Deutsche Boerse Said to Favor UniCredit’s Weimer for CEO; Junk Bond Sell-off; Virtu’s Viola warns of clearing house risk

Nov 15, 2017

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

ICE announced a number of management team promotions today, including: Charles A. Vice has been named vice chairman, with continued responsibility for ICE’s global technology, information security and operations. He was previously president and chief operating officer, and has been with ICE and its predecessor company for more than 23 years.
Press release here.~SR

Click here for yesterday’s JLN Options newsletter.~SD

See the latest thought leadership piece from Steve Grob of Fidessa, titled “Loophole lunacy” HERE.~JJL

Asia Pacific Financial News from John Lothian News – November 14, 2017~JJL

It appears there has indeed been a military coup in Zimbabwe as news outlets are reporting that President Robert Mugabe is under house arrest. The Guardian has a live update page for the latest on this “fluid” situation (UK PM Theresa May’s word). ~SD

South Korean financial markets to open later on Thursday because of a nationwide college entrance exam. No kidding.~JJL

Craig Donohue, OCC Executive Chairman & CEO, is at the @WSJ CEO Council this week.~JJL


Free Markets Improved More Lives Than Anything Ever; Nothing in human history has done so much to reduce absolute poverty.
Noah Smith – Bloomberg
Harvard economist Dani Rodrik has a long and thoughtful essay about the shortcomings of neoliberalism — the economic program of free markets and free trade. He writes:

***** We are believers in free markets and improved lives.~JJL


R.J. O’Brien Limited Unveils New Website to Convey Breadth of UK, EMEA Offerings
R.J. O’Brien Limited
R.J. O’Brien Limited (RJO Limited), the London-based affiliate of Chicago-based R.J. O’Brien & Associates (RJO), today unveiled a new, significantly enhanced version of its website, The site showcases the full range of products and services available from the UK affiliate of the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage and clearing firm in the United States.

***** RJO bills itself as the Premier Independent Broker for Global Derivatives.~JJL


Why Interactive Brokers Founder Fears Bitcoin Futures
Steven M. Sears – Barron’s
Bitcoin futures, which Cboe Global Markets and CME Group hope to list later this year, may accomplish what the global financial crisis could not: decimating a slew of trading firms and threatening the stability of Wall Street’s clearing outfits.

***** This very same idea is among my worst case scenarios. It kept me up the other night as I thought about it.~JJL


Tuesday’s Top Three
The runaway top story from yesterday laid out more struggles in Chicago’s prop community – Spot Trading cuts headcount amid industry troubles. Our second place story is a repeat entry and also pertains to trading firm cuts – Wall Street trading giant Virtu cut staff by half and laid into a $1.4 billion acquisition ó now it can’t wait for market chaos. Third was a story about the headline-grabbing, digital native generation that’s “killing” businesses left and right – Millionaire Bankers Feel Sorry for Struggling Millennials.

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Lead Stories

Deutsche Boerse Said to Favor UniCredit’s Weimer for CEO
Eyk Henning and Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
CEO Kengeter to resign on Dec. 31 after insider-trading probe; Weimer, head of UniCredit’s German unit, may be named in days
Theodor Weimer, the head of UniCredit SpA’s German unit, is the lead candidate to succeed Carsten Kengeter as Deutsche Boerse AG’s chief executive officer, according to people familiar with the plans.

Contagion worries rise after junk bond sell-off; High-yield debt is heading towards its worst month since January 2016
Eric Platt in New York – FT
A sell-off in the $1.3tn high-yield bond sector is a worrying omen for the wider market, frequently signalling greater losses and broader contagion to come.

Virtu’s Viola warns of ‘systemic risk’ from clearing houses
Joe Rennison – FT
The head of one of the largest US proprietary trading firms has added his voice to the chorus of concern over the systemic risks posed by clearing houses.

LSE scraps meeting with investor TCI in spat over leadership
Philip Stafford
The London Stock Exchange Group has cancelled a planned meeting this week with The Children’s Investment Fund, the activist shareholder demanding the removal of chairman Donald Brydon and the extension of Xavier Rolet’s contract as chief executive.

LSE Group lobbies for U.S support in Brexit clearing battle
Michelle Price, Huw Jones – Reuters
The London Stock Exchange Group is lobbying to win American political support in its battle with Europe to preserve London as a global financial center after Brexit.

SEC Asked to Delay Stock Trade Database for Another Year
Benjamin Bain and Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Request to delay the CAT comes amid cybersecurity concerns; System was first conceived before the 2010 Flash Crash
U.S. stock and options exchanges want a long-delayed project to beef up regulators’ ability to monitor trading to be postponed for another year.

****SD: Financial Times here.

SEC chair hits back at CAT delay request
Nicole Bullock – FT
The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission late on Tuesday hit back at a request by US equity exchanges to delay the timeline for the creation of a market surveillance system.

****SD: Bloomberg here.

Goldman and JPMorgan lead in lacklustre equity derivatives market; Bulge brackets dominate amid poor trading conditions
Elizabeth Pfeuti – Financial News
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have taken a lead in the US and European equity derivatives markets, but stubbornly low volatility and changes to investor habits have created a subdued environment, a new report says. Greenwich Associates, a consultancy, asked 251 US and European asset managers, hedge funds, insurers, pensions and banks to name their top 5-10 brokers for products including equity options, swaps and futures.

DRW is setting up shop in Asia
Frank Chaparro – Business Insider
DRW, a Chicago-based firm, is looking to set up a bitcoin trading desk in Singapore to dominate the cryptocurrency market in Asia.
The firm has been in the bitcoin game since 2014 via its division Cumberland Mining, which already operates over-the-counter bitcoin trading desks in Chicago and London.

Bitcoin’s High Transaction Fees Show Its Limits; The original cryptocurrency may never be a widespread payment instrument.
Leonid Bershidsky – Bloomberg
The Bitcoin rate spike, still alive despite bitter divisions in the community that supports the cryptocurrency, has laid bare the biggest problem with Bitcoin: Compared with fiat currencies, it’s painfully inconvenient and expensive to use as a means of payment.

Bank of America executive: Volcker Rule fuels private trading firms’ rise
Dan Freed – Reuters
U.S. post-financial crisis rules that place strong trading restrictions on banks has fueled the rise of private trading firms that have grabbed market share, a top Bank of America Corp executive said on Tuesday.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Nasdaq’s under attack over a product that could expose big traders ó but one rival says it has been doing this for years
Frank Chaparro – Business Insider
“Enough is enough.” IEX, the startup stock exchange, isn’t a fan of Nasdaq’s latest foray into data. The exchange operator’s newest product ó called Intellicator ó has raised opposition from a number of market participants, including IEX and SIFMA, a large organization representing big trading firms. The objections are all basically around the idea that the product might give away information about large firms’ trading strategies in one of Nasdaq’s options markets.

Korean Crypto Exchange Suffers Outage During Bitcoin Cash Surge
Lily Katz – Bloomberg
Bithumb says server failed amid an abrupt increase in usage; Other large exchanges have faced similar issues as prices soar
Bithumb, one of the world’s most heavily trafficked bitcoin exchanges, is getting heat from customers who were unable to make transactions after its server went down over the weekend.

The Listing Committee Censures Han Tang International Holdings Limited, and Censures Or Criticises A Number Of Its Current And Former Directors For Breaching The Exchange Listing Rules And/Or The Director’s Undertaking

The Movember Foundation to Ring The Nasdaq Stock Market Closing Bell
The Movember Foundation, the only global charity solely focused on men’s health, will visit the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square. Through inspiring more than 5 million men to grow, and women to support, new moustaches in Movember and through participating in Move, the Movember Foundation has raised more than $769 million to date for men’s health issues in four key areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

SGX Welcomes Xin Hua Securities Limited as Derivatives Trading Member
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today welcomed Hong Kong-based Xin Hua Securities to its derivatives market as a Trading Member.


Companies Turn to War Games to Spot Scarce Cybersecurity Talent; Realistic scenarios help wannabe cybersecurity experts strut their stuff
Jeremy Kahn – Bloomberg
A major shipping company is under attack. With help from a corrupt executive, an international hacking syndicate called Scorpius, has penetrated the computer networks of Fast Freight Ltd. The hackers have taken control of servers and compromised the systems that control Fast Freight’s vessels and its portside machinery. The company’s cybersecurity consultants have 48 hours to uncover the breach and repulse the attackers before they cripple Fast Freight’s business and cause serious economic damage.

Russians Hit U.K. Tech Firms With Cyber Attacks, Top Spy Says
Kitty Donaldson – Bloomberg
U.K. has dealt with 600 attacks in past year, 35 severe; New research suggests Russia interfered in Brexit referendum
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre publicly confirmed for the first time that Russia has carried out internet assaults on major U.K. energy, technology and media companies, as tensions escalate over the Kremlin’s interference in Western democracies.

Vela Launches Systematic Internaliser Data Hub, Expands MiFID II Solution Suite; Sun Trading among one of the first Systematic Internalisers in Vela’s Data Hub providing agile access to MiFID II venues through a single API
Vela, the premier market access technology provider, today announced the launch of its Systematic Internaliser (SI) Data Hub, part of its comprehensive MiFID II solution suite. Vela also confirms the addition of Sun Trading as part of its roll-out of new Systematic Internaliser venues.

‘You Do Not Understand Bitcoin’: Readers Bite Back; For all the interest in cryptocurrencies, the bitcoin market remains small, with a relatively small number of participants expressing strong views
Steven Russolillo, James Mackintosh and Chao Deng – WSJ
In 2017, one of the most divisive debates in financial markets centers around the rapid rise of bitcoin.

Technology chief at JP Morgan departs for role with analytics firm; Gene Fernandez departs JP Morgan after a decade in various senior technology roles, for newly created role at FactSet.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
One of JP Morgan’s top technologists has left to join data and analytics FinTech firm FactSet as chief technology and product officer.

Britain targets tech talent by doubling visa numbers
Reuters Staff
Britain is to double the number of visas available to exceptional workers in areas like digital technology and science to 2,000 to help retain an edge after Brexit.

BlackRock’s Fink says bitcoin thrives on its anonymity
Jennifer Ablan, Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Bitcoin, whose value has fluctuated significantly this month, remains a “speculative” investment that thrives because of the cryptocurrency’s anonymous nature, BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) Chief Executive Larry Fink said on Monday.


White House Considers Former Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian for Fed Vice Chairman Post; Broad range of candidates are under consideration for vice chair post, a source says
Nick Timiraos and Kate Davidson – WSJ
The White House is considering economist Mohamed El-Erian as one of several candidates to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman, according to a person familiar with the matter.


CFTC Orders INTL FCStone Financial Inc. and FCStone Merchant Services LLC to Pay Penalty for Unlawful Exchange for Related Position Transactions
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an order filing and settling charges against FCStone Merchant Services LLC (FCStone Merchant) for entering into multiple noncompetitive trades and against INTL FCStone Financial Inc. (FCStone Financial), a registered Futures Commission Merchant based in Chicago, Illinois, for reporting non-bona fide prices to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) between December 2013 and March 2014. The CFTC Order also finds that FCStone Financial failed to have an adequate supervisory system in place with regard to the execution, handling, and reporting of exchange for related position transactions (EFRPs).

CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight Extends Time-Limited No-Action Relief for Swap Execution Facilities from Certain Block Trade Requirements
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Division of Market Oversight (Division) today extended time-limited no-action relief to swap execution facilities (SEFs) from certain requirements in the definition of “block trade” in CFTC regulation 43.2.

Hedge Fund Urges Small-Caps to Pay for Research After MiFID
Nishant Kumar, Beth Mellor and Suzy Waite – Bloomberg
Toscafund calls on small-caps to mitigate ‘devastating’ impact; Withering analyst coverage drives fear of ‘value traps’
Add another group to those disgruntled by MiFID II: small-cap fund managers.

Japanese Bank Switches U.S. Regulators in Middle of Investigation; Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ converts to federal license from New York state one, upending probe by state regulator
Ryan Tracy – WSJ
Japan’s biggest bank sidestepped state supervision of a New York branch in the middle of a state investigation into the bank’s safeguards meant to ensure clients weren’t evading U.S. sanctions, according to a state regulator’s letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

HSBC pays 300 million euros to settle investigation of Swiss bank
HSBC Holdings has agreed to pay 300 million euros ($353 million) to settle a long-running investigation into tax evasion by French citizens via its private bank in Switzerland, the lender said on Tuesday.

How to Stay Out of the Red on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Beyond
When it comes to taking control of holiday spending this year, a recent survey by Deloitte offers insight on where to start. If you want to stay in the black on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond, start by looking in the mirror.

Proposed Rule Change Relating to the Trade Reporting Facility Limited Liability Company Agreements
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to make technical changes to FINRA’s Trade Reporting Facility limited liability company agreements, as they appear in the FINRA Manual, to reflect the second amendment and restatement of such agreements.

Remarks of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo to the Singapore FinTech Festival

Remarks of CFTC Commissioner Rostin Behnam at the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy
“The Dodd-Frank Inflection Point: Building on Derivatives Reform”

CFTC Finds Statoil ASA Attempted to Manipulate the Argus Far East Index, a Propane Benchmark, to Benefit Statoil’s NYMEX-cleared Swaps Position; Norwegian Energy Company Ordered to Pay a $4 Million Civil Monetary Penalty
CFTC The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an Order filing and settling charges against Statoil ASA (Statoil), an international energy company headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. The CFTC Order finds that from as early as October 2011 through November 2011, Statoil attempted to manipulate the Argus Far East Index (FEI) in order to benefit Statoil’s physical and financial positions, including Statoil’s NYMEX-cleared over-the-counter swaps which settled to the Argus FEI. The Order requires Statoil to pay a $4 million civil monetary penalty and orders Statoil to cease and desist from violating Section 9(a)(2) of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).

Consumer warning about the risks of investing in binary options
From 3 January 2018, firms offering binary options will be regulated by the FCA and will no longer be licensed by the Gambling Commission. The FCA is issuing this warning to inform consumers about the risk of investing in these high-risk, speculative products.

Effective compliance with the Market Abuse Regulation – a state of mind
Speech delivered by Julia Hoggett, Director of Market Oversight at the FCA, at the ‘Recent Developments in the Market Abuse Regime’ conference.

Wells Fargo repays $5.4 million for repossessing service members’ cars
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) has repaid another $5.4 million to about 450 military service members whose vehicles it repossessed illegally, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

Consumer warning about the risks of investing in cryptocurrency CFDs
Contracts for differences (CFDs), including financial spread bets, with cryptocurrencies as the underlying investment are increasingly being marketed to consumers. These products are extremely high-risk, speculative products. This warning is to inform consumers about the risks of buying them.

One of Asia’s largest banks says bitcoin is ‘a ponzi scheme’; David Gledhill, group chief information officer at DBS, one of Asia’s largest banks, said he believes bitcoin is a ponzi scheme
Nyshka Chandran – CNBC
One of Asia’s largest banks is of the opinion that bitcoin is currently a financial scam.

Investing and Trading

‘Irrational Exuberance’ May Rule the Roost in Stock Markets
Sid Verma – Bloomberg
Investors are riding a wave of “irrational exuberance” as they extend bullish positions even as they fret over valuations, according to the latest fund-manager survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Taming the masters of the tech universe; Examining the macroeconomic impact of the world’s most valuable companies
Martin Wolf – FT
Eight of the world’s most highly valued companies are technology businesses. The combined market capitalisation of these companies is $4.7tn. That is 30 per cent of the combined market capitalisation of the other 92 companies in the world’s 100 most valuable firms. Of these eight companies, five (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook) are from the US, two are Chinese (Alibaba and Tencent) and one is South Korean (Samsung). The most highly valued European tech company, SAP, is the world’s 60th most valued company.

Junk-Bond Carnage Left Half the Market Pretty Much Unscathed
Cecile Gutscher – Bloomberg
Credits in B category including Altice bear biggest brunt; Higher-rated peers in BB group prove more robust during slump
The four-day rout in junk-rated bonds has left half the market unscathed, even as it frayed the nerves of investors concerned about the froth in corporate debt.

The market has never done better; But is it overvalued, and how quickly could it turn?
John Authers – FT
Can it possibly get any better than this? And if not, how much worse can it get and how quickly? These questions seem fair. Successive US market records and the lowest volatility in half a century make it reasonable to say that on a risk-adjusted basis the market has never done better.

High-Yield Canary Isn’t Singing About Markets Doom; The selloff, mainly confined to telecoms and lower-rated bonds, should be put into perspective, investors say
Jon Sindreu, Christopher Whittall and Sam Goldfarb – WSJ
An autumn pullback in the junk-bond market is centered in the telecommunications sector, raising concerns that weakness in the group could spread if withdrawals from mutual and exchange-traded funds pick up momentum.

Muni-Bond Market Braces for Borrowing Rush Ahead of Tax Changes
Elizabeth Campbell – Bloomberg
November, December could be ‘huge’ for issuance, analyst says; Republican overhaul would pull tax break from many bond types
The municipal market is preparing for a potential onslaught of bond deals before the end of the year as U.S. lawmakers consider pulling the tax break from tens of billions of dollars of debt issued each year.


After Revamping Wealth Management Arm, Credit Suisse Now Focusing On Equity Trading
Trefis via Forbes
Credit Suisse recently reported better-than-expected results for the third quarter of the year, and considering the fact that its cornerstone wealth management division drove profits for the period thanks to a strong inflow of client assets, it appears that the multi-year reorganization plan the Swiss banking giant started in 2015 is having the desired effect. The bank’s reorganization plan hinged on growing its global wealth management operations (with focus on Asia in particular) while shrinking its investment banking operations in a bid to improve profitability while also meeting capital ratio requirements.

Credit Suisse takes second trader from Instinet in seven days; John Comerford is joining the Swiss bank in February as global head of quantitative trading strategy
Samuel Agini and Portia Crowe – Financial News
Credit Suisse has made its third big hire in US equities in two weeks ó and its second from agency broker Instinet in seven days.

A Mortgage Scandal Cost Ireland’s Biggest Lender More Than $200 Million
Peter Flanagan – Bloomberg
New chief McDonagh forced to set aside more cash for crisis; Layer of executives face questions over role in episode
When Francesca McDonagh arrived to take over at Bank of Ireland Group Plc last month, she flew straight into the biggest storm to hit the organization since the financial crisis.


China’s financial opening still leaves uneven playing field
Fraser Howie – Nikkei Asian Review
Did U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to China really play a role in Beijing’s decision to relax its limits on foreign ownership in the financial sector?
For over two decades, foreign financial institutions have been lobbying and begging for majority, and ultimately full, control over their onshore operations in China. Instead, there has been a string of failed partnerships with hopes far outstripping reality, yet still providing some decent financial returns.

Pork May Help Chinese Consumer Inflation Rebound; Citic estimates pork makes up almost 3% of the CPI basket
Bloomberg News
Mounting inflationary pressure in China may get a boost from rising prices for one of the country’s main dietary staples: pork.

Zimbabwe Doesn’t Have Its Own Currency and Bitcoin Is Surging
Robert Brand, Brian Latham and Godfrey Marawanyika – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrency rises as high as $13,499 on local exchange; Bitcoin sales climbed to more than $1 million in past month
Bitcoin climbed as much as 10 percent on Zimbabwe’s Golix exchange on Wednesday after the country’s armed forces seized power.

China’s Commodity Beast Enters Hibernation
David Fickling – Bloomberg
It’s when the tide goes out that you see who’s been swimming naked. That’s the issue commodity investors should be focusing on right now, as the shadow of China’s Communist Party congress fades and winter anti-pollution shutdowns start to bite.

Japan records best run of growth since 2001; Economy expands at annualised pace of 1.4% in third quarter
Robin Harding in Tokyo – FT
The Japanese economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 as the country recorded its longest run of unbroken expansion since 2001.

As Selloff Extends in Japan Stocks, One Prominent Buyer Is Back
Keiko Ujikane – Bloomberg
The Bank of Japan is buying local stocks again after sitting out most of October and the first few days of November, which saw the benchmark Topix index close at the highest since 1991.

Oil market’s new political reality after Saudi Arabia arrests; Developments in kingdom introduce a new uncertainty premium for crude prices
Mohamed El-Erian – FT
For much of the recent past, oil prices have been driven primarily by supply side issues, including the ongoing tug of war between cost-saving technological advances in shale production versus concerns about supply disruptions in the more fragile oil producers (such as Iraq and Libya).

Let’s make London the green finance capital of the world
Sir Vince Cable – City AM
The prospect of Brexit threatens to cause serious damage to the UK’s financial services industry.

Deadly Air Pollution Becomes a Common Enemy for Rivals India and Pakistan
Chris Kay and Iain Marlow – Bloomberg
South Asian cities are reeling from an air pollution crisis; Pakistan’s Lahore, India’s Delhi among polluted urban areas
From his office in the smog shrouded city of Lahore, environment official Saif Anjum pores over reams of pollution data and lists the actions being taken by Pakistan’s largest province to combat the toxic air. He said they have arrested hundreds of crop-burning farmers and closed construction sites and industrial furnaces.


Davis promises City of London special post-Brexit travel regime; Government seeks to reassure bankers and other professionals with free movement
George Parker, Martin Arnold and Alex Barker – FT
Bankers and other professionals have been promised a special post-Brexit travel regime to allow them to move freely across Europe, as the British government sought to reassure the City of London its future was safe.

U.K. Stocks Pessimism at Crisis Low as Fund Managers Capitulate
Aleksandra Gjorgievska – Bloomberg
The argument that a weaker pound shields U.K. stocks against Brexit may be getting stretched.

The EU Is Looking to 2018 for a Brexit Breakthrough
Ian Wishart – Bloomberg
European officials preparing for Dec. meet to end in failure; Summits could be held in January or February for second chance
European officials have identified summits early next year where they could seek a breakthrough in Brexit talks, as the European side is bracing for a crunch meeting in December to end in failure, three people familiar with the negotiations said.

U.K.’s Davis in Charm Offensive on Bankers Mulling Brexit Moves
Tim Ross – Bloomberg
David Davis is on a determined mission to show global bankers some love, promising he’ll work to protect the City of London from any trouble caused by Brexit.

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Crypto Nomads: Surfing the World for Risk and Profit

Crypto Nomads: Surfing the World for Risk and Profit

First Read $51,906/$300,000 (17.3%) ++++ Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff The STA is holding the 88th Annual Market Structure Conference in person on October 6-8 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC with the title "The Great Return." That is a very good...

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