Innovation and Choice in the Post-Libor Landscape

Dec 31, 2019

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

As this is the last edition of the John Lothian Newsletter for the year 2019, I want to thank all of you readers for your support and enthusiasm for our products. I want to thank our sponsors for their loyal support. I want to thank the John Lothian News team, past and present, for their many contributions to the success of this company.~JJL

What the JLN team shares with the readers of this newsletter is a passion for this industry, the markets and the pursuit of truth. How I was lucky enough to attract such outstanding people as employees, and you as readers, is an ongoing mystery to me. But I am grateful for my good luck and know that luck is where preparation meets opportunity.~JJL

Each day we work hard to prepare you for your day, or your next day, through the creation of this newsletter and the original content we build into it to keep you informed, and hopefully sometimes, entertained. We hope to bring you good luck through our thorough preparation of this newsletter and our other products.~JJL

Thank you all! We wish you all a safe and happy New Year!~JJL

By the way, the word of the day is: Quaff. Drink up!~JJL

ICYMI, Thom Thompson co-wrote a piece for The Block Crypto called “U.S. bitcoin futures: The year that wasn’t” with Frank Chaparro, which was published on December 24.~SR

Happy New Year! Be sure to end 2019 on a high note – the trading floors open January 2nd! (Unless you’re a crypto trader, in which case it only stops when you do, and there are no floors.)~MR


Why this bank is ditching Libor now
Jon Prior – American Banker
Banks have two years to phase out their use of the London interbank offered rate in setting interest rates on loans, but one bank in Birmingham, Ala., is already planning to ditch Libor in favor of a new benchmark.

*****If you try to copy all the text and paste it to a notepad, you can see the whole story despite the paywall.~JJL


Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019
Jeffrey M. Jones – Gallup
Barack Obama and Donald Trump are tied this year as the most admired man. It is Obama’s 12th time in the top spot versus the first for Trump. Michelle Obama is the most admired woman for the second year in a row. Each year since 1948, Gallup has asked Americans to name, in an open-ended fashion, which man and woman living anywhere in the world they admire most. This year’s results are based on a Dec. 2-15 poll.

***** There are at least two people unhappy with this headline.~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
Our top story Monday was The Wall Street Journal’s In Battle to Recruit New Quants, Hedge Funds Outpay Banks. Second was Reuters’ The decade that saw volatility trading come of age. In third was the CTA service provider directory, CTA Expo: Emerging Manager Forum, from Issuu.


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Lead Stories

Innovation and Choice in the Post-Libor Landscape
Richard L. Sandor – Banking Journal
Some banks are reluctant to give up the London Interbank Offered Rate benchmark, which is no longer guaranteed to be available after 2021. I believe the hesitation in making this transition is understandable but mistaken. The sooner we get rid of scandal-ridden Libor, the better. The post-Libor landscape offers a world of better options for lenders, including multiple benchmarks, transparency, efficiencies, lower costs and greater innovation.

Cboe target EuroCCP seeks EUR1.5bn credit line to tackle stress test weaknesses; Proposed acquisition by exchange group is expected to contribute to the clearing house’s resilience
Samuel Agini – Financial News
EuroCCP, an Amsterdam-based clearing house that is set to be acquired by exchange group Cboe Global Markets, has been forced to seek a EUR1.5bn credit facility after coming up short in stress tests designed to gauge its resilience in a crisis scenario.

Turkey Wealth Fund Buys 10% Stake in Borsa Istanbul from EBRD
Constantine Courcoulas – Bloomberg
Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund has acquired a 10% stake in the nation’s bourse from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, it said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The acquisition brings its stake in Borsa Istanbul to 90.6%, the fund said.

Value of private equity deals hits post-crisis high; Cheap debt and big cash inflows fuel third year of growth with little sign of slowdown
Kaye Wiggins – FT
Private equity groups spent more on deals this year than at any time since the financial crisis, with dealmaking growing for a third consecutive year as the industry showed little sign of slowing down.

Flash-Crash Risks Are Back as Japan Shutters for Six-Day Holiday
Masaki Kondo and Hiroko Komiya – Bloomberg
Japan retail investors’ longs in Turkish lira seen as red flag; A market shock could spur a slump in the lira-yen:
As Japan enters a six-day New Year break, a sense of anxiety over the possibility of another flash crash is gripping currency traders. The Financial Futures Association of Japan has already warned of market instability as the holidays create a liquidity vacuum. Meanwhile, importers are preparing to deal with a potential repeat of the turmoil that took place on Jan. 3 this year, when the yen gyrated wildly and surged against its peers.

After a Tumultuous Decade, Bond Investors See Rocky Times Ahead;’Negative policy rates don’t work’; thoughts on technology, geopolitical influences and more
Daniel Kruger, Julia-Ambra Verlaine and Matt Wirz – WSJ
Bond markets have hosted some of the most dramatic shifts in finance over the past decade. Interest rates in Europe and Japan fell below zero, while U.S. companies borrowed more than ever. The Wall Street Journal asked six investors what is in store for the next decade. They spoke of the return of inflation, a turn away from negative interest rates and the implications of new technology. Below are edited transcripts of some of their comments.

Boom in global sand trade fuels fears over conservation; Countries ban exports in attempt to protect environment as consumption is set to soar
Chelsea Bruce-Lockhart – FT
Increasing demand for the world’s most-used natural material, sand, is fuelling mining in fragile natural habitats and prompting a growing number of countries to ban exports.

Germany Sweltered Through Third-Warmest Year on Record in 2019
Iain Rogers – Bloomberg
June was hottest, sunniest since regular measurements began; Temperature hit record 42.6 Celsius in Lingen in late July
Germany had the third-warmest year on record this year, including the hottest and sunniest June since regular measurements began in 1881, according to the nation’s Deutscher Wetterdienst weather service.

Is the Stock Market Open Today? Here Are the Hours for New Year’s Eve and Day.
Alistair Bates – Barron’s
New Year’s Eve promises some respite to reflect on what went well and what didn’t over the past 12 months (not to mention the past 10 years). Champagne will be shared, resolutions made, and gym memberships inevitably neglected. Apart from the usual revelry, investors are likely finalizing end-of-year trades, jettisoning poor-performing assets from their tax bill, and kicking off the next decade with a positive outlook. Here’s everything you need to know about the markets’ trading hours before—and after—the clock strikes midnight.

JPMorgan Seeks Full Control of Its China Futures Joint Venture
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is seeking 100% ownership of its futures joint venture in China, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, making it the first global bank to take advantage of the opening of the nation’s futures market, where transactions topped $30 trillion last year.


There are three key mobile banking features banks could invest in to elevate their offerings
Rachel Green – Business Insider
Over 61% of consumer banking transactions in 2019 were done on mobile, up from 52% in 2018, as highlighted in a TransUnion study, cited by The Financial Brand. And many mobile features — like fraud alerts, balance information, and bill pay — are becoming more expected from banks, forcing them to turn to more advanced features to win and engage customers.

BankThink It’s time to go all-in on open banking
Aaron Bridgers Jacob Kosoff – American Banker
The term “Amazon effect” is a term increasingly used to represent a digital-first business model where interactions with partners and customers centers on web-based application programming interfaces. APIs are the glue of the internet and allow digital businesses to interact seamlessly. Banks create a digital-first business model by offering services, such as treasury or loan origination, through APIs in an open-banking system.

Déjà vu for 2020? Regs, Geopolitical Change, ESG & Tech Innovation to Continue to Dominate Agendas
Julia Schieffer – DerivSource
The new year will be dominated by old issues and challenges pertaining to geopolitical change, regulation and the continued rise of ESG and technological innovation. Lynn Strongin Dodds assesses the impact for the derivatives and fintech space.


Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith to Be Released on Bail to Parents
Brady Dale – Coindesk
Virgil Griffith is slated to be released to his parents’ home in Alabama pending some pre-release conditions, after a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vernon Broderick in New York Monday. “Laws in this country are not suggestions,” Judge Broderick told the accused Ethereum Foundation developer as the hearing began, according to a tweet thread from Matthew Russell Lee, founder of Inner City Press, who covered the hearing live from the courtroom. Griffith is now slated be released to his parent’s Tuscaloosa home under a $1 million bond.

Bitcoin’s 9,000,000% Rise This Decade Leaves the Skeptics Aghast
Vildana Hajric – Bloomberg
It has gone from zero to hero to ‘digital gold’ since 2017; Decade spans boom and bust that saw it peak close to $20,000
If in the throes of this bull market’s earliest stages of recovery someone told you to forgo stocks, forget commodities, renounce fixed-income assets and buy an unknown digital token, the first of its kind, and watch it grow beyond your wildest dreams, you’d call them crazy, right?

China May Soon Have Its First Blockchain Exchange-Traded Fund
Wolfie Zhao – Coindesk
China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the country’s financial watchdog, has recently received an application for listing an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that will track blockchain-related stocks as underlying assets. Dubbed Penghua Shenzhen Stocks Blockchain ETF, the application was filed by Shenzhen-based asset management firm Penghua Fund and was accepted by the CSRC on Dec. 24, according to the regulator’s disclosure.

The state of hiring in the crypto and blockchain space
Rob Paone – The Block
It might strike one as obvious, but interest in careers related to cryptocurrency is directly correlated to the price of Bitcoin and the crypto markets. With prices and interest nowhere near the 2017/2018 highs, it’s important for companies to get creative when hiring for talent instead of expecting job seekers to find them.

TD Ameritrade Doesn’t Deny Potential Inclusion of XRP Into Service
Helen Partz – Cointelegraph
Major United States brokerage TD Ameritrade doesn’t deny the potential inclusion of cryptocurrencies like XRP to its platform. One of the early adopters of the original Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading platform, TD Ameritrade apparently remains positive about more potential initiatives in crypto.

Huobi Group CTO is leaving after four years at crypto firm
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Xianfeng Cheng (aka Mars Cheng), the chief technology officer (CTO) of Huobi Group, is departing the firm after four years. A Huobi spokesperson confirmed to The Block on Monday that Cheng is leaving in February 2020. Cheng joined Huobi Global in February 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before joining Huobi, he held executive roles at the Chinese IT firm OneAPM and lending platform Jimubox, where he served as the chief operating officer and VP of technology, respectively.

Poloniex requires password reset after account information leak
Celia Wan – The Block
Cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex has enforced a password reset on users whose email addresses and passwords were leaked on Twitter. In an email dated Dec. 30, the exchange said that “someone” posted a list of email addresses and passwords on Twitter and claimed that they could be used to log in to Poloniex accounts. However, the exchange stated that “almost all of the email addresses listed do not belong to Poloniex accounts.” For those that are associated with Poloniex, the exchange has forced a password reset. “We promptly sent emails out to all affected users, requiring them to change their password,” stated Poloniex’s official Twitter account.

Crypto firm ordered to cease and desist for misleading investors
Celia Wan – The Block
Missouri-based cryptocurrency firm Mavixbtc has been issued a cease-and-desist order for falsely claiming to be a registered financial advisor. In an announcement dated Dec. 27, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s Securities Division charged Mavixbtc for fraudulently claiming to have registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. The firm also used the registration number of a registered financial advisor, who had no knowledge of Mavixbtc, stated the announcement.

Justin Sun adds one more firm to his portfolio, this time blockchain streaming platform DLive
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Justin Sun, founder of Tron and CEO of peer-to-peer file sharing protocol BitTorrent, has added one more firm to his portfolio: blockchain-based live streaming platform DLive.

Algorithmic trading platform CoinRoutes reports $1 billion in order flow for 2019
Celia Wan – The Block
New York-based trading software provider CoinRoutes said Monday that the company saw more than $1 billion worth of digital assets in order flow on its platform over the course of 2019.


As China Anxiety Rises in U.S., Fears of New Red Scare Emerge
Peter Waldman – Bloomberg
Hoover-Asia Society report on coercive campaign sparks debate; Chinese Americans say study reinforces racial stereotypes
The setting was inauspicious: an auditorium at Stanford University, founded by a railroad tycoon who made his fortune off the backs of Chinese immigrants. The subject: a report describing China’s efforts to manipulate American universities, corporations and media 150 years after Leland Stanford celebrated the completion of the first transcontinental line.

View: Meet Boris Johnson’s $2.6 trillion bond supremo; Robert Stheeman has been overseeing sales of 2 trillion pounds of Britain’s sovereign bonds.
Marcus Ashworth – Economic Times
Robert Stheeman has been at the helm of the UK Treasury’s Debt Management Office since 2003, overseeing sales of more than 2 trillion pounds ($2.6 trillion) of Gilts, as Britain’s sovereign bonds are known.

Bloomberg Vows to Deliver Change Needed in the White House: An Open Office Plan
Matt Stieb – NY Magazine
Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg released a sweeping plan on Monday to deliver the profound change needed in the executive branch after four years of tumult under President Trump:

Bloomberg Moves Campaign Headquarters to Times Square; Decision comes slightly a month after the billionaire businessman launched his late Democratic presidential bid
Jennifer Calfas – WSJ
Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is moving its headquarters to Times Square. The former three-term New York City mayor announced to staff Monday that his new campaign headquarters will open in early January on the eighth floor of 229 W. 43rd St., the building previously home to the New York Times.

Angela Merkel Issues Stark Warning on ‘Real, Alarming’ Climate Change
Iain Rogers – Bloomberg
German chancellor comments in New Year’s address in Berlin; Pledges Germany will do its part in tackling global warming
Chancellor Angela Merkel called global warming “real” and “dangerous” in her New Year’s address, saying she will do everything in her power to ensure Germany makes a meaningful contribution to tackling it.

Sanchez’s Spain Coalition Plans Wait on Catalan Green Light
Charles Penty and Rodrigo Orihuela – Bloomberg
Socialists and Podemos plot higher taxes, worker protection; Catalan separatist group meets Thursday to decide on support
Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged higher taxes for banks and wealthy Spaniards as his coalition awaits the final decision of a Catalan separatist party that must give its blessing to his attempt to form a new government.


Fidelity rebuked by Hong Kong’s financial regulator; Asset manager conducted $40bn in futures trades over 11 years without right licence
Primrose Riordan and Daniel Shane – FT
Hong Kong’s financial regulator has rebuked Fidelity for conducting about $40bn in futures trades over 11 years without the right licence and for not reporting the breach to authorities quickly enough.

SEC Proposes to Codify Certain Consultations and Modernize Auditor Independence Rules
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it is proposing amendments to codify certain staff consultations and modernize certain aspects of its auditor independence framework. The proposed amendments would update select aspects of the nearly two-decade-old auditor independence rule set to more effectively structure the independence rules and analysis so that relationships and services that would not pose threats to an auditor’s objectivity and impartiality do not trigger non-substantive rule breaches or potentially time consuming audit committee review of non-substantive matters.

FINRA Orders Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. to Pay $3.8 Million in Restitution to Customers for Supervisory Failures Involving Unit Investment Trusts
FINRA announced today that it has ordered Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. to pay more than $3.8 million in restitution to customers who incurred potentially excessive sales charges caused by early rollovers of Unit Investment Trusts (UITs). FINRA also fined the firm $800,000 for failing to reasonably supervise early UIT rollovers.

Investing and Trading

Markets in 2019: You Couldn’t Lose Money If You Tried; As the Fed flipped toward lowering interest rates, virtually every type of investment soared.
Matt Phillips – NY Times
Stocks? Buy ’em. Bonds? Back up the truck. Gold? Why not. Hogs? Sure! There’s usually a tension across financial markets: If risky investments like stocks or junk bonds are doing well, super-safe assets such as government securities might be terrible investments. Wall Street’s titans and armchair investors alike expend tremendous amounts of time and sweat trying to predict what will be in and what will be out, hoping to beat everyone else with a cleverly constructed portfolio.

Imbalances that triggered the last market crash are no more; Two sectors at the heart of the crisis — household and financial — have undergone big changes
Colby Smith – FT
More than a decade on from global financial crisis, the imbalances that appeared to precipitate the crash have been corrected. While debt levels have built up elsewhere since then, the situation is less worrisome now, according to the US economics team at AllianceBernstein.

Wild Weather Helped Make Niche Commodities Big Winners in 2019
Michael Hirtzer and Ashley Robinson – Bloomberg
Wet U.S. field conditions help spark gains for rice futures; Prices for vegetable oils surge amid suppy concerns in Asia
The trade war, wild weather and angry farmers all generated major headlines in 2019 on corn and soybeans. But thinly traded niche commodities posted the most impressive gains for the year.

Predictions for 2020: Part two; Experts from across the industry share their insights into what will be the biggest trends of the coming year, covering technology, data and innovation.
John Brazier – The Trade
Michael Horan, director, head of trading, Pershing
The relentless march of algorithmic trading into execution workflows will continue to add to rising volumes in closing auctions across Europe. This will show more intensity around blue chips stock and ETFs as passive investing takes a further hold on equity trading investment profiles, further compounding the skew of liquidity dispersion towards the close. Intraday trading will see growing use of systematic internaliser liquidity and periodic auctions as the sell-side attempts to squeeze implicit trading costs as low as they can throughout the coming year.

Non-Resident Deposits in Singapore Banks Rise for Eighth Month
Marcus Wright – Bloomberg
Deposits by non-residents in Singapore banks rose 2.6% in November to S$51.1 billion ($37.9 billion), the eighth consecutive month of gains, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore data. The uptick from October could reflect continued inflows from Hong Kong amid the political tensions in the former British colony. Non-resident deposits have been rising steadily since March, the data show. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated in October that as much as $4 billion may have flowed to Singapore due to the turmoil. Non-resident deposits made up 7.5% of total deposits by non-bank customers of S$682.7 billion in November, up slightly from 7.35% of the total in October.

Netflix’s 10-Year 4,000% Rally Underlines Shift to Streaming
Ryan Vlastelica – Bloomberg
The stock has been the decade’s biggest gainer on the S&P 500; Concern has been growing over competition and user trends
Over the past 10 years, Netflix Inc. has led a revolution in the way the world consumes entertainment, and in doing so, it ruled over Wall Street.


Wild Year in China Markets Ends With Record Defaults and Dull Yuan
Bloomberg News
Stocks have been range-bound since surging to start the year; Signs economy has stabilized give reason for optimism in 2020
It’s been a bumpy year for China’s markets, considering all the turbulence in relations with the U.S. Still, the final results really aren’t bad. The Shanghai Composite Index closed off its best year since 2014, boosted by a huge rally in the first few months, when the country’s major equity benchmarks entered a bull market. While the yuan was whipsawed at times by every twist and turn in the trade dispute, it’s only weakened about 1.4% the past 12 months. Sovereign bonds rose, but lagged bigger gains in government-bond markets elsewhere.

Canaccord Genuity Beats Canada Banks for Top Spot on 2019 IPOs
Doug Alexander – Bloomberg
Independent firm also managed more stock sales than others; CEO Daviau sees strong market for M&A in next six months
In a year many bankers and companies called “challenging” for initial public offerings, one independent Canadian firm bucked the trend — outperforming the country’s biggest banks in the process.

Bank of Canada Formally Begins Hunt for the Next Rate Chief
Stephen Wicary – Bloomberg
Poloz ending his term in June as an outlier after Fed cuts; Front runners include his No. 2 & BlackRock research chief
The Bank of Canada has officially started its recruitment effort for a successor to Stephen Poloz, who is stepping down as governor at the end of his seven-year term in June.

China Set to Approve Local GMO Corn to Boost Food Security
Bloomberg News
China seeks public feedback on plans to approve GMO corn, soy; Commercial production of GMO grains may take 2 years
China is set to award safety certificates for genetically-modified corn, paving the way for domestic production as the world’s most-populous country turns to the controversial technology to boost food security.


E.U. nationals face ‘humiliation’ of applying to stay in the U.K. post-Brexit; “I really can’t get over the fact that I am made to apply to stay in my own home,” said one long-term E.U. migrant.
Yuliya Talmazan – NBC
Over the course of years and in some cases decades, millions of Europeans have built their careers and families in the U.K. — a place they call home.

Will Brexit Bring the Troubles Back to Northern Ireland?
James Angelos – The New York Times
Belfast, like Berlin and Sarajevo, draws many visitors not despite its history of murderous conflict but because of it. Guides there take tourists to “peace walls,” the tall barricades of corrugated metal and concrete erected during the sectarian conflict, known as the Troubles, that began in 1968 and ravaged Northern Ireland for three decades. The walls were built to divide Protestant and Catholic enclaves and to prevent people from killing one another as the spiraling cycle of attacks took hold.

Forget Brexit, the UK economy has these 3 other major risks
Business Insider
There are at least three other potential shocks that could be as significant to the UK as Brexit. To cope with the issues, it will require adept and creative central-bank policy. Bilal Hafeez spent over 20 years doing research at big banks. Read his analysis as it appeared on Macro Hive.


7 Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund
Catherine Brock – The Motley Fool via Nasdaq
Irish playwright Oscar Wilde said, “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” Modern in today’s world? Maybe. Financially responsible? Definitely. Being financially prepared for the unexpected with a healthy emergency fund account is a cornerstone of managing your finances. Experts recommend holding enough cash on hand to cover three to six months of living expenses. That amount will keep you afloat through a sudden loss of income or help you absorb a larger expense like a major home repair.

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