First Read

Bits & Pieces
By John J. Lothian

We have added Johan Toll of Nasdaq to our March 1 Stockholm MarketsWiki Education World of Opportunity event. He will speak about blockchain.

Unfortunately, Patrick Thornton-Smith of Duco had a conflict come up and will not be able to present. We hope to get PTS in the fall in London.

John Damgard has agreed to speak at our July 21 event in Chicago. We are beginning work on lining up speakers for this summer’s series. Chicago is scheduled for July 17, 19 and 21. New York is set for July 11 and 12. We are still looking for a venue for July 12. Any help is welcome.

If you have not checked out our new site, please do. Patrick Lothian did an amazing job of developing this new site. Also, please like MarketsWiki Education on Facebook and follow us at @MarketsWikiEdu on Twitter.

Walt Lukken is in Chicago today for the FIA Washington update. I am sure there will be some questions he will not be able to answer: unknowable unknowables.

We are gearing up for the FIA International Conference in Boca Raton, Florida in mid-March. We will again be conducting our Exchange CEO series, as well as hearing from other leaders. My daughter Katherine will be working for us as an intern during her spring break. If you don’t see her with a microphone in her hand, you can probably catch her at the pool.

Jim Kharouf has accepted an invitation from the World Federation of Exchanges to participate in their IOMA conference in Frankfurt in April.

Lastly, any help you can give us to get the word out for our March 1 Stockholm event would be appreciated. We have a great lineup of speakers and want this to be the first of several years in which we bring the program to Sweden.


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Ontario to roll out pilot teaching financial literacy in Grade 10
May Warren – Metro Toronto
The Ontario Ministry of Education will roll out a pilot “learning module” on financial literacy in high schools after a call to action from the Toronto Youth Cabinet.
As first reported by Metro, the youth organization put together a petition last fall and met with officials to champion the issue.

****** Let’s start with a nice game of dice.


Donald Trump’s policies risk sending US economy back to the 1970s, warns former boss of Federal Reserve
Szu Ping Chan – Telegraph
Donald Trump’s economic policies risk plunging America into a period of 1970s-style stagflation with low growth and “out of control” inflation, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve has warned.

***** Now where are those bell bottom pants and earth shoes in my closet?


China awards Trump valuable new trademark
The government of China awarded U.S. President Donald Trump valuable rights to his own name this week, in the form of a 10-year trademark for construction services.

****** The word of the day is “Emoluments.” Think about it – China can encourage regime change in the U.S. (away from Trump) to thwart the interest of the Russians in the new administration by just giving Trump valuable things. And in this case, it did not cost the Chinese anything. Brillant!


Move over, Winnetka, Lake Forest, Hinsdale: Elmhurst a new hub for million-dollar homes
By DENNIS RODKIN – Crain’s Chicago Business
SUVS parked along Joanne Way in Elmhurst on a Sunday afternoon, their drivers and passengers spilling out to tour a newly built home priced at about $1.1 million. It’s the latest house in a development where 31 others have sold for $1 million or more in the past couple of years.

***** There is a reason I built a new home in Elmhurst. And it seems like a lot of other people figured it out too.


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our top three read pieces yesterday were led by CME Group Inc. Names Slate Of Director Nominees. Everyone wants to know who is on board there. Everyone wants to know who is making money as well, hence, Bloomberg’s Dutch Speed Trader Hasn’t Lost Money in ETFs Since 2014 was second. And the FT’s piece Euronext launches trading platform to ward against high-frequency traders illustrates that some people like to make money at a different pace.


MWE Europe 2016


MarketsWiki Stats
93,929,740 pages viewed; 22,350 pages; 203,678 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

New Reforms Could Make Banks More Vulnerable
By Erik Thedeen – Bloomberg
The review of global banking regulation that began in the aftermath of the financial crisis is nearing completion. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has not been able to reach a final agreement despite the urgent need. Nobody disagrees on the goal or the main instrument: to strengthen financial stability through higher and more robust capital requirements. But achieving the objective of stability depends in part on getting the composition of capital requirements right. Unfortunately, current proposals fall short.

Intercontinental Exchange Announces Agreement to Acquire TMX Atrium from TMX Group
Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, today announced it has entered an agreement to acquire TMX Atrium, a global extranet and wireless services business from TMX Group. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and the transaction is expected to close within 90 days, subject to regulatory approvals. The financial impact of the transaction will be immaterial and was included in ICE’s financial guidance for 2017.

Nex Group: a dude elides
Financial Times
Michael Spencer is wrestling with a difficult second act in his career as a financial entrepreneur. This could prove as humdrum as the second part of the cult film The Big Lebowski, unpromisingly entitled the Dude Abides. Alternatively, the City veteran could reinvent himself as the darling of fintech investors.

US oil traders riveted by mystery bidding; Publication of data showing big crude stock increases prompts spurts of buying
by: Gregory Meyer in New York and David Sheppard in London – FT
A mystery is confounding the US oil market: when inventories rise, prices rise, too.

Deutsche Boerse CEO denies insider trading allegations
Deutsche Boerse’s (DB1Gn.DE) chief executive said insider trading allegations against him would prove unfounded, pointing out that he did not determine the timing of his share purchases ahead of the announcement of merger plans with the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L).

LME failed to report suspicious trade orders to FCA for three months – sources
By Pratima Desai – Reuters
Following the introduction of new market abuse regulation last year, the London Metal Exchange did not submit any suspicious transaction order reports (STORs) for three months, setting off alarm bells at the UK regulator, metal industry sources said.

Euronext to pursue alternatives if LCH deal falls through; Euronext says to focus on reinforcing clearing; Euronext eyes “suitable acquisition” in commodities; Exchange to launch pan-EU block trading platform (Recasts after media call, adds quotes)
By Noor Zainab Hussain and Huw Jones – Reuters
Pan-European exchange Euronext may still buy a clearing house for derivatives if its planned purchase of LCH SA, which it uses, from London Stock Exchange falls through.

Women’s panel at structured finance conference to be mostly men
Will Caiger-Smith – Reuters
The organizers of the structured finance industry’s largest annual conference are adopting a new strategy for tackling the issue of women’s advancement – by getting men to talk about it.

Edwards Joins Citadel Securities
Citadel Securities has hired James Edwards in a FICC sales and relationship management role.

Why currency manipulation rhetoric will grow louder; Dollar strength has left markets expecting Trump to ratchet up his accusations
by: Roger Blitz and Ralph Atkins – FT
It is not just equities that are rebounding this month.
The dollar is up almost 2 per cent against a basket of its peers as it resumes an upward path that most in the foreign exchange market believe is the natural consequence of the economic policies Donald Trump has vowed to deliver.

Monopolies Are Worse Than We Thought
Noah Smith – Bloomberg
Economists are increasingly turning their attention to the problem of monopoly. This doesn’t mean literal monopoly, like when one utility company provides all the power in a city. It refers to market concentration in general — when an industry goes from having 20 players to having only 10, or when the four biggest companies in an industry start taking a bigger and bigger share of sales.

Limping Swaps Market Trips Investors in Jumbled Bank Bonds
Katie Linsell, Tom Beardsworth – Bloomberg
Post-crisis rules meant to safeguard Europe’s financial system have left bank debt markets fragmented, exposing investors to more losses than ever.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

TMX Group Announces Sale of Atrium
TMX Group today announced that it has sold the wireless and extranet infrastructure services business known as TMX Atrium to Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

HKEX to Introduce its First RMB Currency Options on 20 March
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) will introduce its planned Renminbi (RMB) Currency Options on Monday, 20 March 2017.

Metals Monthly Update – January 2017
Precious Metals ADV in January increased by 32% YoY, led by gold and silver products. Gold trade particularly benefitted from the weak U.S. dollar and political uncertainty in the U.S.

CME Group Announces Copper Futures Open Interest Record, Surpassing 300,000 Contracts Milestone
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced Copper futures open interest surpassed 300,000 contracts for the first time on Monday, February 13, 2017. Copper ended the trading session with a total of 300,996 contracts open interest, surpassing the previous record of 297,830 set on February 1, 2017.

Deutsche Boerse boosts profits, eyeing LSE tie-up
Channel News Asia
German stock exchange operator Deutsche Boerse on Wednesday (Feb 15) reported strong increases in earnings and profits for 2016, as it awaits regulators’ go-ahead for a tie-up with London Stock Exchange.

Deutsche Börse AG posts further net revenue and profit growth for the financial year 2016
Deutsche Borse
Deutsche Börse AG published its preliminary results for Q4 and the financial year 2016 on Wednesday. The company generated net revenue of EUR2,388.7 million in the full year, an 8 per cent increase compared to the previous year (2015: EUR2,220.3 million).

SGX consults public on dual class share structure
Singapore Exchange (SGX) is consulting the public on whether a dual class share (DCS) structure where certain shares have higher voting rights than others, should be introduced and if so, what safeguards might be appropriate. DCS structures may be utilised by entrepreneurs and companies to increase flexibility in capital management, and to provide greater investor choice while supporting Singapore’s economic transformation. The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) has also recommended exploring the merits of the DCS structures as DCS listings are increasingly being considered by companies in high-technology industries.

SGX welcomes Pacific Star Development Limited to Catalist
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today welcomed Pacific Star Development Limited to Catalist under the stock code “1C5”.

Nigeria’s $1bn Eurobond starts trading on London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange Group

EQDerivatives: “VSTOXX French Election Risk Opens Risk Premia Trade”
by Georgia Reynolds, EMEA Reporter – Eurex
While uncertainty surrounding populist parties across Europe is creeping into equity markets, the Euro Stoxx 50 Volatility Index is only clearly reacting to French election risk, opening an opportunity for investors to extract risk premia around the event.


Bonds on blockchain: an idea whose time hasn’t come
Owen Sanderson – GlobalCapital
Any bank worthy of the name is now furiously rebranding itself as a technology company, and capital markets bankers know which way the wind is blowing. Even if, deep inside, bankers want nothing more than a chance to get on a plane, pitch over a good lunch, and sell bonds over the telephone, they’ll be paying lip service to blockchain, distributed ledgers, big data, machine learning, algorithms, automation and all other “disruptive” technologies. Nobody wants to be branded the Luddite who didn’t see the possibilities inherent in the industry, and Silicon Valley’s glamour eclipsed Wall Street’s a long time ago.

Equinix meets FY outlook, sees further growth in 2017
Thursday 16 February 2017 | 10:40 CET | News
Data centre operator Equinix met its outlook for strong growth in 2016 results, helped by its acquisition of Telecity, and said it expects further growth from continuing operations in 2017.

AQMetrics: Leading RegTech Company Delivering Regulatory And Compliance Solutions
Last month, AQMetrics announced new enhancements to our end-to-end risk and compliance solution as part of our award-winning cloud-based platform. These enhancements will help both buy-side and sell-side firms better prepare for Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II a year in advance of the regulatory deadline of Jan. 2018.

Vela named best data provider for equities
Vela Trading Technologies, a global leader in high performance trading and market data technology, is pleased to announce that its consolidated market data feed was awarded “Best Data Provider – Equities” in the Fund Technology and Wall Street Letter (WSL) Awards.

Fidessa Prospector Lands Another Award – Named Best New Product At Fund Technology & WSL Awards
Fidessa group plc today announced that Prospector, its automated liquidity generating module, has been voted Best New Product in the annual Fund Technology & WSL (Wall Street Letter) Awards. These awards recognise and reward providers serving asset managers and institutional traders that have demonstrated new, highly innovative product development over the past 12 months. This is the third industry award win for Prospector since its launch last March.

Is 2017 The Year Bank-Fintech Partnerships Hit Product/Market Fit?
2016 was a landmark year for the financial technology and banking industries. After years of high-profile messaging wars, both sides finally decided to accept the inevitable: The financial technology (fintech) and banking industries are far better off as friends than as foes.


Andrew Puzder Withdraws From Consideration as Labor Secretary
Alan Rappeport – NY Times
The fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder withdrew his nomination to be labor secretary on Wednesday as Republican senators turned sharply against him, the latest defeat for a White House besieged by infighting and struggling for traction even with a Republican-controlled Congress.

Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns; Decision to withhold information underscores deep mistrust between intelligence community and president
U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.

One Nation, Divisible by What Scares Us Most
By Virginia Postrel – NY Times
It’s a dangerous world. The threats are insidious, lurking undetected until it’s too late. Left on your own, you won’t survive. The government’s job is to protect you.
Many Americans hold some version of this view. But they strongly differ on which threats they fear.

Why Trump Can’t Come Clean on Russia; The saying “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” may not apply here.
DAVID CORN – Mother Jones
There is an old chestnut that gets tossed out whenever a scandal hits: It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. The saying traces back to Watergate. Sen. Howard Baker, the top Republican on the Senate Watergate committee, once noted, “It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.”

White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies
President Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.


Janet Yellen and House Republicans Clash Over Fed’s Performance
Binyamin Appelbaum – NY Times
Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, sparred with House Republicans on Wednesday about the value of financial regulation and the effectiveness of monetary policy in a testy session that showed the gulf between the central bank and the conservatives who control Capitol Hill.

Fed’s Tarullo says he expects ‘core’ Dodd-Frank reform to survive
Greg Robb – MarketWatch
Outgoing Fed governor Daniel Tarullo said Wednesday he hopes and expects the “core” reforms put in place by regulators and Congress in the wake of the financial crisis would survive the planned rollback announced by the Trump administration.

FINRA Proposes Allowing Limited Customized Hypothetical Performance Projections
Chapman and Cutler LLP
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) recently proposed amendments that would create a new exception to FINRA’s prohibition on projecting performance.

U.S. investment banker gets 11 years in prison for stock scam
Nathan Layne – Reuters
A former Los Angeles investment banker was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison by a federal judge on Wednesday for his role in a stock manipulation scheme, resolving one of two criminal cases facing the man once dubbed “Porn’s New King.”

Trump vs. Yellen on repealing Dodd-Frank’s Wall Street reforms
CBS News
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen defended the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Investing and Trading

Yellen may have offered the clearest explanation for the stock market’s record run
Mark DeCambre – MarketWatch
Janet Yellen knows why the stock market is on a record tear. The chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday offered up a pretty clear explanation for investors’ recent elation over equities in her testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee.

U.S. stock fund investors turning away from ‘America First’
Trevor Hunnicutt – Reuters
U.S. investors are favoring international stocks over domestic ones, in a shift away from the trend that followed Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Investment Company Institute data released on Wednesday show.

In Central Europe, Germany’s Renewable Revolution Causes Friction; The country’s surplus power, a byproduct of its shift to green energy, is spilling over into Poland and Czech Republic, straining their electrical grids
A battle is raging in Central Europe over the balance of power—the electrical kind.

Rob Arnott Says You’ll Be Sorry for Ignoring Smart Beta Warnings
by Dani Burger – Bloomberg
Firm launches new timing site showing low-vol as still pricey; Investors rely too heavily on past returns, Arnott says
Rob Arnott won’t let it go. One year after battling Cliff Asness in public over whether smart beta ETFs are in a bubble, the Research Affiliates co-founder is doubling down on his warning about the hugely popular investment vehicles. He’s turning the firm’s website into a new tool for telling which funds are about to pop and has launched a line of indexes that rejigger holdings based on variables like valuation.

What Happens When Two Bankers and an Engineer Get a Billion Dollars?; How Global Infrastructure Partners turned a sleepy sector into one that has investors clamoring for more.
by Jason Kelly – Bloomberg
Bill Woodburn showed up for dinner as a courtesy.
It was 2006, and the former head of General Electric’s infrastructure business and Jack Welch protégé had made up his mind to turn down Adebayo Ogunlesi and Matt Harris, the pair of former Credit Suisse bankers who’d invited him for Chinese food. Instead of joining their nascent fund, the sought-after Woodburn was taking a job with Steve Schwarzman’s Blackstone.

Snapchat Parent Snap Inc. Sets Valuation at $19.5 Billion to $22.2 Billion as IPO Approaches
Snap Inc. set a valuation for itself between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, as the disappearing-message app company nears its landmark initial public offering.


Convergex Expands Its European Footprint As It Prepares For MiFID II
Convergex, an agency-focused global brokerage and trading related services provider, announced today that it recently hired Robin Strong as Managing Director. Mr. Strong is based out of Convergex’s London-based brokerage and will be responsible for expanding the firm’s broad range of commission management, research payment and outsourcing services to buy and sell-side investment firms on a global basis.

33-Year-Old Hedge Fund Star James Levin Awarded $250 million Pay Package Amid Och-Ziff Stock Debacle
Nathan Vardi – Forbes
Billionaire Dan Och’s hedge fund firm has promoted 33-year-old James Levin and handed him a $250 million pay package, according to a Wednesday filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Record $13 Billion Pulled From Biggest Public U.S. Hedge Fund Och-Ziff
Rob Copeland – WSJ
Investors are increasingly pulling their money from hedge funds. One giant is getting hit harder than most. Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, the largest publicly traded hedge-fund firm in the U.S., on Wednesday reported a record $13 billion of investor withdrawals over the past 13 months. The redemptions included $8 billion in 2016, and another $5 billion since the start of the year, according to securities filings.

Hedge fund Night Square to shut, founders move to Citadel
Svea Herbst-Bayliss – Reuters
Hedge fund Night Square Capital Partners, which traces its roots to legendary stock picker Julian Robertson, is shutting down and its founding partners are joining Citadel, one of the industry’s biggest investors.

FXCM’s January non-U.S. volume rises 18 pct
Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss – Reuters
Currency broker FXCM Inc, which was banned last week from operating in the United States, said on Wednesday its non-U.S. monthly trading volume rose 18 percent to an estimated $253 billion in January from December.

Thanks Trump. Goldman Sachs’s Shares Just Hit a New All-Time High
Lucinda Shen – Fortune
Goldman Sachs investors seem certain that President Donald Trump will be a huge friend to Wall Street. Shares of the investment banking giant reached an all-time high early Tuesday, it’s first since before the financial crisis. Goldman’s shares were up again on Wednesday.


China’s Holdings of Treasuries Dropped in 2016 by Most on Record
Sarah McGregor and Andrea Wong – Bloomberg
China’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries declined by the most on record last year, as the world’s second-largest economy dipped into its foreign-exchange reserves to buttress the yuan. Japan, America’s largest foreign creditor, trimmed its holdings for a second straight year.

“Make India The Biggest Software Market In The World,” Urges Mukesh Ambani At NASSCOM
“Actually Trump might be a blessing in disguise for India – it will force Indian talent to focus on solving problems in India,” said Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Mukesh Ambani at the NASSCOM Leadership Forum, referring to Indian information technology companies’ fears that Trump’s policies may result in fewer U.S. visas for their engineers.

Collusion Case Strengthens Zuma’s Hand in Battle With Banks
Mike Cohen and Renee Bonorchis – Bloomberg
Antitrust regulator says banks rigged foreign exchange trade; South Africa’s ANC says case exposes ethical crisis in banking
A finding by the South African antitrust regulator that more than a dozen local and international banks colluded to rig foreign-currency trades will bolster government accusations that the nation’s biggest lenders are monopolizing the financial system and failing to address racial inequality.

Spain’s Brexit Banks Pitch May Get Boost From Bankia Probe
by Charles Penty – Bloomberg
Summons for ex-regulators shows law working, analysts say; Former central-bank chief suspected of ignoring IPO warnings
The court summons served on a clutch of current and former central bankers this week may help Spain show it’s finally cleaning house after its financial crisis as it bids to tout Madrid as a haven for financial firms fleeing Brexit Britain.

This Country Wants Everyone to Have 100 Grams of Gold
by Evgenia Pismennaya and Anna Andrianova – Bloomberg
Kyrgyz National Bank governor wants everyone to own some gold; Central Asian country’s central bank purchasing more bullion
A landlocked nation perched between China and Kazakhstan is embarking on an experiment with little parallel worldwide: shifting savings from cattle to gold.

Italy Approves $21 Billion Fund to Shore Up Its Troubled Banks
Sonia Sirletti and Chiara Vasarri – Bloomberg
Italy’s parliament approved a law to plow as much as 20 billion euros ($21 billion) into Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and other troubled lenders as part of the nation’s efforts to revamp its banking industry.


French Election Puts Possibility of ‘Frexit’ on the Agenda; Two front-runners agree that the defining issue is France’s membership of the eurozone
What’s striking about the French presidential election is the extent to which the two front-runners share a basic analysis of the choice facing the country. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the right-wing National Front, and Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former economy minister who quit François Hollande’s government to stand as an independent, are poles apart politically. But both agree that the defining issue is France’s membership of the eurozone.

This Analyst Says Brexit Britain Will Win by 2027
by Jill Ward – Bloomberg
Productivity and demographics will help growth over 10 years; Brexit hit will see growth slow to 1.3% before recovering
Thanks to productivity and demographics, the U.K. economy is set to overcome Brexit difficulties to be the fastest-growing major economy in Europe over the next 10 years.


Journalists, Battered and Groggy, Find a Renewed Sense of Mission
Michael M. Grynbaum and Sydney Ember – NY Times
White House misconduct. Sensational leaks. Battling broadsheets. The swirling story around President Trump’s dealings with Russia is being compared in journalism circles to past blockbusters like Watergate and the Monica Lewinsky scandal — with a 21st-century twist.

A Tutorial for Judy Shelton on the ABCs of Currency Manipulation
Uneasy Money
Currency manipulation has become a favorite bugbear of critics of both monetary policy and trade policy. Some claim that countries unfairly depress their exchange rates to give their exporters an unfair advantage in foreign markets and to insulate their domestic producers from foreign competition. Others claim that using monetary policy as a way to stimulate aggregate demand is necessarily a form of currency manipulation, because monetary expansion causes the currency whose supply is being expanded to depreciate against other currencies, making monetary expansion, ipso facto, a form of currency manipulation.

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