First Read

The Trombone Player Who Cares
By John J. Lothian

I am used to getting teary eyed when talking about serious subjects in front of large audiences. I am not used to seeing Walt Lukken, the FIA President & CEO, get that way. However, as he closed his comments yesterday in Chicago at the FIA Americas Operations Washington Update at the Union League Club of Chicago yesterday, Walt became noticeably emotionally impacted by the subject he was talking about.

Walt was talking about Kim Taylor and her very public campaign to take on colon cancer as she battles that disease.

Walt had told us about three things industry associations do, they are the voice of the industry, they present a forum for discussion and they bring us all together in a community.

Offering first hand evidence of the closeness of that community, Walt became “verklempt” as he talked about Kim Taylor, her battle and efforts of the KT Team to bring laughter into her life during this difficult time.

If you have not heard or seen the videos of people laughing for Kim, to bring cheer to her after her treatments, go to

Walt started his comments noting he was/is a trombone player and the influence the trombone had on his life. We are all better for Walt having chosen to play the trombone. And we are all better for having him as a leader in our industry community.


Daily Racing Form, Options Exchange Edition
Sarah Rudolph, JLN

With the U.S. options exchanges numbering a baker’s dozen, it is not an easy task to keep straight all of the names of these entities, let alone the new initiatives, updates and other exchange happenings. Fortunately, once a year we gather them together in one room. This year, that room is in Miami at the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel.

The Options Industry Conference got underway on Wednesday with the exchanges updates panel, where representatives of each exchange tell attendees what’s new and what’s ahead for their exchanges.

Here are some of the highlights from that panel.

Read the full exchange rundown at


Clearing Evolution: Michael McClain on the changes at OCC

Industry players are gearing up for this year’s Options Industry Conference. One of the key speakers at the event is Michael McClain, president and COO of The Options Clearing Corporation. We talked with McClain in advance of the conference about the changes at OCC and their effect on its resilience and risk management capability. He also looked at securities lending, options education, and the controversy over OCC’s capital plan.
Watch the video »

New Video from CME Group’s Futures Fundamentals
CME Group Presents New Educational Video on the Ins and Outs of Interest Rates
Interest rates affect our lives, from the rate we pay on a home mortgage to the interest paid on a credit card. But there are many factors that influence interest rate movement, and this movement can create risk for banks and other financial institutions. These concepts can be difficult to explain and understand. That’s why CME Group is demystifying interest rates in the latest video from its online educational resource, Futures Fundamentals.

***DA: After watching the market these past couple weeks, I am re-mystified.


Trading Technologies’ New Web-Based TT Platform Now Available for Free to Higher-Education Faculty and Students,
Business Wire
Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a leading provider of high-performance market connectivity and trading solutions for the financial community, announced today that the company’s next-generation, software-as-a-service (SaaS) trading platform called TT is now available to universities around the world through the new TT CampusConnect program. The launch of the TT platform means students can quickly gain access to the latest technology being used by financial professionals across the globe, preparing them for careers in capital markets.

***DA: The platform architecture is not the only thing being rebuilt at TT. Their University program has been upgraded and rebranded as CampusConnect.


Paulson, Bernanke: What’s said in Vegas stays in Vegas
Would you like to know whether sage investor and mammoth hedge fund manager John Paulson is bullish on stocks? Or how about what he sees as the most promising investment opportunities today? We’d love to tell you, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy. We’re also dying to share what former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had to say, but we weren’t even allowed in the room.

***DA: A different kind of debauchery than the usual Vegas fare. This involves debasing the currency.


How to Quit Banking and Open One of America’s Top New Restaurants
by Peter Elliot, Bloomberg
Santiago Perez, 30, and Santiago Gomez, 29, were high school friends growing up in Mexico City with similar names and shared dreams – each wanted to be an investment banker. And they succeeded, advising clients at UBS (often on restaurant/hospitality acquisitions), first in Mexico, then, together again, in London. It was only in New York that they realized their true passion was for food.

***DA: Rumor is they make the best duck tacos in the city.


Would the Financial Crisis Have Happened If Women Ran Wall Street?
By Danny Vinik, New Republic
At the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, Institute for New Economic Thinking hosted a conference on the health of the financial system in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The event brought together some of the most important people in finance—academic experts and financial regulators who are well-known throughout the industry. They had disparate views of regulatory policies implemented by governments during the past few years. Maybe the one thing they all shared in common: They were all women.

***DA: John gave me free reign to comment while he moderates a panel at OIC this morning. For this story several ideas came to mind, but I am not touching them with a 10-foot pole.


TYVIX Index, Measure of Interest-Rate Volatility, Rises for the 8th Day in a Row
By Matt Moran, CBOE
The CBOE/CBOT 10-year U.S. Treasury Note Volatility Index (with a new ticker symbol: TYVIXSM) rose Wednesday for the 8th trading day in a row. TYVIX measures the expected volatility of the price of 10-year Treasury Note futures. The price of these T-note futures is tied by arbitrage to the price of 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, which are a core instrument of the U.S. fixed income market. TYVIX futures also are available for investors.

***DA: If early indications hold, today will be day nine.


Lead Stories

First Libor jury trial delayed in London
The London trial of Tom Hayes, a former UBS (UBS.N) and Citigroup (C.N) trader who is the first person in the world to face a jury trial over allegations of a conspiracy to rig Libor interest rates, has been delayed by two weeks.

Chi-X Said Exploring Sale Valuing Market at $400 Million (2)
By Matthew Monks and Sam Mamudi, Bloomberg
Chi-X Global Holdings, a stock-market
operator owned by Nomura Holdings Inc. and other banks, is exploring a sale that could fetch as much as $400 million,people with knowledge of the matter said. Nomura and its co-investors are working with Moelis & Co. to sell the operator of equity venues in Australia, Canada and Japan, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

UK ‘flash crash trader’ bail application turned down
The Guardian
The British financial trader accused of contributing to a multibillion-dollar stock market crash from his parents’ home has protested his innocence in an emotional interjection after a request to slash his bail security was refused. Lawyers for Navinder Singh Sarao, 36, who is fighting extradition to the US on 22 counts of fraud and commodity manipulation, said they will now take their case to the high court after judge Elizabeth Roscoe said she would not alter a previous bail condition that required Sarao to provide security of £5m.

Jorge Montepeque, architect of oil-pricing system, to leave Platts
Neil Hume and David Sheppard, FT
The architect of the system that underpins oil pricing around the world has announced he is leaving Platts after a shake up at the reporting agency.

Telecity, Interxion deal in doubt as Equinix weighs in
British data centre provider Telecity Group said it had decided to enter into takeover talks with Equinix almost three months after agreeing a non-binding $2.2 billion all-share deal to buy Interxion Holding NV.

Christine Lagarde calls for shake-up of bankers’ pay
Shawn Donnan and Sam Fleming in Washington, FT
Banks need to shake up bonus-heavy pay structures and attack corporate cultures that encourage excessive short-term risk-taking, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned on Wednesday.

Ex-MF Global trader to settle manipulation claims by U.S. regulator
By Joseph Ax, Reuters
A former trader at the broker-dealer unit of MF Global Holdings Ltd’s [MGHL.UL] has agreed in principle to settle a U.S. regulator’s claims that he tried to manipulate palladium and platinum futures prices, according to a court filing.

Interim Financial Report – Cinnober Financial Technology AB
Highlights include sales, earnings, and new initiatives including a major project with ASX and another with the European Commission.

Remembering the Flash Crash From the NYSE Trading Floor
Watching the Dow Jones Industrial Average drop nearly 1000 points and rebound in minutes on May 6, 2010 was very unsettling for Kenny Polcari. Five years to the day of what became known as the “flash crash,” the trader said he and others on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor are still shaken by the fact that it happened, and even more so that it could happen again.


US-EU clearinghouse pact delayed for margin studies, stress tests, lawmaker says
Neil Roland, MLex
US and EU negotiators completed clearinghouse margin studies last week and will now review stress tests, postponing an agreement on clearinghouse recognition for at least a month, an influential European lawmaker has told MLex.

SEC Approves Pilot to Assess Tick Size Impact for Smaller Companies
The Securities and Exchange Commission today approved a proposal by the national securities exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for a two-year pilot program that would widen the minimum quoting and trading increments – or tick sizes – for stocks of some smaller companies. The SEC plans to use the pilot program to assess whether wider tick sizes enhance the market quality of these stocks for the benefit of issuers and investors.

U.S., EU officials clash over derivatives rules
U.S. and European Union regulators clashed on Wednesday over how to provide solid financial backing for the world’s $630 trillion derivatives market and also avoid duplication of rules that would be costly for banks and other players.

SEC Wins With In-House Judges – WSJ
Joel Shapiro faced an uphill battle when he fought the Securities and Exchange Commission in an Atlanta court last year. The investment-firm chief executive came before an SEC administrative law judge who has never fully cleared a defendant. In August, the judge found Mr. Shapiro had violated securities law, showing “reckless disregard” for his duty to investors.

ESMA Releases Final Guidelines Clarifying The Definition Of Commodity Derivatives Under MiFID I
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) today published guidelines on the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) I. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a common, uniform and consistent application of the definitions of commodity derivatives under C6 and C7 of Annex I of the current MiFID I, until MiFID II comes into force on 3 January 2017, when the European Commission issues its delegated acts in relation to these definitions.

ECB says 9 more banks to face stress tests in 2015
The European Central Bank said on Wednesday nine banks it monitors would face stress tests in 2015 in view of their increased systemic significance since its health check on large lenders last year.

Exchanges & Trading Facilities

BATS Successfully Completes 18-Month Migration Process with Move of BZX, BYX Exchanges to NY5 Data Center
Business Wire
BATS Global Markets (BATS), a leading operator of exchanges and services for financial markets globally, reported the successful and complete migration of all of its U.S. markets to the Equinix NY5 data center in Secaucus, N.J., completing an 18-month process related to the acquisition of Direct Edge.

BATS CHI-X Europe Reports April Numbers – Over EUR500bn Reported To BXTR -Europe’s Largest Exchange Shows Strength Of Offering In Key European Indices
More than EUR506.9 billion was reported in total to BXTR during April, an average of EUR25.3 billion each trading day, up from EUR21.4bn the prior month. BATS has continued to expand the functionality of this service for participants: on April 13, BATS Chi-X Europe and ICAP announced new services, when combined, enable market participants to trade fully cleared equity index Exchange for Physical (EFP) transactions anonymously.

LME Week Asia 2015 to Kick Off on 19 May
The third annual LME Week Asia, Asia’s leading metals event hosted by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) and the London Metal Exchange (LME), begins on Tuesday 19 May with an impressive line-up of speakers, panel discussions, and events that promise to make this year’s event the largest ever.

PEGAS: April Volume Increases By 81 Percent Year-On-Year – Record Volumes On The Spot Market
PEGAS, the pan-European gas trading platform operated by Powernext, announced that a total volume of 77.0 TWh was traded in April 2015. This represents an increase of 81 percent compared to 42.5 TWh traded in April 2014.

MIAX Options Exchange: New Rules Regarding Nullification And Adjustment Of Options Transactions
Effective Friday, May 8, 2015, MIAX has adopted new harmonized MIAX Rule 521, Nullification and Adjustment of Options Transactions Including Obvious Errors.

Gold Daily Futures Contract Launched at TOCOM
The Tokyo Commodity Exchange Inc., announced the first trades of its new Gold Daily Futures contract, which was launched today. A total of 12,525 contracts were traded. Follow the link to view the contract specifications.

Hedge Funds & Managed Futures

The Volatile Bond Markets Are Trying To Tell Us Something But What?
There’s three entirely separate things that we could pull from the current volatility of the bond and other investment markets. Our problem is that they’re rather contradictory things and the public policy response to each of them should be different.

Hedge fund manager Loeb takes aim at ‘Oracle of Omaha’ Buffett
Hedge fund mogul Daniel Loeb on Wednesday took aim at the “Oracle of Omaha,” calling beloved billionaire Warren Buffett a hypocrite. “I love how he criticizes hedge funds yet he really had the first hedge fund. He criticizes activists but he was the first activist,” Loeb, who runs $17.5 billion hedge fund Third Point, said about Buffett who has been running conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway for 50 years.

A Dozen Positive Developments in 2015 for Investors in Options
Over the past decade I have delivered more than 200 presentations around the world to groups of investors such as pension funds and/or investment advisors. During the presentation events I solicit feedback from investors on the topics which are of interest. Below is a list of 12 positive developments in 2015 for investors in options.

Bill Gross’s Fund Takes Hit Amid Bond Selloff
The cause of the fund’s troubles hasn’t been disclosed. But the 2.7% decline at the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund in the week ended Tuesday comes amid a nine-week-long selloff for government and corporate bonds that has inflicted pain on investors around the globe.

Wheat heavyweights battle for global market share
Gregory Meyer in New York and Emiko Terazono in London, FT
An Australian agricultural official asked a pointed question at a recent conference: “Are we at risk of becoming the poor white trash of Asia?”

El-Erian Sees Market ‘Delusion’ Amid ‘New World’
It’s a signature sunny Nevada morning at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but Mohamed El-Erian has his eyes on darker times ahead. Opening the annual SALT conference on Wednesday, the Allianz ALV.XE -3.86% chief economic advisor (and former Pimco heir apparent and Harvard endowment chief) flagged a bumpy ride for the future, particularly when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

Banks & Brokers

Societe Generale Prime Services Executes and Clears Non-Deliverable Forwards Through LCH.Clearnet
Societe Generale Prime Services, a global leader in multi-asset brokerage and clearing, today announced that its Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) has conducted its first customer Non-Deliverable Forward (NDF) cleared trade with LCH.Clearnet’s ForexClear service acting as the clearing house. The trade signifies the bank’s move toward providing active NDF clearing services and is a positive step in the development of a more capital and operationally efficient method for trading this product.

Bank of America’s new policy to limit credit exposure to coal
Bank of America announced Wednesday it will reduce its financial exposure to coal companies, acknowledging the risk that future regulation and competition from natural gas pose on the industry. The bank announced its new coal policy at its annual meeting, saying it would cut back its lending to coal extraction companies and coal divisions of broader mining companies.

JPMorgan probed over role in French tax evasion case
U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase has been placed under formal investigation in France as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by senior managers at investment firm Wendel, a court official said on Wednesday.

Morgan Stanley renews U.S. oil storage deal ahead of trading unit sale
Morgan Stanley’s (MS.N) commodities group has renewed a refined product storage deal with TransMontaigne Partners L.P. seven months early, as the Wall Street bank plans to sell its physical oil business.

Wells Fargo Increases Estimated Potential Loss to Litigation in Excess of Legal Reserves
Wells Fargo & Co. increased its estimate of the amount it may lose related to litigation in excess of legal reserves to as much as $1.2 billion as of March 31 from $1.1 billion three months earlier, according to a regulatory filing released by the bank on Wednesday.

ICAP plans new offensive in US Treasuries trading
Philip Stafford, FT
ICAP is developing a new venue for hedge funds and corporations to buy and sell US government bonds, that propels the brokerage into direct competition with rivals such as Bloomberg.

Clearing & Settlement

CCP12 Elected New Chair, Vice Chairs and Executive Committee
The Global Association of Central Counterparties
The members of CCP12 – The Global Association of Central Counterparties – elected a new Executive Committee at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 6, 2015. The global association of the world’s major clearing houses met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the sidelines of the World Federation of Exchange IOMA Conference, hosted by BM&F Bovespa.

LME Clear appoints Priyanka Malhotra to head business development
LME Clear, the clearing house for the London Metal Exchange (LME) market, is pleased to announce the appointment of Priyanka Malhotra as Head of Business Development, including product and relationship management.

ASX expands clearing services
The Australian Securities Exchange has launched the ASX Equity FlexClear, a service that allows institutional investors to centrally clear over-the-counter (OTC) equity options transactions at ASX.

Indexes & Products

Bond Funds: Why Bill Gross, and Active Managers, Beat Indexing
Three score and 10 is a number that sits better with some than others. As the Psalmist reminds us, that is the number of years we are allotted, unless we are strong and we get 80 years. But, he adds, even the best of those years are filled with struggle and sorrow, and they pass quickly and we fly away.
Not all septuagenarians view life like that. If you can believe it, guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton marked his 70th birthday a couple of days ago, doing what he does best, performing to a packed Madison Square Garden audience. According to Rolling Stone’s review, Clapton told the crowd, “Thank you very much for helping celebrate the wonderful gift with these wonderful friends.”

Emerging-Markets Bond Funds: A Look Under the Hood
Improving country fundamentals, strong long-term performance, higher yields, and diversification benefits have made the emerging-markets bond Morningstar Category one of the fastest-growing categories that Morningstar tracks. Popular as the category has become, investors often don’t fully grasp key differences among emerging-markets bond funds. Indeed, such funds tend to follow one of four investment approaches–hard currency (U.S.-dollar denominated), local currency (local-currency denominated), corporate, or some combination of the three.

The 40th anniversary of the launch of the first index fund passed recently, and we noted with irony that the leading proponent of indexing, Vanguard’s founder John Bogle, seized the opportunity to chastise an industry that took indexing to a marketing extreme. “My idea in creating that original index fund was the essence of simplicity: Buy the stocks representing the lion’s share of the U.S. stock market, weigh them by their market capitalizations, (and) hold them forever,” Bogle wrote in March.

New OMX Stockholm Benchmark Portfolio Selected – The New Portfolio Of The OMX Stockholm Benchmark Index Will Become Effective On June 1, 2015
OMXSB includes some of the largest and most traded stocks on Nasdaq Stockholm and the portfolio is represented by companies in all ten industries. Included stocks are screened to ensure liquidity and the weight of the stocks is based on the free float adjusted market value, which means that only the part of the share capital that is considered available for trading is included in the index.

Merk Gold ETF (OUNZ) Wins Award at the Annual Global ETF Awards
Merk Gold Trust
Merk Gold Trust (NYSE: OUNZ), the deliverable gold ETF, was awarded Most Innovative ETF Hybrid Product of the Year, Americas, at the 11th Annual Global ETF Awards in New York. The Annual Global ETF Awards are given by the; each award is nominated and voted on, by leading industry experts within the ETF industry.


UCX Expands Trade of Cloud (IaaS) on Global Exchange
UCX, the Universal Compute Xchange, where the World Trades the Cloud, announced the first successful trades for their benchmark WAC Financial Contract. The WAC is the first commercial standard to quantify IT infrastructure, and the basis by which compute resources may be measured and transacted on UCX. Trades were seamlessly conducted on the Exchange and trading volume has grown rapidly since the opening trade, February 25, 2015.

***DA: A firm co-founded by industry veteran Jack Bouroudjian, UCX aims to be the point of price discovery and management of IT infrastructure risk.

Not to Be Stopped, Google Takes On the Wireless World
Call it the Google paradox. Last month, the European Union’s antitrust chief accused Google of abusing its dominant market power in web searches. A week later, Google announced it was entering the wireless service market in the United States, threatening to disrupt one of America’s most concentrated industries. Meantime, it is expanding its super-high-speed broadband Internet service to as many as 34 cities, taking on another market so concentrated that the government recently derailed the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. So is Google an evil monopolist or competitive champion?

Data Center Provider Equinix Makes Bid for Telecity of Britain
The British data center provider Telecity Group said on Thursday that it was reviewing a cash-and-stock takeover bid from its much bigger American rival Equinix. The takeover approach could put in doubt an all-share deal announced in February between Telecity and its European rival Interxion Holding.


SEC Charges Four Former Officers of Delaware Bank Holding Company With Disclosure Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed fraud charges against four former officers of Wilmington Trust for intentionally understating past due bank loans during the financial crisis. The former Delaware-based bank holding company was acquired by M&T Bank in May 2011 and paid $18.5 million in September 2014 to settle related SEC charges of improper accounting and disclosure fraud.

FINRA Sanctions LPL Financial LLC $11.7 Million For Widespread Supervisory Failures
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has censured LPL Financial LLC and fined it $10 million for broad supervisory failures in a number of key areas, including the sales of non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs), certain variable annuity contracts, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other complex products, as well as its failure to monitor and report trades and deliver to customers more than 14 million trade confirmations.

Company director pleads guilty
Mr Anthony Nicholls, 63, of Mitcham pleaded guilty today in the Victorian County Court to 3 charges of dishonestly using his position as a company director to misappropriate over $750,000.

Environmental & Energy

This New App Turns Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Into A Game
Fast Company
Maybe you’ve checked your carbon footprint once or twice.

Green Projects Stay Dirty as Pollution-Credit Values Tumble 98%
By Mathew Carr – Bloomberg News
For more than a decade, a small Hamburg consulting company thrived by using technology to cut nitrous oxide emissions at fertilizer plants in developing nations. For that, it was awarded United Nations pollution credits that it then sold to European utilities.

***LB: Also in this story “The value of the credits are down 98 percent since the 2008 recession, meaning it now costs about 12 times their value to install the equipment needed to reduce greenhouse gases, according to data from Johnson Matthey Plc.”

Pause needed in global warming optimism, new research shows
By Dana Nuccitelli – The Guardian
Since the turn of the century, the Earth’s climate has continued to accumulate heat at a rate equivalent to more than 4 atomic bomb detonations per second.

Carbon Trade Exchange Launches Platform for Allowances from RGGI
The Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) announced the start of a new centralized exchange platform that will allow users to buy and sell allowances from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first mandatory cap-and-trade program in the US to limit carbon dioxide from the power sector.


IMF Says China, Japan Weakness Threatens Asia-Pacific
Rising debts, a stronger dollar and weaker-than-expected performances from China and Japan pose increasing risks to the broader Asia-Pacific region, even as it looks likely to remain the world’s fastest-growing, the International Monetary Fund said.

Morgan Stanley Downgrades China for First Time in Over 7 Years
MoneyBeat – WSJ
Morgan Stanley told clients Thursday something it hadn’t said in over seven years: hold less Chinese shares. The U.S. bank downgraded the market for the first time since November 2007, and after holding an overweight position for the past six years.

Virtu to expand into China
Nicole Bullock in New York, FT
Virtu Financial, the high-speed proprietary trader that went public in April, plans to expand into China.

Frontier Markets

IMF Pegs India To Be One Of World’s Fastest Growing Economies
As India should be one of the world’s fastest growing economies of course. For, given what we know about economic growth the poorer a country is the easier it ought be to have fast growth. On the very simple grounds that the things that are necessary to have growth have already been invented elsewhere and it’s only implementation that needs to happen.

Investors Should be Jonesing for Indian Stocks
Sobering up may be painful. But it is providing investors in India’s stock market the chance to start a healthier routine. India’s 50-stock CNX Nifty index slumped heavily this week, bringing it down more than 3% for the year, while the global MSCI Emerging Markets index is up 9%. Investors are frustrated by the slow pace at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is moving ahead with reforms, and even angered by a backward proposal to retroactively tax foreign fund managers for previous capital gains.

Investors flee emerging markets as global bond yields spike
Investors dumped emerging stocks and bonds on Thursday, as German and U.S. bond yields hit multi-week highs, pushing equity indexes down 1-2 percent and fuelling heavy currency losses.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This Story