets workers across the sprawling organization send or receive instant critiques of their colleagues.

MOVES-Invesco PowerShares names new business development director
Invesco PowerShares, a unit of investment manager Invesco Ltd, named Nima Pouyan to head its business in Switzerland and Ashkan Daghestani as its business development director in the UK.


Warning Signs Flash on Best Emerging-Market Stock Gain Since 2012
Srinivasan Sivabalan and Ahmed A Namatalla – Bloomberg
Emerging-market equity traders may be in for a reality check. Rising profit forecasts and confidence that developing nations can withstand higher U.S. interest rates have sent stocks to the best start to a year since 2012. That optimism stands threatened this week after markets from Russia to Peru wilted under the pressure of oil prices below $50 a barrel.

How is the EU’s Carbon Trading Scheme Changing?
Environmental Technology
As part of its plan to cut carbon levels in Europe, the EU has certain regulations in place to limit industrial emissions. They launched the Emissions Trading System (ETS) – also known as the Carbon Trading Scheme – in 2005. In its first five years, the scheme cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8 percent. This low level of impact continued into the 2010s and consequently has seen the scheme criticised as inadequate. Time is up for the old scheme – the European parliament voted in favour of reform earlier this year. So what will actually change about the ETS?

Canada Oil Dependence on U.S. Loosens in Age of Donald Trump
Robert Tuttle and Lucia Kassai – Bloomberg
Tankers carry Canadian crude 10,000 miles or more to Asia; Canada sent 99% of its crude exports to the U.S. last year
The Canadian oil patch’s half-century bond to the U.S. market is loosening one tanker load at a time in Donald Trump’s “America First” era.


Britons should be able to keep EU benefits after Brexit, says top negotiator
Laura Hughes – Telegraph
British citizens should be able to choose to keep various benefits of EU membership, including the freedom of movement after Brexit, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator has said.

May Hears Hard Truths About Brexit as EU Prepares for Talks
Ian Wishart and Tim Ross – Bloomberg
Germany says EU won’t divide, Denmark warns on trade deal; Ireland and U.K. differ over paying an exit bill to EU
Prime Minister Theresa May was served a series of reminders about how tough the European Union plans to be in the looming Brexit negotiations.

Almost three quarters of French against ditching euro
Almost three quarters of French people are against leaving the euro zone currency bloc and returning to the franc, a survey showed on Friday, in bad news for far-right leader Marine Le Pen who advocates a so-called ‘Frexit’.


News Corp. Erased 20 Million Emails Amid Phone-Hacking Probe
Kit Chellel and Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
‘Incriminating’ evidence erased, victims’ lawyers tell judge; NGN employee testified there were IT problems at the time
News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit deleted 20 million emails in 2010 and 2011 as investigations into illegal phone hacking by journalists gathered pace, according to evidence in a lawsuit that could cast a shadow on the takeover of Sky Plc.

***** Tell us again about Hillary’s 30K erased emails?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This Story