Clayton and Giancarlo on Crypto; Aramco IPO Implications; May’s Brexit talk

Jan 25, 2018

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

The Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), J.Christopher Giancarlo, will be a keynote speaker at Boca 2018!

You looking for something to trade? CME is holding a course: Introduction to TOPIX on the Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX) and Yen-denominated TOPIX Futures, which are set to launch on February 5 at CME Group. Gain a basic understanding of how to incorporate TOPIX futures into a trading strategy and how the contracts compare to Nikkei 225 Index futures.~JK

JLN will be issuing a Special Report this morning on some embargoed news. Stay tuned.~JJL

Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton is joining the decentralized cryptocurrency exchange Omega One as an adviser.~JJL

Jim Falvey has a new blog post from his work with Bovill titled “Crypto-World Regulatory Update.”~JJL


CME Group Announces All-Time Daily Open Interest Record for Eurodollar Futures of 14.5 Million Contracts
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it reached an all-time daily open interest record for Eurodollar futures of 14.5 million contracts on Jan. 23, 2018. The previous single-day open interest record was 14.4 million contracts, set on Dec. 13, 2017.

****** The CME Group has now set a record for the number of records. This new record is a record high.~JJL


Deutsche Bˆrse launches readings for children in the Frankfurt Commercial Hall
Deutsche Bˆrse
From now on, once a month, Deutsche Bˆrse offers readings for children aged 3 to 7 at the visitor gallery in its commercial hall in downtown Frankfurt, which is known from television. The children and their companions can follow the events on the trading floor “live”.

***** Once upon a time there was a great German exchange operator who…..~JJL


U.K. Charity at Center of Groping Allegations to Shut Down
Joe Mayes and Kitty Donaldson – Bloomberg
Presidents Club to shut down in wake of furor over claims; WPP ends connection to dinner, hospital to return donations
Today, they, and government attendees, were rushing to explain, defend themselves against or brush off a report in the Financial Times that multiple hostesses at the event were harassed, groped and insulted. One company, WPP Plc, said it would end its association with the event and a world-renowned hospital that had benefited from the fundraiser said it would return all donations. By late afternoon, the Presidents Club said it would disband.

**TimesUp on the Presidents Club. All eyes now on Davos.~JK


Wednesday’s Top Three
Wednesday’s top stories were led by the intriguing story about big changes to the industry – the Scotch industry. The Wall Street Journal’s piece If You’re a Purist About Scotch Whisky, You Might Find This Hard to Swallow took the top spot yesterday, which says something about our readership. Second went to the FIA’s volume release FIA Releases Summary Statistics For 2017 Futures And Options Volume And Open Interest. Third went to Marketwatch’s article Goldman issues a warning on bitcoinóand an even bigger warning on Ethereum. That story was the third most read piece on Tuesday. Bottoms up everybody.



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Lead Stories

Regulators Are Looking at Cryptocurrency; At the SEC and CFTC, we take our responsibility seriously.
Jay Clayton and J. Christopher Giancarlo – WSJ
Distributed ledger technology, or DLT, is the advancement that underpins an array of new financial products, including cryptocurrencies and digital payment services. Many have identified DLT as the next great driver of economic efficiency. Some have even compared it to productivity-driving innovations such as the steam engine and personal computer.

How a $1.5 Trillion Aramco IPO Could Transform Global Stocks
Matthew Winkler, Filipe Pacheco and Shin Pei – Bloomberg
IPO seen as a game changer in the region, investor says; Company market value would be almost twice that of Apple
Saudi Aramco CEO Says ‘We Are Ready’ for IPO in Second Half of 2018
Money managers in the Middle East are confident the sale of government-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. this year will shake up the global stock market with a record initial public offering that gives the world’s biggest company a valuation of about $1.5 trillion.

May Leaves Door Open to Paying for Access to the City’s Future
Kitty Donaldson and John Micklethwait – Bloomberg
U.K. premier under pressure ahead of second round of talks; In exclusive interview, May says financial services are key
May said in a television interview with Bloomberg’s Editor in Chief John Micklethwait in Davos Thursday that she was “very clear that we want to develop a deep and special partnership, a comprehensive trade agreement.” “Obviously we recognize the importance of the financial services and we want to ensure that we can continue to see those financial services, ensuring the City of London retains its role as a global financial center,” she said.

Chicago Futures Trader Pleads Guilty to Fraud That Sunk His Firm
David Glovin – Bloomberg
Chicago futures trader Thomas Lindstrom pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a $13 million fraud that led to the collapse of his firm, the U.S. said.

This Is What the Average Bitcoin Owner Looks Like
Chances are, you’ve heard of Bitcoin. But the odds are much smaller that you actually have a stake in it. Nearly 60 percent of Americans have heard or read about the world’s largest cryptocurrency, according to a joint SurveyMonkey and Global Blockchain Business Council poll of more than 5,700 adults conducted in January. But only 5 percent of people actually own the digital coin.

FCA lambasted for ‘worst piece of financial regulation ever’; Fund industry veteran calls for ‘heads to roll’ over rules on performance projections
Chris Flood – FT
European regulators, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, have been accused of an “absolute dereliction of the duty of care” to consumers by a senior fund industry veteran for allowing publication of wildly misleading performance projections on investment products across Europe.

Interactive Brokers fined £1 million for market abuse failures; Online broker failed to submit any suspicious transaction reports on potential market abuse for a year.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Interactive Brokers £1,049,412 for failing to oversee its market abuse systems and controls in the UK.

Chicago HFT embarks on cryptocurrency hiring drive
Samuel Agini – Financial News
A leading US proprietary trader is hiring cryptocurrency experts at home and abroad as the world’s big financial firms differ on whether or not to embrace the booming, but volatile, market for digital money. Chicago-based DRW Holdings has been an early mover in this area. Its Cumberland Mining unit has been active since 2014, trading around 20-30 cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ethereum, zcash and monero.

A weak dollar ‘good’ for the U.S.? It’s complicated
Richard Leong – Reuters
A dollar rout intensified on Wednesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a lower greenback was “good for us” – though a weaker U.S. currency may not prove a long-term economic boost. It was a highly unusual remark for a Treasury secretary, as it is seen as a break from previous White House administrations’ public stance for a stronger U.S. currency, even as they wrangled with trade partners to open up their local markets to U.S. companies.

Big Bang Turns to Drip Feed as MiFID Arrives in Bits and Pieces
Silla Brush – Bloomberg
Battle over tick-sizes in equity pricing set to recommence; Dark pool trading back in focus after enforcement delayed
The European Union’s sweeping MiFID II law came into force on Jan. 3. Well, at least some of it.

What the KPMG Conspiracy Case Revealed About Its Audits; Former KPMG executives were charged with conspiracy earlier this week
Michael Rapoport – WSJ
In February 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission summoned top executives from KPMG LLP to a meeting in Washington, D.C. The reason: The regulator was “frustrated” with poor inspection results for the firm, and this resulted in concerns about the quality of its audits of public companies.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

GMEX Launches Fusion, Integrating Centralised And Blockchain Technologies – Delivering Modern, Hybrid Centralised And Distributed Blockchain Enabled Exchange Trading And Post Trade Solutions For Exchanges, Clearing-Houses And Depositories
In response to changing global market drivers and technical innovation, GMEX Technologies Ltd (GMEX), a provider of multi-asset exchange and post-trade business and technology solutions is pleased to announce GMEX Fusion, a unique integrated centralised and distributed solution set.

Presentation of Myanmar’s Capital Market Activation Support Plan to the Ministry of Planning and Finance of Myanmar
Today, the Financial Services Agency, Japan Exchange Group, Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. presented the Ministry of Planning and Finance of Myanmar with a support plan “LIST (Listing + Investment Strategy and Timeline) for Myanmar (Myanmar LIST)” for the activation of the capital market of Myanmar.

Commodity index derivatives: Introduction of four further futures on Bloomberg Commodity indexes (XL contracts)
The Management Board of Eurex Deutschland and the Executive Board of Eurex Z¸rich AG took the following decision, effective 12 February 2018: Introduction of four further futures on Bloomberg Commodity indexes (XL contracts)

Equity Index Highlights – January 2018 edition
2017 was another year of new record highs in global equity markets supported by the recovery of the global economy and the ongoing expansive monetary policy by international central banks. Side by side with rising index levels, volatility levels in equity markets reached new record lows. The uncertainties about the outcome of the French elections in April and a possible escalation around the North Korean conflict in August have been the only two major events last year with substantial effect on volatility levels. Despite the record low levels, trading volumes in the European volatility benchmark VSTOXX showed considerable growth. Traded VSTOXXÆ Futures & Options contracts volume increased by more than 50% y-o-y.

ITG POSIT hits block trading record; POSIT Alert block crossing network set new record as MiFID II continues to see greater large-in-scale activity.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Agency brokerage and technology vendor ITG registered a new record in value traded on its block crossing network in Europe this month as traders continue to seek block liquidity under the new MiFID II regime.

Broadridge launches repo trading platform; Request Order Quote service provides traders with the ability to quote and execute repo trades on aggregate basis.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Broadridge Financial Solutions has unveiled a new multi-market aggregation and execution platform for repo markets.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Is In A Process Of Finding A Strategic Investor – 71.7% Of TASE Shares Are Available For Sale
TASE is in a process of finding a strategic investor. After approaching its shareholders, 71.7% of TASE shareholders offered TASE to sell their shares.


Startup seeks to super-charge returns, without derivatives or debt; Fintech firm Salt Financial has a fresh approach to measuring volatility, which could transform the choices available to asset managers
Samuel Agini – Financial News
How do you seize the attention of investors looking to maximise their returns? For two trading executives turned fintech moguls, the answer is in their slogan: “No derivatives. No borrowing.” Tony Barchetto, the former head of corporate development at then-upstart exchange Bats, and Alfred Eskandar, former chief executive of FactSet’s Portware trading technology provider, have an alternative to leverage ó the standard, if risky, tool many investors have used to super-charge their returns.

Ripple Wants XRP to Be Bitcoin for Banks. If Only the Banks Wanted It; The blockchain company’s plan to create a global payments system for banks got swept up in the crypto craze.
Matthew Leising and Edward Robinson – Bloomberg
Every day, companies and consumers around the world send more than $76 billion in payments through a vast network of banks. Without the flow of money, container ships stay in port, workers don’t get paid, and supply chains break down. For the past seven years, Ripple, a tech company in San Francisco, has vowed to use the blockchain wizardry behind Bitcoin to rewire this global circulatory system with what it calls an “internet of value.”

Integral Expands Cryptocurrency Market Data Services to Include; Most accurate reference price for all major cryptocurrencies
Integral (, the financial technology partner trusted by leading banks, brokers, and investment managers to design, deliver and grow their FX businesses, announced today that it has expanded its market data offering for
cryptocurrencies to include 14 major cryptocurrencies connecting to all major exchange sources across the U.S., Europe and Asia including Japan and Hong Kong.

FIX Releases Cybersecurity Guidelines; The guidelines recommend authentication methods to use TLS protocols with FIX.
Emilia David – Waters Technology
The FIX Trading Community released new cybersecurity guidelines for FIX-over-TLS (FIXS) standards after concerns were raised over the vulnerability of the Financial Information Exchange (FIX) protocol.

Bank of America CEO: We have tons of blockchain patents
Daniel Roberts – Yahoo Finance
Wall Street banks and financial institutions have been beating the drum of “blockchain without bitcoin” for a couple years nowóexcitement in blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin, but hesitation, or outright dismissal, of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Then, at the end of 2017, when the price of bitcoin, ether, litecoin, ripple and other digital coins surged to all-time highs, big names like Nasdaq, CME, and Cboe rushed into bitcoin futures, and the

Tech firms let Russia probe software widely used by U.S. government
Dustin Volz, Joel Schectman, Jack Stubbs – Reuters
Major global technology providers SAP (SAPG.DE), Symantec (SYMC.O) and McAfee have allowed Russian authorities to hunt for vulnerabilities in software deeply embedded across the U.S. government, a Reuters investigation has found.


May Says She’ll Look ‘Very Seriously’ at Action on Bitcoin
John Micklethwait , Tim Ross , and Jill Ward – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrencies are something we need to supervise “very seriously,” May says.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to consider clamping down on bitcoin as she raised concerns that cryptocurrencies are being used by criminals.

History Suggests Mnuchin’s Dollar Rhetoric Could Backfire
Lananh Nguyen – Bloomberg
Already-weak outlook exacerbated by administration stance; State Street sees dollar weakening to $1.30 per euro this year
When it comes to the dollar, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may soon come to realize that talk isn’t always cheap.

Trump administration backs bills to toughen foreign investment rules
Reuters Staff
The Trump administration supports bipartisan bills in Congress to toughen U.S. foreign investment rules amid growing concern about Chinese efforts to buy U.S. high-tech companies, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

Trump Out to Show Davos Elite He Knows Best
Kathleen Hunter and Shannon Pettypiece – Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Switzerland this morning with a familiar message for the global elites gathered at the World Economic Forum: You were wrong.


Crypto market put on notice ó yet again
Alexandra Scaggs – FT
SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton is once again warning the crypto market about regulation. Lest his interest be underestimated, he wrote an op-ed with the headline “Regulators Are Looking at Cryptocurrency” published in the WSJ late Wednesday.

FCA fines Interactive Brokers (UK) Limited £1,049,412 for poor market abuse controls and failure to report suspicious client transactions
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today imposed a financial penalty on Interactive Brokers (UK) (IBUK) in the amount of £1,049,412 for failings in its post-trade systems and controls for identifying and reporting suspicious transactions in the period February 2014 to February 2015 (‘the Relevant Period’).

CFTC Charges Randall Crater, Mark Gillespie, and My Big Coin Pay, Inc. with Fraud and Misappropriation in Ongoing Virtual Currency Scam
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced the filing of a federal court enforcement action under seal on January 16, 2018, charging commodity fraud and misappropriation related to the ongoing solicitation of customers for a virtual currency known as My Big Coin (MBC). The CFTC Complaint charges Defendants Randall Crater of East Hampton, New York, Mark Gillespie of Hartland, Michigan, and My Big Coin Pay, Inc., a corporation based in Las Vegas, Nevada, with misappropriating over $6 million from customers by, among other things, transferring customer funds into personal bank accounts, and using those funds for personal expenses and the purchase of luxury goods.

ASIC reports on how large financial institutions manage conflicts of interest in financial advice
An Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) review of financial advice provided by the five biggest vertically integrated financial institutions has identified areas where improvements are needed to the management of conflicts of interest.

FCA fines UK arm of Interactive Brokers for poor controls
Hannah Murphy and Philip Stafford in London – FT
The UK’s financial watchdog has fined the UK arm of Interactive Brokers, a US retail broker, more than £1m for patchy market abuse controls and failing to report suspicious transactions.

Bitcoin Futures Get Cold Shoulder From Japanese Regulator
Gareth Allan and Yuki Hagiwara – Bloomberg
Law change would be needed to allow derivatives in Japan; FSA may consider such a move if needed for hedging: official
Japan’s financial regulator is in no hurry to follow the U.S. and enable the listing of futures contracts linked to cryptocurrencies, according to a senior Financial Services Agency official with direct knowledge of the matter.

Broker Fined for Impersonating Rival With Online Sex Ads
Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
Cyberbullying has officially hit Wall Street. When Edward Jones broker Paul Betenbaugh in California wanted to exact revenge on a rival, he went too far. He impersonated the competitor and posted ads on the Internet that solicited men for sexual encounters, according to a Tuesday order from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The ads included the other broker’s business cell phone number, resulting in a number of unwanted calls and text messages, Finra said.

SEC investigating GE charge; company posts $10 billion loss
Alwyn Scott – Reuters
U.S. securities regulators are probing a massive insurance charge recently announced by General Electric Co (GE.N), the latest blow to the nation’s largest industrial conglomerate as it struggles to reverse steep declines in some of its units and is looking to sell off $20 billion of assets.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies must be regulated before becoming large enough to disrupt global economy, suggests Philip Hammond
Jack Maidment, political correspondent – Telegraph
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies must be regulated before they become large enough to disrupt the global economy, Philip Hammond has said.

Uniform global curbs on cryptocurrency trading may be hard: BOJ official
Leika Kihara, Yoshifumi Takemoto – Reuters
Policymakers around the world may debate ways to deal with the volatility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but imposing global, across-the-board regulations on their trading won’t be easy, a senior Bank of Japan official said on Thursday.

Investing and Trading

Bitcoin earns ‘C+’ from ratings agency, while the competition scores higher
Shawn Langlois – MarketWatch
No digital currency deserves an A, and bitcoin barely earns a passing grade, according to Weiss Ratings, which released Wednesday what it claims to be “the nation’s first-ever grades on cryptocurrencies by a financial rating agency.”

50 Cent has been sitting on a bitcoin fortune, but forgot about it; Rapper earned about 700 bitcoin in 2014 album sales
Mike Murphy – MarketWatch
Rapper, actor and entrepreneur 50 Cent is a bitcoin millionaire, and he apparently didn’t even realize it until this week.

There’s a 33 percent chance bitcoin goes to zero, VC Jason Calacanis says.
Sara Salinas – CNBC
Top venture capitalist Jason Calacanis has not been a bitcoin booster and said there’s a 33 percent chance the cryptocurrency goes to zero.

Gold ETFs see steep inflows as investors look to hedge
Ryan Vlastelica – MarketWatch
The largest exchange-traded fund to track gold has seen heavy adoption thus far in 2018, with massive inflows amid a rally in the precious metal’s price, as well as interest from investors looking to hedge their portfolios.


Why Goldman and Pritzker Sank Millions Into a Startup Before Suing It for Fraud; Outcome Health raised nearly $500 million from investors in a funding round last May
Rolfe Winkler – WSJ
Last winter, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS 2.15% presented Silicon Valley investors with what seemed like a hot opportunity in Chicago.

Leading stock exchange analysts depart from LSE broker RBC; Departure of the analysts comes at a crucial time for the iconic British exchange group
Samuel Agini – Financial New
One of the UK’s leading stock exchange analysts is among three departures from the research division at Royal Bank of Canada, which is corporate broker to the London Stock Exchange.

BlueMountain loses senior investment adviser, senior trader
Svea Herbst-Bayliss – Reuters
More executives have departed BlueMountain Capital Management as the hedge fund posted disappointing results last year, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Scaramucci hits pause button on Las Vegas hedge fund party
Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Lawrence Delevingne – Reuters
Anthony Scaramucci’s annual schmooze fest for Wall Street on the Las Vegas strip is on hold.


Swiss loans may struggle with Libor transition, warn lawyers; Lack of standardisation means fallback clauses may be unable to handle move to Saron
Frances Ivens –
Fallback provisions in legacy Swiss floating-rate loan contracts may not be robust enough to handle a move away from the Libor benchmark after 2021, lawyers have warned, which could see local courts decide whether the replacement rate is applicable on a case-by-case basis.

When It Comes to Teaching Coding, Parents Won’t Get With the Program; It’s the latest hot thing for Chinese investors, startups and the government, but coding isn’t catching on among parents
Li Yuan – WSJ
Chen Kunjie started learning piano when he was 4 years old, practicing Taekwondo at 7 and taking lessons for the mathematics Olympiad at 10. These after-school tutoring classes are typical for Chinese children. Last year, at 11, Kunjie took up something unusual among his peers: coding.

Switzerland embraces cryptocurrency culture; Alpine country emerges as global hub for initial coin offerings
Ralph Atkins in Zurich – Ft
In other countries, politicians express concern about the cryptocurrency craze, citing worries about security, regulation, volatility and a speculative bubble. Not in Switzerland.

Russia Offers Legal Cover for Cryptos as Central Bank Dissents
Stepan Kravchenko – Bloomberg
Finance Ministry publishes draft bill on cryptocurrencies; Digital assets won’t be deemed legal means of payment
Russia’s Finance Ministry published draft legislation to regulate operations using cryptocurrencies, putting it at odds with the central bank’s resistance to allowing their exchange into rubles and other currencies.

Chinese Firm Found Guilty of Stealing Wind Technology From U.S. Supplier; American Superconductor Corp. claimed Sinovel Wind Group stole source code for turbine software
Erin Ailworth – WSJ
A federal jury found a Chinese wind-turbine maker guilty of stealing technology from a former U.S. supplier, in what was viewed as a test case for looming intellectual property battles between the two countries.

Lagarde Says Cryptocurrency Mining Is Consuming Too Much Power
Mark Deen – Bloomberg
Mining cryptocurrencies is far too energy intensive and is consuming as much electricity as a G-20 economy, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

How China’s Crackdown on Conglomerates Is Hitting Their Assets
Eric Lam – Bloomberg
China’s Communist leadership has tightened the regulatory screws on some of the nation’s largest, private-sector conglomerates in the name of financial stability.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says IEA overhyped US shale boom; ‘We should not be scared’, Khalid Al Falih tells Davos panel
Anjli Raval and David Sheppard in London – FT
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister took a rare sideways swipe at the International Energy Agency on Wednesday, accusing the body of overhyping the impact of US shale growth on the oil market.

Europe Is Back. And Rejecting Trumpism.
Peter S. Goodman – NY Times
French President Emmanuel Macron laid claim to the mantle of leader of the free world on Wednesday, with an ambitious speech before a packed assembly at the World Economic Forum.


Can Britain Hit the Reset Button on Brexit?; Even Theresa May’s government isn’t sure leaving the EU is a good idea.
Robert Hutton – Bloomberg
Nineteen months after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May still has to assure people that Brexit is really happening. On Jan. 16, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz asked May directly if Brexit was still on. Then German newspaper Bild asked the same question. “Wir verlassen die EU,” May insisted. “We’re leaving the EU.”

Brexit could mean JP Morgan moves more than 4,000 jobs from Britain
Reuters Staff
JPMorgan (JPM.N) could move more than 4,000 jobs out of Britain if Brexit talks result in a divergence of regulations and trade agreements between Britain and the European Union, the U.S. banking giant’s Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said on Thursday.

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