Ex-Goldman Trader Who Ran LSE Bets on Bees for Family Winery; The powerful forces reshaping America’s capital markets

Nov 1, 2019

First Read

FIA Expo Day Two: Alternatives to LIBOR
Suzanne Cosgrove – John Lothian News

Transitions, disruptions and outright change are not new to the futures and options industry, but at this year’s FIA Expo, those themes seemed to loom especially large.

One of the biggest changes the industry is facing is the transition from LIBOR to other benchmarks. A panel on Thursday called “The Countdown to Transitioning to IBORS,” covered that topic. An exchange deadline is more than a year away, but the panelists are keeping a close eye on the countdown.

The panel’s chair, Karen Buzard, senior counsel, US Know How at Allen & Overy, kicked off the discussion with the statement that “LIBOR is going away,” and everyone should get over it. But she added she’s already had many sleepless nights thinking about the change.

To read the rest of this commentary, go here.


Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

The Justice for Jitesh petition on Change.org has over 1380 signatures.~JJL


The best swag of EXPO award goes to AFX for their homage to the fedora-wearing Dr. Richard Sandor, their CEO. Lots of people in AFX fedoras were seen on the EXPO exhibit floor and over 300 hats were given away by AFX.

ICE Futures US filed three certifications with the CFTC for programs to enhance its Bakkt bitcoin futures performance. The trading requirements are not public. One program is a plain vanilla market-maker program. Another is a liquidity provider program open to ten proprietary traders “who have a demonstrated ability to trade . . . at sufficient volume levels.” The third, quite unusual one is called a “delivery incentive program” and is “open to participants which have the ability to deliver bitcoin.” ICE did not publish how much it is paying. ~Thom Thompson

The Chicago and New York A Leg To Stand On events raised nearly $700,000 this year for kids. Thanks to all who contributed.~JK

FIA is pushing further into the Environmental, Sustainability and Governance space and member firms have been leading that effort. Meanwhile, Eurex and Nasdaq launched ESG futures last year. CME Group will launch its E-mini S&P 500 ESG Index futures on November 18 and ICE will launch MSCI USA Climate Change NTR Index on December 9.~JK


CBOE Europe head Mark Hemsley to retire; Chief operating officer David Howson to take over as president of share trading venue
Philip Stafford – FT
Mark Hemsley, one of the best-known trading executives in London, is to retire as president of CBOE Europe, the region’s largest share trading venue.

*****A great career from a good man.~JJL


Futures Are Pulling Cryptocurrencies Out of the Dark; We’ll remember 2019 as the year when the path to a peaceful coexistence with established markets became clear.
Aaron Brown – Bloomberg
People have a love-hate relationship with the futures markets. Futures are either financial drivers of rapid economic growth, turbocharging small amounts of capital to outflank entrenched barriers to innovation, or — to a populist — they are demonic pits where speculators manipulate prices and corrupt honest real economic activity. Since people also love or hate cryptocurrency, the rise of Bitcoin futures trading in 2019 is controversy-squared.


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top read item of the day was FIA EXPO Day One Overview from JLN’s Thom Thompson. Second was The Trade’s RJ O’Brien implements ION electronic trading platform for cleared derivatives. Third was a top three item from Wednesday, Bloomberg’s Peter Luger Alternatives? 6 Best Restaurants for Steak in NYC. By the way, the New York Times and the New York Post have also taken turns building non-Lugar lists in the last couple of days: 13 New York City Steakhouses That Are Not Peter Luger and The best NYC steaks not from Peter Luger Steakhouse


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CryptoMarketsWiki Coin of the Week: NEO
The price of NEO, sometimes called “the Ethereum of China,” spiked a whopping 47 percent this week. Following a speech by Chinese president Xi Jinping on Sunday in which Jinping called for greater research into its potential applications, the crypto markets saw a huge influx of activity, especially for altcoins associated with Chinese companies. NEO benefitted the most from the increased activity, increasing more than any other digital asset in the top 20 coins – even more than bitcoin (BTC).


Lead Stories

Ex-Goldman Trader Who Ran LSE Bets on Bees for Family Winery
Benjamin Stupples – Bloomberg
Xavier Rolet discusses biodynamic wines, apiaries in interview; Sees integration hurdles in LSE’s $27 billion Refinitiv deal
Xavier Rolet knows how to manage the pinstriped population of London’s financial district.
After starting out as a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader, he spent almost a decade as chief executive officer of London Stock Exchange Group, the market infrastructure company with 4,500 employees. The firm’s value rose fivefold during his time there, and Rolet collected more than $50 million in total compensation.

The powerful forces reshaping America’s capital markets; WeWork’s abandoned IPO reflects the fall in new listings and the growing role of private equity
Richard Henderson and Miles Kruppa – FT
When WeWork spent $60m on a Gulfstream G650 jet last year, its private investors shrugged off the expense. The lossmaking property group’s valuation had soared over the years and would eventually reach an eye-watering $47bn, allowing its backers to record substantial paper gains.

Thomson Reuters brushes off news wire suitors; Axel Springer and former CEO Mark Wood said to be interested in Reuters News
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, Anna Nicolaou and James Fontanella-Khan – FT
Thomson Reuters has rebuffed takeover interest in its news wire, according to people familiar with the matter, betting instead on a dealmaking media executive to turn round the 168-year-old business.

Hedge Fund Investor Has Worrying Flashback to Japan 20 Years Ago
Ksenia Galouchko – Bloomberg
Janus Henderson’s Newman sees Europe’s parallels with Japan; Europe is grappling with slower growth, falling bond yields
Luke Newman, an equities fund manager at Janus Henderson Investors, is having an uneasy feeling of deja vu. Two decades ago, at the start of his career, Newman was covering Japanese stocks as an analyst at Deutsche Asset Management. Now, as a hedge fund investor in European equities, he’s noticing some parallels in the region with the Japan of the late 1990s and it’s making him nervous.

The World’s Most Profitable Company Pays Surprisingly Little; It’s a relatively modest life for a top executive at the Saudi oil giant.
Anders Melin – Bloomberg
They run the world’s most profitable company, oversee one-tenth of global oil output and their decisions help shape the fate of a nation. Their paychecks, however, are a little less grandiose.

Derivatives to crash markets again? Money market trouble provides solid gold for Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren
John Dizard – FT
It is never a good sign when arcane money market mechanisms become interesting to anyone other than the geeks who operate them. That is what has happened to the US repo market since September 17, when the normally placid business of short term borrowing against “general collateral”, ie high-quality securities, started a period of spiky interest rates, noticeable spreads between rates offered to different institutions, and hasty, large scale interventions by the Federal Reserve.

Fed caught between political factions over repo; Market dislocation triggers calls for looser banking rules
Philip Stafford – FT
The arcane intricacies of the US repo market appear to be turning political. The typically staid market — where banks and investors borrow cash for the short term in exchange for government bonds and other high-quality collateral — went haywire in September and the ripples continue to spread.

Stock exchange backed by Virtu and Citadel moves closer to launch; MEMX, created to drive down market data fees, clears SEC regulatory hurdle
Richard Henderson – FT
Members Exchange, a new stock market backed by some of the biggest names on Wall Street, cleared an important regulatory hurdle on Thursday, bringing it closer to competing with the likes of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

New Exchange Seeks SEC Nod to Take On NYSE, Nasdaq; Members Exchange aims to be a cheaper place to trade stocks than the incumbent exchanges
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
A new venture backed by nine financial heavyweights including Morgan Stanley, UBS Group AG and Citadel Securities is seeking regulatory approval to launch an exchange, making a bid to challenge the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Inc.

Europe’s Banks Confront Their Harsh Reality; As ultralow rates continue to squeeze profit margins, Europe’s banks are cutting costs and charging customers to avoid falling further behind stronger U.S. rivals
Patricia Kowsmann – WSJ
Ultralow interest rates and political and economic uncertainty are forcing Europe’s banks to confront an imperative they have been slow to respond to: cut costs fast or risk falling even further behind U.S. rivals.

Make These Tax Moves for 2019 Before It’s Too Late
Laura Saunders – WSJ
It’s Year Two following the massive tax overhaul of 2017. For Americans who are still getting used to the new rules, it’s important to sort things out before the year ends. “People are confused about their withholding and refunds, and whether they need to save receipts to prove itemized deductions—plus other things,” says Terry Durkin, an enrolled agent in Burlington, Mass., who prepares over 300 tax returns a year.

SNB Can’t Get the Banks Off Its Back About Negative Rates
Catherine Bosley – Bloomberg
More reserves will be exempt from Switzerland’s -0.75% levy; But move gives central bank more leeway to cut rates even more
The Swiss National Bank’s efforts to ease some of the squeeze from negative interest rates hasn’t calmed the finance industry.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Trading Overview in October 2019; Japan Exchange Group released Trading Overview in October 2019
Cash Equity Market – In October 2019, the daily average trading value for the TSE 1st Section (domestic common stocks) was JPY 2.5461 trillion.
Derivatives Market – In October 2019, total derivatives trading volume was 27,793,582 contracts.

LME proceeds with warehouse reform proposals
London Metal Exchange
The London Metal Exchange (LME) will proceed with its proposed package of measures aimed at optimising its warehousing network for the benefit of the global metals industry.

Cash markets convert EUR 135.4 billion in October; Deutsche Börse’s cash markets posted sales of EUR135.4 billion in October (previous year: EUR 171.6 billion).
Deutsche Börse
Of this amount, EUR 122.7 billion was attributable to Xetra (previous year: EUR 156.7 billion), bringing the average Xetra daily turnover to EUR 5.6 billion. 2.6 billion euros were transacted at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (previous year: 3.7 billion euros) and at the Tradegate Exchange 10.2 billion euros (previous year: 11.1 billion euros).

Three-Month SARON® Futures: Amendment to the “Additional Supporter Incentive” in „Product Specific Supplement” for Three-Month SARON® Futures to the Liquidity Provider Agreement
Eurex Circular 104/19 Three-Month SARON® Futures: Amendment to the “Additional Supporter Incentive” in „Product Specific Supplement” for Three-Month SARON® Futures to the Liquidity Provider Agreement

Cboe Global Markets Reports Results for Third Quarter 2019
Third Quarter 2019 Highlights*
Diluted EPS of $0.94, Up 24 Percent; Adjusted Diluted EPS¹ of $1.29, Up 22 Percent
Net Revenue of $294.0 Million, Up 9 Percent
Operating Expenses of $146.6 Million, Up 2 Percent; Adjusted Operating Expenses¹ of $96.5 Million, Down 3 Percent
EBITDA Margin¹ of 65.2 Percent, Up 30 bps; Adjusted EBITDA Margin¹ of 70.9 Percent, Up 380 bps
Returned $93 Million to Shareholders Through Dividends and Share Repurchases; Reduced Debt by $50 Million
Board Increased Share Repurchase Authorization by $250 Million Successfully Completed Final Technology Migration


The stablecoin anathema
Izabella Kaminska – FT
The rise and popularity of stablecoins is subjecting the crypto world to mass cognitive dissonance. On one hand, stablecoins are to be adored because they were born out of the cryptocurrency movement, are distributed on blockchains and — in the case of Tether at least — support the entire crypto economy.

Bitcoin Mining Power Sees Short-Term Drop as Rainy Season Ends in China
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
After sustained growth over the past three months, computing power on the bitcoin network has seen a fallback as the summer rainy season trails off in China.

BitMEX Exchange Exposes User Base in Email Mishap
William Foxley – Coindesk
On Friday at 08:00 UTC, BitMEX alerted its clientele via blog and Twitter that it had accidentally revealed all of its users’ emails via carbon copy (CC). So, if you have an account with BitMEX, anyone obtaining the email has a portion of what’s needed to access your account. It also potentially opens users up to targeted phishing attacks.

Statement on Email Privacy Issue Impacting Our Users
We are aware that some of our users have received a general user update email earlier today, which contained the email addresses of other users.

New IRS Tax Guidance Targets Crypto, and US Persons Who Use It
James N. Mastracchio, Sarah Paul, and Katie Sint – Cointelegraph
On Oct. 9, 2019, the United States Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Ruling 2019-24 and a series of frequently asked questions, identifying rules governing U.S. taxation of digital currencies. Taxation in the U.S. is unbelievably complex, but the new IRS guidance takes a step-by-step approach to address some of the most common issues facing holders of digital currency.

Two Chinese crypto hardware firms have filed to go public in the US
Mekebeb Tesfaye – Business Insider
Crypto hardware competitors Bitmain Technologies and Canaan Creative have filed to go public. The pair make application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that are typically used for crypto mining — the process of validating transactions and adding them to the blockchain.

Deribit’s bitcoin contract price flash crashes 15% due to an error; COO says it cost $1.3M
Steven Zheng – The Block Crypto
Bitcoin derivatives provider Deribit experienced a malfunction at 21:00 UTC of its flagship BTC perpetual swap contract, causing the price of the contract to drop 15%. Around the same time, Coinbase Pro was down for approximately 75 minutes as well from 20:00 UTC to 21:15 UTC, with some citing the downtime as the reason for Deribit’s contract malfunction.

Monero Futures Begin Trading on Dubai-Based Crypto Exchange
Jack Martin – Cointelegraph
Dubai-based multi-currency and spot/futures exchange, BTSE, unveiled its Monero (XMR) futures trading, Oct. 31. The move makes it one of the first and only exchanges offering futures contracts on the privacy-focussed cryptocurrency. BTSE is a relatively unknown, low-volume exchange that is licensed by the Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai and is under the regulations of the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates, according to its website.

Bitcoin Mining Power Sees Short-Term Drop as Rainy Season Ends in China
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
After sustained growth over the past three months, computing power on the bitcoin network has seen a fallback as the summer rainy season trails off in China. According to data from Poolin, the world’s largest bitcoin mining pool by real time hash rate, bitcoin’s seven-day average computing (or hashing) power has dropped to around 90 exahashes per second (EH/s) since Oct. 24, signaling that some miners have been unplugging from the network. It had previously been estimated that the hash rate would go above the 100 EH/s threshold by the end of 2019.

Next China: Who dominates blockchain?
Bloomberg News
Here’s a surprising sentence: the Politburo of the Communist Party of China held a special meeting to learn more about blockchain. The first reason that’s surprising is who. The Politburo is made up of China’s 25 most-senior officials, mostly in their sixties, and traditionally not a group known for being tech savvy. Second is what. While blockchain is not only about cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrencies have been the most widely used application of the technology. And China essentially banned digital currencies in 2017, which is where the third surprise comes in.


Trump Isn’t Ready for the Impeachment Hearings; He’s always been more comfortable with chaos than teamwork and preparation.
Timothy L. O’Brien – Bloomberg
After weeks of damaging testimony from current and former White House advisers and career diplomats, the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to publicly endorse the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

The impeachment inquiry vote came down to the politics of party, not elections
Philip Bump – The Washington Post
The most immediate reaction to the House vote on Thursday moving forward with an impeachment inquiry targeting President Trump is a lack of surprise. Democrats control the majority, and a number of tallies of support (including tallies from The Washington Post) have shown that nearly every Democrat backed the inquiry. Nor is it surprising that Republicans opposed the move, at least in the context of our partisan age: There’s little that the two parties agree upon, and an investigation of a Republican president popular with his own party doesn’t seem like the thing to bridge that gap.

Twitter Says It Will No Longer Run Political Advertisements, Trolls Facebook
Ryan Bort – Rolling Stone
“This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Wednesday that the platform will no longer host political advertisements, a major shift in the social media giant’s policy ahead of the 2020 elections. “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” he wrote. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

A Divided House Endorses Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump
Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg – The New York Times
A bitterly divided House of Representatives voted Thursday to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in a historic action that set up a critical new public phase of the investigation and underscored the political polarization that serves as its backdrop.


Policy development update
The policy development update provides some information on our recent and upcoming publications but should not be regarded as comprehensive. We usually update this page on the first Friday of each month – this version is current as of 1 November 2019.

CFTC Charges Foreign Trading Platform for Failing to Register with the CFTC
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission today issued an order filing and settling charges against Switzerland-based XBT Corp. SARL d/b/a First Global Credit (FGC) for its failure to register with the Commission as a futures commission merchant (FCM).

SEC Issues Agenda for Nov. 4 Meeting of the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee
The Securities and Exchange Commission today released the agenda for the Nov. 4 meeting of the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee (FIMSAC). The meeting will be held at the SEC’s New York Regional Office at 200 Vesey Street, New York, NY.

SEC Charges International Security-Based Swaps Dealer That Targeted U.S. Investors
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged XBT Corp. SARL d/b/a First Global Credit, a Switzerland-based securities dealer, for offering and selling unregistered security-based swaps to U.S. investors using bitcoins and for failing to transact its swaps on a registered national exchange.

SEC sued by proxy adviser ISS over new rules; Lawsuit cites right to free speech after US regulator acts against shareholder advisers
Patrick Temple-West – FT
The fight between investor advisory firms and the US Securities and Exchange Commission escalated on Thursday as Institutional Shareholder Services sued the regulator, claiming its rights to free speech had been infringed.

Investing and Trading

LCF administrators appoint third party to explore legal action; Smith & Williamson brings in FRP Advisory to consider a potential lawsuit against auditors due to a conflict of interest
Tabby Kinder – FT
The administrators to collapsed investment business London Capital & Finance have been forced to turn to a third party to explore a potential lawsuit against the group’s auditors because of a conflict of interest.

Too Wet, Too Dry: Wheat Season Gets Off to a Mixed Start
Megan Durisin and Anatoly Medetsky – Bloomberg
Soggy soils hamper winter-wheat planting in U.K., France; Contrasts with eastern Europe, where conditions are too dry
While British grain growers hope for a dry spell to speed up planting in rain-saturated fields, newly-sown farms on the other end of the continent in Ukraine are in need of a good soak before winter.


Deutsche Bank Approved Property Sale to Russian Businessman Despite Internal Objections; Sale of Silicon Valley plot drew concerns about reputational risk
Jenny Strasburg – WSJ
Deutsche Bank AG DB -1.49% officials approved the sale of a chunk of Silicon Valley real estate to a Russian businessman despite objections from its U.S. reputational risk committee, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

Danske Bank to Cut Fixed Income, Currency Jobs as Profits Falter
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
Danske Bank A/S will resort to job cuts in its fixed-income and currencies unit as part of a plan to revive profits, it said on Friday.

BNP’s $300 Billion Hedge Fund Gamble
Elisa Martinuzzi and Marcus Ashworth -Bloomberg
(Bloomberg Opinion) — It’s rare for a European bank to be adding businesses nowadays, as capital constraints curtail dealmaking. The takeover of Deutsche Bank AG’s hedge fund activities by France’s BNP Paribas SA is an exception.


Rajeev Misra Built SoftBank’s Huge Tech Fund. Now He Has to Save It; The eccentric former banker faces problems at the Vision Fund with WeWork and other big investments; spending $100 billion in a hurry
Liz Hoffman and Bradley Hope – WSJ
Flying over Europe in a private jet last year, Rajeev Misra took his shoes off and propped his bare feet on the knee of a top executive of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. The executive froze while Mr. Misra, head of SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 0.05% ‘s $100 billion Vision Fund, chatted about ways to make more money off the streaming rights for the organization’s tournaments.

Mobile-savvy Kenyans will soon be able to buy shares on phones; Nairobi exchange presses ahead with democratisation
Tom Wilson – FT
Kenya’s stock market is going digital and diversifying as it seeks to attract new investors to offset declining share values, global anxiety over emerging and frontier market risk and a dearth of initial public offerings.

Don’t Call It Stagflation, But China Assets Flash Economic Worry
Shen Hong – Bloomberg
China slowdown bites harder for investors on inflation jump; Direction may depend on PBOC’s response to rising prices
A rare, simultaneous bout of weakness is hitting Chinese bonds and stocks, exposing growing unease about the dual brunt of slowing output growth and rising prices in the world’s second-largest economy.

Why the World Worries About Russia’s Natural Gas Pipeline
Anna Shiryaevskaya and Dina Khrennikova – Bloomberg
A new natural gas pipeline into Europe from Russia is shaking up geopolitics. Nord Stream 2, as it’s called, worries leaders in Eastern Europe, has put German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the hot seat and has prompted calls for sanctions from U.S. senators. Denmark gave approval on Oct. 30 for the pipeline to traverse its sub-sea territory, removing the final hurdle to its completion. Russian gas could be flowing through the conduit as soon as early next year.

Bank Run in Rural China Tests Faith in Thousands of Lenders
Bloomberg News
Yichuan Rural Bank’s depositors rushed to withdraw their money; Official intervention underscores China’s tough balancing act
It started with an unverified rumor from an obscure social media account: Yichuan Rural Commercial Bank was insolvent.


Donald Trump Pours Cold Water On Hopes Of U.S.-U.K. Post-Brexit Trade Deal As He Wades Into British Election
Isabel Togoh – Forbes
Topline: Downing Street has been forced to defend Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan after President Donald Trump suggested that the U.S. can’t do a trade deal with the U.K.—despite the opportunity being a key attraction point for pro-Brexit campaigners.

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