Chinese Investor Buys Stake in Delaware Blockchain Exchange; Hong Kong and China regulators sign MOU on futures markets;

Dec 29, 2017

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

OCC’s David Prosperi likes to quote his former boss, Ronald Reagan, on Twitter with quotes from the Reagan Foundation Twitter account. Today’s quote is a good one: “The bedrock of our strength is America’s moral and spiritual character. Peace with freedom is the highest aspiration of the American people. We negotiate for peace. We sacrifice for it. We will never surrender for it.” -Ronald Reagan @ronaldreagan40~JJL

Trillium has a 2017 trade surveillance enforcement recap out – it can be found in our lead section. This year’s 15 spoofing or layering enforcement actions are equal to the previous four years combined.~SD

Bloomberg’s story Betting Against Boredom: A Field Guide to 2018 Volatility Trades contains the term “Reptilian autosarcophagy.” That is a mouthful to start your morning with, so to speak.~SR

The New York Times has a really neat compilation of some of the best illustrations – The Year in Illustration – it published this year.~SD

Latest Eurex Tweet: Please note that Eurex will be closed for trading and clearing (exercise, settlement and cash) in all derivatives on Jan 1.~JJL


Why a Bet on Market Calm Risks Capital Decimation; Bets against VIX have become lucrative and increasingly popular even as market’s choppiness plumbs multi-decade lows, but speculators stand to get wiped out under certain scenarios.
Spencer Jakab – WSJ
The years that live on in stock market lore tend to be the scariest ones, but 2017 deserves a mention for the opposite reason. It has been the most docile in most investors’ living memory.

**** Given the recent results, this overall trend could be rebranded “picking up hundreds in front of a steamroller.”~SD


A bitcoin exchange’s exec was kidnapped before hackers attacked its site
Lianna Brinded – Quartz
Pavel Lerner, a senior leader for cryptocurrency company Exmo Finance, was kidnapped on Dec. 26 as he left work in Kiev, Ukraine. Russian and Ukrainian media (link in Russian) were the first to report the kidnapping, saying a group of men wearing balaclavas dragged him into a black Mercedes-Benz.

***** I was shocked to hear this until I read where it happened.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story yesterday pertained to that looming January 3 implementation date – Chicago trading firms gear up for European rules. Second went to Most Bitcoin Exchanges Start Refusing New Investors. In third place was the Financial Times’ European exchanges clash with customers over fees rise.

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Lead Stories

Chinese Investor Buys Stake in Delaware Blockchain Exchange
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
A Chinese-based cloud company, headed by a high-profile media mogul, has moved to acquire an ownership stake in a Delaware-based alternative trading system provider specializing in blockchain.

Hong Kong and China regulators sign agreement to strengthen cooperation on futures markets; MOU also paves the way for a futures connect between Hong Kong and China
Enoch Yiu – South China Morning Post
The financial regulators of Hong Kong and China have signed a memorandum of understanding that will set the stage for a cross border trade in futures contracts between the city and the mainland next year.

Monopolies May Be Worse for Workers Than for Consumers
Noah Smith – Bloomberg
Monopoly power is a hot topic of economic debate. Economists are starting to ask whether increasing industrial concentration is choking off productivity growth, reducing capital investment, throttling or deterring would-be entrepreneur, raising consumer prices and reducing the share of national income flowing to workers.

The Bond Market’s Great Elastic Band Act
Marcus Ashworth – Bloomberg
Yields on 10-year U.S. government bonds have risen 40 basis points since September, about as much as German 10-year Bunds yield in total. The more than 200 basis point difference between the two debt market bellwethers is increasingly difficult to justify.

Goldman expects $5 billion hit to quarterly earnings due to new tax law
Reuters Staff
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) said on Friday it expects fourth-quarter earnings to decrease by about $5 billion due to the new U.S. tax law signed by President Donald Trump last week.

Financial oil trading booms, especially in the United States
Henning Gloystein – Reuters
Financial oil trading is booming, hitting records this year, with volumes in U.S. contracts outpacing growth elsewhere on the back of the U.S. shale oil boom.

2017 Trade Surveillance Enforcement Year in Review
U.S. regulators brought 15 major (criminal or fines of more than $100,000) enforcement actions for spoofing or layering in 2017, the same number as in the previous four years combined. As detailed in our running table of trade surveillance related enforcement actions, the vast majority of enforcement activity centers on spoofing and layering, with wash trades a distant second and abusive messaging and marking the close next.

China to trial converting non-tradeable, HK-listed stock into free-floating shares
Xie Yu – South China Morning Post
China’s securities regulator said on Friday it would launch a pilot scheme that allows mainland-incorporated companies listed in Hong Kong to convert their non-tradeable equity into free-floating shares.

What should investors worry about in 2018? Here’s a big, fat list of risk factors; A bitcoin crash, the end of easy money, Nafta talks and more things to keep you up at night
Jessica Marmor Shaw – MarketWatch
Worried about what to worry about in 2018?
We’ve published dozens of articles on the subject in the past several months, with advice from analysts, calls from prominent traders and other analyses of the subjects keeping investors, and MarketWatch’s editorial team, awake at night. Here, we bring all those worries and watchers to you, in a single, big, fat list.

India likens cryptocurrencies to Ponzi scheme, cautions investors
Reuters Staff
India’s finance ministry on Friday cautioned investors about the risks of trading in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, saying digital currency investments are like “Ponzi schemes.”

The Year We Lost God But Gained OilCoin
Liam Denning – Bloomberg
God didn’t die in 2017, but he did throw his hands up.Andy Hall, the oil trader blessed with that nickname, caused a stir this summer by closing down his main hedge fund after long arguing for oil prices to rally and reportedly suffering big losses.

How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything: Part III: The Economic Arctic
Eric Roston – Bloomberg
As the Arctic Circle’s ice melts away, people of the High North feel their top-of-the-world economy heating up. Gold mines, roads and a full spectrum of energy projects dot the horizonówith Russia leading the way and other Arctic countries scrambling to catch up. There’s much to do, and not enough capital to go around. That means countries with deep pockets, deep ambition and no Arctic coastlineónamely Chinaócan get a seat at the table, too.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Cboe Global Markets Announces Changes in Boards of Its U.S. Securities Exchanges
Cboe Global Markets, Inc.
Cboe Global Markets, Inc. (Cboe: CBOE | Nasdaq: CBOE), one of the world’s largest exchange holding companies, today announced changes in the membership of the boards of its six U.S. securities exchanges: Cboe BZX Exchange, Cboe BYX Exchange, Cboe EDGA Exchange, Cboe EDGX Exchange, Cboe Options Exchange and Cboe C2 Options Exchange. As a result of the changes, Cboe’s six U.S. securities exchanges will have the same six directors as of January 1, 2018.

Japan Exchange Group, Inc. announced Trading Overview in Year 2017 & December 2017.
Derivatives Market – In 2017, total derivatives trading volume was 322,406,355 contracts, exceeding 300 million contracts for the fifth consecutive year; Total derivatives trading value was JPY 2,567 trillion, and trading value for equity index derivatives was JPY 1,334 trillion, the second-highest on record.
Cash Equity Market – In 2017, annual trading value for the TSE 1st Section (domestic common stocks) was JPY 683.0470 trillion, the third-highest on record; For domestic ETFs, annual trading value was JPY 38.8089 trillion, the third-highest on record.


Ethereum founder to crypto fans: Grow up; Vitalik Buterin took to Twitter to rant about the attitudes of some crypto traders
Sally French – MarketWatch
The co-founder of Ethereum has a message and a warning for the cryptocurrency community: cut out the “lambo memes and immature puns.” On Wednesday, Vitalik Buterin ranted on Twitter about how discussions among cryptocurrency traders and fans appear to be taken over by immature jokes and memes, and are increasingly focused only on wealth.

Are Fintechs Really The Enemy At The Gates For Traditional Banks?
Paul Bowen, Avanade – International Banker
It’s a hard life being a banker. No, seriously. As well as having to face up to a wave of public criticism in the wake of the 2007-08 global financial crisis, workers in the banking sector have to contend with a host of nimble, new fintech start-ups whose sole aim is to steal customers and market share away from traditional retail banks.

Internet Tightens: Popular Chinese WeChat App to Become Official ID; The pilot digital identification system underscores Beijing’s reliance on big tech to monitor people
Alyssa Abkowitz – WSJ
China’s biggest tech giants are working with authorities to create digital identifications as alternatives to the state-issued ID cards citizens must present to obtain many public and private services, such as boarding trains and checking into hotels.

Bitcoin Rebounds Above $14,000 as Investors Find a Bottom
Eric Lam – Bloomberg
South Koreans still pay premium for bitcoin after warnings; Chicago trader sees last week’s lows being tested again
Bitcoin appeared to find a bottom Friday, rebounding above $14,000 after moves by South Korea to curb speculation and protect retail customers sent the cryptocurrency sliding yesterday.


The U.S. Is Becoming the World’s New Tax Haven; Shuttering foreign tax shelters only to steal their business is a bad move.
The Editors – Bloomberg
Seven years ago, the U.S. led an effort to address a problem facing governments everywhere. Each year, people manage to avoid paying an estimated $2.5 trillion in income tax — a giant sum that could be used to combat poverty, update infrastructure or lower tax rates for law-abiding citizens.

Criticism of FBI Taking Toll On Rank And File, Agents Association Head Says
Max Kutner – Newsweek
President Donald Trump and his allies’ continued attacks on the FBI’s top officials also hurt agents across the country, who may find it harder to do their jobs as a result, the president of the FBI Agents Association said.

Confidence Gap Between Republicans and Democrats Is Widest Since Bush Was President
Katia Dmitrieva – Bloomberg
Republican household sentiment exceeds that of Democrats by the widest margin since George W. Bush was president. Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index data on Thursday showed a gauge of confidence among Republicans was 25.3 points higher than the index for Democrats. That’s the largest margin since the first week of January 2008.

NY governor rips tax bill for going after blue states
Julia Manchester – The Hill
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) slammed President Trump’s tax-cut bill on Thursday, arguing the legislation penalizes his and other blue states because they don’t have Republican senators.

New York governor says new U.S. tax code may be unconstitutional
Stephanie Kelly and Makini Brice – Yahoo Finance
The new U.S. tax code targets high-tax states and may be unconstitutional, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday, saying that the bill may violate New York residents’ rights to due process and equal protection.

Trump targets Amazon in call for postal service to hike prices
Reuters Staff
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday targeted online retailer Amazon (AMZN.O) in a call for the country’s postal service to raise prices of shipments in order to recoup costs.


As MiFID Nears, This Risk Officer Is Looking Forward to February
Lukanyo Mnyanda – Bloomberg
After dealing with the biggest regulatory upheaval for his industry in more than a decade, the next few weeks can’t pass quickly enough for Mark Burke.

Who Wins, Who Loses From MiFID II Shakeup?
Suzy Waite, Sarah Jones and Trista Kelley – Bloomberg
The impact of new market rules sweeping across Europe has been likened to motorists suddenly being told they must drive on the other side of the road. While the aim is to force unprecedented transparency and curb conflicts of interest, the regulation is upending security markets. From cuts to research and commissions to new reporting requirements and limits on so-called dark trading, the effects of MiFID II reach deep into an industry scrambling to comply by Jan. 3. While the shakeout could take years, here are some early guesses on who may benefit from the overhaul and who may not.

Trump Rolls Back Offshore Safety Rules Born From BP Oil Spill
Catherine Traywick – Bloomberg
Obama-era regulations issued in 2016 to prevent blow-outs; Rule change to save operators $288 million over 10 years
The Trump administration is rolling back offshore drilling rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Labor Department Grants Banks Multiyear Waivers to Manage Retirement Plans; Without waivers, criminal convictions for market manipulation would have disqualified banks’ asset-management units under U.S. law
Andrew Ackerman – WSJ
Five global banks, including JPMorgan Chase JPM 0.53% & Co. and Citigroup Inc., can continue managing corporate retirement plans in the wake of recent guilty pleas to criminal charges, under new waivers announced by the Trump administration on Thursday.

FINRA Sanctions Citigroup Global Markets Inc. $11.5 Million for Displaying Inaccurate Research Ratings
he Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today it has fined Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (CGMI) $5.5 million and required the firm to pay at least $6 million in compensation to retail customers for displaying inaccurate research ratings for numerous equity securities during a nearly five-year period, and for related supervisory violations.

Citigroup to pay $11.5 million fines, compensation over errant stock ratings
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Citigroup Inc will pay at least $11.5 million in fines and restitution to settle charges it displayed the wrong research ratings on more than 1,800 stocks, causing many customers to own shares they never would have bought, a U.S. regulator said on Thursday.

Trump Administration Rescinds Fracking Rules for Government Land; Judge had blocked Obama-era rules, which industry groups said duplicated state regulations
Associated Press via WSJ
The Trump administration is rescinding proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing and other oil- and gas-drilling practices on government lands, officials said Thursday.

White House officials reportedly said that time Angela Merkel had to explain the ‘fundamentals’ of EU trade to Trump 11 times was ‘humiliating’
Bryan Logan – Business Insider
A meeting between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led to a conversation between the two leaders that White House officials reportedly said was “humiliating” to Trump; During an exchange between Trump and Merkel in which they discussed the possibility of a trade agreement, Merkel had to explain to Trump why Germany could not negotiate a bilateral deal for itself with the US; Germany is a member of the European Union. Only the EU can negotiate on behalf of its 27 member nations.

Corporate Actions by Public CompaniesóWhat You Should Know
Erika Karell – FINRA
FINRA’s Office of Investor Education receives a steady stream of inquiries from investors about public company corporate actions. What are they? How are they processed? And how do they impact your investments? If you are an investor curious about the corporate actions of publicly traded companies, here’s what you need to know.

Notice of Annual Meeting of NFA Members and Board and Nominating Committee Election
NFA will hold its Annual Meeting of Members on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Central Time, in the offices of NFA, 300 S. Riverside Plaza, 18th Floor, Chicago, IL.

Investing and Trading

Bond Giants Lay Out Their Top Trades for 2018
Brian Chappatta and John Gittelsohn – Bloomberg
Biggest fund managers describe their best bond market bets; Some see steepening yield curve, others like emerging markets
It turns out 2017 was a good year to be a bond investor — if you picked the right spots. Next year presents plenty of potential pitfalls, from divining the path of inflation to determining whether tight credit spreads can persist.

Five Oil Signals to Watch in 2018
Alex Longley – Bloomberg
JPMorgan favors Brent Dec.-Dec. spread as stockpiles shrink; OPEC, non-OPEC supply curbs compete with record shale output
Oil traders are going to have their work cut out for them in 2018. OPEC and its allies are heading into the second year of supply cuts to wipe out the global oil glut, while rising U.S. output is threatening those efforts. Geopolitical tensions also add a wild card to the market mix.

America’s Deep Freeze Is Aiding Coal and Sending Power Surging
Tim Loh and Chris Martin – Bloomberg
Power plants are burning more coal and oil amid arctic blast; Electricity prices at U.S. hub are highest in almost 3 years
The arctic blast that’s turning the northern half of the U.S. into a giant icebox this week has been good news for oil and coal.

Small Caps a Hard Sell for Wall Street in 2018, Despite Tax Cuts
Catherine Larkin – Bloomberg
Equity strategists disagree on outlook for smid-caps next year; Key will be whether tax reform stimulates domestic economy
Expectations for U.S. small- and mid-cap stocks are mixed in 2018 as equity strategists weigh the benefit of lower tax rates against expensive valuations and the likelihood of increased volatility and tighter credit conditions. The Russell 2000 Index is up 29 percent since President Trump was elected, but this year’s gains lagged large-cap peers even with a late surge on the back of tax reform. Jefferies and Bank of America expect smaller companies to underperform again in 2018, while Morgan Stanley says the sector still has more room to run.

The U.S. Population Is Growing by One Person Every 18 Seconds
Alexandre Tanzi – Bloomberg
Census Bureau projects 2017 population growth of 2,314,238; Net international migration to add one person every 29 seconds
The U.S. Census Bureau projects world population on Jan. 1, 2018, at 7,444,443,881. This represents an increase of 78,521,283, or 1.07 percent, from New Year’s Day 2017.

Everything Went Right for Markets in 2017óCan That Continue?; Strong corporate earnings growth, record-low volatility and synchronized global economic expansion helped stocks broadly beat analysts’ expectations
Corrie Driebusch – WSJ
The stock market spent much of 2017 exceeding investors’ expectations. Many money managers and analysts entered the year widely anticipating what they called a “sideways market,” where the overall levels of major indexes would remain little changed at year-end. Instead, the S&P 500 is on track to post its best yearly gain since 2013.

Wall Street Traders Miss Out on Record Markets; Stocks and other assets traded in such a calm manner in 2017 that it reduced demand for skilled traders and made it harder for them to eke out profits
Liz Hoffman – WSJ
Markets boomed in 2017, but Wall Street didn’t share in the bounty. At big banks, a quiet December closes what turned out to be an unremarkable year for trading, a lifeblood of large firms. Lower revenues likely mean slim bonuses for many traders and, in some cases, further cuts to the business, executives and consultants say.

Pity the Baba Bears
Tim Culpan – Bloomberg
It really sucked to be short Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2017. No wonder the bears are starting to give up.

Nikkei logs a 19% gain for the year, its biggest since 2017; Tech stocks continue to rebound
Lucy Craymer – MarketWatch
Asian stocks finished widely higher again Friday, capping a generally strong year. Technology stocks continued their rebound after selling in holiday-thinned trading earlier in the week over concern about iPhone sales. In Taiwan, home to a number of Apple suppliers, the Taiex Y9999, +0.71% gained 0.7% to put 2017’s gain at 15%. Index heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, +1.55% rose 1.6%.

Rivals Erode Bitcoin’s Store of Value
Stephen Gandel – Bloomberg
Bitcoin is hot, except when you compare it with ethereum or litecoin or bitcoin cash or some other digital currencies. Then it’s just lukewarm. And that could be a problem.

Crypto-Linked Stocks Sink With Bitcoin on South Korean Warning
Kailey Leinz and Julie Verhage – Bloomberg
Riot Blockchain, Digital Power, others drop on closure jitters; Korean government said it wanted to clamp down on speculation
The rout in bitcoin is also taking down stocks with ties to cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin is so volatile its risk-adjusted return is worse than stocks
Jim Edwards – Business Insider
The fantastic recent gains in the price of bitcoin since the election of US President Donald Trump are much less compelling once you adjust for risk, according to Vishnu Varathan, the head of Economics & Strategy at Mizuho bank.


How Trump’s Tax Overhaul Could Hit Big Foreign Banks
Yalman Onaran – Bloomberg
Provision seeks to stop U.S. firms from moving profits abroad; Barclays, Credit Suisse say law could mean bigger tax bite
A provision in the new tax law, intended to prevent American companies from shifting profits abroad to benefit from a lower overseas rate, might also hit the largest foreign banks with significant U.S. operations.


Saudi Squeeze on Alwaleed Has More at Stake Than Money; The motive behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge might become clearer soon.
Alaa Shahine and Glen Carey – Bloomberg
Almost two months into it, Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption is yielding at least some of the $100 billion the kingdom is targeting. Dozens of former officials and businessmen have exchanged part of their wealth for freedom.

Special Report: China’s leaders fret over debts lurking in shadow banking system
Engen Tham, Matthew Miller, David Lague – Reuters
In March 2013, retired chemical company employee Anne Xing, her older sister and their husbands visited a China Everbright Bank branch on the outskirts of Shanghai. A private wealth manager at the bank had a special deal to offer them.

China FX regulator says no fx derivatives short position at end-Nov, unchanged from Oct
Reuters Staff
China’s foreign exchange regulator said on Friday that it had no holdings of short foreign currency positions in forwards and futures versus the yuan at the end of November, which was in line with its October position.

Russia Bets on Shale Oil to Defend Its Spot as Top Producer of Crude; With many Soviet-era oil fields in decline, Russia will need new sources by the mid-2020s if it wants to maintain production
James Marson – WSJ
This western Siberian oil field is called “Red Lenin,” but its reserves have a distinctly American ring: shale.

After Trump criticism, China denies selling oil illicitly to North Korea
Philip Wen, David Brunnstrom – Reuters
China on Friday denied reports it has been illicitly selling oil products to North Korea after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not happy that China had allowed oil to reach the isolated nation.

South Korea students dive into virtual coins, even as regulators crack down
Dahee Kim – Reuters
Hackers have stolen millions, lawmakers are pushing for new taxes and regulations, and a leading financial official has called them a “Ponzi scheme”

Two Saudi Princes Are Released After Graft Probe
Vivian Nereim – Bloomberg
Sons of late King Abdullah are said to have left Ritz Carlton; Dozens of princes, officials have been detained in crackdown
Two sons of Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah have been released after being detained in the kingdom’s declared crackdown on corruption, according to a person familiar with the matter and a Saudi royal who celebrated their freedom on social media.

Facebook and Twitter threatened with sanctions in UK ‘fake news’ inquiry; Chair of parliamentary committee gives firms a deadline to hand over information about Russian misinformation campaigns
Alex Hern – The Guardian
Facebook and Twitter could face sanctions if they continue to stonewall parliament over Russian interference in the EU referendum, the chair of a Commons inquiry has said.


May to Meet Macron in January as Britain Prepares Trade Talks
Svenja O’Donnell and Helene Fouquet – Bloomberg
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will meet French President Emmanuel Macron next month as Britain gears up for trade talks with the European Union, according to officials from both nations.

Must-Reads of 2017: Progressives vs. Populists; Three books explain why Trump and Brexit should have come as no surprise.
Clive Crook – Bloomberg
The great political question of the moment is what to make of the rise of populism — both in the U.S. and in Europe. Few things matter more than containing and turning back this surge’s excesses, but doing so will be far more difficult if its causes go unexamined. Three books published this year made invaluable contributions to this essential endeavor.


Baby Boomers Looking for Reinvention Try CollegeóAgain; Fellowship programs offer a ‘gap year’ for successful types to press pause before their second act
Douglas Belkin – WSJ
Pat Collins has worked as a therapist for 30 years and is looking to reinvent herself. So she has gone back to the place where she invented herself the first timeócollege.

Wall Street Picks the Best New Restaurants in New York; The Grill is the favorite new dining room for the Bloomberg audience.
Kate Krader and Arie Shapira – Bloomberg
It should come as no surprise that Bloomberg Terminal users (aka the who’s who of the financial industry) eat out a lot. After all, there’s a lot of business to be done at restaurants, and it’s been a big year for New York dining, especially with the relaunch of the former Four Seasons space. So we took a poll among readers of Red Dot NYC, a weekly restaurant-openings newsletter available on the Terminal, to determine their favorite restaurants across the five boroughs. No surprise: It’s still all about Manhattan.

Why Self-Compassion Beats Self-Confidence
Kristin Wong- NY Times
“Be more confident,” a friend once told me as we made the rounds at a swanky networking event where I felt terribly out of place. Faking confidence is easy: I pulled my shoulders back and spoke louder and with more assertiveness.

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