First Read

A Most Interesting Charity Challenge Without Cold Water
By John J. Lothian

I have a challenge for the readers of this newsletter that does not involve cold water, but does include a donation to the Futures For Kids charity. The week before the FIA Boca Raton International Conference news broke that Dos Equis spokesman Jonathan Goldsmith, known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” was being replaced by the beer maker with a younger replacement. You could be the next MIMITW.

Here is the plan. You need to shoot and share with us an audition video for the part. You need to audition with two different lines.

The first line is “I always donate to children’s charities, and when I do it is to Futures For Kids.”

The second line should be about your business. You can write it yourself. For example, it could be “I don’t always trade stocks, but when I do I trade on BATS.”

You are welcome to add any color to the video about why you are the most interesting man in the world with some B-Roll, or background supplemental video to help you tell your story.

Share these videos with us, make a donation to Futures For Kids and we will share your audition video with this newsletter. We will even make a best of video similar to what we did for the ICE Bucket Challenge.

The bad news is that you will all have to compete with Pat Kenny of CQG, who I called The Most Interesting Man in the World in a column a few years ago. I am sure Kenny will come up with a strong audition.

And just to be fair, this competition is open to women as well. If you want to be “The Most Interesting Woman in the World” and submit your own video, we will publish and include those as well.

Let’s have some fun, raise some money for Futures For Kids and see if we can help Dos Equis find the next Most Interesting Man/Woman in the World.


2016 Exchange CEO Series: Jeff Sprecher Talks Data, Clearing and Growth for ICE

For the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), 2015 was about major investments in data and analytics services. Now in 2016, the exchange is looking to integrate recent data acquisitions into its business and grow well beyond traditional exchange trading and clearing services.

ICE CEO Jeff Sprecher spoke with John Lothian News at the FIA Boca Conference about how its purchases of SuperDerivatives, Interactive Data and S&P Analytics fit into its business model. ICE is also working with Blackrock, on exchange traded funds, to become its benchmark index provider.

“We started to pivot the company to get deeper into the data space,” Sprecher said. “We want to articulate a vision on how exchanges and data can come together into one holistic business that can serve customers.”


Appeals Court Upholds Determination that CBOE Patents are Invalid
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Appeals Court) on Friday, March 25, 2016, affirmed the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that invalidated three CBOE patents (US Patent Nos. 7,356,498, 7,980,457 and 8,266,044). The Appeals Court agreed with ISE and found that all three patents are invalid. These patents formed the basis of litigation that CBOE brought against ISE in the case of Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated v. International Securities Exchange, LLC (Case No. 1:13-cv-01339-JMF). The case was dismissed by the trial court, following the earlier PTAB decision to invalidate the patents.

***** And the beat goes on.


Barclays Warns Commodities May Slump on a `Rush for the Exits’
Bloomberg News
Oil may drop to low $30s a barrel in selloff, Norrish writes; Raw materials `vulnerable to a wave of investor liquidation’
Commodities including oil and copper are at risk of steep declines as recent advances aren’t fully grounded in improved fundamentals, according to Barclays Plc, which warned that prices may tumble as investors rush for the exits.

****** Markets go down faster than they go up is an old traders’ saying.


U.S. Dollar-Indian Rupee: Demographic Divide
Blu Putnam, CME Group
Watch Chief Economist Blu Putnam on Futures Institute discuss the significant differences in U.S.-India demographics and how they could impact their respective currencies.

**JK: Blu Putnam factoid of the day: 50 percent of India’s population is under the age of 30, while just 6 percent is over 65.


Monday’s Top Three
There was a clear winner in yesterday’s click count- CME Group CEO Phupinder Gill, with part two of the video we shot in Boca and Lynne Marek’s article in Crain’s on Gill claiming the top two spots. Third place went to the Benzinga article, The Top 100 People To Follow On Twitter For Financial News, which shows @JohnLothian ranking second among the top 100. Hmm. He barely cracked the top three in his own newsletter, but he comes in second on Benzinga.


MarketsWiki Spotlight
IOMA: WFE’s Clearing & Derivatives Conference, 17-19 April, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The World Federation of Exchanges represents 64 regulated exchanges across the world, and acts on behalf of a total of 99 organizations including affiliate members and clearinghouses.


The WFE’s IOMA conference brings together clearinghouses, exchanges, regulators and other stakeholders from around the world to discuss the key market structure and business issues of the day. The focus of the 2-day annual conference is post-trade and derivatives market issues. For more on the WFE, visit its page in MarketsWiki HERE

“Company Spotlight”
is brought to you by:


Lead Stories

Banker Accused of $25 Million Fraud Arose From a Gilded Legacy
Zeke Faux, Sonali Basak – Bloomberg
Scion Andrew Caspersen went to Princeton and Harvard Law; Grew up in family that sold Beneficial Corp. for billions
Andrew Caspersen, the banker accused of stealing $25 million, seemed to have it all, at least on paper. Scion of a family that built and sold a finance company for billions, Caspersen went from Princeton University to Harvard Law School, where students can read rare books in the Caspersen Room or study in the Caspersen Student Center. Until Monday, he was a managing director at PJT Partners Inc. He earned more than $3 million a year, prosecutors said in court, helping private-equity funds restructure.

***** See the WSJ version of the story here

U.S. judge rejects 14 banks’ bid to throw out rate-rigging lawsuit
A federal judge in Manhattan on Monday rejected an effort by 14 of the world’s biggest banks to throw out a private lawsuit accusing them of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market.

Bats to Provide Market and Trade Data to Money.Net; Fast-growing, Financial Technology Provider to Utilize the Bats One Feed
Bats Global Markets (Bats), a leading global operator of exchanges and services for financial markets, today announced that it is now providing real-time stock quote and trade information via the Bats One Feed to Money.Net, the fast-growing financial terminal.

Chi-X Ex-CEO Tal Cohen to Head Nasdaq’s North American Equities
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Walt Smith will move to role in access services, development; Nasdaq announced purchase of Chi-X Canada in December
Nasdaq Inc. hired the former head of Chi-X Global, Tal Cohen, to run its equities business in North America, according to a company spokesman.

The Fall of China’s Hedge Fund King
The New York Times
Xu Xiang was a legend in the country’s booming stock market – until the bubble he helped to create took him down with it.

Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns: A Financial-Crisis Mystery Is Solved; Source of CNBC report revealed in commission report
It has been called the bombshell that blew up Bear Stearns. It happened on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, shortly after 9 a.m. in an interview broadcast on CNBC. There, reporter David Faber asked Bear Stearns chief Alan Schwartz to respond to reports that Goldman Sachs wouldn’t “accept the counterparty risk of Bear Stearns.”

Banks Ordered to Defend Suit Claiming Benchmark Rate Rigging
Jef Feeley, Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Suit by Alaska pension fund can proceed to trial, judge rules; Bank of America, Barclays accused of rigging ISDAfix rate
Bank of America Corp., Barclays Plc and a dozen more banks must face investor claims that they rigged a benchmark used in the sales of interest-rate derivatives and other financial instruments.

Bank of England warns on Brexit risks, tightens buy-to-let lending rules
The Bank of England said on Tuesday that risks around Britain’s referendum on the European Union could push up borrowing costs and weaken sterling, and tightened rules for mortgage lending to landlords.

BlackRock Joins Pimco Warning Investors to Seek Inflation Hedge
Wes Goodman – Bloomberg
Oil costs, labor market could push up inflation, Turnill says; Fed Chair Yellen is scheduled to speak in New York on Tuesday
BlackRock Inc. joined Pacific Investment Management Co. in recommending inflation-linked bonds and warning costs are poised to pick up.

Becker Friedman Institute Program Spurs Health Economics Research
Business Wire
The University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics is launching a Health Economics Initiative to support and promote inquiry that will enhance fundamental knowledge of health care markets and the impact of policies and long-term forces shaping those markets.

The Entire Online Gig Economy Might Be Mostly Uber;
One of the most-hyped changes to the U.S. labor market has been “the rise of Uber and its ilk”—companies that use smartphone apps to connect workers to gig jobs. The most prominent example of this phenomenon is, of course, Uber, the ride-hailing service that allows people to summon drivers with an app and pay by the ride. Other startups are attempting to bring this business model to a wide range of industries.

Odd Lots: The Fraught Life of the (Dumpster-Diving, Chicken-Farming) American Short Seller; A chat with the colorful Marc Cohodes.
Tracy Alloway, Luke Kawa – Bloomberg
Every week, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so-random walk through hot topics in markets, finance, and economics.


CFTC Approves a Final Rule Providing an Alternative to Fingerprinting for Foreign Natural Persons
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it approved a final rule adding an alternative for foreign natural persons to the requirement to provide fingerprints when applying for CFTC registration. The final rule will allow any such person’s registered firm to complete a criminal history background check in lieu of submitting fingerprints.

Regulator Moves to Create New Fintech Framework
One of the top U.S. banking regulators will issue a formal call this week for officials to start crafting a new framework aimed at governing the rapidly growing financial-technology sector—a nod to complaints from traditional banks and startups alike that current rules both stifle innovation and provide insufficient oversight for new forms of finance.

ASIC partners with UK regulator on fintech
ASIC said the partnership with the FCA comes after both organisations set up innovation hubs in an effort to help start-ups navigate financial regulation and gain authorisation. As part of the agreement, ASIC and the FCA will refer to each other when a business is looking to enter either of their markets. They will also share information on emerging market trends and the impact on regulation.

CFTC’s Volcker Rule sows confusion about swap dealers’ filing duties, top lawyer says
Neil Roland, MLex
US standards on Volcker Rule responsibilities have created confusion among banks as they prepare compliance reports for derivatives regulators this week, a former top US Commodity Futures Trading Commission lawyer told MLex. “What people are trying to figure out right now is, ‘how am I going to address this in the annual report?’ ” said Dan Berkovitz, the CFTC’s general counsel from 2009-2013.

IOSCO predicts boom in use of collateral transformation; Dealers and settlement houses seek out high quality collateral to meet demand from clients for transformation services.
By Paul Walsh – The Trade News
Demand for collateral transformation services will increase due to a need for high-quality liquid assets, according to the latest IOSCO report.

Use of Derivatives by Registered Investment Companies and Business Development Companies
Dear Mr. Fields:
On behalf of the U.S. Securities Markets Coalition (“Coalition”), The Options Clearing Corporation (“OCC”) appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments on the proposal by the Commission regarding the “Use of Derivatives by Registered Investment Companies and Business Development Companies” (the “Proposal”).2 The Proposal would create new Commission Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), to update and provide a more comprehensive approach to the use of derivatives by mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), closed-end funds, and companies that have elected to be treated as business development companies (“BDCs”) under the Investment Company Act (collectively, “funds”). The Coalition understands and appreciates the concerns expressed by the Commission in issuing the Proposal. As described in more detail below, the Coalition is focused on ensuring that certain aspects of the Proposal do not limit the ability of funds to effectively use exchange-traded options (“listed options”).

Exchanges & Trading Facilities

Deutsche Börse’s Carsten Kengeter Takes Center Stage in LSE Tie-Up
Institutional Investor
Carsten Kengeter, who will head the combined business if the merger closes, has moved quickly to expand the German exchange’s operations.

Shareholders approve Tullett Prebon ICAP deal
The Trade News
Shareholders have approved Tullett Prebon’s acquisition of ICAP’s voice broking business, following a vote last Thursday. Both companies confirmed the news with over 94% of Tullett Prebon shareholders and almost 96% of ICAP shareholders approving the move.

NSE launches three Nifty based ETFs on Taiwan Stock Exchange; In 2015, the total trading value of Taiwan’s ETF market reached a record $51.4 billion
Business Standard
Leading bourse National Stock Exchange (NSE) on Tuesday launched three Nifty-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) on Taiwan Stock Exchange, a move that will provide investors with more strategic options to hedge risk and enrich their investment portfolio.

Regulator nixes merger of Philippine stock, bond exchanges
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday turned down a bid to merge the stock and bond exchanges of the Philippines.

TMX Group CEO To Speak At Toronto Region Board Of Trade
Lou Eccleston, Chief Executive Officer, TMX Group will this week provide a luncheon address to the Toronto Region Board of Trade as part of the International Finance Series. Presented by Scotiabank, the event will feature a keynote speech followed by a fireside discussion with Tim Kiladze, Business Reporter, The Globe and Mail.

BSE to suspend trading in 31 companies effective March 31; On March 4, BSE said it noticed ‘substantial increase in manipulation/abrupt movement in prices of securities wherein common modus operandi is through route of preferential allotment’
Business Standard
Continuing with its efforts to curb manipulative activities on its platform, the Bombay Stock Exchange Monday decided to suspend trading in shares of as many as 31 companies from Thursday.


The US economy does a lot better when Democrats are in the White House
Democrats are the party of US economic growth.
In the years since World War II, US economic growth rates were 1.8 percentage points higher under Democratic presidential administrations, according to a paper by Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, published in the April edition of the American Economic Review. (Their working paper on the topic was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper back in 2014.)

Hedge Funds & Managed Futures

Sequoia Fund suffers yet another blow from Valeant stake
By Ciara Linnane – Marketwatch
Sequoia Fund Inc. took another blow Monday, after Morningstar lowered its analyst rating on the mutual fund, which has been battered by its exposure to troubled drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.

Opinion: This hidden risk will likely sabotage the stock market
By Mark Hulbert – Marketwatch
Shrinking corporate profit margins are becoming a huge problem
Chances are good that the U.S. stock market will be a disappointment over the next five years. Here’s why: Shrinking profit margins will almost surely cause stock investors pain.

Wall Street eyes Yellen speech for rate clues
Adam Shell, USA TODAY
When members of the Federal Reserve speak, Wall Street tunes in. But when Fed Chair Janet Yellen shares her views on interest rate policy, it takes on more of an E.F. Hutton-type moment made famous in the ex-brokerage firm’s advertising slogan, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

Banks & Brokers

ADM raises CEO, chairman salaries
By MICAH MAIDENBERG – Crain’s Chicago Business
Pay for the two top executives at Archer Daniels Midland rose in 2015, a punishing year for shareholders in the agricultural giant.

Deutsche Bank streamlines IT systems in effort to cut costs
Martin Arnold in London and James Shotter in Frankfurt – FT
The executive charged with ripping out Deutsche Bank’s tangled IT systems and slashing costs will this week report the first signs of progress, having cut 450 jobs in the back office of its struggling global markets unit.

Clearing & Settlement

Why ASX Got on Board with Blockchain
Finance Magnates
As a major participant in the new technology, ASX has indicated its hope that the new technology will allow real time settlement and tracking of financial transactions by all parties involved, collapsing the two-day delay in closing a transaction. Despite questions regarding its enthusiasm for this new technology given the potential of forgoing $55 million in revenue from its clearing house businesses, ASX has reasserted its commitment to this revolution.

OCC voices concern over SEC derivatives proposal
Futures & Options World
The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) voiced concern over the the US Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) latest proposed derivatives rules, stating that they could hit trading. In an open letter to the US Securities Exchange Commission, The OCC said that the Commission’s proposal regarding the use of derivatives are concerning, and outlined worries that certain aspects of it will limit the ability of funds to effectively use exchange-traded options.

DGCX clearing agency expands collateral basket
Khaleej Times
This new FX collateral service will allow clearing members to utilise these currencies against their margin commitments without having to convert these currencies into equivalent US dollars.

Indexes & Products

‘Do Nothing’ 401(k) Stock Investing Still The Best Strategy
Sometimes sitting on your hands is a much better idea than jumping in and out of the stock market. Your performance is better over time. I’m referring to making a choice in your portfolio on whether to be active or passive. The former strategy assumes that you or a manager know the best time to be in stocks and when to leave the market. A passive strategy, represented by index mutual- or exchange-traded funds holds onto a basket of securities all the time.

ETF providers respond as climate debate heats up
Financial News
The year drew to a close with an historic agreement at the United Nations’ conference in Paris to limit global warming to less than two degrees celsius compared with pre-industrial levels – an accord many thought impossible. 2015 was also a period of rapid growth for exchange traded funds offering exposure to environmental, social or governance (known as ESG) factors as investors and politicians become increasingly interested in the wider impact of their investments.

Heed The Words Of Warren Buffett When Shopping For Smart Beta Solutions
In the last several years, a new approach to investing, called smart beta, has taken hold in the investment industry. Smart beta approaches often strike a balance between active and passive investing: the manager often passively follows systematic index rules, but those rules differ from traditional market capitalization based construction. Typically, smart beta emphasizes capturing an investment factor or objective.

Foot Locker to Join S&P 500
Foot Locker Inc. will replace Cameron International Corp. in the S&P 500 index after the close of trading on April 1, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Houston-based Cameron International is being bought out by oil services giant Schlumberger Ltd. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $12.7 billion.


Russian cyber criminal targets elite Chicago law firms
By CLAIRE BUSHEY – Crain’s Chicago Business
A Russian cyber criminal has targeted almost 50 elite law firms, including four in Chicago, to collect confidential client information for financial gain.

Bank executives fear most fintech-related risks
The Nation
Investment in Fintech companies could rise to as much as US$150 billion over the next three to five years as these companies expect to capture 33 per cent of services currently offered by traditional businesses, according to PwC’s report.

Banks and fintech firms can and must collaborate: MAS executive
Channel NewsAsia
While financial technology (fintech) is upending many different aspects of the financial industry, it does not necessarily pose a challenge for traditional banks and financial services companies, said a senior Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) executive on Tuesday (Mar 29).

Instead, fintech – which involves using technology to devise new financial services and products – can be seen as a partner that will enable banks to create better products for customers.


Securities Professional Charged With Defrauding Institutional Investors
According to the SEC complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan, Andrew W.W. Caspersen, a New York City resident, solicited approximately $95 million from two institutional investors by offering promissory notes issued by Irving Place III SPV LLC. The complaint alleges that Irving Place III SPV LLC is a shell entity formed and controlled by Caspersen with no legitimate business operations, unlike the similarly named Irving Place Capital Partners III SPV, a legitimate private equity fund not associated in any way with Caspersen.

SEC Investigating SunEdison’s Disclosures to Investors About Its Liquidity
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating SunEdison Inc. ‘s disclosures to investors about how much cash the solar-power company had on hand as its stock price collapsed last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Partner at N.Y. boutique bank PJT accused of securities fraud
A former partner at a unit of boutique investment bank PJT Partners Inc has been arrested on charges that he stole $25 million from investors and tried to fraudulently obtain $70 million more, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.

Former Harman International executive pleads guilty to insider trading
A former Harman International Industries Inc executive admitted on Monday to insider trading in the company’s stock just prior to the release of a stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings report.

Environmental & Energy

AllianceBernstein Becoming Energy Banker as Wall Street Retreats
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
Asset manager building a team to focus on energy sector; “A core financing need that banks are unable to fulfill”
As the biggest banks pull back from lending to troubled energy companies, AllianceBernstein LP is stepping in.

China takes up challenge to improve environment
Shanghai Daily
Just last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s plan to launch a national emission trading system in 2017 that will cover industry sectors such as iron and steel, power generation, chemicals, building materials, paper-making and nonferrous metals. Under this system, the government sets a target emissions level and issues emissions permits to companies. These permits can be bought and sold, which will encourage companies to reduce emissions and increase low-carbon technologies

Japan environment minister won’t give up on carbon pricing
Carbon Pulse
Japan Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa on Tuesday released her long-term vision on climate change, opting to include carbon pricing as part of her preferred future policy portfolio despite lingering opposition in other quarters of government.

Frontier markets are sometimes overlooked in favour of their larger and more well-known emerging market counterparts, but their recent fortunes could not have been more different. While the MSCI Emerging Markets index has dropped 5.5 per cent in the five years to March 17 2016, the MSCI Frontier Markets index has posted a gain of 19.9 per cent, according to data from FE Analytics.

Taiwan FSC sees fintech as key to reform drive
Addressing AsianInvestor’s Taiwan Global Investment Forum in Taipei last week, he spelled out the importance of fintech to the country’s investment industry.

170 Years Later India Still Hasn’t Understood The Corn Laws
Tim Worstall – Forbes
A small little report about India extending import duties on wheat. A small little report showing that India still hasn’t, 170 years after the matter was finally resolved in Britain, understood the Corn Laws. All that Adam Smith, Cobden, Ricardo railed about seems to have entirely passed the Indian policy makers by. The point being that India is still, still, imposing import duties to protect farmers from low prices. When in fact the country should be welcoming low prices as something which aids and benefits consumers. And yes, we should indeed be running the economy in the interests of consumers, not producers, be they farmers or anyone else.

U.S. to press Nigeria on foreign exchange rate flexibility
The United States said on Monday it would press Nigeria in talks this week to adopt a more flexible foreign exchange rate to boost growth and investment in Africa’s largest economy.

Fitch: Expansionary Budget Little Risk to Singapore Credit Strength
Increased expenditures in Singapore’s latest budget are in line with long-term government plans to raise investment and boost social spending, and should not pose a risk to the country’s sovereign credit profile, says Fitch Ratings. Singapore continues to face a challenging macroeconomic outlook in 2016 as external factors weigh on growth.


Newspapers Gobble Each Other Up to Survive Digital Apocalypse
Gerry Smith – Bloomberg
More than $800 million in deals seen last year, most since ’08; Pressure to merge grows as U.S. publishers divest TV assets
Newspapers have settled on a strategy to stop withering away: feast on each other for survival.

Tribune Publishing to replace CFO, dismisses auditor
Tribune Publishing Co said on Monday it dismissed its auditor and will replace its chief financial officer, two weeks after disclosing that a misstatement could occur in the company’s financial statements.

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