Individual-Investor Boom Reshapes U.S. Stock Market

Aug 31, 2020

First Read

OneChicago to close on September 18 for trading. Long live OneChicago.
By John Lothian

OneChicago was a name given to a securities futures exchange that was an idea that never lived up to its name. It was initially a collaboration between the CME, CBOE and the CBOT.

Securities futures exchange OneChicago put out a notice to members on August 14 that it would wind down trading operations and stop them entirely on September 18.

The collaboration between the CME Group, Cboe Global Markets and Interactive Brokers ultimately fell apart after 19 years. The joint venture effort imagined as a battle between Chicago (derivatives) and New York (equities) is irrelevant today based on the changes to the industry, the markets and the firms themselves.

However, adding a securities futures exchange arm to the partner firms of 2020 probably makes more sense than doing it collaboratively with competitors. We might just see one or more of the partners start a new securities futures exchange as a go-alone effort.

To read the rest of this commentary, go here.


OneChicago and Single Stock Futures Helped Make the John Lothian Newsletter
By John Lothian

The John Lothian Newsletter started in 2000 as a viral marketing experiment to help me grow my online brokerage business, but also my promotion of Commodity Trading Advisors. That was the economic reasoning for starting at the time.

However, the idea of single stock futures was also a driving reason for the creation of the newsletter and its virtual growth. At the time, I worked for an Introducing Broker. I did not know how single stock futures were going to impact the industry and its structure, but I had a sinking feeling that IBs were going to be on the losing side of that.

I needed a career hedge in case the IB business was gravely harmed by the introduction of this long desired product. Creating the newsletter would give me higher visibility in the industry, helping me network with people I knew and people I would come to know.

To read the rest of this commentary, go here.


Hits & Takes
John Lothian & J LN Staff

I received a note on Friday afternoon from a OneChicago executive with the August 14 notice the exchange was going to close. I was surprised and embarrassed all at once that I had missed this news from a week before.

As I wrote above, the creation of OneChicago and single stock futures help drive the development and popularity of this newsletter. I am still a believer in the potential for single stock futures, though the obstacles to success still are tough. I do expect we shall see some people get back into the sector. I have always said ownership matters and OneChicago just had the wrong ownership configuration and grouping.

Speaking of OneChicago, former OneChicago executive Peter Borish was featured on the podcast “The Rabbi’s Husband.” The subject of his chat was “Leviticus 25:35-38 – “No standing by.” Borish talks about how his prediction of the stock market crash of 1987 helped create the charity Robinhood.

The CME Group today announced the launch of options on its Micro E-mini S&P 500 and Micro E-mini Nasdaq-100 futures contracts. They are available for trading today.

Some of the notable stories and notices of the day are “10 years Eurex and Korea Exchange – a prime example of a successful partnership” from Eurex, “Berkshire Hathaway Buys Stakes Valued at a Total of $6 Billion in Five Japanese Companies,” “TikTok Deal Talks Are Slowed Over New China Rules,” and World’s Richest People Smashed Wealth Records This Week.

Oliver Frischemeier, the head of corporate engagement & executive services at Deutsche Boerse, is celebrating this 10th anniversary at the exchange. He started as a student assistant and worked his way up. Congratulations Oliver!

The valuation of Chicago’s Palmer House hotel is 45% lower than it was two years ago, indicating how much the pandemic has impacted the hospitality sector.

NZX is trading normally today, despite new cyber attacks, it reports. However, the NZX website is still offline and still under attack.

The slowdown in air traffic has left one of United Airlines’ snack suppliers with 15 tons of high quality mixed nuts. If you want some nuts at a good price, now is your chance. Also, United Airlines dropped its $200 flight transfer fee. American Airlines is cutting its October flights by 55% versus last year and cutting out 15 cities because of the pandemic. has a story that the “Winklevoss Forecast Bitcoin to Reach $500K.” By the same token, the magazine imshameless predicts I will be named most handsome man of 2020.

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


Hemp Prices: “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up”
By Thom Thompson – John Lothian News

The August 2020 Hemp: Benchmarks and Analysis was published last week by our friends at PanXchange. Now, at the end of August the harvest of field grown industrial hemp has not only begun, but also some early harvested hemp targeted to the cannabidiol (CBD) market is beginning to change hands.

PanXchange reports that they have seen new crop CBD hemp trading at a premium to last year’s crop. The premium for new crop hemp reflects, at least in part, the risk that the cannabinoid profile of hemp can deteriorate over time. Dominated by transactions for last year’s crop, PanXchange’s August price data show the price of CBD hemp stuck in the basement where it has been all this year. There is still a large overhang of 2019 supply to work through.

To read the rest of this article, go here.


The Spread: Running Hot

This week on The Spread – the Fed opts for higher inflation targets, the OCC gets featured, Cboe has a new options product, and more.

Watch the video »


Manipulation Helped Kill Libor. Its Replacement Needs to Be Stronger.
Barney Frank and J. Christopher Giancarlo – Barron’s
This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, designed to address flaws and abuses that led to the 2008-09 financial crisis. One of the authors of this opinion played a leading role in the law’s drafting; the other in its subsequent implementation and enforcement.

*****Barney and Chris is not a combination I would have put together.~JJL


Female Fund Managers Beat Men at Stock Picks: Goldman
Lu Wang – Bloomberg
It’s a departure from past years with no gender differences; Female managers’ love for tech, Tesla helps their performance
Female managers remain woefully under-represented in the fund industry, but they’re doing a better job picking stocks than their male counterparts, at least this year. Among some 500 large-cap U.S. mutual funds, those with at least one-third of manager positions held by women have beaten those with no women by 1 percentage point in 2020, data compiled by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. show. That’s a slight departure from the previous three years, when the gender difference had little impact on fund performance.

****Now, we just need more women traders.~JJL


Financial Marketing Agency Gate 39 Media Ranks as an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Company for 2020; Gate 39 Media’s commitment to growing revenues for clients in financial and agricultural services has landed the firm on the prestigious list for 2020.
Gate 39 Media
Gate 39 Media, a full-featured marketing and technology agency dedicated to serving the financial and agricultural industries, today announced it has ranked #3,266 in Inc.’s annual list celebrating the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.

*****Congratulations to Shane Stiles and his crew for this ranking. They worked hard to earn it.~JJL


COVID-19 scary? Japan group offers coffins, chainsaws for stress relief
Tim Kelly and Akira Tomoshige – Reuters
Finding the pandemic scary? A Japanese group is trying to take people’s minds off COVID-19 – by putting them in coffins surrounded by chainsaw-wielding zombies. Customers this weekend in Tokyo can lie in a 2-metre (6 1/2-foot) windowed box, listening to a horror story, watching actors perform and getting poked with fake hands and squirted with water.

****** Anything to get your mind off the pandemic.~JJL


Friday’s Top Three
Our top story last Friday was The Economist’s In twenty years, exchanges have gone from clubby firms to huge conglomerates. Something we have seen in so many other industries. The second story was from Crain’s Chicago Business, Don Wilson changes course on Gold Coast landmark. Personally I am glad for this. I have been to The Three Arts building many times and it is a real gem to have lunch at or a few drinks. Wonderful place. Third is from Traders Magazine, Will remote traders last the distance?


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Lead Stories

Individual-Investor Boom Reshapes U.S. Stock Market; Free trading apps, a bull market and Covid-19 lockdowns fuel a surge in mom-and-pop trading
Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
It’s one of the year’s biggest market stories: Mom-and-pop investors have fallen back in love with stocks, lured by free trading apps, a resurgent bull market led by technology companies and a pandemic that has left millions of Americans at home with little to do. New data show a number of ways in which the individual-trading boom has reshaped the U.S. stock market. Here are five takeaways:

Robinhood’s Rise Brings Dark Side of Irate Traders, U.S. Probes
Robert Schmidt and Benjamin Bain – Bloomberg
Agencies flooded with complaints; SEC examining March outage; Robinhood says it’s committed to improving customer service
Robinhood Markets has catapulted ahead of its online brokerage rivals with a smartphone app that has attracted an army of young investors. Yet with the company’s rise has come a litany of problems: trading outages, angry customers and regulatory probes. Over the first half of the year, U.S. consumer protection agencies received more than 400 complaints about Robinhood — roughly four times more than competitors like Charles Schwab Corp. and Fidelity Investments’ brokerage unit. The grievances, obtained via a public records request to the Federal Trade Commission, depict novice investors in over their heads, struggling to understand why they’ve lost money on stock options or had shares liquidated to pay off margin loans.

Financial Firms Fail to Own Up to Advisers’ Past Misdeeds; New streamlined SEC disclosure meant to aid investors often leaves them in the dark
Jason Zweig and Andrea Fuller – WSJ
In July, millions of American investors received a new government-mandated form from their financial planners that required advisers to disclose past misdeeds. But hundreds of the firms didn’t tell the full truth, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.

Coronavirus Has Left Banks With Lots of Cash and Little to Do With It; Profits are down. Margins are low. Banks are bracing for a wave of soured loans. On the other hand, they’re raking in fees and deposits.
David Benoit – WSJ
The coronavirus threw the U.S. banking system into extreme gyrations. The normally unexciting quarterly industry report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., released last week, showed in stark detail how the pandemic is ensnaring banks big and small.

SGX and GF Securities to promote greater connectivity between Singapore and China’s capital markets
Singapore Exchange (SGX) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GF Securities Corporation (GF Securities), one of the leading securities brokerage houses in China, to promote greater connectivity between Singapore and China’s capital markets. The MOU was announced at the 11th Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council meeting co-chaired by Singapore’s Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung and Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui.

10 years Eurex and Korea Exchange – a prime example of a successful partnership
Established on 30 August 2010, this successful cooperation is now in its tenth year. Eurex and Korea Exchange (KRX) both extended their global reach with a strategic partnership to provide our market participants with further trading and hedging opportunities for KOSPI 200 positions during core European and North American trading hours.

Berkshire Hathaway Buys Stakes Valued at a Total of $6 Billion in Five Japanese Companies; Warren Buffett has been relatively quiet during the coronavirus pandemic
Kosaku Narioka – WSJ
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B 0.77% took stakes of slightly more than 5% in five of Japan’s most venerable corporate names with big investments in energy. Berkshire disclosed the investments in Mitsubishi Corp., 8058 7.72% Mitsui MITSY 0.89% & Co., Sumitomo Corp., SSUMY 1.48% Itochu Corp. ITOCY 0.42% and Marubeni Corp. MARUY 0.42% just before the Tokyo stock market opened Monday.

Warren Buffett makes $6bn bet on Japanese trading houses; Berkshire Hathaway investment marks decisive shift from familiarity of home US market
Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki – FT
Warren Buffett has placed a $6bn contrarian bet on Japan’s five biggest trading houses, the century-old commodity specialists that are increasingly transforming into global venture capital and private equity businesses.

TikTok Deal Talks Are Slowed Over New China Rules; Delay in exclusive negotiations shows extent of U.S., China tangling on technology
Georgia Wells and Cara Lombardo – WSJ
Plans to quickly complete a deal between the Chinese parent company of TikTok and suitors for the app’s U.S. operations have been thrown off track as the parties huddled over the weekend to weigh new Chinese restrictions that appear designed to affect a potential sale, according to people familiar with the discussions.

TikTok Assets Can’t Be Sold Without China’s Approval
Bloomberg News
New rule aimed at delaying TikTok sale, person familiar said; Speech recognition, evaluation added to export control list
ByteDance Ltd. will be required to seek Chinese government approval to sell the U.S. operations of its short-video TikTok app under new restrictions Beijing imposed on the export of artificial intelligence technologies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Banks eye layoffs as short-term crisis ends, long-term costs emerge
Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, Anirban Sen, Imani Moise – Reuters
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, the heads of U.S. banks including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp and others pledged not to cut any jobs in 2020 because it was the wrong thing to do.

BP to Sell London Headquarters as Work Style Shifts: Times
Anna Shiryaevskaya – Bloomberg
Building may be priced at more than 300 million pounds; Company will adopt a mixture of home and office working
BP Plc plans to sell its headquarters in central London as it cuts jobs and adopts flexible working, The Times reported on Sunday. The oil major, which employs 6,500 office staff in the U.K., plans to rent back the building on St. James’s Square from the new owner for as long as two years before leaving for good, the newspaper said, without citing anyone. BP declined to comment on the report.

Winklevoss twins plot European crypto push as Gemini lands on official UK register; The twins’ cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, is only the second such firm to gain a place on the UK regulator’s register
Bérengère Sim – Financial News
One of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Gemini, has had its UK arm added to the Financial Conduct Authority’s official list of registered cryptoasset firms. On 19 August, the regulator added Gemini Europe Limited to its list — making it only the second firm to receive this recognition. Digital asset exchange ArchaxEx got the green light earlier on the same day.

Future of Cleaning Oil Spills Looks to Robots, Wood Chips and Sponges; University researchers and small firms are innovating ways to address environmental accidents
Eric Sylvers and Sarah McFarlane – WSJ
Recent oil spills in Russia and Mauritius have shown that the industry still needs better methods for cleaning up accidents. Researchers are working on some unlikely-sounding solutions, including oil-absorbing wood chips, a solar-powered robot and a reusable sponge.

BlackRock Gets Go-Ahead for a Mutual-Fund Business in China; It paves the way for BlackRock to be one of the first foreign investment firms to start managing money for Chinese individuals by itself
Dawn Lim and Stella Yifan Xie – WSJ
BlackRock Inc. BLK 1.02% got approval from regulators to start a mutual-fund business in China, a milestone for an investment firm with fierce ambitions in the world’s second-largest economy. The New York asset manager was given the green light to set up a wholly owned mutual-fund business in Shanghai, the China Securities Regulatory Commission disclosed late this week. This paves the way for the world’s largest asset manager to be one of the first foreign investment firms to start managing money for Chinese individuals.


Covid-19 Live Updates: Cases in the U.S. Have Topped 6 Million; On a day that saw yet another milestone in cases, President Trump retweeted fringe theories about the virus.
NY Times
New Zealand reported nine new cases of the coronavirus, including some linked to a cluster in Auckland, which came out of lockdown late Sunday.

Covid-19 Transforms Lawmaking, Lobbying in California’s Capital; Fewer bills are considered and fewer lobbyists stalk hallways as much of politics in Sacramento goes online
Christine Mai-Duc and Alejandro Lazo – WSJ
Every August, lobbyists here typically zip between lawmakers’ offices or park themselves in the halls of the state Capitol, seeking to shape bills that pass in the closing days of the legislative session.

Coronavirus ends ‘golden’ era for sovereign wealth funds; State-backed investment vehicles with $6tn of assets tapped to mitigate economic fallout of pandemic
Attracta Mooney – FT
The “golden age” of sovereign wealth funds has ended, according to academic research that predicts the coronavirus pandemic will result in profound changes for the state-backed investment vehicles.

Pandemic exposes ‘severe stress’ in commercial property financing; Mortgage-backed securities fill a funding gap but as delinquencies rise investors are bracing for losses
Joe Rennison – FT
Over the course of 150 years, America’s oldest continuously running hotel has never been closed for this long. Yet, as stay-at-home orders took hold in March, all but one of the 1,641 rooms at the Palmer House Hilton in the centre of Chicago began to empty out, with the hotel eventually suspending operations on April 28 for all except a single long-term resident.

Pandemic sends real yields on corporate debt into negative territory; Low interest rates and monetary stimulus drag down yields of high quality bonds
Joe Rennison – FT
The vast scale of central bank support for the corporate bond market has fired up prices to the point where some investors are willing to accept a loss for buying them, once inflation is taken into account.

Peru nightclub tragedy shines light on country’s coronavirus carnage; Andean nation entered crisis in relative strength but its response has had severe human and economic cost
Gideon Long – FT
On Saturday August 22, police raided a nightclub in Lima where young revellers were flaunting lockdown restrictions. People rushed for the exit to avoid arrest and 13 were crushed to death or asphyxiated. Almost as shocking were the statistics the Peruvian interior ministry released the next day: of the 13 dead, 11 had Covid-19. Of the 23 people the police arrested, 15 tested positive.

Berlin virus protests show far-right seizing on restrictions fatigue; Radicals are increasingly active in demonstrations against Germany’s Covid-19 measures
Guy Chazan – FT
For weeks, concern has been rising that the growing protest movement against Germany’s anti-coronavirus restrictions was being hijacked by the far-right. When rightwing radicals waving nationalist flags broke through police barriers on Saturday to storm the Reichstag building, the home of the country’s parliament, those fears were emphatically confirmed.

The Covid-era protocol for face-to-face meetings; Centuries-old norms of behaviour are changing, shoved aside by blunter health and safety guidance
Andrew Hill – FT
Queen Elizabeth may have shaken a stranger’s hand for the last time. Even if state occasions resume, and even if others become comfortable again with a palm-to-palm greeting, it will be a brave palace flunkey who advises a 94-year-old monarch with a 99-year-old consort to risk it. You don’t have to be a royal to have felt this strange shift in the codes of human connectivity and sociability.

Rollout of UK’s antibody tests still awaiting regulatory approval; Johnson’s ‘game-changer’ stalled with tests down from 40,000 to just 5,000 a day
Anna Gross and Jim Pickard – FT
The government has stalled the wider rollout of antibody tests, causing companies to voice frustration at being kept out of what was sold as an inclusive and “world-beating” diagnostics market.

N.Y. State Faces Outbreaks; U.S. Cases Ticking Up: Virus Update
Bloomberg News
The U.S. added almost 47,000 new cases, India recorded its biggest daily spike and Covid-19 infections worldwide surpassed 25 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. New York State reported a surge of infections in Buffalo and shut down a college campus for two weeks after blaming parties for an outbreak. California’s cases rose by the most in a week.

Hunger Is Threatening to Kill More People Than Covid This Year; As many as 132 million more people could go hungry as the pandemic exposes ‘cracks in the system’
Megan Durisin, Elizabeth Rembert, Tatiana Freitas – Bloomberg
The world is hurtling toward an unprecedented hunger crisis. As many as 132 million more people than previously projected could go hungry in 2020, and this year’s gain may be more than triple any increase this century. The pandemic is upending food supply chains, crippling economies and eroding consumer purchasing power. Some projections show that by the end of the year, Covid-19 will cause more people to die each day from hunger than from virus infections.

WHO Special Envoy Heaps Praise on Sweden’s Covid Strategy
Charles Daly – Bloomberg
One of the World Health Organization’s six special envoys on Covid-19 has highlighted Sweden’s virus response as a model that other countries should be emulating in the long run. Dr. David Nabarro, speaking in a radio interview with Magic Talk in New Zealand, said, “For all countries, the real approach we’ve got to aim for is through behavior that’s adopted everywhere.”

A Covid Mystery: the Terrified, Treat-Yourself Consumer
Kyle Stock – Bloomberg
At the moment, we need all the dopamine we can get. Perhaps, that’s why we are mashing the “buy” button so hard and so often. A day doesn’t go by of late without another boffo shopping report beating expectations. At a frenetic pace, we are snatching up cars, homes, home improvement gear, laptops, flowers, treadmills, guns, golf clubs, and video games, to name but a few categories. Best Buy can’t keep up with gadget demand. Nintendo just posted a historic billion-dollar profit. And Target sales tripled in the recent quarter.

Brain Deficits, Nerve Pain Can Torment Covid Patients for Months
Robert Langreth and Emma Court – Bloomberg
Scientists starting studies on mysterious longterm ailments; Initially mild symptoms worsen later in thousands of Americans
A growing contingent of Covid-19 patients whose symptoms were initially mild are now facing mysterious long-term neurological problems, including memory and sleep disturbances, dizziness, nerve pain and what survivors refer to as “brain fog.”

New Yorkers Are Fleeing to the Suburbs: ‘The Demand Is Insane’; The pandemic is spurring home sales as prosperous city residents seek more space. One listing had 97 showings and received 24 offers.
Matthew Haag – NY Times
Over three days in late July, a three-bedroom house in East Orange, N.J., was listed for sale for $285,000, had 97 showings, received 24 offers and went under contract for 21 percent over that price.

Where U.S. Small Businesses Are Feeling the Most Pandemic Pain
Alexandre Tanzi – Bloomberg
In New York, 18% of firms missed a scheduled payment like rent; Firms in southern states are more upbeat, Census survey shows
In Austin, Texas, they’re expecting more closures. In New York, they’re struggling to pay the bills. In San Francisco, they worry that the old normal is never coming back.

New Covid-19 Layoffs Make Job Reductions Permanent; As companies brace for years of pandemic-related disruption, thousands of furloughed workers are told they won’t be coming back
Patrick Thomas, Sarah Chaney and Chip Cutter – WSJ
A new wave of layoffs is washing over the U.S. as several big companies reassess staffing plans and settle in for a long period of uncertainty.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Error in Calculation of Tokyo Stock Exchange Infrastructure Funds Index
Tokyo Stock Exchange Infrastructure Funds Index has been calculated and disseminated by TSE with reflecting incorrect Adjustment of Public offering of Tokyo Infrastructure Energy Investment Corporation (Code: 9285), a component issue of said stock index. Therefore, TSE will separately publish correct closing index values for August 31. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

CONNEQTOR to Cooperate with QUICK
Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. (TSE) has developed a Request for Quote (RFQ) function, along with its usage platform CONNEQTOR, with the aim of improving the liquidity of ETFs and decided to cooperate with QUICK Corp. (QUICK) to provide further convenience to users. TSE has also announced first group of CONNEQTOR-connected trading participants. For details, please refer to the attachment.

Storage and Handling Rate Changes for Tucson Port Authority, LLC
CME Group
Tucson Port Authority, LLC, a COMEX Warehouse for the storage and delivery of copper deliverable against the Exchange’s Copper futures contract, will implement new rates in connection with the storage and withdrawal of copper at its facility located in Tucson, AZ. The new rates, presented below, reflect the maximum amount of fees that can be charged.

Storage and Handling Rate Changes for PGS
CME Group
PGS, a COMEX Warehouse for the storage and delivery of aluminum, lead, and zinc deliverable against the Exchange’s Aluminum, Lead, and Zinc futures contracts, will implement new rates in connection with the storage and withdrawal of aluminum, lead, and zinc at its facilities located in Port Klang, Malaysia. The new rates, presented below, reflect the maximum amount of fees that can be charged.

Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) Launches New Derivatives Market and Clearinghouse Leveraging Nasdaq Market Technology;
Endeavor will further support the growth of the Saudi capital market
The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) announced today it has officially launched its first Derivatives Market and a clearinghouse, The Securities Clearing Centre Company (Muqassa), both of which are running on Nasdaq’s (Nasdaq: NDAQ) market technology. The first exchange-traded derivatives product is MT30 Index Futures, an index futures contract based on the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index (MT30), which will benefit from central counterparty clearing by Muqassa.

LSE executive sells out again; Samad offloads shares following surge in profits
Alex Newman and Alex Janiaud – FT
Last time we checked in on insider share sale activity at the London Stock Exchange, the City darling was yet to receive clearance for its purchase of financial data group Refinitiv. With the stock also trading at £79 — then 36 times consensus earnings for 2020 — we suggested that the disposal made by director of information services Waqas Samad was at the very least understandable.

NZX Trading Normally, Despite New Cyber Attacks
The New Zealand Stock Exchange is functioning normally, trading all day uninterrupted. The NZX website is still offline as it continues to be subjected to cyber-attacks.

NYSE Direct Listings + Capital Raise
John Tuttle – Via LinkedIn
This week, the SEC approved our proposal for Direct Listings with a capital raise, creating another pathway for companies to access the public markets. Innovation, disruption, and problem-solving are part of the NYSE’s DNA. We worked with Spotify to support the first-ever Direct Listing, we modernized and advanced SPACs, and now we are providing companies the ability to raise capital as part of a Direct Listing.


Fintech Included In UK Trade Advisory Group
Shanny Basar – MarketsMedia
Innovate Finance, the independent industry body that represents and advances the global fintech community in the UK, has been included in the UK government’s new trade advisory group on financial services.

As Fintech Upends Banking, Japan Regulator Expects More Cross-Boundary Tie-Ups
Japan will likely see more financial tie-ups that extend beyond traditional boundaries similar to those signed between internet banking giant SBI Holdings Inc and regional banks, the country’s senior financial regulator said.

Fintech Veteran Says Most Disturbing Trend Is Early-Stage Firms Raising Back-to-Back Rounds with Minimal Progress or Product Development, Revenue Growth
Omar Faridi – CrowdFund Insider
Frank Rotman, who claims to be a 20+ year Fintech veteran, says that the “most disturbing” trend he’s seeing in the early-stage financial technology ecosystem is businesses or companies raising between two to three back-to-back investment rounds with minimal or not enough progress in-between.

How Latin American Fintechs Tackle Income And Gender Inequality
Ilona Limonta-Volkova – Forbes
This is the final post in the series exploring how fintechs have tackled inequality. While part two examined how biases and systemic discrimination persists in AI and mortgage lending, part three concludes with a spotlight on a region that has come to the forefront in the fight to narrow the income gap: Latin America.

Wirecard Inquiry Probes Why Germany Missed Fraud of Century
Nicholas Comfort and Birgit Jennen – Bloomberg
Parliamentary hearing to press chancellery insider for answers; Two-day meeting could set the stage for deeper investigation
Germany’s blame game over Wirecard AG’s collapse is focusing in on the question of why authorities failed to take a harder look at the payments company before it became the country’s biggest accounting scandal in living memory.

Preaching Equality, Start-Up Didn’t Practice It With Employees; Current and former workers at Carta, a hot Silicon Valley fintech company, said they were belittled, excluded and punished if they spoke up.
Erin Griffith – NY Times
Onstage at an industry conference last year, Henry Ward, chief executive of the financial technology start-up Carta, described his vision for transforming the way that workers get paid.


A Niche Crypto Just Blew Past The Bitcoin Price All-Time High—Up 3,500% In Just One Month
Billy Bambrough – Forbes
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets have been dominated by decentralized finance, often shortened to DiFi, over recent months.
The bitcoin price, up around 40% since the beginning of 2020, has been left in the dust by the gains made some DeFi projects—including (YFI) that’s up a staggering 3,500% in just a little over a month and has surged past bitcoin’s late-2017 $20,000 all-time high.

What Changes at the Fed and the SEC Mean for Crypto
Noelle Acheson – Coindesk
There has been no shortage of epoch-changing twists so far this year. I mean, seriously, take your pick: even aside from the pandemic, we have riots on the streets of American cities, an alarming trade war, negative oil prices and gold briefly above $2,000/oz. These are just some of the loud, headline-grabbing changes that were once unthinkable but now form part of our new normal.

Japanese crypto traders ditching XRP and MONA for Bitcoin
Turner Wright – CoinTelegraph
The vast majority of Japanese crypto traders who started getting into the market in the last year may be investing solely in Bitcoin.
According to data published on Aug. 19 from the Japan Virtual and Crypto Assets Exchange Association (JVCEA), Bitcoin’s dominance relative to altcoins in the Japanese market reached more than 87% in April. No other token accounted for more than 6% of monthly volume traded. In the same month, the number of active accounts for spot crypto trading in Japan increased by 13,987, an all-time high at the time.

Wyoming’s ‘Crypto Cowboy’ unsaddled in primaries by alt-right candidate
Jack Martin – CoinTelegraph
Wyoming State Representative and long-time crypto champion Tyler Lindholm has been unseated in the Republican state primaries by a candidate representing the far-right of the party.
So far it is unclear how this may affect the state’s blockchain friendly legislation, although, following his defeat, Lindholm said he was “100% confident the [blockchain] laws are safe and secure,” according to a report by Forbes.

Barstool’s Dave Portnoy Is Preparing to Re-Enter the Bitcoin & Crypto Market
Nick Chong – NewsBTC
Dave Portnoy has been dabbling in the crypto and Bitcoin market for a few weeks now. After being reintroduced to the cryptocurrency market by Twitter, the Barstool Sports founder and celebrity day trader has been frequenting Crypto Twitter.
It reached a point where he was introduced to the Winklevoss Twins, who co-founded the Gemini crypto exchange.

After Riding YFI’s 108,000% Tidal Wave, Analyst Josh Rager Bullish on Five Nascent Crypto Assets
The Daily Hodl
Bitcoin trader and strategist Josh Rager is hopping on the decentralized finance (DeFi) bandwagon.
Rager invested in Yearn.Finance (YFI) early. The coin has surged from $34.53 on July 18th to a high of $37,621 on Sunday – a whopping 108,000% increase. The analyst now predicts the coin will continue to soar and reach a price of $100,000.


Asset managers lobby Brussels to delay sustainable investing rules; Resistance underlines gulf between policy ambitions for green finance and reality of implementing new system
Siobhan Riding – FT
Asset managers are urging Brussels to delay implementation of its landmark sustainable investing rules, arguing its deadline is too ambitious given the mammoth reporting task awaiting investment houses.

TikTok’s US sale put at risk by new Chinese tech rules; Beijing includes advanced technologies such as AI on list requiring special licences
Thomas Hale, Ryan McMorrow, James Fontanella-Khan and Miles Kruppa – FT
ByteDance’s hopes of reaching a deal to sell the US operations of its TikTok video app in the coming days have been thrown into doubt after Beijing announced new rules governing technology exports.

Steven Mnuchin Tried to Save the Economy. Not Even His Family Is Happy; The coronavirus was an opportunity for the Treasury secretary to redefine his legacy, for better or worse.
James B. Stewart and Alan Rappeport – NY Times
One spring day, not long after President Trump signed the largest economic stimulus package in American history in March, a group of his top aides and cabinet officers gathered in the Oval Office.

Trump Losing Support Among Farmers Over Handling of Virus, Survey Says
Michael Hirtzer – Bloomberg
Survey shows 71% of farmers back Trump, down from 89% in April; Farm-sentiment index slumps to lowest in a decade, DTN says
President Donald Trump is losing re-election support among farmers over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey by agriculture publisher DTN Progressive Farmer.

Ex-Trump Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney Starting Hedge Fund
Yueqi Yang – Bloomberg
Former White House advisor working with Andrew Wessel; Exegis Capital will focus on investing in financial stocks
Mick Mulvaney, a Trump administration veteran who served as acting White House chief of staff, is launching a hedge fund that aims to bet on financial services stocks. Mulvaney is starting the enterprise, Exegis Capital, with investor Andrew Wessel, a former portfolio manager at Sterling Capital Management. The pair discussed their plan at length in a podcast interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence released on Aug. 25.


SEC Charges Herbalife With FCPA Violations; Herbalife Will Pay More Than $123 Million to Settle With Government
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. has agreed to pay more than $67 million to settle charges that it violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In a parallel action, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced that Herbalife will pay a criminal fine of more than $55 million for a total of more than $123 million paid in both actions.

SEC Charges Ponzi Scheme Targeting African Immigrants
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two Maryland companies and their principals for a scheme that allegedly defrauded approximately 1,200 investors, many of them African immigrants, of more than $27 million. According to the SEC’s complaint, Dennis Jali, John Frimpong, and Arley Johnson, directly and through their companies 1st Million LLC and The Smart Partners LLC, falsely told investors that their funds would be used by a team of skilled and licensed traders for foreign exchange and cryptocurrency trading, promising risk-free returns of between 6% and 42%. The complaint alleges that the defendants often targeted vulnerable African immigrants and exploited their common ancestry and religious affiliations. The complaint further alleges that Jali, who claimed to be a pastor and falsely held himself out as a self-made millionaire and expert trader, rented office space to conduct in-person meetings and give the appearance of a legitimate company. According to the complaint, the defendants diverted investor funds for personal use and to make Ponzi payments to prior investors.

CFTC Charges Multiple Individuals and Entities in $28 Million Ponzi Scheme that Targeted Churchgoers
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced the filing of a civil enforcement action in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland charging Dennis Jali, a South African citizen who previously resided in Maryland, with orchestrating a $28 million Ponzi scheme. The complaint also charges Arley Ray Johnson and John Frimpong of Maryland with fraudulently soliciting funds from members of the public for the “1st Million Pool” through and on behalf of 1st Million LLC, Smart Partners LLC, and Access to Assets LLC. The complaint alleges that the defendants fraudulently solicited participants to trade in foreign currency (forex) and digital assets such as bitcoin through pooled trading accounts controlled by Jali.

ASIC’s Corporate Plan 2020-24
ASIC today published its Corporate Plan for 2020-24, which sets out how we aim to achieve our vision through our strategic priorities and actions over the next four years.

FCA begins review of fund manager value assessments; Regulator probes compliance with new rules as it seeks to lift standards after Woodford scandal
Siobhan Riding – FT
The Financial Conduct Authority is probing compliance by fund management groups with new governance rules as it seeks to improve accountability in the sector following the Neil Woodford scandal.

Hong Kong Securities And Futures Commission Obtains Arrest Warrants For Alleged Manipulators Of Shares Of Ching Lee Holdings Limited
The Eastern Magistracy has issued arrest warrants for Mr Ho Ming Hin and Mr Simon Suen Man in an application brought by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) after they failed to appear in court to face the charge of conspiracy to carry out false trading in the shares of Ching Lee Holdings Limited (Ching Lee) (Note 1).

Investing and Trading

Private equity is a club and the ordinary investor is not invited; Allowing public markets to wither could worsen wealth inequality and dent public acceptance of capitalism
Merryn Somerset Webb – FT
When Jeff Bezos took Amazon public in 1997, the company was three years old. He needed $50m and the public markets were the only place to get it. This week, ecommerce firm The Hut Group announced plans to list in the UK. The company is 14 years old. It is looking to raise just over $1bn. But the reason for its listing is not raising cash: it has instead been prompted by a “request for liquidity” from backers. Those backers? Private equity features heavily: KKR owns 19 per cent of the business.

Bond investors cast doubt on Federal Reserve’s inflationary potential; Prices wobbled after central bank’s reset, but many still question long-term impact
Tommy Stubbington and Colby Smith – FT
Government bond prices around the world dropped after Jay Powell confirmed last week that the Federal Reserve was prepared to tolerate higher inflation as it steers the economy through the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Global equities poised to complete hottest August since 1986; Stocks have rallied 6.7% since July but some investors worry about autumn tumult
Adam Samson and Hudson Lockett – FT
Stock indices from New York to Tokyo have pushed higher over the past month in the biggest August market bonanza in decades. A sagging US dollar has combined with sparks of monetary and fiscal stimulus to help ignite a global equities rally during a month when traders would usually prefer focusing on the beach instead of their data terminals. Early indications that major global economies are on a recovery track have also helped to ease investor jitters that dominated this spring.

World’s Richest People Smashed Wealth Records This Week
Devon Pendleton – Bloomberg
Elon Musk’s fortune tops $100 billion as Tesla rally continues; Surging markets make Bezos world’s first $200 billion man
It’s been one of the most lucrative weeks in history for some of the world’s wealthiest people. The net worth of Inc. founder Jeff Bezos topped the once-unfathomable amount of $200 billion. Entrepreneur, inventor, provocateur Elon Musk added the title of centibillionaire when his fortune soared past $100 billion fueled by Tesla Inc.’s ceaseless rally. And by Friday, the world’s 500 wealthiest people were $209 billion richer than a week ago.

Kashkari Says There’s No Urgency for Fed to Update Rate Guidance
Matthew Boesler – Bloomberg
Minneapolis Fed president speaks on Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast; Fed “just hasn’t gotten to that conclusion yet,” Kashkari says
There isn’t any urgency for the Federal Reserve to offer more clarity on how long it will hold interest rates near zero at the moment because investors already understand the central bank won’t be tightening for a while, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said.

Buffett’s Berkshire Wagers $6 Billion on Japan Trading Firms
Katherine Chiglinsky and Stephen Stapczynski – Bloomberg
Itochu, Marubeni, Mitsui jump after Berkshire discloses stakes; Buffett says he’s ‘delighted’ to participate in Japan’s future
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought stakes in five of Japan’s biggest trading companies, adding to the billionaire investor’s wager on the commodities sector and marking one of his largest-ever forays into Asia’s second-largest economy.

The Covid Recession Offers a Chance to Save Money; Funnel your travel, clothing, and restaurant budgets right into your 401(k).
Teresa Ghilarducci – Bloomberg
This pandemic could be a once in a lifetime break in your spending habits, and a breakthrough for your saving habits. As people hunkered down, spending fell drastically for restaurants, hotels and airfares. Sales of clothes and shoes plunged 90%. I am not surprised. I don’t know of anyone working at home who used up any shoe leather or wore out a pair of pants. (We didn’t even wear proper pants with zippers.)

Pot’s Short Squeeze Chance ‘Drastically’ Lower: Cannabis Weekly
Aoyon Ashraf – Bloomberg
Average borrow fee fell to 11% from 30% at beginning of 2020; Most-shorted stocks include Cronos, Canopy Growth, Tilray
The potential for a short squeeze in the cannabis sector has been “drastically reduced” even as short interest has risen from this year’s lows, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Chief of female-led boutique on the ESG ‘tipping point’; Boston Common’s Geeta Aiyer on how investors should respond to health and social inequality crises
Siobhan Riding – FT
Geeta Aiyer first understood the power of investors to push for change back in 1993 when US supermarket executives flew 2,500 miles to speak with her about gender inclusion.

What I learnt about racism over two decades in banking; My own story, and those of others, taught me that lofty proclamations about ‘doing better’ are often hollow
Shayne Ebudo- FT
Protests this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin, brought police violence and discrimination against African-Americans back into the headlines. In response to the uproar over these injustices, Wall Street chief executives are scrambling to assure us they are tackling the acts of everyday racism experienced by professionals in their own industry. They say: “we can do better”. I’d like to help by telling my own story.

ESG Investors Find That Diversity Data Is Hard to Come By; Companies are reluctant to share demographic information, and in some places it’s illegal.
Ishika Mookerjee – Bloomberg
Calls for racial diversity at every level of the corporate world have inspired socially conscious investors. It’s a powerful group, with more than $30 trillion in global assets backing companies that prioritize environmental stewardship, social impact, and good governance, known by the shorthand ESG. But when it comes to how integrated companies are—or aren’t—the data are painfully limited. “I would be surprised if we have full transparency on this topic,” says Remy Briand, head of ESG at index provider MSCI Inc.


Billionaire-Backed Saxo Bank Reveals Hong Kong Expansion Plans
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
Online trading platform Saxo Bank A/S, which is part owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shu Fu, plans to do a lot more business in Hong Kong despite the increasingly tense political climate there. “We are trying to further build our presence in Hong Kong as we speak,” Kim Fournais, chief executive officer of the Danish firm, said in a phone interview.

Goldman Asia Hires Conor Yuan as EM Head of Credit Flow Trading
Rebecca Choong Wilkins and Annie Lee – Bloomberg
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has hired Conor Yuan as its Hong Kong-based head of emerging markets credit flow trading in Asia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Regulator Tells H2O to Freeze Funds on Valuation Uncertainty
Eyk Henning and Luca Casiraghi – Bloomberg
Sale of assets back to financier has ‘valuation uncertainties’; Windhorst backed by two high-profile German investors
H2O Asset Management froze several funds at the request of the French financial regulator, which cited uncertainties over the valuation of illiquid assets the firm is selling back to German financier Lars Windhorst at a steep discount.

Credit Suisse Plans to Double China Headcount in Five Years
Cathy Chan – Bloomberg
‘Strongest focus’ on staff growth in China: Asia CEO Sitohang; Credit Suisse must compete with Goldman, UBS in hiring push
Credit Suisse Group AG plans to double its headcount in China over five years as the firm accelerates its pursuit of the nation’s wealthy, seeking to move past a scandal that’s engulfed once-favored client and Luckin Coffee Inc. founder Lu Zhengyao.

CEO of World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Reflects on Being Unpopular
Mikael Holter – Bloomberg
After months of drama and doubt, Nicolai Tangen is finally set to become the chief executive of Norway’s $1.2 trillion wealth fund. He says staying cool in the face of unpopularity was key. The 54-year-old will start running the world’s biggest sovereign investor on Sept. 1. To secure the job, Tangen had to strike a last-minute deal to give up the hedge fund he founded — AKO Capital LLP — after parliament balked at the potential conflict of interest.


Argentina’s ‘Preposterous’ Century Bond Never Got Chance to Grow Old; The rush to load up on long-dated debt issued by a serial defaulter puzzled many at the time, but going to extremes is commonplace in markets
Anna Isaac and Pat Minczeski – WSJ
Argentina’s “century bond” didn’t last long, but its rise and fall holds lessons for investors at a time of market optimism despite widespread economic dislocation. An August restructuring guarantees that foreign creditors will get little more than half of what they were due on $65 billion of debt, including the 100-year bonds the government sold three years ago at the height of a decadelong emerging-markets boom.

China’s Big Banks Report Profit Drops; China’s top four banks all said net profit fell more than 10% year-over-year in the first half
Xie Yu – WSJ
China’s major banks reported their biggest profit drops in more than a decade, as the economic impact of the pandemic led them to take large provisions against potential bad loans. China’s top four banks, which account for more than one-third of the industry’s total assets, all said net profit fell more than 10% year-over-year in the first half, according to stock-exchange filings on Sunday.

Hedge funds chafe at extension of South Korea’s short-selling ban; Seoul’s financial watchdog says restrictions will remain until March 2021
Song Jung-a and Hudson Lockett – FT
Hedge funds are up in arms over South Korea’s decision to extend its ban on short selling for six months, even after the country’s stock market made a strong recovery from the March low sparked by the pandemic.

How the Shock Therapy of ‘Abenomics’ Worked in Japan
Yuko Takeo and Enda Curran – Bloomberg
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a bold strategy: shock therapy for an economy that had been stagnant for 20 years and was overtaken by China as the world’s second-largest in 2010. Launched three years later, Abenomics, as the doctrine is known, departed from the piecemeal measures of previous leaders and antagonized powerful political constituencies. Abe told voters that the strong economic medicine was Japan’s last chance to remain a world power, framing his policies as a matter of national security. Progress was patchy at best, however, even before the hammer blow of the Covid-19 pandemic — and Abe’s decision to step down after a record-setting eight-year run.


Credit Suisse to Move Bankers to Spain in Brexit: Report
Patrick Winters and Rodrigo Orihuela – Bloomberg
Bank to transfer many European investment banking operations; Swiss lender has applied for a Spanish banking licence
Credit Suisse Group AG will move many European investment banking operations to Spain as part of its Brexit planning, the Swiss bank’s head of investment banking in Spain and Portugal, Wenceslao Bunge, said in an interview with Expansion.

The Guardian view on a Brexit industrial strategy: theatre but no policy
Editorial – The Guardian
The collision of political rhetoric and commercial reality in Cambridge’s “Silicon Fen” threatens to expose the government’s industrial strategy for what it is: draping a union jack over the wilder edges of global capitalism. Earlier this summer, Boris Johnson sought new powers to block outsiders from picking up British firms, especially hi-tech ones. Weeks later, it emerged that the jewel in the crown of UK computing may depart from these shores. Ministers said nothing.

France’s Le Drian blames Britain’s ‘attitude’ for Brexit talks impasse
John Irish – Reuters
France’s foreign minister on Monday blamed the stalemate in Brexit talks on what he called Britain’s intransigent and unrealistic attitude.


Why Steven Cohen Wants to Buy the Mets
NY Times
The billionaire hedge fund manager is in talks to buy the New York Mets at a pivotal moment for the sports business — and his reputation.

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