First Read

The Future of the Future in Asia
Lewis Richardson – Derivatives Business Development Manager – Fidessa

Asia continued to be front and centre on the world stage throughout last year, in futures terms at least. The Asian markets, bolstered by the entry of ICE and pending entry of Eurex, have become the only region in the world to see a growing number of Futures Commission Merchants setting up shop. Healthy volumes were helped by Chinese institutions looking to combat the decline in domestic markets by venturing further afield.

The rise of the Asian superbroker, a trend we noticed some years ago, continues unabated. Former domestic retail banks – Maybank, CIMB and RHB among them – have invested heavily in technology that allows them to compete head-to-head with the global banks who have gradually withdrawn from the region. These superbrokers are growing strongly. They all see excellent opportunities in the near and medium term to service both domestic firms with global trading ambitions, and global firms desiring local expertise.

To read more of Richardson’s views for 2016 and beyond, click here. Note: the paper is free to download but you must register your name and email address.


Snapchat 101: Learn to Love the World’s Most Confusing Social Network; Don’t leave Snapchat to the millennials! Conquer it with this guide
Snapchat makes me feel old. How old? Well, when a 20-something tried to explain to me how to add a friend in the app, he began talking loudly and slowly. “YOU…PRESS…HERE…OK?”

***** Does anyone have a Snapchat marketing strategy? I can’t figure it out. The kids may have finally figured out where they can go and be left alone.


Christian Nentwich, Duco – Selling Change to Giants

“Many technology companies never make it over the first hurdle. They get so fixated on their technological achievement that they never find a business problem to solve.”

The financial marketplace is in the midst of a technology-led revolution, as innovation and digital advances replace slow and inefficient systems and procedures with newer, faster, simpler and often more scalable ones. Christian Nentwich, founder of tech startup Duco, is a member of this new breed of market disruptors. But as he has learned, there are many, many facets that must come together between an idea, its implementation and, more importantly, monetization of that idea. He shares the lessons he learned along the way, many of which were learned “the hard way.”

Watch the video »

From chaos to calm: one year on from Swiss ‘Frankenschock’
A year on from “Frankenschock”, when Switzerland’s central bank sent global foreign exchange markets into a frenzy by abruptly ending its cap on the Swiss franc, the currency is one of the most stable in the world.

***DA: A free market will eventually find its equilibrium with or without central bank intervention. There may be a painful adjustment period, but the eventual stability will be good for everyone. Are you listening Xhou? Janet? Mario? Bueller? Anyone?


No Banking on Women
By Barbara Gillmann and Dietmar Neurer – Handelsblatt
The German Institute for Economic Research says that in no other industry is the earnings gap so wide between the sexes.

***JK: Much more work to be done in 2016.


Yesterday’s Top Clicks
Bob Fitzsimmons‘ celebrity continues unabated, as the story of his flight from LaGuardia last week continues to top the click count. Coming in second was the story of Nasdaq leaving the currency space. Third place goes to another celebrity, the late David Bowie and his foray in the asset backed securities space


Lead Stories

Former LSE executive launches U.S. retail brokerage Ustocktrade
Tony Weeresinghe says he wants to help educate underprivileged children, and he plans to do it one stock trade at a time. The former head of global development for the London Stock Exchange Group on Wednesday launched Ustocktrade, a low-cost U.S. online retail brokerage that aims to “bring Wall Street to Main Street.”

***JK: The new broker. Profits go to pay for schools in Sri Lanka. And here’s a story from December about new brokers and Millennials: Brokers and Advisers Fight For Millennials’ Money,


BGC Partners Completes Full Merger with GFI Group
BGC Partners
Public Shareholders to Receive $6.10 per GFI Share in Cash
BGC Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: BGCP) a leading global brokerage company servicing the financial and real estate markets, today announced that it has completed its merger with GFI Group Inc. (OTC: GFIG) , a leading intermediary and provider of trading technologies and support services to the global OTC and listed markets.

***JK: Somewhere at CME, there’s a dartboard with Howard’s face on it.

U.S. Exports First Freely Traded Oil in 40 Years; Energy companies race to ship abroad after ban is lifted
The ink is barely dry on legislation to lift a 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude and energy companies already are jockeying to ship American oil overseas.

***JK: Anchors away. Let the glut continue.

ISDA Announces Expansion of Board of Directors and Updates Strategy Statement
Business Wire
“Changes in regulation and market structure are altering the dynamics of the derivatives market, and are resulting in the entrance of a variety of new participants. The expansion ensures the composition of the Board reflects ISDA’s already broad and diverse membership,” said Eric Litvack, ISDA Chairman.

FCA may find equivocation makes exponents look shifty
By Jonathan Guthrie – FT
The practice of “reservation” — giving answers that are technically accurate but tactically misleading — was honed by medieval Jesuits. It appears to live on at the Financial Conduct Authority. The watchdog has insisted no external body, including the Prudential Regulation Authority, influenced its decision to drop a probe into banking culture. But the FT has revealed that an executive director of the PRA oversaw the move on secondment to the FCA.

The Possibility of $20 Oil Doesn’t Sound So Crazy Anymore
Dan Murtaugh, Robert Tuttle – Bloomberg
WTI briefly dips below $30 for first time since 2003
Oil markets can’t maintain low price for long: Citigroup
The world mostly ignored Ed Morse 11 months ago when the head of commodities research at Citigroup said oil could drop as low as $20.

One of the Biggest Bond Market Players Has No Employees
Martin Z Braun – Bloomberg
Wisconsin authority financed projects in 15 states last year
Critics say issuer allows deals to skirt state oversight
One of the most prolific issuers in the $3.7 trillion municipal market is a Wisconsin agency with no employees, coveted tax-exempt bond status and a nationwide client list.

CMC Markets to list in London; The spread betting firm is taking the plunge as it prepares for a stock market float
Julia Bradshaw and Marion Dakers – Telegraph
Financial trader and spread better CMC Markets is offering clients a chance to buy a stake in the business when it lists in London in February.

The Dubious Logic of Stock-Market Circuit Breakers
Many things that are supposed to make you safer don’t actually do so. Taking off your shoes at airports, for example, is largely security theatre. (How many prospective shoe bombers have been nabbed since Richard Reid?) But the practice offers the impression of protection, so it stays—just to be on the safe side, you know.

The Inherent Danger of Ignoring Illiquidity
by Anthony J. Perrotta, Jr. – Tabb Forum
Ignoring the illiquidity plaguing the bond market is a dangerous endeavor. The story has been with us since the financial crisis, when liquidity dissipated and failed to fully recover. The fact that it’s becoming increasingly harder to source and transfer risk in the secondary markets is concerning. Asset managers can and should prepare, but preparation alone will not prevent extreme volatility of asset prices. Fixing the structural imbalance and revamping market infrastructure is what is truly required.

High-Speed Trader GTS Europe’s Founding Director Leaves Firm
By John Detrixhe – Bloomberg
The founding director of high-frequency trading firm GTS Securities Europe Ltd., Paul Crouch, has left the company, according to filings.


SEC Probes of Public Companies Steered Toward In-House Courts
It’s no secret that the Securities and Exchange Commission in recent years has steered growing numbers of cases to its own administrative law judges rather than federal courts.

Remarks of Commissioner Sharon Y. Bowen before the District of Columbia Bar
Past instances of excessive speculation or attempted market manipulation might have been mitigated, if position limits had been in place. With position limits for precious metals in the 1980s, the Hunt Brothers might not have been able to corner the silver market. With position limits for electricity in the early 2000s, maybe Enron’s impact would have been lessened.
Clearly, position limits are a necessity. Congress mandated it, good sense endorses it, and our markets require it.

***DA: The market has its own way of punishing overzealous speculators. The Hunt Brothers, Enron, and more recently the “massive passives” all had their respective you-know-what handed to them.

Sebi, OECD to hold international conference on investor protection; The conference will be followed by the Asia Financial Consumer Protection Roundtable
Business Standard
Capital market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) in collaboration with Paris-based think tank Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will organise in February an international conference on key challenges facing the financial sector in terms of investor protection.

Lessons for All Investors from FINRA’s Senior Hotline
The FINRA Securities Helpline for SeniorsTM (1-844-57-HELPS (1-844-574-3577)) has fielded more than 2,500 calls and helped investors recover nearly $750,000 in voluntary reimbursements from firms since its launch in April 2015. In its year-end report, FINRA highlights important lessons for investors of any age.

Immersion lists on Alternext; EUR2.53 million raised; market capitalisation EUR13.5 million
EnterNext, the Euronext subsidiary dedicated to promoting and growing the market for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), today celebrated the listing of Immersion, a major international player in innovative 3D technologies dedicated to virtual reality, on Alternext in Paris.

Exchanges & Trading Facilities

FXCM And PFSOFT Announce New Partnership
Yahoo Finance
FXCM Inc. (NYSE:FXCM), a leading online provider of foreign exchange, or FX, trading and related services, today announced its partnership with PFSOFT, a developer of professional trading software for banks, prime brokers and retail brokers. FXCM will provide trade execution and market data to the PFSOFT Protrader multi-asset solution through FIX API.

CME lifts force majeure for most Illinois river soybean shipping stations
CME Group Inc on Tuesday said force majeure was no longer in effect at a majority of Illinois River soybean shipping stations.

New head of WSE appointed
Poland Radio
Malgorzata Zaleska, an economist and former board member at Poland’s central bank, was on Tuesday appointed the new head of the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

Why won’t Hong Kong stock exchange trumpet its advantages over mainland China bourses?; Arbitrary actions of mainland securities authorities hardly came as a blinding revelation
Stephen Vines – South China Morning Post
Did you hear the great news for the Hong Kong stock market last week? No? You certainly did not hear it from the fine folk who run the local stock exchange after they were afflicted by an outbreak of coyness.

Ms. Chitra Ramkrishna, MD & CEO, NSE
Anil Mascarenhas –
“NSE’s commitment is to improve financial well-being of the people. With new initiatives such as entry of pension funds, we envisage more indirect participation of retail investors and growth in awareness.”
Ms. Chitra Ramkrishna, MD & CEO, NSE, B. Com, B.L., FCS serves as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Securities Clearing Corporation Limited. Ms. Ramkrishna serves as Promoter Director of Power Exchange India Limited and has been the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. since April 1, 2013. Ms. Ramkrishna served as Joint Managing Director of National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. from September 1, 2009 to April 1, 2013. She serves as a Member of Derivatives Panel of Securities and Exchange Board of India.

CFA Society Singapore, SGX and MoneySENSE jointly launch the Save and Invest Portfolio Series
Singapore Exchange (SGX) is collaborating with CFA Society Singapore and MoneySENSE to launch a year-long campaign to encourage retail investors to save and invest for the future.


State of Obama’s Union Is Booming
By Matthew A. Winkler – Bloomberg
When President Barack Obama was elected in November 2008, the U.S. economy was shrinking at a rate unmatched since World War II. In the seven years between then and his final State of the Union address Tuesday night, global investors have enjoyed stellar results from the rapidly expanding Obama economy.

Koch Executive Disputes Book’s Account of Founder’s Role in Nazi Refinery
By Nicholas Confessore – NY Times
A senior executive of Koch Industries sent a letter on Tuesday to the company’s employees disputing a new book about the Kochs and other conservative families, saying it significantly exaggerated the role of the company’s founder, Fred C. Koch, in constructing an important refinery for the Nazi regime in Germany.

Republicans and Democrats Agree: We Hate Wall Street; Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and others have attacked banks; industry considers its response
Wall Street is confronting a presidential election unlike any it has seen: One in which the banking industry is denounced by candidates on the left and the right.

Hedge Funds & Managed Futures

Hedge fund Conatus Capital revamps management
Conatus Capital Management, David Stemerman’s $2 billion hedge fund firm, has revamped its top management after the departure of its president, Kevin Burke.

Methodist Pension Board Bars Investment in 5 Israeli Banks
NY Times
The pension fund for the United Methodist Church has blocked five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio in what it describes as a broad review meant to weed out companies that profit from abuse of human rights.

BlackRock to radically restructure business; An in-depth look at BlackRock’s corporate restructure
By Nick Reeve – The Trade News
BlackRock has rolled out a wide-ranging restructure of its leadership, boosting its multi-asset staff and overhauling its equity, fixed income, and real assets teams

Beware the great 2016 financial crisis, warns leading City pessimist
Larry Elliot – The Guardian
Albert Edwards joins RBS in warning of a new crash, saying oil price plunge and deflation from emerging markets will overwhelm central banks, tip the markets and collapse the eurozone

Illiquid investments slow shutdown of SAC Capital
By Francine McKenna – MarketWatch
SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund formerly run by Steven Cohen, was ordered to shut down in November 2013, after pleading guilty to not stopping insider trading at the firm. But, more than two years later, SAC is having trouble winding down its business because of its difficulty in distributing proceeds from hard-to-sell assets to outside investors.

Banks & Brokers

JPM looks to pull the plug on Bloomberg terminals
By Kevin Dugan – NY Post
Jamie Dimon may be pulling the plug on Bloomberg terminals, unless he can get a deal. The JPMorgan Chase CEO is preparing to rip out thousands of its $21,000-a-year Bloomberg terminals over the coming two or three years, which may crimp the private financial data company that’s made Mike Bloomberg one of the world’s richest men, The Post has learned exclusively.

Industry Prepares for New Margin Rules
Markets Media
Icap, the inter-dealer broker and provider of post-trade risk mitigation products, has launched a service to automate the calculation and exchange of margins for over-the-counter derivatives which are not centrally cleared, ahead of the new regulations due in September.
TriOptima, an Icap unit, has launched triResolve Margin, a web-based, end-to-end margin processing solution with software provider AcadiaSoft.

Bankers’ bonuses to come with strings attached even if they move companies; Bank of England wants to end ‘buy-outs’ that prevent former employers from clawing back pay
By Marion Dakers – Telegraph
The Bank of England plans to crack down on pay deals that sever new staff from their former employers’ share awards, over concerns that such arrangements encourage short-termism.

GFI Group Inc. Announces Successful Completion of its Consent Solicitation with Respect to its 8.375% Senior Notes due 2018
GFI Group Inc. (“GFI”) announced today that it has received the consents necessary to effect an amendment (the “Amendment”) to the Indenture, dated as of July 19, 2011, between GFI and The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A. (the “Trustee”) (as supplemented or amended, the “Indenture”) that governs GFI’s 8.375% Senior Notes due 2018 (CUSIP No. 361652AA8) (the “Notes”). The Notes have been fully and unconditionally guaranteed by BGC Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: BGCP) (“BGC.”)

Clearing & Settlement

Banks unyielding in contract talks on clearing (Subscription Required)
European buy-siders that leave clearing-contract talks too late could be told ‘take it or leave it’, lawyers warn. As mandatory clearing of over-the-counter derivatives approaches, European buy-side firms are locked in contract negotiations that threaten to drastically alter their relationship with bank clearing members. Lawyers warn that buy-siders that are late in the process of agreeing terms with clearing members could end up being forced to accept unfavourable terms.

Current Status of Clearing Obligation Under EMIR – European Market Infrastructure Regulation
The National Law Review
Although EMIR came into force as long ago as August 2012, the clearing obligation it provides for was first brought into effect in December 2015 on a phased basis and only for certain interest rate swaps denominated in the G4 currencies.

Quartet: in a centrally cleared world, real-time risk management is paramount
Automated Trader
Central clearing counterparties operate in a highly-regulated market – one that is undergoing significant change, part in thanks to a wave of post-crash regulation. In particular, the Dodd-Frank Act and the move to a centrally cleared model for OTC derivatives is having a huge impact. In many ways it represents a double-edged sword for CCPs: on one hand it provides them with a fantastic opportunity to expand their businesses, yet on the other it has significantly increased the complexity of risk management within their organisations.

Indexes & Products

Where Can Smart Beta Take You? Our FA Forum Is Coming to an Internet Near You
Shaun Wurzbach – Indexology – S&P Dow Jones Indices
I am excited about our Miami Financial Advisor Forum, “Where Can Smart Beta Take You?” This educational event will occur at the Epic Hotel in Miami on Feb. 24, 2016. For the first time, we will livestream this financial advisor forum. We hope that by broadening access to this event, more of you will find it possible to partake.
As our title suggests, this FA Forum is geared toward smart beta or factor-based investing. We divided our smart beta education and thought leadership into three areas of interest: The Practitioners, the Gurus, and the Strategist.

ETF Trading Volume Surged During Last Week’s Market Plunge
Chris Dieterich – Barron’s
Choppy markets beget panic, which in turn begets higher trading volumes.
The axiom certainly applies to stocks, but it’s even more true for exchange-traded funds. Last week’s worst-ever-start-to-any-year stock implosion sent ETF volumes surging.

Contrarian play? Why emerging markets are still a good bet
Emerging markets had a rough time in 2015 and haven’t had a good start to 2016. Over one year, the benchmark MSCI Emerging Market Index has fallen by around 23 percent.

A New ETF For Low Volatility Fans
SPDR Russell 1000 Low Volatility Focus ETF is the latest member of the low volatility ETF fraternity that is not excessively exposed to utilities stocks, an important point to consider at a time when many market observers expect the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates multiple times this year.


Bloomberg acquires Netbox Blue for social media risk & compliance management
Automated Trader
Netbox Blue’s intellectual property, patents and engineering assets to provide Bloomberg Vault clients with visibility into the use and risks of using social media for business.
Bloomberg has acquired the intellectual property, patents, and engineering assets of Netbox Blue, a provider of social media risk management and compliance solutions. Netbox Blue’s social media monitoring and governance technology will enhance Bloomberg’s enterprise compliance platform (called Bloomberg Vault). This will provide clients with next-generation price-competitive communications surveillance functionality and analytics to meet increasingly stringent regulatory guidelines, prevent market abuse, and deepen visibility into the commercial use of social media.

Sapient Global Markets launches CMRS Portal
Automated Trader
Sapient Global Markets, a provider of business technology and consulting services for the capital and commodity markets, has announced the launch of CMRS Portal, delivering the trade reporting capabilities of CMRS as a fully outsourced solution.

PC Sales Drop to Historic Lows; Fourth-quarter numbers are lowest since 2007, the year the iPhone was introduced
Sales of personal computers fell in the final quarter of 2015 to their lowest level since 2007, the year Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone, according to data released Tuesday by industry researcher International Data Corp.

IBM granted most U.S. patents in 2015, study finds
International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) was granted the most U.S. patents for the 23rd year in a row in 2015, according to a ranking by patent analysis firm IFI Claims Patents Services.

Environmental & Energy

A Flurry of Trading in Leveraged Oil Products
There has been a flurry of activity in the shares of leveraged exchange-traded products used to bet on crude as the commodity dips toward $30 a barrel.

Obama says fighting climate change is good for business—except for the oil business
Ana Campoy – Quartz
US president Barack Obama has a message for climate-change naysayers: Don’t look at fighting global warming as saving the world, but as a promising business.

Could post-Paris climate policy drive growth in carbon trading? – 13 Jan 2016 – Analysis from BusinessGreen
Despite optimistic lobbying from business, most people were not expecting the Paris Agreement to deliver much in the way of progress for the international carbon market. So perhaps one of the big surprises to emerge from the summit was the fact the treaty appeared to provide a long-term boost to carbon markets – not only by setting a clear long-term direction for decarbonisation efforts, but also with the inclusion of specific proposals to enable greater co-operation between different regional carbon markets.

Rusal calls for carbon tax
Business Spectator
Billionaire Russian aluminium king Oleg Deripaska has slammed the lack of action after the Paris climate summit, saying the world needs to act now on introducing a carbon tax to curb emissions and fund the rise of renewables. Writing exclusively in The Australian, Mr Deripaska, president of the world’s biggest aluminium group Rusal, says the outcome of the Paris summit late last year was nothing more than an agreement for 196 countries to “kick the can down the road a few decades”.


Xi Calls for a China in 2016 Where `Nobody Dares to Be Corrupt’
Ting Shi – Bloomberg
Efforts to target economic fugitives to be stepped up
No relaxation of Xi’s three-year compaign to stamp out graft
President Xi Jinping said his signature anti-corruption campaign will not be eased and he’s determined to make China this year a place where “nobody dares to be corrupt.”

The perils of China’s currency devaluation
Mohamed El-Erian – The Guardian
In pursuing its domestic objectives, China risks inadvertently amplifying global financial instability
The recent decline in China’s currency, the renminbi, which has fuelled turmoil in Chinese stock markets and drove the government to suspend trading twice last week, highlights a major challenge facing the country: how to balance its domestic and international economic obligations. The approach the authorities take will have a major impact on the wellbeing of the global economy.

China’s ‘National Team’ Plays Defense When Stocks Decline; The secretive group of state firms has tried to shore up the market on regulators’ behalf, with mixed results
As Chinese markets tanked last week, China Inc. appeared to be rallying to their support.

China to set up unit to co-ordinate economic and financial policy
Tom Mitchell in Beijing – FT
China has set up a new cabinet office to co-ordinate financial and economic policy, a tacit admission that its ad hoc and disjointed policymaking is failing.

Chinese mayor tipped for promotion to help manage economy, markets
The mayor of one of China’s most dynamic cities has emerged as the front-runner to become Premier Li Keqiang’s lieutenant to help tackle the slowing economy and turbulent financial markets, sources said.

Frontier Markets

Brokers shut shop on falling volumes, compliance costs; The number of brokers operating in the cash segment has halved in the last eight months
Ashley Coutinho – Business Standard
The number of brokers operating in the cash segment has halved in the last eight months as declining cash market volumes and high compliance costs has forced nearly 3,000 brokers to shut shop.

Anxious times for Africa’s oil giants as commodities boom starts to bust; By relying on ready cash from oil and metals extraction, sub-Saharan African countries risk squandering their chance to invest in the continent’s future
Clár Ní Chonghaile – The Guardian
As leaders of some African countries brace themselves for a rocky financial year, they might reflect ruefully on the words of Polish author Ryszard Kapuscinski: “Oil is a resource that anaesthetises thought, blurs vision, corrupts.”


Big Beer’s Plan to Sell to Consumers Who Hate Them
Jennifer Kaplan – Bloomberg
Makers of Bud Light, Coors Light find millennials a tough sell
Offering craft beer and hard soda in effort to be cooler
America’s biggest beer companies want more millennials to buy their products, but they don’t want to be, like, obvi about it.

TABB Metrics Names Paul Schmid As Director Of Sales For Clarity, The U.S. Equities Best Execution Service
TABB Metrics, the data-driven division at TABB Group, named Paul Schmid as director of sales for Clarity, the U.S. equities best execution service. Based in New York, he is responsible for driving client growth throughout North America.

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