Futures Traders Are Getting Squeezed and More Job Cuts Are Expected

Feb 13, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

The FIA has published their 2019 Year in Review.~JJL

Wei-Shen Wong of Waters Technology is reporting “ASX on Track for CHESS Replacement,” saying the Aussie exchange is to begin industry-wide testing of its delayed DLT settlement program.~JJL

Kurt Dew has a commentary on Seeking Alpha titled “CME Group’s Murky Future.”~JJL

Monday is President’s Day in the U.S. Markets are closed. We will publish JLN, but not JLN Options.~JJL

Forbes has published its Top 50 Fintech Companies in 2020 Lists, some of which we have in our “Fintech” section today, as well as its “Top 10 Biggest Fintech Companies in America 2020” list. Included in the top 10 list is Ripple (number 2), and Coinbase (number 3) – both of which are blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.~MR

Barchart CEO Mark Haraburda has written an article about the importance of indexing commodity prices, why benchmarks are important and why Barchart has developed this model for the corn, soybean and wheat markets with their cmdty Grain Indexes.~JJL

Speaking of benchmarks, the World Federation of Exchanges has established a benchmark for Enterprise Risk Management.~JJL

Former CNBC Anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera is running for Congress in New York.~JJL

This month Cboe is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its flagship Cboe One Feed, which they say provides cost-effective, high-quality U.S. equities reference quotes and trade data for market participants.~JJL

Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. said it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.~JJL



The Spread: MIAX Makes Moves

This week on The Spread – MIAX keeps expanding, Cboe veteran Tom Zagara spins us a yarn about the early days of the exchange, and JLN prepares for the OIC Conference in April.

Watch the video »


FIA Diversity and Inclusion Efforts in 2019
In March 2019, FIA unveiled a board-level Diversity Committee and an initiative addressing the importance of diversity and inclusion in our industry. The committee, chaired by board member Alicia Crighton from Goldman Sachs, includes senior representatives from FIA member firms, as well as FIA senior staff. Collectively, this group ensures the topic of diversity and inclusion stays on the agenda across events and board discussions as well as considering practical steps to foster a culture of inclusion in the industry.

*****The hard part about diversity and inclusion is walking the walk while talking the talk. But there are lots of firms and organizations in our industry that are making meaningful efforts to be more inclusive and diverse. They are smart and make their firms and the world a better place for it.~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our most read story Wednesday was ‘Super-swampy’: Kelly Loeffler faces tricky ethical dilemma as senator, about the former ICE and Bakkt executive, from Union-Bulletin in Atlanta. Second was Bloomberg News’ Five Hedge Fund Heads Made More Than $1 Billion Each Last Year. Third was CME takes more control over board, about a big change to the exchange’s bylaws, from Crain’s.


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Lead Stories

Futures Traders Are Getting Squeezed and More Job Cuts Are Expected
Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
Tough economics and low volatility bringing pain to Chicago; ‘Looks like we’re about to see another wave’ of job reductions
The futures world was buffeted in recent days with news of workforce cuts, and industry veterans say more may be on the way as smaller firms are squeezed by a few giants that dominate the $30 trillion market in Chicago. The reductions at high-frequency firms XR Trading and Allston Trading LLC may be a harbinger of more consolidation to come, said Chris Hehmeyer, chief executive officer of Hehmeyer Trading & Investments. He said technology costs are prohibitive for smaller firms, part of an environment that’s testing the ability of startups to survive.

City groups set out vision for post-Brexit market access; UK and EU urged to adopt new system for assessing regulatory ‘equivalence’
Matthew Vincent – FT
City of London institutions are urging the UK and EU to adopt a new system for assessing regulatory “equivalence” post-Brexit that could prevent either side withdrawing access to the other’s financial markets with just 30 days notice.

Hong Kong Exchange Faces Tough Year With Deals Fading, China Links in Flux
Kiuyan Wong – Bloomberg
Undisclosed accord means Alibaba is kept out of trade link; Impasse could crimp Hong Kong’s push for secondary listings
Hong Kong’s exchange faces a challenging year as the spreading coronavirus chokes off deals, adding more urgency to its efforts to convince Beijing to further open its markets and cement the bourse’s role as a gateway to China’s corporate giants.

The Woman Rising From Goldman Trader to Its Face on Wall Street
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
The bank is leaning on a once-low-key office to boost profits; Its boss is well placed to break into firm’s all-male top tier
One after the other as the morning wore on, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s most senior leaders — all men — took turns on stage describing their plan to restore its dimmed star. Much of it rests on a woman who’s being groomed to join them.

Barclays Says U.K. Is Probing CEO Jes Staley’s Ties to Jeffrey Epstein
Stefania Spezzati, Anna Edwards, and Matthew Miller – Bloomberg
British bank says its board continues to back Jes Staley; ‘I’ve been very transparent,’ Staley says; shares decline
Barclays Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley is being investigated over his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, his second run-in with British regulators since he joined the bank in 2015.

*****For the WSJ version of this story, click HERE.~JJL

Trader Anil Prasad to shut Silver Ridge hedge fund; Former Citi currencies star is returning funds to investors in latest sign of industry struggles
Laurence Fletcher – FT
Citigroup’s former head of currencies Anil Prasad, once one of the most powerful bankers in foreign exchange, is shutting his hedge fund, making him the latest big-name manager to close in a bruising period for the industry.

Intercontinental Exchange’s Busted Bid for eBay Is an Opening for Investors
Steven M. Sears – Barron’s
Jeff Sprecher is a serious guy. He’s the founder and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which dominates global capital markets and owns the New York Stock Exchange. But just the other day, he was on the phone telling investors that he wasn’t crazy and that his management team had not lost its mind.

Working in 12 Markets in 12 Months Puts Stock Picking to Test
Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg
Evli managers are immersing themselves in developing economies; Due diligence includes three-hour taxi rides, ESG quizzes
As investors pour more and more money into funds that passively track stock indexes, Burton Flynn and Ivan Nechunaev are on a road trip to try to show that research and stock picking can pay off.

Retirement Millionaire Crowd Swells to Record in Roaring Market
Michael McDonald – Bloomberg
The bull market is minting plenty of millionaires — at least when it comes to retirement accounts. The number of people with $1 million or more in their 401(k) or individual retirement account on the Fidelity Investments platform reached record levels last quarter, fueled by higher savings rates along with market appreciation, the fund company said in a report Thursday.

BlackRock Cashes Out Crisis Bet to Expand Charitable Arm; Giant asset manager turns stake in mortgage company created in 2008 into funding for nonprofits
Dawn Lim – WSJ
BlackRock BLK 0.36% Inc. made a well-timed bet on distressed loans during the financial crisis. Now the firm has moved its windfall to its charitable arm. In a move disclosed Thursday, the giant asset manager said it has donated all of its nearly $600 million worth of shares in the mortgage company PennyMac Financial Services Inc. PFSI -1.80% to fund nonprofits. Half of that went into a new corporate foundation the firm is launching called the BlackRock Foundation.

The World Is Conspiring to Make Gas Cheaper; As the market grows up, global factors are playing a bigger role in determining prices. All signs point to a deepening glut.
David Fickling – Bloomberg
How cheap would you like your natural gas today? Is zero low enough? OK, how about we pay you to take it off our hands? That’s what’s happening in the middle of the U.S. shale patch at the moment — and it’s a symptom of a glut that could reshape energy markets across the world in the coming years.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

SGX bolsters surveillance system with AI technology; Surveillance of markets at SGX will be upgraded to include AI allowing the exchange to filter out noise and hone in on potential unusual trading activity.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Singapore Exchange (SGX) has confirmed plans to implement artificial intelligence technology within surveillance and regulation for real-time monitoring of markets. The exchange group said that the technology will help better isolate potentially manipulative activity, as the surveillance system learns from historical trading patterns to filter out noise, and focus more sharply on unusual trading signals for greater regulatory attention.

CME on track with BrokerTec and EBS migration to Globex platform; Migration of BrokerTec and EBS businesses to the CME Globex platform follows CME’s acquisition of NEX Group in 2018.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
CME Group has said that its migration of the EBS and BrokerTec divisions to the Globex platform is on track to be completed by the end of this year, according to senior executives at the US exchange group.

Euronext publishes Q4 and full year 2019 results; Strong Performance In 2019 Driven By Successful Diversification And Solid Core Businesses Dynamics. 2020 Cost Target Announced
Euronext, the leading pan-European market infrastructure, today announces its results for the fourth quarter and full year 2019.

Euronext announces volumes for January 2020
Euronext, the leading pan-European exchange in the Eurozone, today announced trading volumes for January 2020.

ASX Ltd Half-Year Results Media Release

ASX Ltd Half-Year Results Analyst Presentation

ASX Ltd Half Year Results Analyst Presentation and Speaker Notes

Appendix 4D and ASX Half-Year Financial Statements

ASX Ltd Half-Year – Dividend Notification

The ECB Rates The Link Between Iberclear And The Portuguese Depositary, Interbolsa, As “Eligible” – Participating Entities Of The BME Subsidiary And Its Clients Can Use Portuguese Eligible Securities In Monetary Policy Operations
Participating entities of the BME subsidiary and its clients can use Portuguese eligible securities in monetary policy operations
The European Central Bank (ECB) has rated the link between Iberclear, the Spanish central securities depository and a BME subsidiary, and the Portuguese central securities depository, Interbolsa, as “eligible”, including it in the “List of eligible Links”.


The 10 Biggest Fintech Companies In America 2020
Jeff Kauflin – Forbes
In 2019, the boom times for financial technology startups rolled on. Total venture capital funding for private U.S. fintechs reached $18 billion, compared with $13 billion in 2018, according to CB Insights and PwC. That bucked the trend of a 9% drop in total VC funding across all industries in America. The biggest fintechs got bigger. Among the companies on this year’s list of the ten most valuable, the average valuation is $9 billion. Last year it was $6 billion.

The Future Of Payments: Fintech 50 2020
Jeff Kauflin – Forbes
Payments companies continue to be some of the most highly valued businesses in fintech. They had notable exits in 2019, including Visa’s pending $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid and the IPO of Bill.com, a $4 billion (market value) business-to-business payment processor that has doubled in value since it went public in December 2019. Last year, payments startups attracted a gusher of funding, taking in $15 billion globally, a 20% jump over 2018 and more than one quarter of all fintech funding, according to Accenture.

The Future Of Small Business Lending: Fintech 50 2020
Hank Tucker – Forbes
We’re labeling two companies on the Fintech 50 as B2B lenders, but they have truly separated themselves by transforming into more holistic one-stop-shops for small businesses. Kabbage branched out from its reputable lending business to offer a payment processing tool to customers in the fall. And Brex continued its meteoric rise, more than doubling to a $2.6 billion valuation as it launched a cash management account and new verticals for the trendy startups that it counts as customers.

The Future Of Wall Street: Fintech 50 2020
Antoine Gara – Forbes
With Wall Street undergoing enormous change, the hottest fintechs in finance are using novel software and data to reinvent how firms manage their risks and trade assets. Some are even beginning to open opaque private markets to global investors.
The biggest companies in finance like JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Group collectively spend billions a year on technology, but fintechs have seen major success in targeting the corners of Wall Street most resistant to change. List members this year include firms that are helping to push bond trading onto electronic marketplaces, a shift that’s been decades in the making, and in organizing private assets on data platforms that can feed into users own systems. At the largest investment banks, rogue traders and employees engaging in market manipulation, or other illegal activity, continue to be a greater risk for firms than volatile financial markets. Fintechs are helping them better monitor staff at a time when exploding communications data makes it harder than ever to uncover violations.

The 10 Biggest Fintech Companies In America 2020
Jeff Kauflin – Forbes
In 2019, the boom times for financial technology startups rolled on. Total venture capital funding for private U.S. fintechs reached $18 billion, compared with $13 billion in 2018, according to CB Insights and PwC. That bucked the trend of a 9% drop in total VC funding across all industries in America.
The biggest fintechs got bigger. Among the companies on this year’s list of the ten most valuable, the average valuation is $9 billion. Last year it was $6 billion.

Fintech 50 2020: The Newcomers
Jeff Kauflin – Forbes
As the financial technology industry balloons, with venture capital funding growing at a faster pace than the rest of the tech sector, new fintech startups keep emerging. Nineteen of the picks for our fifth annual Fintech 50 have never appeared on the list before. Many are digital-first banks, insurance startups and payments companies, which ate up a big chunk of fintech funding last year. One example is Dave, a Los Angeles-based neobank whose $1-a-month app offers checking accounts with no overdraft fees and cash advances of up to $100. Another is Insurify, an auto and home insurance comparison site founded by Bulgarian immigrant Snejina Zacharia that uses artificial intelligence to more cheaply sell policies online.

The Future Of Investing: Fintech 50 2020
Sarah Hansen – Forbes
More than ever, the investing and wealth management services on the Forbes Fintech 50 2020 are going toe to toe with big banks and competing for the loyalty of Millennials and Boomers alike. In the same year that major financial firms like Schwab, Fidelity, and E*Trade scrapped their trading fees, investing fintechs added new offerings like high-yield savings accounts and debit cards.

The Future Of Personal Finance: Fintech 50 2020
Kelly Anne Smith – Forbes
The 11 personal finance start-ups on this year’s Fintech 50 reflect both the rise of the digital bank and the growing areas of consumer financial behavior that fintechs are seeking to influence. Two neobanks—MoneyLion and Dave—are on the list for the first time this year, joining veteran Chime. Both newcomers are positioning themselves as simpler, cheaper and more consumer friendly alternatives to traditional banks and their gotcha fees. Dave promotes itself with a cartoon bear and a “Banking for humans” tagline; instead of hitting users with overdraft fees, it offers them cash advances of up to $100.

The Future Of Blockchain: Fintech 50 2020
Michael del Castillo – Forbes
With the price of bitcoin more than doubling from $3,400 to $10,000 since last year’s Fintech 50 list, it’s perhaps no surprise to see some of the largest, and most innovative cryptocurrency companies still holding onto their place on the annual list of startups blazing new trails in financial technology. But what is notably different this year are some mind-numbingly imaginative applications of cryptocurrency that make bitcoin look like child’s play and some new applications of blockchain that don’t involve cryptocurrency at all.


Mnuchin Says U.S. Planning Cryptocurrency Rules on Transparency
Saleha Mohsin – Bloomberg
FinCEN preparing rules to prevent digital money laundering; Says U.S. doesn’t need central-bank issued digital currency
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday the U.S. soon will announce new regulations related to cryptocurrency and digital payment systems.

IRS Refused to Clarify That Its Crypto Tax Guidance Isn’t Binding, US Watchdog Says
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should – but won’t – clarify how taxes are levied on cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency transactions in the U.S., the government’s top auditing institution said Wednesday. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a U.S. Congress watchdog, published a report in response to a request from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), evaluating the IRS’s existing approach and public guidance surrounding cryptocurrencies.

Wells Fargo backs a start-up that helps banks manage cryptocurrency risks
Ryan Browne – CNBC
Elliptic is known for its analysis tools which are used to help cryptocurrency platforms find and block illicit transactions. The investment into Elliptic from Wells Fargo’s venture unit is an extension of the start-up’s $23 million Series B funding round. The capital will be used to invest in Elliptic’s Discovery product and help it expand geographically, with a particular focus on Asia.

What Tax Forms Should Crypto Holders File?
Shehan Chandrasekera – Forbes
There are hundreds of tax forms and schedules published by the IRS. This post discusses some of the most frequently used tax forms and schedules applicable to cryptocurrency holders in the US. These may need to be filed along with the familiar Form 1040.

Circle Sells Crypto Investing App Business to Voyager Digital
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Circle Internet Financial Ltd. agreed to sell Circle Invest, a digital-asset-investment app for individual investors, to Voyager Digital (Canada) Ltd. for an equity stake in the company. Voyager will issue common shares to Circle representing about 4% ownership in the New York-based firm, and will reimburse certain costs to Circle. Shares of Voyager traded at about 22 cents Tuesday in New York.

Coinbase Pro Relaunches Margin Trading After Two-Year Pause
Aziz Abdel-Qader – Finance Magnates
Coinbase has officially launched its Margin Trading service on the exchange’s professional trading platform, Coinbase Pro. Eligible traders can now trade up to 3X leveraged orders on USD-quoted books, which allows users to amplify their trading results through borrowing money. Coinbase’s COO Emilie Choi told The Block in May that margin trading was on the way, but didn’t reveal the exact leverage the service would feature.

Northern Data Partners with SBI Crypto for Blockchain Cooperation
Arnab Shome – Finance Magnates
Blockchain infrastructure company Northern Data has entered into a strategic partnership with SBI Crypto, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate SBI Holdings. Announced on Thursday, SBI Crypto will be hosted on Whinstone’s new data center in Texas being delivered from March 2020. Northern Data was established by merging two companies – Northern Bitcoin and American Whinstone US.

Bitcoin’s Mining Difficulty Stagnates as Coronavirus Outbreak Delays New Equipment
David Pan – Coindesk
After posting solid gains in January, a key measure of competition among bitcoin miners has stagnated in the past two weeks as the coronavirus outbreak disrupts economic activity in China. The slowdown in the growth of so-called mining difficulty signals miners have had to pause upgrading equipment after the epidemic prompted Chinese authorities to impose a quarantine and major mining equipment makers delayed production and shipments.

Bitcoin mining hardware maker Canaan’s stock price surges more than 80%
Celia Wan – The Block
Canaan, the bitcoin miner manufacturer that’s listed on the Nasdaq exchange, saw its stock price soar by more than 80% on Wednesday. Canaan’s stock, CAN, closed at $8.04 per share at the end of the trading day, representing an increase of 82.73%. The stock price began the day’s session at $4.42 and hit a high of $8.69. according to data from Yahoo! Finance. More than 11 million shares traded hands, compared to the average daily trading volume of 250,000 prior to today. The China-based miner manufacturer’s stock performance had been underwhelming since it debuted on Nasdaq in Nov. 2019. Before the market opened today, CAN had declined by 50% since its IPO and at once hit a $4.31 all-time-low.

Mastercard and Ripple’s Xpring Join Industry Group to Promote Blockchain Education
Paddy Baker – Coindesk
Mastercard has joined a working group that supports blockchain education and research in universities around the world. Blockchain accelerator MouseBelt announced Tuesday it has welcomed 11 founding members into its Blockchain Education Alliance. In addition to the card network, the new members include the innovation arms of payments startup Ripple and crypto exchange Binance; and representatives from Neo, KuCoin and ethereum scaling solution Matic Network. They will join the 13 companies, including Stellar, TRON and Wanchain, that became part of the alliance when it was announced in October.

Lionel Messi-led FC Barcelona set to have its own token for ‘over 300M’ fans worldwide
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Spain’s soccer club FC Barcelona, which boasts Lionel Messi as a current team member, is set to have its own token that will give voting power to its “over 300 million” global fans. FC Barcelona has partnered with sports-focused blockchain startup Chiliz to launch the Barca Fan Token (BAR), according to a statement shared with The Block on Thursday. The token is scheduled to roll out in Q2 of this year. Alexandre Dreyfus, founder and CEO of Chiliz, told The Block that the deal took 17 months to close as it had to be approved by FC Barcelona’s board.

US authorities charge DropBit CEO for allegedly laundering $311M in bitcoin
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Larry Dean Harmon, CEO of crypto wallet provider DropBit, has been indicted for allegedly laundering $311 million in bitcoin for darknet transactions. Federal authorities charged Harmon, 36, in December and arrested him on February 6 for conspiracy to launder money, operating an unlicensed money transmitter business and money transmission without a license, Cleveland reported Wednesday, citing an indictment document. Harmon is accused of selling illicit drugs via darknet marketplace AlphaBay, which federal authorities shut down in 2017. The marketplace was a “major” source of Fentanyl and Heroin.

DTCC Seeks Blockchain-Focused Security Framework for Financial Sector
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), a global financial market infrastructure giant, says traditional IT security frameworks must be updated to tackle the blockchain.


Boris Johnson Replaces U.K. Treasury Chief in Reshuffle; Sajid Javid’s departure comes as the prime minister shakes up his top team
Max Colchester and Jason Douglas – WSJ
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Thursday replaced U.K. Treasury chief Sajid Javid, a surprise move aimed at consolidating power in Downing Street as the country prepares for life outside the European Union.

Trump’s Fed Nominees to Face Questions from Senators; What to watch as Senate Banking Committee quizzes Judy Shelton, Christopher Waller
Nick Timiraos – WSJ
Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller, President Trump’s latest nominees to the Federal Reserve Board, head to Capitol Hill on Thursday for their confirmation hearing at the Senate Banking Committee.

Big Oil Warned White House China Trade Deal Was Unrealistic
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Shawn Donnan, and Nick Wadhams – Bloomberg
Additional 1 million barrels a day of crude needed under pact; Chinese purchase pledges could test infrastructure, API said
Industry leaders privately warned the Trump administration that the U.S. will struggle to produce the oil, gas and other energy products that China has committed to buy in a new trade deal, raising additional questions about one of the president’s signature economic achievements.

Popular meme accounts on Instagram are suddenly posting for Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign
Rosie Perper – Business Insider
Michael Bloomberg is utilizing his vast wealth to invest in a new campaign strategy: social media memes.


Betting regulator to look at stake limits for online games; Decision within 6 months on bringing internet into line, Gambling Commission tells MPs
Alice Hancock – FT
The UK’s gambling industry regulator is to consider putting limits on the amount consumers are allowed to bet online, a committee of MPs heard on Wednesday.

Former Point72 compliance head in Europe joins Analyst Hub; Corey McBride joins Analyst Hub as chief compliance officer, following eight years with hedge fund Point72.
Kiays Khalil – The Trade
The former head of European compliance at Point72, Corey McBride, has joined New York-based startup and research infrastructure provider, Analyst Hub, in a senior regulatory role.

Steven Maijoor on Sustainable Finance at the European Financial Forum in Dublin
Steven Maijoor, Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), has delivered a keynote address on sustainable finance issues at the European Financial Forum in Dublin today.

Keep the Harmony Alive: Discussing Investing with Your Partner
Before making the decision to tie the knot, couples may have various requirements. Some may insist on living together first, others that their families meet. But how about this one: having a frank conversation about money and investing.

Remarks of Commissioner Rostin Behnam at the ISDA/SIFMA AMG Benchmark Strategies Forum 2020, New York, New York
Good morning. I want to thank Scott O’Malia and his staff at the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and SIFMA AMG for holding this important event and giving me an opportunity to participate. Before I begin, please allow me to remind you that the views I express today are my own and do not represent the views of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “the Commission”) or my fellow Commissioners.

FCA appoints Sheldon Mills as Interim Executive Director of Strategy and Competition
The FCA has today announced the appointment of Sheldon Mills as the Interim Executive Director of Strategy and Competition.

FCA dismisses Libor credit component concerns; UK regulator bemused by distress raised by US regional banks to Fed
Robert Mackenzie Smith – Risk.net
Benchmark Federal Reserve View more A senior UK regulator has batted off concerns over the lack of a credit component in risk-free Libor replacement rates, saying there is no support for a funding spread to be layered on top of Libor’s replacement for UK markets, the sterling overnight index average, or Sonia.

Investing and Trading

Can the world kick its oil habit? Demand rose to a record 100 million barrels a day last year — even as the fossil fuel has become politically toxic
Anjli Raval – FT
A 45-minute helicopter ride over aquamarine waters, 240km west of Abu Dhabi, brings you to the Ruwais refinery. Perched along the coast, the labyrinth of pipes and columns that form the vast oil processing complex seems to emerge directly out of the sand.

The light at the end of the equity tunnel could yet be a train; US and European indices have rebounded since the coronavirus sell-off
Katie Martin – FT
A peek at global stock indices will tell you that all is well in the world. US and European stocks are at record highs after their coronavirus-induced wobble at the start of the year, while the benchmark indices in Hong Kong and mainland China have also started to recover.

The gospel according to Charlie Munger: lower your expectations; Warren Buffett’s right-hand man is downbeat on the news business — and the future
Eric Platt – FT
As their idol sat on stage in a conference room adjacent to Los Angeles’ landmark Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the investors who had flown in from all over the US to hear the gospel according to Charlie Munger found that he had little good news to offer them.

Bond Market Braces for Fresh Trillion-Dollar Wave of Fund Flows
Gregor Stuart Hunter – Bloomberg
‘We’re in uncharted territory’: JPMorgan’s Panigirtzoglou; Streak of fund inflows closing to breaking post-crisis record
Investors who poured money into bond funds last year are showing little sign of stopping in 2020, adding more downward pressure to yields.

Analyst Hub Names Former Point72 Head of European Compliance Corey McBride as Chief Compliance Officer
Analyst Hub, LLC, an independent research infrastructure platform company that provides talented sell-side analysts a path to owning their own enterprises, today announced it has expanded its executive leadership team with the addition of Corey McBride as Chief Compliance Officer. In this role, McBride is responsible for all compliance activities, including regulatory reporting, risk identification, prevention, monitoring, detection and resolution, including expansion to new regions, and for all ongoing support for Analyst Hub’s affiliate Independent Research Providers (IRPs). McBride is based in Analyst Hub’s New York headquarters and reports directly to founder and CEO Mike Kronenberg.


Credit Suisse chief Thiam claims vindication with bumper profits; Outgoing chief executive says Swiss bank has been turned round
Sam Jones – FT
Credit Suisse has reported its highest annual profits in almost a decade, buoyed by fourth-quarter earnings that outgoing chief executive Tidjane Thiam said were a vindication of his strategy at the bank.

Barclays’ Jes Staley probed over links to Jeffrey Epstein; Regulators examine disclosures made about CEO’s relationship with deceased sex offender
David Crow and Caroline Binham – FT
Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, is being investigated by Britain’s two main financial watchdogs over his links to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died last year while awaiting trial on charges that he sex-trafficked underage girls.

Commerzbank is Ready to Drop mBank Sale Unless Price is Right
Steven Arons – Bloomberg
Lackluster offers for Polish unit may weaken sale’s attraction; Commerzbank’s stronger capital may make disposal less crucial
Commerzbank AG indicated on Thursday that it would rather keep its Polish subsidiary mBank SA than sell it too cheaply.

Commerzbank Plans Further Cost Cuts After Boost to Profit
Steven Arons – Bloomberg
CFO says new measures will be announced in second half; Capital buffer gain increases CEO’s confidence in returns
Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Zielke plans further cost cuts after boosting revenue and capital buffers as he seeks to accelerate the German lender’s turnaround.

Credit Suisse Posts Strong Profit on Gains in Wealth Management Business; Bank seeks to move on from a spying scandal that led to the resignation of its chief executive
Margot Patrick and Pietro Lombardi – WSJ
Credit Suisse Group AG reported its highest annual profit in nine years as it seeks to move on from a spying scandal that led to the resignation of its chief executive last week, with gains in its wealth management and markets businesses offsetting a decline in corporate advisory revenue.

Prince Harry’s talks with Goldman Sachs part of plan to join speaking circuit
Thornton McEnery and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon – NY Post
Prince Harry’s talks with financial giant Goldman Sachs — and his recent appearance at a JPMorgan summit — are the first steps by the ex-royal to land lucrative gigs on the paid speaking circuit, sources close to both banks told The Post.

Letter bomb causes ‘small explosion’ at ING office in Amsterdam
A letter bomb went off on Thursday at an office of ING Bank in Amsterdam, causing a “small explosion” in which no one was hurt, a spokeswoman for the bank said.


Bunge gains from South American grain trading; Edible oils write down on 2018 acquisition despite being an ‘on trend’ business
Gregory Meyer – FT
The global agribusiness Bunge has written off a substantial chunk of a large edible oils acquisition that was meant to boost the company’s high-margin food ingredient sales.

What India’s Top Three Mutual Funds Bought and Sold in January
Ameya Karve – Bloomberg
Inflows into Indian equity funds rose to a five-month high in January amid signs of a revival in small- and mid-cap stocks, a battered corner of the $2.2 trillion market for two straight years.

Egypt approves first gold mining licence in more than a decade
Egypt has approved a mining licence for Aton Resources Inc, the Canada-based gold miner said on Thursday, the first such award since the country’s main gold producer Centamin secured a licence more than a decade ago.

Nigeria’s to Regulate Crowdfunding to Help Protect Investors
Emele Onu – Bloomberg
The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission plans to regulate crowdfunding to reduce risks for investors and financiers seeking to back small businesses and startups.


Brexit: Macron pushes for tougher EU negotiating position
Daniel Boffey – The Guardian
Emmanuel Macron is making a last-ditch push for a tougher EU negotiating position with Britain over the post-Brexit relationship despite concerns among other member states that they risk blowing up the talks before they have begun. The conclusion of an internal decision on Brussels’s so-called level playing field demands has been delayed as the French government continues to push for stronger commitments on regulatory alignment to be asked of the British in return for maintaining free trade.

Brexit: EU Parliament makes tough demands for talks
Adam Fleming – BBC News
The European Parliament has approved a tough opening position for talks with the UK on its future relationship with the EU. MEPs called on the UK to follow EU policies in a host of areas as the price for an ambitious free trade deal. These range from chemicals regulation to climate change, food labelling and subsidies for companies. This should be with “a view to dynamic alignment” – code for the UK adopting European rules as they are introduced.

Sajid Javid, U.K. Finance Chief, Quits as Boris Johnson Shuffles Team
Stephen Castle – The New York Times
What was expected to be a routine cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Boris Johnson took an extraordinary turn on Thursday when the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, abruptly resigned from the government, apparently after refusing demands to fire all of his advisers. Rishi Sunak, who as chief secretary to the Treasury had been Mr. Javid’s deputy, was named as his successor.

Spain welcomes post-Brexit chance for Gibraltar talks with UK
Daniel Dombey – Financial Times
Spain’s foreign minister has welcomed post-Brexit talks with the UK as an “incredible opportunity” for the countries to address the status of Gibraltar after centuries of dispute. Arancha González reacted warmly to calls by Gibraltar’s government for a free-movement area with Spain and suggested that traditional concepts of sovereignty were less important than a series of recent accords on issues such as tax and fighting contraband.

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