First Read

Bit & Pieces
Doug Ashburn – JLN

The FIA just announced that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be the keynote speaker at the Wednesday lunch at FIA Boca in March. She plans to discuss a number of issues at the top of our agenda in the derivatives world – global economic uncertainty, cybersecurity and geopolitics. Oh, yeah, and there is an election coming up, about which she may have something to say.

The conference takes place March 15-18, and details can be found HERE. As in prior years, John Lothian News will be there in full force, conducting interviews, meeting and interacting with delegates, and attending and reporting on the panel discussions. We may participate in the “extracurriculars” as well. Jim Kharouf plans to once again spearhead our popular CEO series, where we interview a number of exchange leaders and publish them as a video series.

Speaking of John Lothian News video, today we roll out a new video style. Have a look at the first one, featuring John Avery of FIS (formerly SunGard), where he discusses their new derivatives utility. Please drop us a line and let us know what you think. We are constantly striving to deliver the story in the best possible way, and would welcome the input.

We extend our thanks to Mr. Avery for his patience during the numerous iterations of the new style. We also would like to thank Allison Yacker, partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. We filmed a video interview with her on the same day as Avery, and she has been patiently awaiting the rollout so we can finally begin the process with her interview.


Utility Player: FIS’ John Avery Sees the Derivatives Utility as a Driver of Innovation
In June of 2015, SunGard, now part of FIS Global, launched its post-trade derivatives utility, which aims to standardize back and middle office operations and technology, with Barclays as its first customer. According to FIS’ John Avery, it is not about commoditization so much as specialization. In other words, banks and futures commission merchants should concentrate on differentiation through service, cost, and other customer touch points, and leave standardized, replicated functions in the hands of a vendor. This will allow the bank or FCM to innovate from the business level, and allow the vendor to innovate at the fintech level.

Watch the video »


Why Mike Bloomberg Can Win; Record numbers of voters are independents—who won’t be satisfied with Clinton, Trump or Cruz.
As the results from the Iowa caucuses rolled in Monday, it became more clear than ever: If former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran for president as an independent, he would be a serious contender for the White House. I work for Mr. Bloomberg as a pollster, and as this campaign has unfolded I have been struck by the gap between voters’ concerns and how the media has portrayed them

***** Run Mike, Run!


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McGraw Hill Plans to Shed Family Name After 128 Years; Change to S&P Global has board approval, awaits April 27 shareholder vote
McGraw Hill Financial Inc. is preparing to change its name to S&P Global Inc. later this year, a symbolic move that underscores the firm’s shift away from its publishing roots.

***** Another part of my childhood out the window. Goodbye McGraw Hill.


3 Exercises to Encourage You & Your Team to Innovate
by John Meyer – B2C
One of the most valuable skills for a successful entrepreneur is the ability to innovate. Regardless of business size or market niche, innovation is what shapes the future.

***** We never get past the 12 ounce curls.


Yesterday’s Top Three
We have a runaway winner in yesterday’s click race – the MarketWatch story on Nanex founder Eric Scott Hunsader, “This man wants to upend the world of high-frequency trading”. What was it – the man, the title, the topic, or John’s biting quip at the end? Maybe all of the above.

Second place went to the NY Times piece, Review: In ‘Madoff,’ What He Was Thinking. Again, was it the man, the title, the topic, or John’s biting quip at the end? Maybe all of the above.

Third place went to LSE names board of directors for new futures exchange from The Trade. Just because.


Lead Stories

Negative Yields From Paris to Tokyo Draw Investors to U.S. Debt
Cordell Eddings – Bloomberg
Foreign ownership of American company debt close to a record
Demand from international investors could bolster corporates
After seeing their borrowing costs rise to their highest level since 2012, U.S. companies may have at least one ray of hope: yield-starved foreign investors.

A hedge fund has laid out why it is closing — and it is enough to set alarm bells ringing everywhere
Julia La Roche – Business Insider
Orange Capital, the $1 billion event-driven hedge fund led by Daniel Lewis and Russell Hoffman, is closing after 10 years.

Tough Start for Markets Catches Hedge Funds Off Guard; Orange Capital is shutting down, returning about $1 billion to investors
Troubles are mounting for U.S. hedge funds as markets pull back across the globe.
The activist hedge fund Orange Capital, co-founded by former Citigroup executive Daniel Lewis, will notify investors in writing in the coming days that it plans to shut down and hand back its remaining funds of roughly $1 billion, the firm said. Meanwhile, billionaire investors like Charles “Chase” Coleman and Larry Robbins are nursing steep losses on investments from January alone.

Tradeweb Launches U.S. ETF Trading Platform
Expands Established European Marketplace for OTC ETF Trading
Tradeweb Markets, a leading global provider of fixed income, derivatives and ETF marketplaces, announced the launch of an electronic over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace for U.S.-listed exchange traded funds (ETFs).

This Upstart Market Hopes to Grow With `Flash Boys’ Strategy
John Detrixhe – Bloomberg
Aquis is changing rule book to discourage latency arbitrage; The approach resembles U.S. dark pool IEX’s speed bump
Aquis Exchange Ltd. has failed to gain traction after more than two years of operation. Now, it’s introducing a rule that will explicitly ban what it considers a predatory strategy known as latency arbitrage — or using the fastest sources of information on prices to take advantage of traders with slower data feeds.

NYSE’s July 8 halt pushed trading to other exchanges: U.S. SEC
When the New York Stock Exchange came to a surprise standstill of more than three hours on July 8, trading simply migrated to other exchanges, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

I.R.S. Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-File System
The I.R.S. stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn’t anticipate “major disruptions.”

The Secretive Hedge Fund That’s Generating Huge Profits for Yale
Sabrina Willmer, Tom Moroney – Bloomberg
Endowment’s 1994 investment, with partner, was $50 million
Bracebridge Capital is biggest hedge fund run by a woman
In a year when titans Bill Ackman and David Einhorn each lost more than 20 percent for their investors, David Swensen’s bet on a little-known hedge fund kept making him money.

Credit Suisse Drops as Investment Bank Slump Deepens Losses
Jeffrey Voegeli, Nicholas Comfort – Bloomberg
Bank reports loss of 5.8 billion francs in fourth quarter; CEO says bank cut bonuses by about 11 percent for 2015
Credit Suisse Group AG posted the biggest quarterly loss in seven years as it wrote off goodwill and set aside provisions for litigation, while a drop in trading deepened losses in the securities unit. The shares slumped to the lowest since 1991.

Trader Navinder Singh Sarao to fight extradition in London court
By Philip Stafford and Jane Croft – FT
A gifted trader with a penchant for testing rules or a law breaker who contributed to one of the most spectacular market crashes yet seen?

London ‘flash crash’ accused trader to fight U.S. extradition
The London-based trader accused by U.S. authorities of helping to cause the 2010 Wall Street “flash crash” by spoofing the markets appears in court on Thursday to try to block his extradition to the United States.

Gurkha soldiers lose savings in £50m Ponzi scheme
Gonzalo Viña – FT
About 450 Nepalese, including several current and retired Gurkha soldiers, lost £2.4m in a Ponzi scheme, according to City of London police.


Risky derivatives trades face higher costs
Philip Stafford,
Reform of derivatives enters its final phase this year and tougher rules for banks have aroused fears that other financial institutions will need billions of dollars to remain in the market. In mid-December US regulators finalised their version of global standards that will require users of highly-tailored and illiquid swaps to post margin, or insurance for trading, with their counterparties — usually global banks.

EU to propose rules on failing clearing houses by year end: EU official
The European Commission plans to propose new European Union rules for dealing with failing clearing houses for securities markets before the end of the year, an EU official said on Wednesday. The draft law had been due last year but the EU executive has faced the difficulty of finding consensus on who should pay for a bust clearer, with pension funds and asset managers resisting any attempt to include them in bailouts.

MiFID II delay underlines regulatory disquiet
Disquiet over financial market regulation in the EU is rising as the key MiFID II directive faces almost certain delay. The ruling coalition in Berlin, according to a Feb. 3 article in Börsen-Zeitung, has expressed its dissatisfaction in a parliamentary motion, stressing that European financial regulation needs to be developed efficiently.

Overseas banks said to exit US swaps market due to CFTC dealer cutoff
Neil Roland, MLex
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s “arbitrary” $8 billion swap-dealer threshold has prompted smaller foreign banks to pull back from the US derivatives market, forcing trading activity offshore, international banks said.

Alberta Securities Commission Named One Of Alberta’s Top 70 Employers For 2016
The Alberta Securities Commission’s diverse and meaningful work, healthy approach to work life balance and competitive total benefits package has set the company apart as an employer of choice for the second consecutive year.

U.S. Fed official backs tougher bank stress tests
A top Federal Reserve official said on Thursday he backs tougher stress tests for “too big to fail” banks including higher capital requirements that would make them “even more binding.”

Exchanges & Trading Facilities

ICE Reports Record Fourth Quarter 2015
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2015. For the quarter ended December 31, 2015, consolidated net income attributable to ICE was $370 million on $875 million of consolidated revenues less transaction-based expenses. On a GAAP basis, diluted earnings per share (EPS) in the fourth quarter were $3.29 and for the full year 2015 were $11.39.

Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, announced its first quarter dividend will be $0.85 per share, up 13% from $0.75 per share in the fourth quarter of 2015. ICE expects the annual dividend for 2016 to be $3.40 per share, subject to quarterly board authorization.

CME Group Increases Dividend by 20 Percent
CME Group
CME Group Inc., the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today declared a first-quarter dividend of $0.60 per share, a 20 percent increase from the prior rate of $0.50 per share. The dividend is payable March 28, 2016, to shareholders of record as of March 10, 2016.

As energy rout deepens, CME, ICE reap benefit from record volumes
As a deepening panic has swept across world energy markets in recent months, exchange operators have reaped benefits as trading volumes soared.

CME Group to again list new live cattle futures, options contracts
CME Group Inc plans to resume the listing schedule for live cattle futures and options contracts, effective Feb. 18, the exchange said in statement on Wednesday.

Tradeweb Expands Into US with New ETF Trading Platform; In 2012, Tradeweb launched its European ETF platform, which supports more than 45 percent of OTC electronic ETF trading in Europe.
Anthony Malakian – Waters Technology
Tradeweb Markets has launched an electronic over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace for US-listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The rollout will allow institutional clients to access all US-listed ETFs, with request-for-quote (RFQ) trading with up to five dealers for one- and two-way price quotes. The platform will also provide automated workflows and electronic audit trails for compliance and best execution reports. Enrico Bruni, head of Europe and Asia business at Tradeweb Markets, tells WatersTechnology this rollout will…

Citadel Makes Push for Seats on NYSE Floor; Computerized trading firms playing an increasingly prominent role in floor-trading business
The market-making arm of hedge fund Citadel LLC is in talks to buy the seats on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange owned by KCG Holdings Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Aquis Exchange Limited – Important Changes To Terms Of Membership
The following Member Notice sets out amendments to Aquis Exchange’s (Aquis) terms of Membership, as detailed in the following documents:

ICAP Electronic Markets Volumes – January 2016
Average daily volumes at EBS amounted to $103.8 billion in January 2016, up 39% from the reading of $74.8 billion registered in December 2015. In annual terms, however, the comparison was less positive, as the January 2016 result was 20% down from the reading of $129.6 billion in ADV registered in January 2015.

DGCX records strong start to 2016 with launch of Equity futures
DGCX records a healthy start to 2016 with volumes showing a 15% growth in volumes over January 2015; 15 single stocks futures from US and India launched on January 15; India Gold volume doubles from December 2015; Indian Rupee Options volume grew more than three-fold Year on Year
The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) has recorded a strong start to 2016 with January figures showing an Open Interest increase of 26% vs. January 2015. The growing Open interest on the exchange underlines the opportunity that DGCX is presenting to regional investor population as a fully-regulated platform that can be used to hedge risk in the face of continuing economic volatility.


What Republicans and Bernie Sanders get wrong about Wall Street
By Matt O’Brien- Washington Post
Nothing gets less respect than incremental change.
Opponents attack it as only the first step in your plan to remake the world, and supporters attack it as, well, the only step in your plan that doesn’t actually remake the world. And so the truth gets forgotten somewhere in the middle.

Hedge Funds & Managed Futures

Foreign funds cut quotas in China investment scheme
Don Weinland and Henny Sender in Hong Kong and Gabriel Wildau in Shanghai – FT
Global demand for once sought-after quota to buy Chinese securities has fallen for the first time in the scheme’s decade-long history, even as Beijing, eager to support its currency and equity prices, signals it will offer bigger allocations.

Investors Cast Wary Eye on Fed Rate Increases; Broad decline in the dollar and a sharp drop this year in U.S. Treasury yields mark significant shift in investor sentiment
Investors are rethinking their expectations for interest-rate increases this year, converging on a view that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise rates in March and possibly not even for the rest of the year.

Bond Markets Are Underestimating the Fed, Goldman and Pimco Warn
Candice Zachariahs, Wes Goodman – Bloomberg
Both firms warn traders aren’t prepared for Fed rate increases; Goldman’s Hatzius sees 10-year yield rising to 3% by year-end
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co. say bonds are poised to fall and traders aren’t prepared for how far the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

Banks & Brokers

Esposito named chief strategy officer of Goldman securities unit -memo
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has named Jim Esposito as the new chief strategy officer for its securities division.

Deutsche Bank must face U.S. lawsuit over $3.1 billion mortgage loss: judge
Deutsche Bank AG must face a U.S. lawsuit seeking to hold it liable for causing $3.1 billion of investor losses by failing to properly monitor 10 trusts backed by toxic residential mortgages, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

Barclays Agrees to Offload Derivatives Contracts to JPMorgan
Stephen Morris – Bloomberg
Bank accelerating disposals of unwanted assets under new CEO; Portfolio consists mainly of rate swaps, person familiar says
Barclays Plc agreed to transfer a portfolio of derivatives contracts to JPMorgan Chase & Co., as the U.K.’s second-largest bank speeds up the sale of unwanted assets to reduce its capital requirements.

Clearing & Settlement

TABB Group Finds Global Clearing Market Shares are Set for Change as Costs Drive Flows
Business Wire
While the rise in swaps clearing in the U.S. is now being mirrored in other regions in advance of regulatory implementation, market share and product scope at central counterparty clearinghouses (CCPs) is also shifting. CCPs have largely continued to dominate in their traditional areas, but there is evidence that the variations noted in market share have for the first time been partly driven by cost considerations.

Buy-Side Should Be Allowed To Provide Liquidity to CCPs
Markets Media
The European Association of CCP Clearing Houses has asked the European Commission to consider allowing highly creditworthy buy-side firms to act as potential investment counterparties to central clearers.

Euroclear urges blockchain adoption for capital markets
Brave New Coin
The user-owned and user-governed Euroclear group provides settlement and related services for bond, equity, fund and derivative transactions. As a leading international Central Securities Depositary (CSD), covering Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Euroclear’s depositories cover more than 65% of European blue-chip equities and 50% of European domestic debt outstanding.

Mandatory central clearing on its way for issuers of OTC derivatives in Australia
Clayton Utz
Issuers of certain over-the-counter (OTC) interest rate derivatives will soon be required to clear their swaps in compliance with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) new mandatory clearing rules.
The rules were finalised and released in December 2015 following a period of industry consultation on the initial draft released by ASIC in May 2015. At the time, the Treasury also consulted on a draft Ministerial determination that prescribed the product scope of the proposed clearing rules and regulations that established the parameters of ASIC’s rule-making powers.

Indexes & Products

STOXX Launches Comprehensive Family Of Low Carbon Indices
STOXX Limited, a leading provider of innovative, tradable and global index concepts, today introduced the STOXX Low Carbon index family. The new index family consists of four sub-families which offer varying degrees of carbon exposure to enable market participants to limit the exposure of their portfolios to carbon risk while participating in the low-carbon economic growth.

China Eases Rules on Foreign Funds in Bid for MSCI Inclusion
Bloomberg Business
Chinese authorities have been pushing for an MSCI endorsement — sending a delegation of regulators to Europe and the U.S. last year to make the case for inclusion — as President Xi Jinping’s government seeks to elevate the status of mainland markets on the world stage and make the yuan a more international currency. Attracting foreign capital has taken on greater urgency in recent months after the yuan weakened and local shares tumbled, though analysts cautioned that Thursday’s rule change is unlikely to attract major inflows any time soon and doesn’t guarantee MSCI inclusion.

Factor-Based Investing in US IG Corporate Bonds: Volatility and Credit Spread
Indexology – S&P Dow Jones Indices
Factor-based investing in equities is a well-established concept supported by over four decades of research. However, factor-based investing in fixed income remains in its nascent stages. Our analysis has found that factor-based fixed income strategies implemented in a rules-based, transparent index can represent an alternative tool for fixed income portfolio construction. In the next few blogs, we will detail our approach to and back-tested results of employing credit spread (value) and volatility as factors in order to systematically construct a portfolio of U.S. investment-grade corporate bonds.

UBS AM adds currency-hedged ETFs to its smart beta suite
Funds Europe
UBS Asset Management has extended currency hedging for its exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to smart beta products, listing eight products on the London Stock Exchange. Investors will be able to hedge currency risk in sterling with ETF exposure to low volatility, value, quality and yield factors


Green Key Releases New Front End, Launches Partnership Program
Press Release
Trading Technologies First Third Party to Integrate New Web-based Voice Workspace
Green Key Technologies, creator of an award-winning voice workspace designed for financial market voice collaboration, today released its first web-based platform, Voice Box, in conjunction with the launch of a third-party Partnership Program. Green Key will upgrade all current users to the new HTML5 voice workspace, the first in the industry to bring sophisticated trader voice capabilities to a broad range of devices that includes low-cost touch-screen tablets.

Google puts AI expert in charge of its search algorithms
Richard Waters in San Francisco – FT
Google has put an artificial intelligence expert in charge of its search algorithms, signalling a sea change in one of the core technologies of the internet that may ultimately give intelligent machines the job of finding and sorting information for humans.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts 5B Facebook users by 2030
CHRIS O’BRIEN – Venture Beat
In an event at Facebook’s (FB) new offices yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters he expected his social network to have 5 billion users by 2030.


CFTC Charges Florida-Based Oakmont Financial, Inc. and Joseph Charles DiCrisci with Engaging in Illegal, Off-Exchange Precious Metals Transactions
According to the Complaint, from at least July 16, 2011, and continuing through at least July 27, 2012, Oakmont, by and through its employees, solicited retail customers by telephone to engage in leveraged, margined, or financed precious metals transactions. During that period, Oakmont collected at least $2,308,228 from at least 107 customers in connection with precious metals transactions and, of this amount, received commissions and fees totaling at least $735,329. The Complaint also alleges that Oakmont accepted customer orders and funds and therefore acted as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM), but failed to register with the CFTC as an FCM, as required.

SEC Charges Lending Company and Brokerage Firm With Fraud
The SEC alleges that American Growth Funding II LLC and Ralph Johnson promised investors 12-percent annual returns and falsely claimed its financial statements were being audited each year. AGF II, which raises capital from investors to provide loans to businesses, also made misrepresentations in offering documents about its management and concealed details about deteriorating loan values that could imperil full payment of the promised returns to investors. The company’s placement agent Portfolio Advisors Alliance and its owner Howard Allen and president Kerri Wasserman allegedly knew the offering documents were inaccurate yet continued using them to solicit sales of AGF II securities.

Swiss Bankers Said Ready to Plead Guilty in U.S. Tax Case
David Voreacos,Patricia Hurtado, Giles Broom – Bloomberg
Julius Baer advisers to appear; bank to pay $547 million; Deferred-prosecution deal follows UBS, Credit Suisse pacts
Two client advisers from Julius Baer Group Ltd. accused of helping Americans evade taxes are expected to plead guilty in New York on Thursday, when the Swiss bank will resolve its own criminal case by agreeing to pay $547 million, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Environmental & Energy

Biggest Offshore Wind Project Yet Gets Green Light From Dong
Jessica Shankleman – Bloomberg
Hornsea One will be biggest ever investment by Danish utility; Unit may cost $5.7 billion, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says
Dong Energy A/S is moving ahead with work on what will become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm once it’s complete, a facility generating 1.2 gigawatts of power off the Yorkshire coast in the U.K.

A Renewables Revolution Is Toppling the Dominance of Fossil Fuels in U.S. Power
Joe Ryan – Bloomberg
Solar, wind power accounted for 68 percent of new capacity; Natural gas on pace to overtake coal as biggest power source
Renewable energy was the biggest source of new power added to U.S. electrical grids last year as falling prices and government incentives made wind and solar increasingly viable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Climate Change and Crops: The Devastating Drought Connection
Jill Ettinger – Organic Authority
While much of the country is under a blanket of frozen water, droughts continue to plague some of the world’s top-grain producing regions showing a very real connection between climate change and crops.


China to curb capital outflows by restricting insurance sales
Don Weinland in Hong Kong – FT
China plans to enforce widely flouted restrictions on capital transfers into insurance products in Hong Kong by wealthy Chinese, in the latest move by Beijing to halt the flow billions of renminbi out of the country.

U.S. Treasury Secretary urges China to communicate FX policy clearly
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated to China the importance of transitioning to a market-determined exchange rate in an orderly and transparent way, the Treasury said on Wednesday.

Slowing Chinese sorghum demand ends boom for Australian, U.S. growers
Slowing Chinese demand for sorghum is set to exacerbate tough market conditions for grain farmers in the United States and Australia, as one of the few bright spots in global markets over the past two years starts to fade.

How Chinese Used Insurance to Dodge Currency Controls
Bloomberg News
Hong Kong’s haven turns polices into actual insurance for cash; Chinese have bought record amounts of insurance in Hong Kong
Before the Chinese regulator stepped in this week with measures against the insurance industry aimed at curbing the country’s $1 trillion worth of capital outflows in 2015, hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese had been flocking to Hong Kong to buy policies using their China-issued UnionPay credit or debit cards.

Beijing’s censorship is out of control, according to an ally of Deng Xiaoping
Quartz Staff
A former deputy editor-in-chief of the People’s Daily, a Communist Party newspaper, has criticized Beijing for exerting too much control over its media (link in Chinese).

Frontier Markets

NSEL scam: Bombay HC orders NSEL borrower to pay Rs 157 cr
Dilip Kumar Jha – Business Standard
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered Aastha Group to pay Rs 157.5 crore in four weeks in a case related to Rs 5,600-crore payment crisis at National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL).

NCDEX tightens physical delivery norms
BS Reporter – Business Standard
National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) today announced tighter measures to strengthen physical delivery process at exchange approved warehouses.


DraftKings plans UK launch amid US clampdown
Murad Ahmed, European Technology Correspondent – FT
DraftKings, the online fantasy sports company facing bans across the US, is planning to launch in the UK as it searches for international revenues to “mitigate the risk” of being regulated out of its home market.

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