Having Stolen the Spotlight, Now Robinhood Has to Dance

Jun 18, 2020

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

The insider trading investigation against U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler has been dismissed by the Senate Ethics Committee. That is good news for the senator’s reelection chances, but her opponents will still use the issue.

I still have a few passes left to give away for FREE to IDX-V. If you are interested, send me an email and ask nicely. It has amazed me how nicely people have asked for the passes and how appreciative they are for them.

We are moving forward with plans for a summer MarketsWiki Education World of Opportunity program and are targeting Wednesday, July 22 for the afternoon event. Because it is virtual, it will be open to all, not just interns, and not just those in Chicago. Also, the event will be free to participants. We will be looking for sponsors for the event, which will also be tied to a video series of previous talks boiled down into two minute versions. We will also be holding a virtual panel in the fall of HR professionals to talk about what internships will look like next year. If you are an HR professional who hires interns and are interested in participating, please contact me.

Speaking of virtual internships, here is the take of one from Trading Technologies in a blog post titled “A (Virtual) Summer Internship Like No Other: 2020 Edition.” The writer is Claire Battista, a marketing intern at TT this summer.

On June 21, the Budapest Stock Exchange will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its re-establishment.

The FIA has a new course, “Key Features & Regulatory Framework of the London Metal Exchange”.

Next Friday we will be placing the order with our vendor for the “The World Needs Journalists” hoodies with the JLN logo on it. If you are interested, you need to contact me before then and place your order. The hoodies run about $40 and the postage is about $9, so figure $50 for the hoodie.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


In re: CFTC v Jitesh Thakkar, Federal Judge Andrea Wood has ordered the parties to get on with it. Having told the judge last winter that they had already agreed to a settlement, Wood has ordered them to resolve the case or explain to the court by July 17 the reason for delay. Of course the CFTC could drop its case entirely, as many readers of this newsletter have requested, in light of the Department of Justice’s earlier failure to obtain a conviction. ~Thom Thompson

OCC’s COO Scot Warren did a video interview with Jill Malandrino of Nasdaq TradeTalks on how OCC strengthened its resilience to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic. You can find the interview here.~SR


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Hester Serafini appointed President of ICE Clear Europe
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, announces that Hester Serafini has been appointed President of ICE Clear Europe, ICE’s London-based clearing house. Hester Serafini has been Interim President of ICE Clear Europe since February 2020. Serafini moved from her position as President and COO of ICE Clear U.S., which she had held since January 2017. Kevin McClear has been appointed President of ICE Clear U.S. and moves from his current role as Chief Risk Officer at ICE.

****Congratulations to Hester.~JJL


In these markets the normal rules do not seem to apply; It is treacherous for investors when negative forces can turn positive so quickly
Seema Shah – FT
It is a sign of how distorted markets have become that some of the same forces that contributed to precipitous falls a few months ago are now spurring the recovery. For investors, it can seem like a lottery to try to pick winners in markets where the normal rules do not seem to apply. Only a handful of assets, to my mind, look resilient.

*****Every time I have seen something like this written, bad things happen to prove it wrong.~JJL


Moneyball for Bonds Aims to Rank Traders Baseball Card-Style
Matthew Leising – Bloomberg
BondCliQ to use stats to shed light on trader performance; Paul DePodesta, who remade Oakland A’s with stats, is involved
Wall Street bond traders may soon be immortalized in the fashion of baseball legends Honus Wagner, Willie Mays and Pete Rose if a plan by a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive takes off. That’s right, baseball cards are coming to finance.

*****Getting on base is always valuable, because without getting on base, you can’t score.~JJL



Wednesday’s Top Three
Our most-read story Wednesday was the Financial Times’ Court deals blow to SEC in battle with exchanges over fees. Second was Walt Lukken’s video invitation – edited by JLN – for you to attend IDX-V, the virtual version of the annual IDX conference. Third was Bloomberg’s When Bakers Demanded More Flour, King Arthur Went to the Mills, which sounds like a headline from the 6th century, but is actually about a company that goes back to 1790.


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Lead Stories

Having Stolen the Spotlight, Now Robinhood Has to Dance; The startup free-trading company has captured the zeitgeist, but the online finance industry has evolved rapidly around it
Telis Demos – WSJ
The legendary thief of Nottingham may have operated solely for charity. But his namesake brokerage needs to figure out how to keep a slice for itself. Robinhood Markets has certainly captured the zeitgeist of the moment. Indeed, it helped usher in the age of free trading with its zero-commission mobile app. Launched in 2013, it has grown to more than 13 million accounts. Last year, most other U.S. online retail brokerages also moved to zero commissions on stock trades

Suicide of young Robinhood trader exposes dark side of small-investing boom
Thornton McEnery – NY Post
The day-trading explosion took a kick to the gut on Wednesday after it was revealed that a 20-year-old college student committed suicide after seeing a $730,000 negative balance on his Robinhood account. University of Nebraska student Alexander Kearns stepped in front of an oncoming train on June 12 after leaving a suicide note detailing his shame and anger at finding the negative balance, Forbes reported on Wednesday.

Singapore exchange suffers run of delistings; Companies continue to desert SGX as trading slows and prices languish
Hudson Lockett and Mercedes Ruehl – FT
Singapore’s stock exchange is on course for another dismal year of delistings as scarce liquidity and governance scandals undermine its efforts to compete with regional rival Hong Kong. Nine companies have dropped off the Singapore Exchange this year, or are in the process of doing so, according to Dealogic data, while just five companies have listed, putting this on track to be the second year in a row when more businesses have left the market than joined.

Companies Pitch Shortwave Radio to Shave Milliseconds Off Trades; They say they can beat fiber-optic cables in getting data across oceans.
Thomas Seal, Justina Lee – Bloomberg
High-frequency traders will famously do almost anything to get the latest market data and send their buy and sell orders a few milliseconds ahead of the competition. They blasted through mountains to build the most direct fiber-optic routes possible between exchanges in a competition that transformed global markets and was made famous by Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys. Soon, pinging light through glass fiber at more than 124,000 miles per second wasn’t fast enough—the glass slows things down—so traders moved on to microwave transmitters that send signals through the air.

U.K. Plans ‘Shock and Awe’ Info Campaign to Ready for Brexit
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
Information drive scheduled for July, increasing in autumn; Britain sees advertising effort as most important this year
The U.K. is planning a “shock and awe” information campaign to prepare companies for Brexit, bidding to reduce economic disruption when Britain completes its split from the European Union at year-end. From July, the British government intends a burst of activity explaining the consequences and opportunities of Brexit, according to a Cabinet Office document. Then, from September to October, it will move to a “shock and awe” phase, focusing on the consequences of not taking preparatory actions, according to the document.

Insider-trading investigation against U.S. senator dismissed
Patricia Zengerle – Reuters
The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee has cleared Senator Kelly Loeffler of wrongdoing in connection with stock trades, her office said on Wednesday, after the wealthy Republican – who is in a tough election race – was criticized over share sales during the coronavirus outbreak.

Tech IPOs back in the spotlight
Alexander Besant, Editor at LinkedIn
The tech IPO market is beginning to move again. While there had been a slowdown since March, some firms — particularly those that have weathered shutdowns — are once again gearing up to go public. A slew of firms have already filed for IPOs, including Vroom, SelectQuote and ZoomInfo. Palantir, a digital surveillance company, is also reportedly prepping a public offering. Tech darling Airbnb, which has struggled during the pandemic, hasn’t ruled out going public, says a report in The New York Times.

ICE moves to publish key fixed income and volatility indices in real-time; ICE Data Services has launched real-time publication of its fixed income and volatility indices, including the MOVE index.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
US exchange group ICE has confirmed it will publish some of its key fixed income and volatility indices in real-time rather than at the end of the trading day.

Morgan Stanley Says Quit Worrying About Giant Treasuries Supply
Chris Anstey – Bloomberg
Bill Murray’s rousing speech in “Meatballs” had his character reassure summer campers fearing failure with the refrain “it just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter.” That’s pretty much what some experts are saying about the record deluge of U.S. government debt this year, when it comes to its potential impact on bond yields. Morgan Stanley’s Guneet Dhingra put it this way in a note Wednesday: “supply will go up. So will demand.”

Finance’s Addiction to Dollars Leaves World Vulnerable to U.S.
Anchalee Worrachate – Bloomberg
Dollar accounts for nearly 50% of global funding, BIS says; Demand is driven by market-based funding, not bank lending
The U.S. dollar’s growing dominance in international finance means that American problems can quickly pose a threat to the entire world. That’s one takeaway from a report by a committee at the Bank for International Settlements, which noted that the greenback’s share as an international funding currency has grown to levels not seen since the early 2000s. Stresses in global funding markets earlier this year as the coronavirus began harming the U.S. economy highlight how easily a dollar-related shock can spread.

Denmark Opens Up Border to EU Countries With Low Contagion Rates
Morten Buttler – Bloomberg
Denmark will soon welcome citizens from European Union countries, including the U.K., which have less than 20 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants.

SNB Warns Markets It’ll Keep Up Fight Against Franc Strength
Catherine Bosley – Bloomberg
Deposit rate kept at record low of -0.75%, as forecast; GDP to shrink 6% on weak foreign trade and household spending
The Swiss National Bank said aggressive foreign exchange interventions remain its main tool for pushing back against the appreciation in the franc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nomura and partners launch digital asset custodian Komainu
Anna Irrera – Reuters
Japanese bank Nomura Holdings Inc and cryptocurrency partners Ledger and CoinShares launched Komainu, a custodian to safeguard digital assets for financial institutions, on Wednesday.

NYSE president says second half of year looks strong for IPOs
Initial public offerings have gained steam since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the pipeline going forward looks strong, Stacy Cunningham, president of Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s New York Stock Exchange, said on Wednesday.

PPP Small-Business Loans Left Behind Many of America’s Neediest Firms; The Paycheck Protection Program failed to take into account the widely varying needs and limitations of small businesses caught in Covid-19 lockdowns
Yuka Hayashi, Ruth Simon and Peter Rudegeair – WSJ
Congress and the Trump administration, in their bid to funnel more than $650 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses struggling through the pandemic, delivered a program that didn’t work for many that needed it.

Hertz suspends share sale after U.S. SEC raises objections
ankrupt Hertz Global Holdings Inc (HTZ.N) on Wednesday suspended its plan to sell up to $500 million in new shares after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) raised objections to the sale, the car rental firm said on Wednesday.

Minneapolis Fed President Says Systemic Racism Hurts the Economy; Neel Kashkari, who leads the regional bank based in the city where George Floyd died, took to Twitter to discuss the killing and why the United States needs to address underlying racism.
Jeanna Smialek – NY Times
Two days after George Floyd died in police custody and as videos of his killing circulated on social media, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis did something unusual for an official in his position: He sharply and publicly denounced law enforcement actions.

Bonuses Tied to Diversity in Banks’ Push for Long-Awaited Change
Hannah Levitt and Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
Wells Fargo to grade leaders on diversity before setting pay; Goldman announced similar move last year as scrutiny mounted
When frustrated U.S. lawmakers surveyed the nation’s top banks last year on whether they link diversity figures to executives’ compensation, the answer came back unanimous: No. Only half of the nation’s eight largest banks said they even consider diversity in performance reviews.

CFTC chair encourages principles-based approach to regulating digital assets
Ledger Insights
Heath Tarbert, Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) believes principles-based regulation should be applied to the fintech, blockchain and digital asset sectors. Writing in the Harvard Business Law Review (HBLR), he compared principles-based regulation to more prescriptive rule-based regulation, weighing the pros, cons and contexts.


Village Life in India Won’t Be the Same as Coronavirus Chases Migrants Out of Cities; The migration is hitting economies in villages that depended on remittances from workers
Vibhuti Agarwal, Krishna Pokharel and Rajesh Roy – WSJ
The village of Sarna Toli in eastern India hasn’t recorded one coronavirus case. Yet the rural enclave of about 250 people has been transformed by the global pandemic.

Coronavirus Is Taking a High Toll on Sweden’s Elderly. Families Blame the Government.; Discontent is growing over official triage guidelines critics say too often deny elderly patients vital care
Bojan Pancevski – WSJ
When 81-year-old Jan Andersson fell ill with Covid-19 at a nursing home in the Swedish town of Märsta, a doctor consulted by phone ordered palliative care, including morphine, instead of trying to help him fend off the infection.

Americans Skip Millions of Loan Payments as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll; In high-cost areas, jobless benefits aren’t enough to help debt-laden borrowers pay down their bills
AnnaMaria Andriotis – WSJ
Americans have skipped payments on more than 100 million student loans, auto loans and other forms of debt since the coronavirus hit the U.S., the latest sign of the toll the pandemic is taking on people’s finances.

The long road to a Covid-19 vaccine; The world is waiting for a breakthrough that will allow a return to normality but there are possible risks attached
Anjana Ahuja – FT
It was hailed as a breakthrough vaccine for dengue fever, a neglected tropical disease that kills about 20,000 people each year. Dengvaxia, made by Sanofi Pasteur, was being rolled out to more than 800,000 schoolchildren in the Philippines when reports began trickling in of vaccinated children falling seriously ill, and some dying.

Apple Watch, Fitbit May Help Spot Emerging Coronavirus Outbreaks; Fitness trackers monitor metrics like heart rate that can be early indicators of illness.
Tome Giles, Kristen V Brown – Bloomberg
Petri Hollmen was feeling fine the morning of March 12 when he got a troubling reading from the smart ring he wears to track sleep. His “readiness,” a well-being indicator measured by the device, was registering far below normal. The Finnish entrepreneur wasn’t feeling any of the symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus, but because he’d recently returned to his home in Turku, Finland, from a ski trip to Austria, he got a Covid-19 test anyway. “I felt a bit shamed to do that, since I felt perfectly fine,” he wrote in a Facebook post. The results showed that Hollmen had, in fact, been infected.

Hydroxychloroquine Halted in WHO-Sponsored Covid-19 Trials
Thomas Mulier – Bloomberg
Anti-malaria drug fails to show ability to reduce Covid deaths; Independent committee made decision to suspend trial arm
Tests of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, were halted in a World Health Organization trial of potential Covid-19 treatments. The hydroxychloroquine arm of the WHO’s Solidarity trial was stopped after advisers concluded that the drug shows no benefit compared to the standard of care in reducing deaths, Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, a WHO medical officer, said Wednesday at a briefing in Geneva.

Bank of England Steps Up Virus Fight With Bond-Buying Boost
Lucy Meakin and David Goodman – Bloomberg
Quantitative easing target increased by 100 billion pounds; Chief Economist Haldane dissented, voting for no change
The Bank of England intensified its response to the fallout from the coronavirus by expanding its bond-buying program, taking another step in the uphill battle to lift the economy out of the worst recession in centuries.

Why Acting Fast Is the Key to Beating a Second Wave of Covid-19
Chloe Whiteaker, Adrian Leung and Jeremy Scott Diamond – Bloomberg
Many nations are emerging from lockdowns even as experts are predicting a second wave of Covid-19 infections. Based on the first wave, they can avoid the worst if they move deftly. Governments that hesitated to mount a broad containment response when the virus first emerged ended up with eight times as many deaths per 100,000 citizens, on average, compared to those that sprung into action soon after—or even before—confirming their first case. That’s according to a Bloomberg News analysis of the Stringency Index—which measures the strictness of “lockdown style” policies tracked by Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government—and data on Covid-19 infections compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus: China calls on banks to give up US$212 billion in profits to finance cheap business lending; In latest stimulus step, China’s State Council calls on banks to give up equivalent of 75 per cent of their 2019 profits to help stead the economy; China’s central bank will direct financial institutions to lower lending rates, add fresh funds at low rates for borrowers and slash service fees
Daniel Ren, Orange Wang, Yujing Liu – South China Morning Post
China’s government is reaching beyond its monetary policy tool box to free up capital and direct funds towards the nation’s cash-starved businesses to help the economy claw its way out of its worst slump in four decades.

‘Covid baby bust’ could lead to half a million fewer births next year
Christopher Ingraham – Washington Post
In a new report, economists writing for the Brookings Institution estimate that the United States could see “on the order of 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year” as a result of the economic recession triggered by the novel coronavirus.

The ultimate covid-19 mystery: Why does it spare some and kill others?
Joel Achenbach, Karin Brulliard and Ariana Eunjung Cha – Washington Post
The novel coronavirus can be a killer — or no big deal. It can put a person in the intensive care unit on a ventilator, isolated from family, facing a lonely death — or it can come and go without leaving a mark, a ghost pathogen, more rumor than reality.

Egypt thought it dodged the worst of the pandemic. But now hospitals are being overwhelmed.
Sudarsan Raghavan – Washington Post
Abdo Fathi was desperate. His 57-year-old mother, already suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, had tested positive for the coronavirus and spent two weeks in isolation at her home when her body broke down. She began having trouble breathing.

What We Can Learn From People Who Worked Remotely Pre-Pandemic; Clear guidelines, open communications, and transparent scheduling are key.
Sarah Green Carmichael – Bloomberg
For anyone unaccustomed to working from home, the last few months have been a rough transition. With more companies each day announcing they’ll allow remote work for the indefinite future, it’s time to make another shift: from seeing work-from-home arrangements as temporary to considering them a long-term reality.

Northwestern to reopen in fall; The school, which anticipates that a “significant portion” of fall instruction will happen remotely, will ask returning students to follow health protocols.
Lynne Marek – Crain’s Chicago Business
Northwestern University plans to reconvene classes on campus in the fall after sending students home early last spring as the coronavirus led to state lockdowns nationwide.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Product Modification Summary: Amendments to the Options on the South African Rand/US Dollar (ZAR/USD) Futures and the Options on the Russian Ruble/US Dollar (RUB/USD) Futures Contracts – Effective July 13, 2020
CME Clearing
Amendments to the Options on the South African Rand/US Dollar (ZAR/USD) Futures and the Options on the Russian Ruble/US Dollar (RUB/USD) Futures Contracts.

Position Limits and Large Trader Reporting Requirements in Connection with the Initial Listing of KC HRW Wheat-Wheat Intercommodity Spread Options Contract
# MSN06-17-20
CME Group
In connection with the listing of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc.’s (“CBOT” or “Exchange”) KC HRW Wheat-Wheat Intercommodity Spread Options contract (the “Contract”) on trade date Monday, June 22, 2020 (see SER-8605 dated June 2, 2020), please note below and in Exhibit B of CBOT Submission No. 20-213 the corresponding aggregation allocations (Rule 559.D.), single month and all month position limits (Rule 559), and reportable level (Rule 561) for the new contract.

Notice of Disciplinary Action
CME Group
MEMBER: Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC
CBOT RULE VIOLATIONS: Rule 562 (“Position Limit Violations”) (in part)
Any positions, including positions established intraday, in excess of those permitted under the rules of the Exchange shall be deemed position limit violations.
PENALTY: In accordance with the settlement offer, the Panel ordered Goldman to pay a fine in the amount of $15,000.

Notice of Disciplinary Action
CME Group
MEMBER: Mellon Investments Corporation
CBOT RULE VIOLATIONS: Rule 562 (“Position Limit Violations”) (in part)
Any positions, including positions established intraday, in excess of those permitted under the rules of the Exchange shall be deemed position limit violations.
PENALTY: In accordance with the settlement offer, the Panel ordered Mellon to pay a fine in the amount of $25,000 and ordered disgorgement of the profit in the amount of $9,720.

ICE Data Services Launches Real-Time Publication of Key Fixed Income Indices
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced that ICE Data Services has launched real-time publication of several of its most popular fixed income indices. These indices will continue to be administered by ICE Data Indices, LLC (“IDI”).

HKEX to Launch new Sustainable and Green Exchange
First-of-its kind new sustainable finance platform in Asia; STAGE will promote the visibility, transparency, and accessibility of sustainable and green financial products; The online repository of sustainability, green and social bonds and ESG-related Exchange Traded Products will be launched in the initial phase, later this year
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is pleased to announce plans to launch the HKEX Sustainable and Green Exchange, ‘STAGE’. This pioneering new information platform is the first-of-its kind in Asia, and will act as a central hub for data and information on sustainable and green finance investments in the region.

Eurex Exchange Readiness Newsflash | Reminder regarding mandatory PIN procedure for Trading on Behalf (ToB) and other inquiries
With this Newsflash we would like to remind you that as of 3 August 2020, Eurex Market Supervision will enforce the mandatory PIN authentication procedure for ToB and further inquiries in order to improve the identification procedure of the requesting Exchange Participant.

Eurex MSCI Derivatives: More than 945,000 contracts traded past two days
Roll activity picks up in MSCI Europe (ZRP) and MSCI World (RSW and ZWP) | Facts & Figures
Total MSCI Open Interest over USD 128 Billion; Roll activity picks up in MSCI World (RSW and ZWP), Europe (ZRP) and EM Asia (ZTW)
Eurex has the most comprehensive suite of MSCI derivatives across all time zones, including alternatives directly available.


High-flying German fintech Wirecard plunges as millions go missing
Amy Thomson – Fortune
Wirecard AG, the German payments firm that’s fending off allegations about its accounting, delayed the publication of its annual financial results for the fourth time after auditors were unable to find about 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in cash. The shares collapsed.

In Fintech, Fiat and Crypto Worlds Are Converging
Ajit Tripathi – Yahoo Finance
Ajit Tripathi, a CoinDesk columnist, is an executive director at Binance and the crypto co-host of the Breaking Banks Europe podcast. Previously, he served as a Fintech Partner at ConsenSys and a co-founder of PwC’s U.K. Blockchain Practice. The opinions expressed here are his personal views.

Connamara Launches RFQ Functionality for EP3 Platform
Connamara Press Release
At Connamara, one of our values is to continuously communicate with our clients. This often entails direct communication regarding an ongoing project, but it can also mean listening to ideas about projects and features that don’t currently exist. After hearing demand from numerous customers, today we’re pleased to announce that we are adding Request For Quote (RFQ) functionality to our EP3 platform.

SteelEye Highlights The Need For A Data-Centric Approach To Compliance
SteelEye, the compliance technology and data analytics firm, today published “Data-Driven Financial Services Compliance – Understanding the Opportunity”, a white paper which explores the key challenges faced by compliance teams within financial markets as they navigate regulatory change.

Broadridge and Tradeweb founder launch AI-powered bond trading platform; Tradeweb founder Jim Toffey worked with Broadridge to create the new bond trading platform using AI technology.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Trading technology provider Broadridge has launched a new corporate bond trading platform that uses artificial intelligence, after teaming up with Tradeweb founder Jim Toffey.

Analysis of AMF data reveals largest ELP SI market shares in France; By cross referencing other market share data in Europe The TRADE reveals which ELP SIs were analysed by the AMF in the first quarter, and how they ranked in terms of market share.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
XTX Markets grew its market share as an electronic liquidity provider systematic internaliser (ELP SI) in French equities from around 8% to a market-leading 13% during the first quarter, according to a recent analysis on stats from France’s regulatory watchdog.

Broadridge Creates New AI-Driven Digital Execution Platform To Bring Next-Generation Liquidity To Corporate Bonds – LTX® Platform Executes First Trades With Broker-Dealers And Their Buy-Side Customers
Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE:BR), a global fintech leader, today announced that its new AI-driven corporate bond trading platform, LTX®, has executed its first trades. Broadridge has partnered with Jim Toffey, founder of Tradeweb Markets, to create LTX, which combines powerful artificial intelligence (AI) with a new digital execution protocol that enables broker-dealers to significantly improve market liquidity, efficiency and execution for their buy-side customers.


World’s first centrally cleared Bitcoin ETN launched on Xetra; Easy access to Bitcoin / product cryptocurrency performance with full physical collateral
Deutsche Börse Group
ETC Issuance’s BTCetc Bitcoin Exchange Traded Crypto (ISIN: DE000A27Z304) was the world’s first centrally cleared Bitcoin tracker to be listed on Xetra. The Exchange Traded Note (ETN) was admitted to the regulated market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and is fully secured by Bitcoin.

Wall Street Greets WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF Plan With Doubt
Claire Ballentine and Vildana Hajric – Bloomberg
SEC turned down prior proposals for cryptocurrency ETFs; Firm files to launch fund that includes Bitcoin futures
WisdomTree Investments Inc. is looking to start a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, but it faces an uphill battle for approval. The New York-based asset manager plans to launch a fund that could invest as much as 5% of its net assets in Bitcoin futures traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

China Bitcoin Mining Gear Maker Launches U.S. IPO
Julia Fioretti – Bloomberg
Ebang International has launched a roadshow for its U.S. initial public offering that could raise as much as $126 million, becoming the second Chinese Bitcoin mining machine maker to seek a U.S. listing.

Blockchain Platform We.Trade Reportedly Slashes Workforce by Half; The blockchain trade finance platform backed by major banks reportedly laid off almost half of its workforce due to a lack of funding.
Owing to ongoing financial difficulties, the IBM Hyperledger-powered trade finance blockchain platform we.trade is laying off almost half of its workforce. According to a Global Trade Review report, “more than a dozen employees” were laid off and most of them belonged to the commercial and product-focused verticals of the company.

Popular crypto debit cards issuer Wirecard is unable to locate $2 billion worth of cash
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Wirecard AG, a German payment processor and an issuer of Crypto.com and TenX debit cards, is in trouble. The company’s auditor EY is unable to find evidence for 1.9 billion euros (over $2 billion) worth of cash balances on Wirecard’s trust accounts. Wirecard said “spurious” balances may have been provided by a third party “in order to deceive the auditor”.

Bitfinex Granted 2 of 3 Subpoenas in Hunt for Missing Millions
Sebastian Sinclair – Coindesk
Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has suffered a minor blow in its hunt for millions of dollars that went missing two years ago. Bitfinex’s parent firm, iFinex Inc., is seeking to trace $850 million in user funds seized by authorities in four different countries after bank accounts held by its payment processor, Crypto Capital, were frozen in August 2018. iFinex applied for subpoenas in Colorado, Arizona and Georgia in April, but the U.S. District Court of Georgia recently denied its request due to filing errors.

BISON introduces Bitcoin Cash trading; Deposit of Litecoin possible // Test phase for desktop version // Number of active users grows by 110 percent in 2020
Boerse Stuttgart Group’
Uncomplicated and secure trading in cryptocurrencies on the smartphone: this is possible with BISON, Boerse Stuttgart Group’s crypto app. BISON has now introduced Bitcoin Cash as an additional tradable cryptocurrency. Another new feature is the possibility to transfer Litecoin from a private wallet to BISON. “We are continuously screening for which cryptocurrencies we can offer trading and custody in the reliable set-up of BISON. Trading Bitcoin Cash and the deposit option for Litecoin are now the next steps. Further cryptocurrencies will follow after thorough technical and regulatory examination,” said Dr Ulli Spankowski, CEO of Sowa Labs GmbH, the subsidiary of Boerse Stuttgart Digital Ventures GmbH which developed the BISON app.

South Korea to Unveil Rules of Cryptocurrency Taxation in July
Aziz Abdel-Qader – Finance Magnates
The South Korean government is set to announce the final details of taxing income generated from cryptocurrency transactions after years of discussion about the virtual asset that yet remains in a grey area. Quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said his ministry will announce the details next month.

Polkadot Is Latest Blockchain to Explore Redeemable Bitcoin Tokens
Brady Dale – Coindesk
The latest blockchain to announce a token redeemable for bitcoin (BTC) is Polkadot. It’s only a proof-of-concept at this point and Polkadot is running but not usable yet, but a company called Interlay has designed a model under a Web3 Foundation grant for locking BTC on the Bitcoin blockchain and minting what it’s calling PolkaBTC on Polkadot. If Polkadot does prove to be a meeting place for different blockchains, then the interoperability project will have to touch the original crypto asset, and that’s bitcoin.

DEX protocol Bancor suffered security vulnerability, migrated $455K worth of user funds
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Decentralized exchange (DEX) protocol Bancor Network suffered a security vulnerability late Wednesday, which could have resulted in a loss of around $455,349 worth of user funds. But Bancor soon discovered the issue and migrated the funds to a safe wallet. Specifically, there was a bug in Bancor’s latest smart contracts, which were deployed two days ago. Therefore, all users who interacted with the exchange protocol in the last 48 hours, were affected.

Binance Joins Indian Tech Association That Helped Overturn Crypto Banking Ban
Sebastian Sinclair – Coindesk
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, has joined the Indian tech industry association that helped overturn the nation’s crypto banking ban earlier this year. The cooperation between Binance and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is an early step in implementing industry best practices in the Indian crypto market, according to a press statement. India’s crypto sector has rapidly emerged after the lifting of a de facto ban in March 2020. Binance is now a member of the IAMAI’s crypto committee.

JPMorgan nabs former Gemini executive to work on wholesale payments innovation
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Sarah Olsen, a former executive at crypto exchange Gemini, has joined the ranks of JPMorgan’s blockchain staff, a spokesperson for the bank confirmed to The Block. Olsen, who previously was a managing director at Gemini, joined JPMorgan in June, according to her LinkedIn profile. As an executive director in JPMorgan’s corporate investment bank, Olsen will be responsible for business development within the firm’s wholesale payments innovation team.

Russia’s Ministry of Justice Latest to Criticize Proposed Crypto Ban
Anna Baydakova – Coindesk
Russia’s new draft bill prohibiting crypto operations in the country has again suffered a less-than-glowing review from an arm of government. The nation’s Ministry of Justice opposed the draft new regulation Tuesday, a week after the Ministry of Economic Development also criticized it. The bill was introduced by lawmakers in March but is broadly believed to be the brainchild of the country’s central bank, which has a prohibitive approach to crypto.

XRP Isn’t A Security, Declares Former CFTC Chairman
Michael del Castillo – Forbes
When Chris Giancarlo was the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission he became a rock-star of sorts in certain corners of the cryptocurrency community, helping establish criteria that eventually led to bitcoin and ethereum being declared commodities, more like coffee or sugar than stock in a company. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission largely followed suit, eventually also declaring that bitcoin and ether, the cryptocurrency powering the ethereum blockchain weren’t securities.

Coinbase open-sources the software it uses to integrate new blockchains
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Coinbase has open-sourced the technical framework it’s been using to list new tokens to its platform, the San Francisco exchange announced Wednesday.


New Conservative Media Chief Dismisses Heads of U.S.-Funded News Outlets; The moves by Michael Pack, a Trump administration appointee, raised concerns that the news organizations would become partisan.
Edward Wong – WSJ
A conservative filmmaker who recently took over a United States global media agency removed the chiefs of four news organizations under its purview on Wednesday night, according to people with knowledge of the decision, in an action that raises questions about their editorial independence.

Trump Put Re-Election Prospects Ahead of National Interest, Bolton Alleges; Former national security adviser says in new book that president withheld Ukraine aid for political favors, asked Chinese president to help him win 2020 race
Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus – WSJ
President Trump’s decision-making consistently prioritized his re-election and his family’s well-being ahead of the national interest, according to a new book from his former national security adviser, John Bolton, who describes “obstruction of justice as a way of life” inside the Trump White House and denounces what he says is the president’s penchant to “give personal favors to dictators he liked.”

Wall Street takes aim at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in party primary; Blackstone’s Schwarzman and Goldman’s Solomon among donors to her challenger in Democratic race
Sujeet Indap, James Fontanella-Khan, Christine Zhang and Fan Fei – FT
Some of Wall Street’s most powerful figures have poured money into the campaign to defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her bid for re-election to the US House of Representatives, underscoring the self-described Democratic socialist’s tense relationship with her city’s most prominent industry.

*****One Congresswoman is such a threat?~JJL

Donald Trump asked Xi Jinping for election help, John Bolton claims; Former adviser calls US president ‘stunningly uninformed’ and ‘erratic’ in excerpts from book
Demetri Sevastopulo – FT
Donald Trump urged Chinese president Xi Jinping to buy more US agricultural produce to help him win re-election, according to an explosive book from his former national security adviser John Bolton.

Netflix CEO Hastings Pledges $120 Million for Black Colleges
Gerry Smith – Bloomberg
Netflix Inc. Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings and his wife are donating $120 million to fund scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities, pouring their wealth into education as the country reckons with racial inequality. Spelman College, Morehouse College and the United Negro College Fund each will get $40 million from Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin. It’s the largest individual contribution to fund scholarships at such institutions, known as HBCUs, according to a statement.

Racism Is Rampant on Reddit, and Its Editors Are in Open Revolt; The site’s CEO says it will implement a new hate speech policy.
Eric Newcomer – Bloomberg
The volunteer moderators of Reddit Inc.’s r/blackladies community—an online message board that currently has over 40,000 members—wrote an open letter outlining their frustrations with the popular website in August 2014. They had pitched their message board, known as a subreddit, as a safe space for Black women, but were being deluged with hateful comments and links to racist content from anonymous accounts. “They are relentless, coming in barrages,” the moderators wrote. “We have a racist user problem and Reddit won’t take action.”

Hungary Loses EU Clash Over Curbs on Soros-Linked Groups
Stephanie Bodoni – Bloomberg
EU top court ruling on Hungary’s 2017 NGO law is binding; Controversial law led Soros’s NGO group to move to Berlin
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lost a court fight with the European Union over controversial curbs on foreign-funded non-governmental organizations and groups linked to financier George Soros. The Hungarian law imposed “discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on foreign donations to civil society organizations,” the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg said in a final ruling on Thursday.

Free speech — not national security — is at stake in Trump’s absurd lawsuit against John Bolton’s Book
Editorial Board – Washington Post
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the Justice Department insists that it wants to stop former national security adviser John Bolton from damaging national security by revealing secret information in his forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened.” In fact, the primary danger is to President Trump, who, if early leaks are any indication, has much to fear from an unvarnished account of his behavior. The suit is absurd, and the Justice Department should be ashamed to be associated with a clear attempt to harass a man trying to detail Mr. Trump’s malfeasance.

Several U.S. banks to close branches, offices early for Juneteenth
Several U.S. banks are closing branches and offices early on Friday to observe the Juneteenth holiday, which commemorates the day in 1865 when the last group of enslaved African Americans learned slavery was abolished.

Lack of Transparency Could Hinder Virus Bailout, Oversight Board Warns; A Pandemic Response Accountability Committee report called for more accurate information about bailout spending.
Alan Rappeport – NY Times
The new federal oversight board responsible for tracking how $2.4 trillion in bailout money is being spent warned on Wednesday that a lack of transparency and feeble reporting requirements could hamper its efforts to ensure that the funds are being deployed properly.

Trump administration proposes rolling back protections for big tech
Diane Bartz, Alexandra Alper – Reuters
The U.S. Justice Department proposed on Wednesday that Congress take up legislation to curb protections big tech platforms like Alphabet’s Google and Facebook have had for decades, a senior official said, following through on President Donald Trump’s bid to crack down on tech giants.


FCA to make mini-bond marketing ban permanent
The FCA has today announced proposals to make permanent its ban on the mass-marketing of speculative illiquid securities, including speculative mini-bonds, to retail investors.

UK regulator permanently bans marketing of mini bonds; High-risk products were at centre of London Capital & Finance scandal
Matthew Vincent – FT
Britain’s financial regulator is to ban the marketing of high-risk “mini bonds” to retail investors permanently, after nearly 12,000 pensioners and small savers lost £236m in the collapse of London Capital and Finance.

Federal Court Orders Alabama Man to Pay $755,000 for Binary Options Fraud
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued an order granting a permanent injunction against Aaron B. Butler, a former resident of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and requiring him to pay a combined $755,000 in restitution and civil monetary penalty for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations. The order also imposes permanent trading and registration bans on Butler, among other injunctive relief.

SEC Names Jennifer S. Leete as Associate Director in Enforcement Division
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Jennifer S. Leete has been named Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. Ms. Leete succeeds Antonia Chion, who retired from the agency in February 2020. In her new role, she will supervise approximately 50 attorneys, paralegals, and staff responsible for investigating a wide variety of securities law violations.

Insurance Company and Former CFO Charged With Faulty Loss Reserves Disclosures
Defendants to Pay $10.5 Million to Settle SEC Charges
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged international insurance company AmTrust Financial Services Inc. and its former CFO Ronald E. Pipoly Jr. with failing to disclose material facts about how the company estimated its insurance losses and reserves. They have agreed to pay a combined $10.5 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

Report from FINRA Board of Governors Meeting – June 2020; Board Approves Annual Financial Report, Enforcement Digital Transformation Initiative and Three Rulemaking Items
FINRA’s Board of Governors met virtually on June 10 and 11. During the meeting, the Board approved three rulemaking items and approved the organization’s Annual Financial Report, which FINRA issues each year to provide transparency regarding its finances. The 2019 report will be published in the coming weeks.

Update: FINRA Board of Governors Meeting
FINRA’s Board of Governors met virtually last week, and I am pleased to share some updates from our discussions. The Board approved three rulemaking items (listed below) and approved the organization’s 2019 Annual Financial Report, which will be published in the coming weeks. The Board also approved a proposal to enhance FINRA Enforcement’s technology platform. This three-year Enforcement Digital Transformation is designed to improve efficiencies in the case workflow process, reduce maintenance costs and deliver additional annual savings.

ESMA integrates the 2020 IFRS taxonomy into ESEF RTS
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU securities markets regulator, today publishes a draft amendment to the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF).

Federal Court imposes $1.8m penalty on One Tech Media Ltd and permanently bans Eustace Senese from managing corporations and carrying on financial services businesses
On 17 June 2020, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia delivered judgment regarding pecuniary penalties, disqualification orders and injunctions in a binary options case ASIC brought against One Tech Media Ltd (OTML), Allianz Metro Pty Ltd (Allianz Metro), Eustace Senese and Yoav Ida.

Scam alert: ASIC sees a rise in crypto scams
An increased number of Australians have reported crypto-asset (or cryptocurrency) scams to ASIC; Most crypto ‘investment opportunities’ reported to ASIC appear to be outright scams;Offenders are difficult to catch and lost money can be difficult to recover, especially when offenders operate outside of Australia and all contact has been online; Australian investors may lose all of the money they invest in fake crypto-assets.

Advertising financial products and services: obligations and ASIC’s expectations
ASIC is actively monitoring financial services advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASIC will act where we see misleading claims and predatory behaviour.

Ontario Securities Commission Announces Leadership Of New Office Of Economic Growth And Innovation – OSC’s Pat Chaukos To Lead The Office; Entrepreneur And Financial Industry Veteran Doug Steiner Joins The OSC In Senior Advisory Role
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today announced the leadership of its newly-established Office of Economic Growth and Innovation (Office). A central part of the Ontario Government’s five-point capital markets plan, the new office focuses on accelerating innovation, bolstering capital formation and reducing regulatory burden in Ontario’s capital markets.

Investing and Trading

The fall of currencies under the spell of stocks worries strategists; Analysts note that exchange rates have become detached from the usual drivers
Eva Szalay – FT
Currency analysts are lamenting an avalanche of cheap money from the US Federal Reserve, which they say has created bizarre conditions in which exchange rates track stocks rather than economic fundamentals.

Mars Inc says evaluating changing Uncle Ben’s brand image
Martinne Geller – Reuters
Mars Inc is “evaluating all possibilities” regarding changes to its Uncle Ben’s rice brand image, the food company told Reuters on Wednesday, following news that PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) was dropping its Aunt Jemima brand.

U.S. shale companies to boost oil output by 500,000 bpd by month-end
Devika Krishna Kumar, Jennifer Hiller – Reuters
U.S. shale producers are expected to restore roughly half a million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output by the end of June, according to crude buyers and analysts, amounting to a quarter of what they shut since the coronavirus pandemic cut fuel demand and hammered oil prices.


UBS Asset Management COO returns to Vontobel as financial chief; Dr Martin Sieg Castagnola will step down as CFO after 12 years in the position, to be replaced by UBS Asset Management operating chief, Thomas Heinzl.
Kiays Khalil – The Trade
UBS Asset Management’s chief operating officer and chairman in Switzerland is set to return to Vontobel to become the investment manager’s chief financial officer.

Majority of global asset managers looking to outsource trading with custodians; Survey of 300 global asset managers by Northern Trust found 85% have outsourced or are interested in outsourcing their trading desk.
Joe Parsons – The Trade
Global asset managers are increasingly looking to outsource trading operations and are also considering other areas such as data management, as the buy-side rethinks their operating models post-COVID-19.

Banks rush to borrow record EUR1.3tn at negative rates from ECB; Central bank offers ultra-cheap loans to prevent pandemic becoming credit crunch
Martin Arnold – FT
Banks have rushed to borrow a record EUR1.3tn from the European Central Bank at deeply negative interest rates, in the latest monetary policy drive to boost liquidity in the eurozone’s pandemic-stricken economy.

UBS, Credit Suisse May Face Worsening Credit Quality, SNB Warns
Patrick Winters – Bloomberg
?????UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG are likely to face worsening credit quality and falling demand for wealth-management and investment-banking services because of the pandemic, according to the Swiss National Bank.

Ex-Morgan Stanley diversity officer says bank slashed her budget by 71%
Elizabeth Dilts Marshall – Reuters
A lawyer representing a former Morgan Stanley (MS.N) diversity officer who is suing the bank over racial discrimination said on Wednesday the bank cut her client’s budget for promoting diversity and financial education by 71% from the time she started in wealth management to 2019.

Big Banks Are Finally Hiring Again With Coders in Demand
Lulu Yilun Chen – Bloomberg
DBS is creating 360 jobs in tech to support its digital drive; OCBC is adding positions in data, information systems security
A hiring slowdown at banks in Asia is beginning to thaw, driven by demand for coders. Lenders including DBS Group Holding Ltd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and Citigroup Inc. are adding workers to their tech departments in the region despite the economic downturn. Financial institutions are especially hungry for mobile app designers and data scientists who can build systems to crunch figures and move business online, recruiters say.


Europeans vow to pursue digital tax plans after US pulls plug on talks; Paris, London and Brussels say they will look at new ways of taxing multinationals despite threat of trade war
Sam Fleming and Jim Brunsden, Chris Giles, Victor Mallet – FT
The EU has defied the US by vowing to pursue its own plans for digital taxes after Washington pulled out of global negotiations on the matter and threatened to impose tariffs in retaliation against national levies.

Bundesbank boss moves to defuse row between ECB and German court; Jens Weidmann tells MPs he is confident clash over bond-buying programme can be resolved
Martin Arnold and Guy Chazan – FT
The head of Germany’s central bank has sought to defuse a clash between the country’s highest court and the European Central Bank by suggesting three ways the impasse over eurozone sovereign bond purchases could be resolved.

Sweden Raises Forecast for Economy as Recovery Starts to Pick Up
Niclas Rolander – Bloomberg
Sweden has raised its forecast for the economy amid signs of a recovery following the country’s softer lockdown approach. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson now expects GDP to contract by 6% this year compared to a previous forecast of about 7%.

Cargill concerned about Brazil government ‘insults’ to top trade partner China
Ana Mano – Reuters
Insults by Brazilian government officials aimed at China, the country’s main trading partner, are detrimental to Brazil’s business interests and “not even very smart,” the chief executive of Cargill’s local operations said on Wednesday.


UK criticised for trying to revisit feta and champagne in Brexit talks; EU’s chief negotiator says Britain wants to reopen deal to protect speciality foods
Jim Brunsden – FT
Michel Barnier has criticised the UK for trying to reopen an agreement to protect EU regional food specialities such as champagne and feta, saying the move is “not compatible” with a sustainable future relationship.

Britain gets a glimpse of life after Brexit; The lesson from the pandemic is that national ‘sovereignty’ does not answer the challenges facing the UK
Philip Stephens – FT
The Covid-19 pandemic has offered advance sight of post-Brexit Britain. The mantra of Boris Johnson’s government is that, unshackled from the EU, the nation will be “world-beating”. Free to make national choices and set its own scenery on the international stage, it will champion free trade from its own seat at the World Trade Organization and decide its own policies for global challenges such as climate change.

U.K. Plans ‘Shock and Awe’ Info Campaign to Ready for Brexit
Joe Mayes – Bloomberg
The U.K. is planning a “shock and awe” information campaign to prepare companies for Brexit, bidding to reduce economic disruption when Britain completes its split from the European Union at year-end. From July, the British government intends a burst of activity explaining the consequences and opportunities of Brexit, according to a Cabinet Office document. Then, from September to October, it will move to a “shock and awe” phase, focusing on the consequences of not taking preparatory actions, according to the document.

Macron visits London to mark de Gaulle’s WW2 resistance call and talk Brexit
Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden – Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron visits London on Thursday for a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s call for wartime resistance, and also to discuss Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It is Macron’s first trip outside France and one of the most high-profile visits by a foreign leader since countries across the globe imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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