Crypto’s Most-Controversial Man Explains His Cartoon Cat Fight; Bitcoin Fate Hinges on NY License

Apr 18, 2019

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

Yesterday I interviewed CME Group Chairman Emeritus Leo Melamed for our Open Outcry Traders History Project. Leo is a giant in our industry and I know a giant when I see one.~JJL

CNBC was born 30 years ago on April 17, 1989.~JJL

The first Acuiti Derivatives Report was released yesterday. Acuiti is the new project from Will Mitting, formerly of FOW. JLN Editor and staff economist Thom Thompson will report on Acuiti’s findings Monday.~JJL

Last week, NFA staff volunteered to interview students from #Chicago high schools for the Greenwood Project’s Summer Financial Institute program.~JJL

Next up for the NIBA is their NIBA/DePaul University Joint Symposium on July 11 at the DePaul downtown Chicago campus.~JJL

The financial community is gearing up for ALTSO’s Rocktoberfest events, beginning in London in June, followed by Chicago and New York City in October. Last Wednesday, at an event at Proper West, over $10,000 was raised to support ALTSO‘s mission of providing free prosthetic limbs and mobility aids to children in the developing world. If you’re interested in sponsoring one of the events you can contact ALTSO Executive Director Gabriella Mueller Evrard at

Yesterday Reuters had a story about Imperative Execution titled AI-assisted stock trading venue plans to use the technology for bigger trades. If you missed it, we put out a video with Imperative Execution Founder and CEO Roman Ginis that you can view here. ~SD



Finding the Perfect Match(ing Engine) – Jim Downs, Connamara Systems

Jim Downs spent nearly 20 years as a market maker on the CBOE floor. His background in electrical engineering helped him build software for his trading activities. That knowledge of trading systems he used as the foundation of his software engineering firm, Connamara Systems, in 1998. Connamara specializes in building exchanges – matching engines and all the necessary peripheral technology – as well as bespoke projects for FCMs, hedge funds and the like. Connamara was also an early contributor to QuickFIX, the open source FIX protocol implementation.

After years building similar engines, Downs and his team decided to build one technology, EP3, to be applied to any small or mid-sized exchange. In this video, Downs talks about the reasoning behind releasing EP3.

Watch the video »


Wednesday’s Top Three
No one looks better in a hat than Richard Sandor. Our top read story of the day was The Wall Street Journal’s Futures Guru Targets Libor Replacement, who is posting some impressive markets in Ameribor. Second was the New York Times piece Lehman Brothers, a Family Saga, as Viewed by Some Who Lived It about the new play “The Lehman Trilogy.” Third was Bloomberg’s Boy Scouts Are Just Scouts Now, and That’s Making Girl Scouts Mad


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Lead Stories

Crypto’s Most-Controversial Man Explains His Cartoon Cat Fight
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Craig Wright threatens to sue for libel and defamation; Wright wants to prove he is Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto
The world of cryptocurrencies is in a tizzy, and Craig Wright is at the center of it again. The self-styled digital entrepreneur, who claims that he created Bitcoin under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, has warned several people who have criticized him that he plans to sue them for defamation and libel.

Bitcoin Going Mainstream Might Hinge on New York Crypto License
Benjamin Bain and Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
ICE’s Bakkt is said to face CFTC scrutiny over token storage; NYSE owner could seek state license to ease agency’s concerns
Intercontinental Exchange Inc. has been facing resistance from federal regulators over a key part of its ambitious plan to bring Bitcoin to the masses.

Asset managers strive to cut out banks from forex dealing; Information leakage that piles on greater trading costs for pension funds will be targeted
Eva Szalay – FT
Big investors are growing increasingly concerned that banks are able to decipher their trading patterns, and profit from the information, prompting a hunt for new ways to get deals done.

Crypto Faithful Say Blockchain Can Remake Market Machinery; States, regulators and lawmakers lay the legal groundwork for the creation of ‘digital securities’
Paul Vigna – WSJ
The brutal bitcoin selloff continues. But cryptocurrency supporters are plugging away with plans to use its underlying blockchain technology to reshape Wall Street’s machinery.

JPMorgan Shuffles Roles at Top; Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak are viewed as possible successors to CEO James Dimon
David Benoit – WSJ
JPMorgan Chase & Co. put two women with decades of experience at the bank at the top of the list to one day succeed James Dimon as chief executive.

The Last Place for Traders to Earn Real Money; It’s not the U.S. but China, where an inefficient market means that star managers with smarts and the right connections can make a killing.
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
China’s equity markets are among the world’s most liquid. Photographer: Nicolas
China’s economy may be slowing, its society may be aging, its companies may be running into a buzzsaw of investment restrictions abroad and its mountain of debt continues to grow. Still, the mainland may be the only place left in the world for traders to make real money.

Brokers leading the next generation of algorithmic trading; The TRADE’s 2019 Algorithmic Trading Survey finds brokers are stepping up to the plate in the post-MiFID II landscape as banks struggle to keep pace.
John Brazier – The Trade
As end users become more comfortable and knowledgeable about the algorithms they are using, and in some cases placing them at the centre of their trading strategies, brokers and banks must stay ahead of the pace of change and provide consistent results to their clients. The results of The TRADE’s 2019 Algorithmic Trading Survey for long-only buy-side firms

A Champion Investment Bank Is the Wrong Solution for Europe; Even if Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank merge, they will still struggle with Europe’s flawed capital markets
Paul J. Davies – WSJ
Newsflash for financial deal makers: Europe doesn’t need an investment banking champion. If Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank agree to a merger, their executives should remember this and it should govern where they make cuts and invest for the future. Investment banking and trading should be curbed dramatically, especially in the U.S. The priority should be corporate and transaction banking.

Regulators Propose Sweeping Changes to U.K. Audit Industry; The CMA recommends that U.K. accounting firms split their audit and consulting businesses and conduct joint audits
Nina Trentmann – WSJ
A U.K. regulator is proposing sweeping changes to rules governing the nation’s audit industry, with the aim of boosting competition, avoiding conflicts of interest and restoring the reputation of a sector that has been tarnished by corporate scandals.

Regulator calls for law change to end Big Four dominance of UK auditing; Tyrie demands legislation to tackle conflicts of interest and poor working practices
Chris Giles – FT
The UK’s competition watchdog called on Thursday for rapid legislation to end the dominance of the Big Four accounting firms and address problems of poor working practices and conflicts of interest in the scandal-hit audit sector.

Blackstone to switch from a partnership to a corporation
Greg Roumeliotis – Reuters
Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest manager of alternative assets such as private equity and real estate, said on Thursday it would convert from a partnership to a corporation, in a bid to get more investors into its stock.

The Constitution Protects Software Developers and Users from Surveillance Overreach; An aggressive attempt to regulate software developers and individual users would violate our privacy and speech rights
BY Peter Van Vallkenburgh – Coincenter
Today we are publishing a comprehensive report on constitutional law and anonymous cryptocurrenciesówhat we call electronic cashóand decentralized exchange software. As Jerry argued in our report from last month, electronic cash is essential for preserving human dignity and autonomy as the world moves increasingly toward fully intermediated payments technologies like Alipay or WeChat.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

DTCC Outlines Path To Reduce Trade Failures, Increase Security And Efficiency Of Markets
Press Release
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) announced the release of a new paper addressing issues of trade failures in the institutional post-trade marketplace where greater technology adoption could help with growing problems in an era of cost pressures, heightened regulatory requirements, and increasing cyber security focus.

SGX Bull Charge kicks off 2019 fundraising with Sasseur Asset Management as Premium Partner
Sasseur Asset Management marks first year of Sasseur REIT’s listing on SGX with donation of $300,000 to Bull Charge; Single largest donation to SGX’s flagship charity initiative in recent years
This year’s fundraising efforts for Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) flagship charity initiative Bull Charge are off to a strong start with Sasseur Asset Management Pte. Ltd., the manager of Sasseur REIT, signing up as a Premium Partner.

Euronext registered as a EU benchmark Administrator
Euronext, the leading pan-European exchange, today announced that four of its market operators have been registered by ESMA as Benchmark Administrators under the new EU Benchmark Regulation (BMR). This compliance with the provisions of the Benchmark Regulation confirms the quality of Euronext’s governance and control principles and rules, today acknowledged by key European regulators: the AFM in the Netherlands, AMF in France, CMVM in Portugal and FSMA in Belgium.

Euronext opens applications for the 5th edition of its pre-IPO programme; TechShare to educate tech companies about public markets
Andrii Degeler –
Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article, which means it’s independently written by our editorial team but financially supported by another organisation, in this case, Euronext. If you would like to learn more about sponsored posts on, read this and contact us if you’re interested in partnering with us.


Big corporates back crypto ‘plumbing’ despite currency caution
Major finance and tech firms are pouring money into startups building technology to develop the crypto market, even though they’re steering clear of the volatile currencies themselves.

Liquidnet launches buy-side multiple order optimisation and execution tool; Ecosystem Pro to provide buy-side traders with simultaneous access to its Virtual High Touch suite across multiple orders.
John Brazier – The Trade
Institutional investment network Liquidnet has launched a new workflow and blotter management tool for its buy-side members.

Algo Wheels Gain Steam
Rob Daly – Traders Magazine
Usage of algorithm wheels, the automated selection of sell-side algos, is heating up, but the buy side needs to set their performance expectations, according to speakers during the FIX Trading Community’s Americas Trading Briefing 2019 in Lower Manhattan.

Why robot advisers do not always add up; Digital tools often assist clients but can drive bad decisions
Miriam Rozen – FT
During the 2019 Super Bowl football broadcast, TurboTax online software joined other brands ó Michelob-Ultra beer and Pringles potato chips ó in broadcasting adverts disparaging robots.

Free trading apps ó investment freedom or false economy?; There are plenty of considerations beyond the raw cost of a transaction
Kate Beioley – FT
A new breed of fintech upstarts has thrown down the gauntlet to the giants of the UK investment platform market. For investors who want to deal in stocks, shares and other listed investments, a crop of commission-free trading services has sprung up that let them do so ó for nothing.

Liquidnet Unveils Intelligent Multi-Order Execution Solution: Ecosystem Proô
Liquidnet, the global institutional investment network, announced today the launch of Ecosystem Pro, an intelligent workflow and blotter management tool designed to help buy-side traders analyze, monitor, and automate execution strategies across multiple symbols simultaneously in Liquidnets Execution Ecosystem.


A Chicago trading tech firm is partnering with BitMEX to unleash crypto derivatives on professional traders
The Block Crypto
Trading Technologies, a Chicago firm that offers a platform to trade derivatives, equities, and crypto, announced Tuesday a partnership with BitMEX that would allow its users to trade crypto perpetual swaps alongside other cryptocurrency assets on its platform.

Zcash Creators Invest In Startup Bringing Truly Private Cryptocurrency To The Masses
Benjamin Pirus – Forbes
Bolt, a private, off-chain scaling solution on top of the privacy-focused Zcash cryptocurrency, attracted significant investment from several key players in the crypto space. Among the crowd is the Electric Coin Company (the company behind the Zcash crypto asset), with its founder and CEO Zooko Wilcox, as well as Dekrypt Capital.

Bitcoin bulls may have to wait 22 years for the cryptocurrency to return to all-time highs
Arjun Reddy – Business Insider
Bitcoin bulls may have a long-wait for the cryptocurrency to retrace all-time highs according to UBS research analyst Kevin Dennean. Should the bitcoin bubble follow the recovery path of the Dow Jones after the 1929 stock market collapse, bulls will have to wait over 22 years. Bitcoin has rallied more than 40% year to date, taking the controversial cryptocurrency above $5,000, though the reasons for the price spike are not immediately clear.

How the hell are cryptocurrency holders supposed to file their taxes?
Mike Orcutt
America’s cryptocurrency tax policy is confusing everyoneóand it’s high time for the US Internal Revenue Service to sort it out and explain. That’s the gist of a strongly worded letter sent by a bipartisan group of 21 members of the House of Representatives to the IRS on April 11.

Crypto price crash actually good for business, say entrepreneurs
Oscar Williams-Grut – Yahoo Finance
Entrepreneurs building cryptographic projects and blockchain technology think the crash in cryptocurrency prices is actually good for business. “I’m going to repeat something that everyone says in this ecosystem but it’s true: when you’re in crypto winter, people actually are building cool technology as opposed to watching prices on the ticker and I think that’s healthy,” said Arthur Breitman, one of the developers of Tezos, a platform for building decentralised apps. Breitman’s view was echoed by others across the first day of the Paris Blockchain Week summit on Tuesday, which brought together developers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and investors.

Hollywood Does Blockchain – With Not-Disastrous Results
Gregory Barber – Wired
You may have heard that bitcoinóexcuse me, blockchainóis boring these days. I disagree; the real drama comes after the crash. One recent true story is that of a 30-year-old crypto CEO, (apparently) dead of complications from Crohn’s disease while volunteering at an Indian orphanage, who leaves behind a riddle of false identities, illicit side ventures, and $100 million in missing cryptocurrency. Now there’s a movie I’d pay to see. Instead, Hollywood has given us Crypto, a product of headier times, when the bitcoin bubble still held air.

Want to Donate Bitcoin for Notre Dame? It May Soon Be Possible
Gregory Viscusi – Bloomberg
France’s Minister for Digital Affairs Cedric O says he’s open to discussing with crypto-currency platforms ways to allow donations in digital money to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Coinbase Generated $520 Million in Revenue Last Year, Reuters Estimates
Yogita Khatri – Coindesk
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase brought in almost $520 million in global revenue in 2018, according to an estimate from Reuters.

OKCoin Exchange Invests in Crypto Custody Firm Prime Trust
Yogita Khatri – Coindesk
Cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin has invested an undisclosed amount in crypto custody provider Prime Trust.

Big corporates back crypto ‘plumbing’ despite currency caution
Tom Wilson – Reuters
Major finance and tech firms are pouring money into startups building technology to develop the crypto market, even though they’re steering clear of the volatile currencies themselves.


House Democrats Subpoenaed Nine Banks in Trump Finance Probe; Some GOP lawmakers have criticized move as being unduly political in nature
Andrew Ackerman and Lalita Clozel – WSJ
House Democrats have subpoenaed nine large banks as part of an inquiry into President Trump’s financial interests, according to people familiar with the matter, including six U.S. firms and three foreign lenders.

Rick Perry Plans His Exit as Trump’s Energy Secretary
By Jennifer Jacobs , Jennifer A Dlouhy , and Ari Natter – Bloomberg
Former Texas governor’s departure is not seen as imminent; Perry has seriously contemplated leaving post for weeks
Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration and is finalizing the terms and timing of his departure, according to two people familiar with his plans.


Update – TRAQS Connections
On Monday and Tuesday of this week FINRA observed a small number of TRACE and ORF clients experiencing difficulties with their connections to the TRAQS website. FINRA has taken corrective action and currently no additional issues have been reported at this time. TRAQS clients with questions regarding this issue should contact FINRA Market Operations at (866) 776-0800.

2019 GASB Accounting Support Fee to Fund the Governmental Accounting Standards Board
In February 2012, pursuant to an SEC order, FINRA established an accounting support fee (GASB Accounting Support Fee) to adequately fund the annual budget of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The GASB Accounting Support Fee is collected on a quarterly basis from member firms that report trades to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). Each member firm’s assessment is based on its portion of the total par value of municipal securities transactions reported by all FINRA member firms to the MSRB during the previous quarter. FINRA will assess and collect a total of $8,935,500 to adequately fund GASB’s annual budget by collecting $2,233,875 from its member firms each calendar quarter beginning in April 2019.

Opening Statement of Commissioner Brian Quintenz before the CFTC Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee; “Gold Plating to Nowhere”
Thank you Commissioner Berkovitz for convening today’s meeting of the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC). I am delighted to join you and my fellow Commissioners for the Committee’s first meeting in over three years and its inaugural meeting since it was reconstituted last year. Before we begin, I would like to welcome the Committee’s new members and thank them for so generously giving us their time and expertise.

Opening Statement of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo before the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee
A warm welcome to all of the EEMAC members, presenters and participants, both here and on the telephone. It is good to have you all with us.

Opening Statement of Commissioner Dan M. Berkovitz before the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee
Good morning, and welcome to the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC or Committee). I am pleased to be joining you here today in my first meeting as the EEMAC Sponsor. Prior to first joining the CFTC, I spent a number of years working on energy issues on Capitol Hill, so I have an affinity for the subjects within this Committee’s purview.

FCA data show 5% drop in complaints in the second half of 2018
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today published the complaints figures for regulated firms for the second half of 2018.

SEC proposal pushes managers to disclose more information
Kristen Haunss, Leela Parker Deo, Loan Pricing Corporation – Reuters
A new regulatory proposal would force managers of closed-end funds to disclose more information including factors affecting performance as well as investment strategies, a requirement previously reserved for other types of investments.

Investing and Trading

How Wall Street manipulators cause summer gas prices to fall
John Crudele – NY Post
Gasoline prices will decline as we head into summer. Just like last year. That’s according to the latest US government prediction.

CLO prices languish behind recovery in debt markets; Floating rate nature of CLOs drives the dragon their performance
Joe Rennison – FT
While most areas of the debt markets have rebounded sharply from a slump in prices at the end of 2018, one corner remains under pressure: collateralised loan obligations.

Bondholders take on forex risk as hedging costs soar; Unhedged buying of US bonds opens foreign investors to losses if dollar falls
Colby Smith and Robin Wigglesworth – FT
The soaring cost of buying protection against dollar gyrations is spurring more foreign investors to buy US bonds “unhedged”, raising the risk of painful losses and wider market ructions if the US currency weakens.


Credit Suisse makes raft of investment grade trading hires in New York and London; Bank adds a number of new hires across its global investment grade trading desks from rivals including JP Morgan, Citi and Deutsche Bank.
John Brazier – The Trade
Credit Suisse has made a series of new hires across its global investment grade trading desks in New York and London.

BlackRock rebound heralds wider fund-sector recovery; Handful of first-quarter results lead to optimism but some managers will still struggle
Owen Walker – FT
If the world’s biggest investment company is a bellwether for the industry, then BlackRock’s first-quarter results this week suggest fund managers made a much-needed comeback after a torrid 2018.

Collapsed hedge fund Columna sues Permira-backed former managers
The new managers of Columna Commodities Fund, a Luxembourg hedge fund which went into liquidation in early 2017, have said they are suing its former managers Alter Domus for $56 million in lost assets and fees.

Morgan Stanley boss fears return of market turmoil; Higher margins at US bank’s wealth management unit cushioned slide in trading revenues
Laura Noonan – FT
Morgan Stanley’s chief executive has warned that banks could soon be revisited by the market turmoil that crushed trading profits late last year despite his bank topping quarterly earnings forecasts and reporting a robust start to April.

Hedge funds realise going long has its rewards; High-flying funds are finding the fastest growth coming from an unlikely part of their business
Lindsay Fortado and Laurence Fletcher 0- FT
Buying stocks and hoping they gain in price was once considered the poor cousin of hedge fund investing. But as the industry looks to recover from its first annual drop in assets since the financial crisis, high-flying fund managers are being forced to think again.

Banks Offer Hope for Trading Turnaround After Six-Month Slump
By Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Executives point to strong start to April, looming IPOs; First quarter featured another drop in trading, banking fees
U.S. banks think a Wall Street revival is coming. Executives cited a good start to April and the expectation of several large initial public offerings in coming months to offer hope after a rough start to 2019 for their capital-markets businesses. The five largest Wall Street firms’ trading and investment banking revenue both fell in back-to-back quarters, the first time that’s happened in more than six years.

Commerzbank staff give thumbs down to Deutsche deal: survey
About 83 percent of Commerzbank employees who took part in a staff survey are against a merger with Deutsche Bank, according to preliminary results of the poll seen by Reuters on Wednesday.


Snout Rout: Chinese Pig Population Sinks and Pork Prices Climb; The world’s top pork consumer is importing more as deadly hog virus forces farmers to cull herds, delay expansion
Pork prices in China could surge more than 70% this year, an official warned, after new government data showed the pig population plunging as farmers culled millions of hogs to battle a virus deadly to their herds.

Pork Prices Are Jumping Globally Because of China’s Hog Crisis
Irene Garcia Perez and Aine Quinn – Bloomberg
Retail prices for boneless hams are the highest since 2015; China has culled more than 1 million hogs due to swine fever
Barbecue, chorizo and German bratwurst could be more expensive in the coming months as pork prices soar as the result of a virus that’s decimating China’s hog industry.

China’s Stock Investors Are Still Hooked on Economic Stimulus
Sofia Horta e Costa – Bloomberg
Stocks rise on speculation more measures will lift consumption; Borrowing costs spike as demand for cash squeezes liquidity
China’s equity investors aren’t quite ready to see Beijing scale back its efforts to support the economy.

Three Dubai IPOs in the Works as Bourse Promotes Local Listings
Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg
Exchange working to turn around drop in liquidity, share sales; Last initial offering in Dubai was Emaar Development in 2017
Three companies are preparing initial public offerings for trading on Dubai’s main stock exchange, the bourse said, potentially ending a 17-month IPO drought as it boosts efforts to entice local firms to list domestically rather than abroad.

China’s King of Debt Has a $35 Billion Fortune, Lots of Doubters
Bloomberg News
Evergrande’s Hui Ka Yan has gotten rich off a borrowing binge; Some analysts worry that the company has too much leverage
Donald Trump once called himself the “king of debt.” Hui Ka Yan, China’s richest property mogul, has a much stronger claim to the throne.

Brits Work the Longest Hours in the EU, Study Says
Press Association
Britain’s long hours culture is continuing, with workers putting in the longest hours in the EU, a new study suggests.


French Finance Chief Says the Sooner the U.K. Leaves the EU the Better
William Horobin – Bloomberg
Le Maire urges Britain to not reverse 2016 Brexit referendum; EU should reassert itself on the global stage, Le Maire says
France raised the pressure it’s exerting on the U.K. to swiftly exit the European Union with the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire urging against a second referendum to reverse Brexit.

Brexit stalls investments by sovereign wealth funds in Britain
Tom Arnold – Reuters
Britain has long been a favoured playground for sovereign wealth funds from around the world to snap up glitzy skyscrapers, banking stakes and posh department stores.

No Brexit more likely than a disorderly one, say economists
Jonathan Cable – Reuters
The chances that Brexit will be cancelled are now greater than the chances Britain will leave the European Union without a deal, according to economists in a Reuters poll, who again pushed back their expectations for when the Bank of England will raise interest rates.


Exhibition of money games opens at British Museum; Economics, family values and the roll of a dice on the agenda until end of September
James Pickford – FT
Board games and childhood toys involving money are to go on display at the British Museum on Thursday in an exhibition that shows how strong economic beliefs have found their way into family games throughout history.

Arts contribute more to UK economy than agriculture – report
The Guardian
Funding cuts threaten further growth of £10.8bn sector, warns chair of Arts Council England
Arts and culture has overtaken agriculture in terms of its contribution to the UK economy, according to research from Arts Council England, whose chair is warning that continuing cuts threaten further growth.

Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires; Russian-born Igor and Dmitry Bukhman are seeking growth to challenge Tencent and Activision.
By Ilya Khrennikov and Alexander Sazonov – Bloomberg
Almost two decades ago, in a remote Russian city best known for its butter and linen, two brothers shared a bedroom and a Pentium 100-powered computer they used to code their first game.

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