First Read

Holiday Greetings, and a Holiday Hiatus
JLN Staff

We who put together the John Lothian Newsletter would like to thank you for allowing us to grace your inboxes. This newsletter, just like Santa, circles the globe to bring you news and information from every source we believe is valuable. Unlike Santa, we deliver daily but not on Christmas Day.

To say we value you, the readers, is an understatement. Our mission to help inform and grow our industry works hand-in-hand with you, the professionals who make this industry so dynamic. We hope to continue this partnership in 2016 and beyond with our original content, in video and print and through the many, many in person conversations we have with you throughout the year.

And we’re always looking to improve on that. Coming soon is our next reader survey. No, it’s not a lump of coal, but rather a gift for both of us – we get great feedback and to you get more of the information, ideas and services you want; and one lucky girl or boy wins a new Apple Watch.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

P.S.: As a reminder, we will not be publishing the John Lothian Newsletter tomorrow, December 25. We will be publishing JLN next week, except for New Year’s Day. Our other newsletter offerings, JLN Options, JLN Financials, JLN Environmental/Energy and JLN Managed Futures, will be on hiatus until January 4, 2016.



Gary U.S. Bonds rocks the markets
By Ian Mohr – NY Post
The US government bond market fell to its lowest level in nearly a year this week — but Wall Street still wanted Gary U.S. Bonds to shut down the markets on Christmas Eve. The NYSE tapped the 1960s “School Is Out” rocker to ring the closing bell at 1 p.m. on Thursday and sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

***** Now we know what is playing on Jeff Sprecher’s iPod.


Lego a ‘better investment than shares and gold’; Average Lego set has increased in value 12 per cent each year since the turn of the Millennium, providing a better return than mainstream investments
Dan Hyde – Telegraph
It may appear as no more than a popular children’s toy, but investors were able to secure a better return buying Lego sets over the past 15 years than from the stock market, gold or bank accounts, a Telegraph analysis found.

***** WHERE ARE MY LEGOs????


One Way to Unrig Stock Trading
AMERICA’S equity markets are broken. Individuals and institutions make transactions in rigged markets favoring short-term players. The root cause of the problem is that stocks trade on numerous venues, including 11 traditional exchanges and dozens of so-called dark pools that allow buyers and sellers to work out of the public eye. This market fragmentation allows high-frequency traders and exchanges to profit at the expense of long-term investors.

****Jonathan Macey is a professor of law and David Swensen is the chief investment officer at Yale.

**** They had me until they showed they don’t understand what “front-running” is and then charged there is an un-holy alliance, this during one of the holiest times of the year. IEX partisans need to treat the public with more respect than this drivel.


The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom
Families traveling from far-flung places, returning home for the holidays. That image of an American Christmas fits the perception of Americans as rootless, constantly on the move to seek opportunity even if it means leaving family behind.

***** So I am not a typical American, or I don’t have typical mom? Both?


Lead Stories

Big Trader Strikes Back Against CFTC
One of the country’s biggest traders is going to war with its regulator. Don Wilson Jr., the founder of DRW Investments LLC, is fighting allegations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that his firm placed manipulative bets in an obscure corner of the futures market four years ago.
Rather than settling and possibly paying a fine in a case that doesn’t require him to admit guilt, Mr. Wilson is digging in for a fight, turning a dispute over $20 million in trading profits into a referendum of futures-market oversight that many traders consider heavy-handed.

***** Don’t bet against Don Wilson. He is a good trader and an industry leader. He is willing to see things through to the end and does not give up easily.

Wall Street Cop Uses Algos to See Errant Bond Trades
Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
SEC has developed software to track mortgage and auto loans
Corrects to say that Litvak’s colleague sent the spreadsheet
Jesse Litvak’s colleague kicked off a widespread investigation into the opaque world of bond trading by accidentally sending a client a spreadsheet detailing how he was allegedly ripping them off. Wall Street’s main regulator is trying to make sure future probes aren’t relying on similar stumbles.

How the Third Avenue Fund Melted Down; Years of discord ended in a final showdown, with CEO David Barse escorted from the building
The end came quickly for David Barse.
For 24 years, Mr. Barse helped lead Third Avenue Management LLC, a mutual-fund company founded by legendary investor Marty Whitman known for profiting from beaten-down investments. At its peak in 2006, Third Avenue managed more than $26 billion.

Investors Pull Out of Mutual Funds at the Fastest Rate in Two Years
Charles Stein – Bloomberg
Redemptions hit stock, bond and hybrid funds, ICI data show
Municipal bonds are the only category that attracts deposits
Investors pulled more money from U.S. mutual funds last week than they have in any seven-day period in the past two and a half years.

From Ackman to Musk, Charity Giving Takes on Stock-Picking Feel
Sangwon Yoon – Bloomberg
`Effective altruism’ seeks to maximize returns from charity
Gates and Gross fans of a data-driven approach to giving
When it comes to charity, some of the biggest names on Wall Street can be as hard-nosed about where they put their money as they are when investing.

When Does Bargaining Become Fraud?; Regulators want to crack down on bond dealers who don’t tell the whole truth.
Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
On a used-car lot, a salesman who bends the truth to close a sale isn’t breaking the law. But a bond trader using some of the same sales tricks may end up facing criminal fraud charges. That’s what happened to Jesse Litvak—and he’s putting up a fight. The former Jefferies & Co. trader was found guilty in March 2014 for lying to buyers about how much he paid for bonds he was selling. That conviction was overturned on Dec. 8. Litvak will be retried and get another chance to argue that bond traders are basically used-car salesmen.

What You Need to Know to Work on Wall Street
Macro Risk Advisors CEO Dean Curnutt and TCW Managing Director Bryan Whalen discuss financial services and working on Wall Street. They speak on “Bloomberg ‹GO›.” (Source: Bloomberg)


Bernie Sanders: To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed
WALL STREET is still out of control. Seven years ago, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department bailed out the largest financial institutions in this country because they were considered too big to fail. But almost every one is bigger today than it was before the bailout. If any were to fail again, taxpayers could be on the hook for another bailout, perhaps a larger one this time.

Sanders says U.S. Fed ‘hijacked’ by bankers
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders lambasted the Federal Reserve on Wednesday as an institution that has been “hijacked by the very bankers it regulates” and called for banning bank executives from regional Fed governing boards. The populist Sanders last week criticized the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates and acknowledged proudly in a Saturday night debate that Wall Street won’t like him in the White House.

Lawmaker threatens continued retaliation on CFTC funding
Neil Roland, MLex
US House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said he successfully pushed for a 2016 budget freeze on the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission in retaliation for its refusal to back his bill that would have limited its rulemaking latitude.


A look back at 2015: a big year in Canadian securities law developments
It was a busy year for Canadian securities regulators and market participants. Virtually every area of securities law from M&A to corporate finance to continuous disclosure to registrant regulation and derivatives underwent significant developments. We have recapped some of the principal developments and some of our more popular posts here

Staples says U.S. regulators’ complaint against merger is ‘misguided’
Staples Inc accused federal regulators of applying antitrust laws in a “misguided” way to try to block its $6.3 billion merger with smaller office supply retailer Office Depot Inc.

Compliance Program Helps Marijuana Businesses Get Banking Services
A customer buys recreational marijuana at retailer High Society in Everett, Wash., using a PayQwick card. Photo by Justin Anderson, courtesy of The Fearey Group
In states where recreational use of marijuana is legal, companies involved in the industry can encounter problems accessing banking services, as the federal government still classifies pot as an illegal drug. A company in Washington state has created a program that helps comply with that state’s marijuana banking laws, allowing sellers, growers and other companies providing services to the industry to gain access to the banking system.

Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) Rulemaking and National Market System (NMS) Plans

    • BATS: Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Proprietary Trader and Proprietary Trader Principal Registration Categories, Securities Trader and Securities Trader Principal Registration Categories, and Establishing the Series 57 Examination (Release No. 34-76758; File No. SR-BATS-2015-118; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • EDGA: Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Proprietary Trader and Proprietary Trader Principal Registration Categories, Securities Trader and Securities Trader Principal Registration Categories, and Establishing the Series 57 Examination. (Release No. 34-76759; File No. SR-EDGA-2015-48; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • EDGX: Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Proprietary Trader and Proprietary Trader Principal Registration Categories, Securities Trader and Securities Trader Principal Registration Categories, and Establishing the Series 57 Examination. (Release No. 34-76756; File No. SR-EDGX-2015-66; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • FINRA: Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change to Adopt FINRA Rule 2273 (Educational Communication Related to Recruitment Practices and Account Transfers) (Release No. 34-76757; File No. SR-FINRA-2015-057; December 23, 2015)
    • MSRB: Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change Consisting of Proposed Amendments to Rule G-37, on Political Contributions and Prohibitions on Municipal Securities Business, Rule G-8, on Books and Records, Rule G-9, on Preservation of Records, and Forms G-37 and G-37x (Release No. 34-76763; File No. SR-MSRB-2015-14; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • MSRB: Order Granting Approval of a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1 and Amendment No. 2, Consisting of Proposed New Rule G-42, on Duties of Non-Solicitor Municipal Advisors, and Proposed Amendments to Rule G-8, on Books and Records to be Made by Brokers, Dealers, Municipal Securities Dealers, and Municipal Advisors (Release No. 34-76753; File No. SR-MSRB-2015-03; December 23, 2015)
    • NASDAQ: Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Relating to Participant Fee (Release No. 34-76760; File No. SR-NASDAQ-2015-154; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • NASDAQ OMX BX: Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change to Adopt a Participant Fee (Release No. 34-76754; File No. SR-BX-2015-083; December 23, 2015); see also Exhibit 5
    • NYSE Arca: Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change to List and Trade Shares of the REX Gold Hedged S&P 500 ETF and the REX Gold Hedged FTSE Emerging Markets ETF under NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600 (Release No. 34-76761; File No. SR-NYSEArca-2015-107; December 23, 2015)

Proposed Rule Change to Amend the Derivatives and Other Off-Balance Sheet Items Schedule Pursuant to FINRA Rule 4524 (Supplemental FOCUS Information)
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to amend the instructions to the Derivatives and Other Off-Balance Sheet Items Schedule (“OBS”) pursuant to FINRA Rule 4524 (Supplemental FOCUS Information) to expand the application of the OBS to certain non-carrying/non-clearing firms that have significant amounts of off-balance sheet obligations.

IOSCO reports on business continuity plans for trading venues and intermediaries
The Board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) today published two reports that seek to enhance the ability of financial markets and intermediaries to manage risks, withstand catastrophic events, and swiftly resume their services in the event of disruption.

In exercise of the powers conferred by section 30 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (15 of 1992), the Board hereby makes the following regulations to further amend the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015.

Exchanges & Trading Facilities

Exchange capacity ‘key issue’ – Kx COO
Futures & Options World
Exchange capacity will be a key issue over the coming 12 months, according to the new chief operating officer of Kx Systems, who expects the amount of daily quotes and trading information to continue to rapidly increase.

LME cajoling warehouses over rental hikes for 2016
The London Metal Exchange (LME) is expected to call on warehouse owners to avoid big 2016 rent increases that could force it to consider imposing fixed levels, according to analysts and industry sources. The rents, which go into effect in April, will be published at the end of the year and some owners are likely to seek big increases to compensate for new LME rules which they say will limit profits.

No Trading On The Vienna Stock Exchange On December 24 And 25, 2015
Due to the holiday there is no trading on December 24 and 25, 2015 on the Vienna Stock Exchange. Trading will be continued on Monday, December 28, 2015.

Hedge Funds & Managed Futures

International stock funds’ outflows most in over four years after Fed hike: ICI
Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pulled $3.6 billion out of funds that specialize in foreign shares in the latest week, marking their biggest outflows since August 2011, on fears that higher U.S. interest rates could hurt markets outside the United States.

Junk Investors Evade the Trade; Money managers are hesitant to dive into the riskiest debt as the sector remains volatile
For years, a lack of inventory frustrated investors who target troubled companies. But they still aren’t buying, even after a wide swath of junk bonds has descended into distressed territory.

Say What? A Client Asks About an Adviser’s Footwear; The adviser was taken aback, but the woman had a reason for asking about his choice of shoes
Say What is an occasional feature in which a financial adviser shares a statement he or she heard from a client that is unforgettable for its wisdom or its wackiness or another reason.

Banks & Brokers

BNP Paribas Earnings to Be Dented by Write-Down; Move will result in a reduction to fourth-quarter earnings of almost $1 billion
French bank BNP Paribas SA said it would write down part of the goodwill related to its Italian unit, which will result in a reduction to fourth-quarter earnings of about EUR900 million ($983.2 million).

Clearing & Settlement

CME Clearing Advisories
CME Group
Revised holiday processing schedule – December 25, 2015
De-listing of (4) FX Variance Futures Contracts
Revised holiday schedule – January 1, 2016

NACHA’s Same Day ACH Faster Payments Push
Same Day ACH will offer banks three same-day settlement windows. Any originating institution can offer products that clear on the same day, knowing that all receiving institutions will be required, per the rule change, to process the transactions that same day. This effort is a move that can help businesses and consumers move money faster.

Report: ASX to Make Blockchain Decision in 6-7 Months
Finance Magnates
The timing is almost perfect for the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to consider a blockchain-powered settlement system, says its CEO, Elmer Funke Kupper. In October, Australia’s main exchanges operator was reported to be considering the replacement of its current settlement and clearing system with one based on blockchain technology.

Indexes & Products

BATS ETF Marketplace Welcomes Additional MomentumShares ETF
MomentumShares International Quantitative Momentum ETF Began Trading Today
BATS Global Markets (BATS), the #1 U.S. market for the trading of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), welcomes the MomentumShares International Quantitative Momentum ETF (BATS: IMOM), which began trading today on BATS Exchange.

iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF Experiences Big Inflow
Looking today at week-over-week shares outstanding changes among the universe of ETFs covered at ETF Channel , one standout is the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (Symbol: IEMG) where we have detected an approximate $424.8 million dollar inflow — that’s a 5.0% increase week over the week.

The Rieger Report: Puerto Rico’s 2015 Impact- $7.5 billion
Indexology – S&P Dow Jones Indices
As the fiscal saga continues for Puerto Rico and it’s residents the impact has been crushing for the bond holders in 2015. The total market value of bonds tracked in the S&P Municipal Bond Puerto Rico Index has fallen by over $7.5billion.

WisdomTree Launches Two Dynamic ‘Alt’ ETFs
Chris Dieterich – Barron’s
WisdomTree (WETF), best known for its homemade indexes of global stocks and as a pioneer of currency-hedged ETFs, added to its “alternative” exchange-traded fund offerings on Wednesday. The WisdomTree Dynamic Long/Short U.S. Equity Fund (DYLS) and Dynamic Bearish U.S. Equity Fund (DYB) made their trading debuts in this holiday-shortened week.


Good Technology Wasn’t So Good for Employees
By Matt Levine – Bloomberg
Here is a fascinating story by Katie Benner about a fallen unicorn with the puzzlingly generic name “Good Technology.” Good was formed in 2009 by the combination of a startup and a division of Motorola. It “raised about $300 million in equity and debt,” hitting a peak valuation of more than $1 billion in early 2014. It filed for an initial public offering in May 2014, but then it delayed and ultimately cancelled the IPO. Its board turned down an $825 million acquisition offer in March 2015, “confident that Good would be valued at around $1 billion when it went public.” But then it ran into financial trouble and was ultimately sold for $425 million in September.

Marc Andreessen: ‘In 20 years, every physical item will have a chip implanted in it’; Star venture capitalist Andreessen’s new $25m bet heralds the dawn of Internet of Things 2.0
Madhu Murgia
The hype around the Internet of Things has been rising steadily over the past five years. In tech analyst Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report in 2015, the IoT is at the peak of “inflated expectations”, particularly for areas like the smart home, which involve controlling your lights, thermostat or TV using your mobile phone.


SEC settles insider trading lawsuit with former Capital One employee
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday it had settled insider trading allegations against a former Capital One Financial Corp analyst. Bonan Huang, the former employee, agreed to pay a total of more than $4.7 million in penalties and other payments without admitting or denying the allegations, the securities regulator said.

FINRA Fines Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. $2.95 Million for Submitting Inaccurate Blue Sheet Data
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today announced it has censured and fined Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. $2.95 million for failing to provide complete and accurate trade data in an automated format when requested by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FINRA. Also, Macquarie must conduct a comprehensive review of its policies, systems and procedures related to blue sheet submissions, and to subsequently certify that they have established procedures reasonably designed to address and correct the violations.

Environmental & Energy

Europe Wheat Seen at Risk From Frost as Record Heat Spurs Growth
Rudy Ruitenberg – Bloomberg
Temperatures from Spain to Ukraine unusually high in December
Delayed onset of winter dormancy creates risk of crop damage
European wheat is seen at risk after record-high temperatures in November and December accelerated growth and delayed the onset of winter dormancy, leaving plants vulnerable to any cold snap in the spring.

This EUR1 Billion Power Plant May Never Be Switched on
Tino Andresen, Weixin Zha – Bloomberg
Utilities RWE, EON are biggest losers on DAX Index this year
Both companies to separate traditional generation in 2016
Germany’s unprecedented energy shift is turning newly built power plants into white elephants that will never produce any electricity.

New Saudi Budget Expected to Be Squeezed by Low Oil Prices; Kingdom may be forced to slash spending, cut benefits for public
The drastic slide in global crude prices is expected to force Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, to slash spending and cut back on the billions of dollars it spends on generous benefits for its citizens in next year’s budget.

Japan to Consider Emissions Trading in Climate Change Plan
By Chisaki Watanabe and Emi Urabe – Bloomberg News
Japan may consider introducing national-emissions trading as part of a set of measures it intends to put together by early next year to tackle climate change.

ExxonMobil and Sierra Club Agreed on Climate Policy—and Kept It Secret
By Eric Roston – Bloomberg News
ExxonMobil and Sierra Club may be thought of as natural enemies, particularly when it comes to a question so tricky as how to address climate change.


BOJ Watch: Is Japan’s central bank overly concerned about stock prices?
Nikkei Asian Review
The Bank of Japan seems rather concerned about the impact its monetary policy could have on stocks here. After a series of discussions since summer, the BOJ decided to prevent these sales from negatively impacting the stock market.

Hong Kong’s Best-Performing IPOs in 2015 Tell a Consumer Story
A lingerie maker and a movie-theater operator topped the performance charts for Hong Kong initial public offerings this year, a sign investors are betting on the growth of consumer goods and services in China.

A banner year: Financial scams in China nabbed at least $24 billion in 2015
It’s been a banner year for financial scams in China. Prominent among them was Fanya Metal Exchange—wringing $6 billion or so from duped investors—but it certainly wasn’t alone. Chinese investors lost about $24 billion to such chicanery this year. Many risked their entire life savings, regardless of unrealistic assurances of zero risk, or promises of high returns that should have sounded too good to be true. Following, a look back at this year’s “highlights,” and some expert analysis on why so many fell for empty promises.

10 technology trends that will rule Asia in 2016
The Times of India
A roller-coaster ride in financial markets, deal frenzy among Chinese web operators spurred on by Alibaba and Tencent, the rise of Asian unicorns and a baking-hot semiconductor M&A spree: 2015 was a frenetic year for the region’s technology sector. Fasten your seat-belts, there’s more excitement to come in 2016. Here are a selection of predictions for the region from Bloomberg’s Asia Technology team

Frontier Markets

Too much of financial inclusion push can hurt banking sector; Earlier, RBI had said banks, particularly PSBs, were not being fully compensated for the accounts being opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
BS Reporter
The Reserve Bank of India and the Union government have been encouraging banks to expand their reach to the unbankable population in recent years. However, says a report from the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), if banks aren’t adequately compensated for the exercise, it would become unprofitable for the sector.


Todd Hall elected to Cargill Board of Directors
Todd Hall, a member of Cargill’s executive team and the leader of the company’s protein and salt businesses, has been elected to the Cargill Board of Directors, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

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