Key participants at the World Economic Forum express doubt that increased trading volume has any real, beneficial effect on the economy. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy gives a thumbs-down to banks, and declares his intention to see a transaction tax in place by August. People near the MF Global investigation say it’s increasingly looking like much of the missing money was vaporized through trading, rather than tucked away at receiving institutions. In today’s top box, John Lothian points out that MF Global transactions are traceable, and adds support for the creation of a task force to pry loose a credible explanation of where the money actually went; and Doug Ashburn spends Five Minutes with Rob Prior, CEO of Actant.
Observations – Statistics – Commentary
This is No Bank Robbery
By John J. Lothian
When someone robs a bank and gets away with the money, they have something fungible (cash) and easily hid. While the authorities may be able to trace the serial numbers on the bills as they start to show up in circulation, there are no other official records for the physical bills to be traced.
The MF Global situation is different. Money is missing, like in a bank robbery, but the money all moved into and out of MF Global’s bank accounts where there are all kinds of physical and virtual records to trace the whereabouts and the end location of said funds.
There is a rational expectation that exchange regulators, market regulators, bank regulators, FBI investigators and Congressional investigators ought to be able to follow this chain of banking records to trace/discover where the money is. In fact, if they can’t, then this is a stinging indictment of our banking and brokerage system and God help us all.
If the MF Global money had been stolen by a bank robber who put the cold hard cash in a secret hiding place, it would be one thing. However, in the MF Global case, the money is somewhere identifiable, traceable and verifiable.
Recoverable is another thing. I understand that. There is a reason the securities side regulators seized the opportunity to put a SIPA trustee in charge of the bankruptcy of a firm with 400 some securities accounts and 35,000 futures accounts. They wanted an advantage and wanted their laws to have priority.
The securities side has put the futures side at a distinct disadvantage. And of course, it does not help that the lead futures regulator, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler, has had to recuse himself from the matter due to personal ties to the MF Global former CEO Jon Corzine. But forget that. It does not matter.
What matters is that regardless of whose protocols, regulations, laws or precedent, there should be transparency to what happened to the money. Every time a client sends in money via wire transfer, there is a Federal Reserve ID attached to that wire. Every check that is written goes through the Federal Reserve check system. There is a record.
With so many regulators and investigators looking into the MF Global situation, and so little progress made or at least disclosed, the time is ripe for an independent task force to investigate this. There is too much regulatory arbitrage, or the threat of it, from so many competing regulatory and investigatory bodies. There is too much self-interest and not enough public interest.
I concur with Senator Pat Roberts that an independent task force must be formed to investigate and report on the MF Global bankruptcy. The NFA and the Self Regulatory Organization arms of the exchanges have formed their Super Committee to look for answers to what is broken. The Futures Industry Association has their competing Task Force of members. We, John Lothian News, have FuturesCrowd.com to help find ways to restore customer confidence in the markets.
But what we really need is that Pat Roberts Task Force, headed by CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers and full of futures industry experts, industry stakeholders and others, to investigate all of this thoroughly. The primary purpose of the Task Force should be to find the money, or at least publicly identify its whereabouts.
This was not a bank robbery, but the situation is robbing us of our trust in the institutions, regulators and regulations that protect us as we participate in the exchange traded derivatives markets.
Five Minutes with Rob Prior
Rob Prior is CEO of Actant, a privately held software company based in Zug, Switzerland, that specializes in technology solutions for futures and options traders. He has spent over 25 years in the derivatives industry, beginning with Timber Hill (which became the market-maker arm of Interactive Brokers), an early adopter and innovator in applying electronic elements into trading. Prior spoke with MarketsWiki’s Doug Ashburn about the evolution of the market-maker space, current trends, and the future of trading.
Q: Those of us on the trading floor in the late 1980s – long before the advent of electronic trading – remember Timber Hill’s color-coded screens that fed real-time info to the traders in the pits. Did this give you an early appreciation for the importance of technology?
A: Back then, the whole idea of automated trading was considered outlandish when everyone else was sheet trading. We came down to the floor to be the first to automate trades between New York and Chicago. Everyone scratched their heads and said, “that will never work.” Now, here we are, 25 years later. All the pits have gone electronic, and everyone is trying to speed up that exact process and automate it even more.
Around 1990, we hooked up to the first electronic exchange, the DTB (now Eurex), and that was quite an experience, finally getting a chance to apply automation without human intervention. From there, we hit all of the electronic exchanges – LIFFE, SOFFEX, and the other early adopters in terms of electronic exchanges. Many of the tools and experiences our customers now have, we were developing them, or variations of them, way back then.
Q: What types of experiences?
A: Blips in the system, for one thing, where if you had a problem with an algorithm or an electronic trading system. When we started trading, there was no safety – no automatic cancellations [of trades]. Now our customers have the advantage of several layers of safeties. The exchanges have very sophisticated safety mechanisms in place. Eurex has delta-checks; you can set a delta limit where if you trade too many deltas at one time, it can hold all of your quotes [from the market]. In our system we have something built in called 10 trades in 10 seconds wherein if your strategy has gotten away from you, or there is some disconnect there, you are obviously doing a lot of trades that you don’t want to be doing.
For the rest of the interview, visit MarketsWiki at http://jlne.ws/wJxhj3
Scott Kebby Passes
I am sorry to report that Scott Kebby has passed away. He was a long time futures broker at MF Global/Man Financial/First American Discount and Vision Financial. Prayers to his wife Lisa and his family and frirends.
SCOTT F. KEBBY
Scott F. “Kebz” Kebby, 51, of Westchester; beloved husband of Lisa; loving father of Carli and Kyle; dear brother of Alan Kebby; fond uncle of Nichole, Sean, Chloe, Peyton, Noah, Riley, Dylan and Kaiden. Member of the Westchester of Lions Club, involved Coach for Westchester Baseball and Active Parishioner of Divine Infant Church. Funeral Thursday 9 a.m. from Hursen Funeral Home, SW corner of Roosevelt and Mannheim Rds., Hillside/Westchester to Divine Infant Church, Westchester. Mass 10 a.m. Interment Queen of Heaven Cemetery. Visitation Wednesday 3 to 9 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Kebby Kids Trust Fund, c/o MB Financial Bank. Funeral info 800-562-0082 or www.hursen.com
Published in Chicago Tribune on January 30, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions – Trading Program Performance Calculations and Presentation by CTAs with Client Assets held at MF Global, Inc.
As a result of the October 31, 2011 bankruptcy proceeding involving MF Global, Inc. (MFG), NFA has received a number of questions from CTAs regarding how to calculate and present performance information for Trading Programs with client managed accounts that were affected by the MFG bankruptcy proceeding. NFA is issuing this notice to address those frequently asked questions.
Summers: “Inside Job had essentially all its facts wrong”
By Felix Salmon – Columbia Journalism Review
In mid-2009, I went on a search for apologies, from the people who laid the intellectual and regulatory foundations for the financial crisis. I wondered whether and when Larry Summers, in particular, would apologize for what he did at Treasury, and I was heartened when Bill Clinton came out and said that, with hindsight, he was wrong about derivatives regulation.
This Year, Davos Doesn’t Deliver
By FRANCESCO GUERRERA – WSJ
DAVOS, Switzerland—”Davos is Davos.” Delivered with a knowing smirk by a top Wall Street executive, the platitude was meant to encapsulate the spirit of the annual Alpine gathering of the great and the good.
MarketsWiki Page of the Day
Institute for Financial Markets
MarketsWiki Recent Updates
Companies, Organizations and Groups
18,843,939 pages viewed, 6,668 articles, 136,116 edits
Trichet, Turner Question Real Value of Bigger, Faster Trading
The technology-driven jump in trading volume has been of little discernible benefit to the real economy and must be more closely watched by regulators, policy makers said at a debate at the World Economic Forum.
Sarkozy Says France to Tax Financial Transactions From August
France plans to unilaterally impose a 0.1 percent tax on financial transactions starting in August, President Nicolas Sarkozy said, brushing aside opposition from the nation’s banks.
Money From MF Global Feared Gone
BY SCOTT PATTERSON AND AARON LUCCHETTI – WSJ
Nearly three months after MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapsed, officials hunting for an estimated $1.2 billion in missing customer money increasingly believe that much of it might never be recovered, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Ratings agencies to be quizzed over MF Global
By Shahien Nasiripour in Washington – Financial Times
Moody’s Investors Service “did not have any understanding” that MF Global, the failed futures broker, had placed a $6.3bn proprietary bet on the debt of troubled European sovereigns until about a week before the brokerage filed for bankruptcy, despite MF Global’s disclosure of the gamble some five months earlier in May.
Customer Accounts and MF Global Bankruptcy
Source: University of Illinois farmdoc
MF Global failed on Oct. 31, 2011, producing the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history and the largest commodity brokerage collapse of all time. While this is not the first time a major brokerage firm has failed, what sets MF Global apart is the fact that $1.2 billion in customer funds were missing at the time of the failure, and still remain missing three months later. This shortfall affects approximately 38,000 futures brokerage accounts, a large percentage of which were held by individuals and entities in the agricultural sector.
Fitch Takes Rating Actions On Six Eurozone Sovereigns
Environmental Trading News
Regional Cap-and-Trade Effort Seeks Greater Impact by Cutting Carbon Allowances
The New York Times
Adjusting to shifts in the economy, states in the cap-and-trade system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have slashed the number of allowances that electric power companies can buy to offset their emissions.
Reaping a Bonus From Cap-and-Trade
The New York Times’ Green blog
Criticism of cap-and-trade programs often centers on the costs they impose on electric power companies and their consumers. But as I report in Friday’s Times, New York and other Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that are trying out such a system have found that those costs can be offset by energy efficiency measures paid for by the cap-and-trade program itself.
MPs attack go-it-alone carbon price floor
British industry faces a “devastating effect” from the government’s decision to set tougher carbon penalties than the rest of Europe, while consumers will have to pay
artificially high electricity prices, a committee of MPs has warned.
For more environmental trading news, subscribe to the Environmental Markets version of the John Lothian Newsletter edited by Jim Kharouf.
Visit http://www.jlnenvironmental.com to subscribe.
Exchange & ECN News
CME to delay grain, oilseed swaps
The CME Group Inc. said Friday that it would delay the launch of eight new grain and oilseeds swaps for central clearing that had been planned for Feb. 13. A CME spokesman said the exchange learned the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission was going to delay approval of the swaps, announced Jan. 23.
Deutsche Boerse Prepares For Stand Alone And Asian JV – Report
German exchange operator Deutsche Boerse AG aims to expand its product portfolio and regional presence if the proposed merger with rival NYSE Euronext fails, weekly Euro am Sonntag reports Sunday, citing a company manager.
NYSE might go to court if EU blocks Boerse merger
FRANKFURT -(MarketWatch)- NYSE Euronext (NYX) Chief Executive Duncan Niederauer reiterated that the exchange operator might go to court if the European Commission blocked the proposed merger with Germany’s Deutsche Boerse AG (DB1.XE), magazine Der Spiegel reports Sunday.
Dealtalk: Owners, insiders jockey ahead of LME sale
By Susan Thomas and Douwe Miedema – Reuters
(Reuters) – Market parties are jockeying ahead of a sale of the London Metal Exchange (LME), a deal that could radically alter the sway that banks and brokers hold over the world’s largest metals market.
Tie-up with NYSE Euronext not vital for Deutsche Boerse
AFP via Yahoo! News
The proposed merger of Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext — which now looks almost certain to fail — is not vital for the German company’s survival, say analysts and industry experts.
The First NYSE Euronext Lisbon Awards
Lisbon, 27th January 2012 – For the first time, NYSE Euronext has awarded 16 organisations that excelled in the capital markets in 2011. The awards are aimed at raising the visibility of those companies operating in the stock market throughout last year.
[CBOE] Price Protection Levels
[Deutsche Börse] Tenth bond listed on the Entry Standard
TOM MTF Statistics Week 4 2012
Banks, Brokers & Dark Pools
CME adds Deutsche Bank to gold custodian providers
(Updates with spokesman comments, background details.) NEW YORK -(MarketWatch)- CME Clearing, a division of exchange-operator CME Group Inc. CME, added Deutsche Bank AG (DB, DBK.XE) London Branch to its gold custodian providers, the company said in a statement Friday. Deutsche Bank will provide gold custodian services on behalf of CME Clearing starting immediately, according to a CME Clearing …
Citigroup Chairman Parsons May Quit: Report
International Business Times
Citigroup’s chairman, Richard Parsons, is considering giving up the position to focus on other interests, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation.
WSJ: British, Swiss Regulators To Move Against UBS In Rogue Trading Scandal
Beleaguered Swiss banking giant UBS AG (UBS) is most likely to face enforcement proceedings from the British and Swiss regulatory authorities in the rogue trader case that has cost the bank about $2.3 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
Goldman Sachs Among Banks Lobbying to Exempt Half of Swaps From Dodd-Frank
More than half of the derivatives- trading business of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and three other large banks could fall largely outside the Dodd- Frank Act if they succeed in lobbying regulators to exempt their overseas operations, government records show.
Direct Edge Exploring Sale Or IPO As Exchange Plots Growth
By Jacob Bunge Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Direct Edge Holdings LLC is exploring a sale or initial public offering as the electronic exchange company looks to grow amid tough market conditions and intense competition facing U.S. stock market operators.
U.S. Banks Tally Their Exposure to Europe’s Debt Maelstrom
New York Times
Some banks are more hedged than others against the possibility of a debt cascade in Europe. But greater disclosure requirements have so far made the credit-default swap arena only slightly less opaque, and dangerous.
UBS hires raft of veteran Merrill brokers
Reuters via Yahoo! News
(Reuters) – UBS Americas Wealth Management said on Friday it hired at least 14 veteran Merrill Lynch brokers who in total managed more than $2 billion in client assets at Merrill.
Goldman’s Blankfein Receives A $2.69 Million Portion Of His Pre-2011 Equity Pay
Based on filings with the SEC , Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein received 24,249 shares currently valued at $2.69 million based on Friday’s closing price og $111.
Stephen Hester, Royal Bank Of Scotland CEO, Turns Down Bonus Amid Criticism
The Huffington Post
LONDON — Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester will not be accepting a 1 million pound ($1.5 million) bonus that drew criticism from British public and politicians, the bank said Sunday.
Jefferies Close To Clinching Deal To Buy Hoare Govett-Source
U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF) is close to clinching a deal to buy Hoare Govett, the corporate brokerage business being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS), a person familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Sunday.
Deutsche Bank CEO: Confident On Greek Solution;Private Sector Contribution “A Lot”
Deutsche Bank AG (DB) Chief Executive Josef Ackermann Friday said he is positive that a solution for a Greek bailout will be found and that the current private-sector offer on the table is a substantial contribution.
Ackermann Era Ends at Davos as Deutsche Bank Chief Cedes Power
For Josef Ackermann, head of Germany’s biggest bank, the World Economic Forum is a curtain call for the top power broker of an industry under attack.
Bank of America shuffles investment banking leaders
Reuters via Yahoo! News
(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp is shaking up the leadership of its investment bank as it looks to find its footing in a difficult market environment.
Lehman May Give Creditors $8.1 Billion to $10.7 Billion
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which in 2008 filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history and has said it’s planning to start paying creditors from its cash holdings, may initially distribute $8.1 billion to $10.7 billion.
Lehman Investors Traded $32 Billion of Firm’s Debt Last Year
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) investors traded $32.4 billion of the defunct investment bank’s debt last year as a hearing on its plan to pay creditors approached, according to a report.
Former UBS trader pleads not guilty
By Jane Croft – Financial Times
Kweku Adoboli, the former UBS trader, has denied two charges of fraud and two charges of false accounting after he was arrested last year in one of the biggest alleged rogue trading scandals ever seen in Britain.
Saxo Capital Markets Launches Australian Retail Operations
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, Jan 30, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty Ltd (‘SCM Australia’), the online trading and investment specialist, today announced the launch of its retail operations in Australia, offering investors the opportunity to trade thousands of asset classes across award-winning online platforms.
The SEC News Digest
The SEC News Digest provides daily information on recent Commission actions, including enforcement proceedings, rule filings, policy statements, and upcoming Commission meetings.
SEC’s Schapiro Said to Face Pushback Over Choosing Next Watchdog
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro may have to revise her plan for hiring the agency’s next internal watchdog after at least three commissioners demanded greater say in the process, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Cuomo Criticized for Reach of Financial Services Agency
New York Times
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s superintendent of the new office has taken on high-profile issues, and some see it as infringing on Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s territory.
SEC Goes After Online Trading Firms That Unwittingly Helped Latvian Hacker
In an effort to crack down on hacker/stock traders who hijack brokerage accounts and exploit the stock market for gain, the Securities and Exchange Commission has, in a novel move, gone after four online trading companies and eight executives who they say helped a Latvian hacker make more than $850,000 from fraudulent trades.
A rational choice for regulators
“Practical men”, John Maynard Keynes once said, “are usually the slave of some defunct economist.” When it comes to financial supervision, regulators and politicians of the past few decades have been no exception. Their approach has been based on the idea that consumers are rational – an assumption first made by economists a very long time ago.
New York Attorney General Schneiderman And Federal Officials Detail Joint Investigation Into Mortgage Crisis
Speech By SEC Staff: Remarks At Joint News Conference To Announce RMBS Working Group – Robert Khuzami Director Of The SEC’s Division Of Enforcement
Remarks Before The Domestic Trade Policy Committee Of The National Association Of Wheat Growers Winter Meeting, CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers
Remarks Before The American Bar Association, Committee On Derivatives And Futures Law, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler
NFA takes emergency enforcement action against New York firm BKT Capital Management and its principal, Basil Fayadh
January 27, Chicago – National Futures Association (NFA) announced today that it has taken an emergency enforcement action against BKT Capital Management LLC (BKT), a commodity trading advisor located in New York City, and its principal, Basil Fayadh.
Former compliance officer at Greenlight Capital and JP Morgan Cazenove trader fined
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined Alexander Ten-Holter, trader and former compliance officer at Greenlight Capital (UK) LLP (Greenlight) £130,000 for failing to question and make reasonable enquiries before selling Greenlight’s shareholding in Punch Taverns plc (Punch) ahead of an anticipated significant equity fundraising by Punch in June 2009, and prohibited him from performing Compliance Oversight and Money Laundering reporting functions.
ESMA Outlines Future Regulatory Framework For ETFs And Other UCITS Issues
ESMA publishes today a
SEC Deputy Inspector General To Serve As Agency’s Interim Inspector General
Canadian Securities Regulators Adopt Regulatory Regime For Credit Rating Organizations
Former WA director convicted of stealing $230,000
ASIC permanently bans former SA director
ASIC releases investor guide and disclosure guidance for agribusiness schemes
Investments – Indexes – Managed Futures – Managed Funds
Man Signs United Nations-Backed Principles For Responsible Investment
Man Group has announced that it has become a signatory to the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
Bridgewater, Unlike Other Hedge Funds, Didn’t Have a Terrible Year
New York Magazine
2011 was not a good year for most hedge funds. Look no further than John Paulson, the hedge-fund king who so famously not just weathered but profited insanely off of 2008’s market turmoil. This year, though, some of Paulson’s funds dipped as much as 50 percent. So who was the Paulson of last year? A very large hedge fund: Bridgewater, the world’s biggest, in fact. Average returns for hedge funds …
Private Equity Trade Group to Name Permanent Chief
By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED – NY Times
The Private Equity Growth Capital Council plans to formally appoint Steve Judge as its chief executive on Monday, making him the formal leader of the private equity industry trade group.
3 ways to avoid trouble with exchange-traded funds
By Peter Evans, CBC News
While exchange-traded funds are lauded for their low fees, experts warn that this increasingly popular type of investment is getting away from its roots and that can spell trouble for the unwary. Complex new products are hitting the market and they come with potential pitfalls for investors.
SunGard Enhances Stream Fail Monitor for Mortgages and Agency Debt
New York – January 30, 2012 – SunGard has enhanced its Stream Fail Monitor solution, part of its Stream suite of post-trade solutions, to help financial services firms comply with the expansion of the Treasury Market Practice Group (TMPG) penalties to apply to mortgages and agency debt fails.
Twitter Censorship And The Future Of Authoritarianism In A High-Tech World
Twitter is drawing some flack for its new censorship policies. In the past, the micro-blogging service has helped dissenters across the globe communicate quickly with one another, helping spread information quickly and in ways that are difficult for repressive governments to crack down on. That may all be changing.
Briefing.com Economic Calendar
CBOE Events Calendar
Economic Release Calendar
The Economic Release Calendar (PDF) is a schedule of government, academic and industry economic releases, provided as a service to CME customers.
China to make Shanghai global yuan hub by 2015
Reuters via Yahoo! News
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China intends to establish Shanghai as the global centre for yuan trading, clearing and pricing over the next three years as part of broader plans to make the commercial hub an international financial centre by 2020.
Clariden Sued in Singapore Over Minor’s Risky Trades in Futures Contracts
By Andrea Tan – Bloomberg
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN)’s private banking unit Clariden Leu induced a 19-year-old minor to make risky trades in futures contracts and should be liable for the losses incurred, according to a lawsuit filed in Singapore.
SGX Gets U.S. CFTC Approval For FTSE China A50 And MSCI Asia APEX 50 Futures Contracts
Addition of TOPIX Leveraged and TOPIX Inverse Indexes to “Stock Price Index – Real Time” page on TSE Homepage
Tokyo Grain Exchange: Response To An Article In The Press
There are no facts regarding the dissolution of the Exchange as reported in the recent press.
HKFE Announces Revised Margins For Futures Contracts
Saudi Market Closer to Opening Up as Foreign Shares Can List
Saudi Arabia will allow overseas companies to list securities on the Arab world’s biggest bourse, fueling speculation the country may open to foreign investors.
Frontier ETFs Coming Your Way
After all, despite the barrage of niche products being launched practically every week , the ETF market is still longing for a global, broad-based frontier markets fund.
DFSA Enters Into Statement of Protocol With US Audit Regulator
NASDAQ Dubai Joins Gulf Bond And Sukuk Association To Promote Region’s Debt Market
Dubai Financial Market Inaugurates Its Educational Trading Floor At Dubai Men’s College – The Leading Regional Initiative Reaffirms DFM’s Commitment To Corporate Social Responsibility
Securities Commission Malaysia Scorecard Q4 2011: Sukuk Dominates Fund-Raising Activities In 2011
Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange Weekly Market Commentary – January 29, 2012
New Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) Office Location
Nervous bankers braced for job losses
By Simon Mundy – Financial Times
Nervous investment bankers are contacting headhunters in anticipation of a new wave of redundancies this year, while those already laid off are increasingly willing to accept temporary roles or positions overseas, according to senior figures in London’s recruitment industry.
The best I can do for today’s youth is quit
By Lucy Kellaway – Financial Times
[…] I keep meeting bright people in their 20s and 30s desperate for a job in journalism – and for mine in particular. I fob them off with platitudes about what a difficult market journalism is, but no one is fooled. The real reason they can’t do my job is that I’m doing it myself.