SEC Charges Robinhood Financial With Misleading Customers

Dec 18, 2020

First Read

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Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

John Lothian News has hired Owen Rehling as a part-time freelance intern to work on MarketsWiki. Owen is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in English and creative writing along with a journalism minor. He graduated with honors. Additionally, Owen is an Eagle Scout from one of my former troops. He attended the World Jamboree in Japan along with my daughter Katherine and two of my other Scouts. He also attended the National Jamboree in 2013. He was helped in attending both of those jamborees through the generous help of readers of JLN, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and her husband, ICE Chairman and CEO Jeff Sprecher, and also by George Hanley. Owen will be working on quality checks on content in MarketsWiki for exchange contracts to start.

In some other JLN personnel news, Mike Forrester, JLN Producer and videographer extraordinaire, has submitted his resignation and accepted a position with Gate 39 Media. We hired Mike four years ago to shoot and edit video for us in Chicago and he became an essential member of the team, traveling with JLN to London, Stockholm, Boca Raton and numerous other venues for industry conferences. Mike grew immensely as a journalist and video artist during his tenure with JLN and it was no surprise his skills and professional approach were in demand. Gate 39 Media is a JLN friend and industry communications and marketing firm. This is the second time we have lost a key employee to an industry communications and marketing firm and friend of JLN, as Spencer Doar left us to join 3PTS Communications a couple of years ago. Mike and Spencer will be working one floor apart when both companies return to working in their offices. Mike and Spencer were the JLN team members that created The Spread video series that Matt Raebel has taken over.

Mike came to JLN on the recommendation of his father, also Mike Forrester (Sr.), a 50-year member of the Chicago Board of Trade. The first time Mike interviewed with me he told me he wanted to be a Hollywood director. Reportedly, I told him he had a better chance of becoming the starting point guard on the Chicago Bulls. But what he has become is an accomplished videographer and journalist with an impressive body of work. We wish him and Gate 39 well.

One of the real pleasures of being a journalist is being able to ask questions of people on issues you are interested in. Such was the case when I reached out to Broadridge and R.J. O’Brien about their recent announcement of a major post-trade technology deal. I was able to interview Justin Llewellyn-Jones of Broadridge and Terrence Gilhooly of RJO. I have known Justin for a long time and we established trust while he worked with Fidessa, a former sponsor of JLN. I had not met Terry, but he was very familiar with me as is RJO. This deal offers the potential to break the duopoly that has existed for decades in the post trade technology sector. I wanted to know more and was able to get Justin and Terry to tell me. Check out my interview with both via Zoom HERE.

LabCFTC has released a “Digital Assets Primer.” This is updated information about emerging concepts in digital assets, which is important again because bitcoin is hitting new highs. The last time LabCFTC released something on digital currencies was a couple of months before bitcoin hit its previous all time high in 2017. Their LabCFTC’s 2017 Primer on Virtual Currencies was released on October 17, 2017.

The OCC is giving a year-end refund to its clearing member firms. Nothing like a nice Christmas present from the OCC.

Miami International Holdings has now acquired 100% ownership of the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

FIA offered holiday greetings video to members and friends, including a Zoom box of employees and humorous message about being muted at the end.

Refinitiv Americas shared this holiday message with customers and friends.

We have new remembrances of the late George Gero from Rich Buccellato and Martin Mosbacher. Martin is a former Comex public relations executive and now president of Lansons Intermarket in New York.

For the seventh day in a row, we have not received any new contributions to our JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Please consider supporting our efforts to preserve industry history by giving to our GoFundMe campaign. If you want to know more about our campaign, watch this video or contact me.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


Cboe will add another product to its arsenal in the mini derivatives war; in Q1 of 2021, Cboe plans to launch Mini Russell 2000 Index Options. A rep from Cboe said that Mini Russell options “will be structured like standard Russell options” – with the exception, of course, that contracts will be one tenth the size of standard contracts.~MR

Grayscale Investments, a digital asset investment company, now has well over $14 billion assets under management (AUM), thanks to bitcoin’s massive price spike this week. Michael Sonnenshein, managing director of Grayscale Investments, said that bitcoin hitting $20K+ per coin is “not a surprise,” and that “it is a very symbolic threshold to reach at the end of what has been a historic year for bitcoin.”~MR

U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase filed a “confidential” S-1 form with the SEC ahead of their potential IPO, about which they’ve been teasing to the media since the summer of 2020. For a confidential filing, a curiously large number of people seem to have heard about it already. Figures from crypto Twitter like Meltem Demirors and Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano have been tweeting about the news since yesterday afternoon.~MR

Does its recent filing with the SEC explain why Coinbase decided in late November to follow the CFTC’s March 2020 guidance and abruptly stop offering margin trading?~Thom Thompson


Broadridge/RJO Deal Shakes up Post-Trade Business, Gives RJO a Single Platform to Grow its Burgeoning Global Business

R.J. O’Brien (“RJO”) recently announced a major post-trade technology deal with Broadridge to supply RJO with the technology to manage post-trade flows on a global basis. The blockbuster deal gives RJO newer technology to clear its exchange traded business as well as other asset classes globally, bringing all of RJO’s operations onto the same platform for the first time.

Watch the video »


OCC to Provide Year-End Refund for Clearing Member Firms
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, today announced that its Board of Directors has approved a refund of $156 million to be paid to clearing member firms on April 19, 2021. “As part of our ongoing efforts to strengthen OCC’s resiliency while also delivering operational excellence and efficiency, OCC’s Board of Directors approved this refund for our clearing member firms,” said John Davidson, OCC Chief Executive Officer.

****What the OCC should have done is issued the refund in the new OCC token and given it to them in the Bakkt wallet.~JJL


LabCFTC Releases Digital Assets Primer
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today released a Digital Assets Primer to provide updated information to the public about emerging concepts in digital assets. The primer is part of a series issued by the CFTC’s innovation office, LabCFTC, and is the second to delve into issues surrounding digital assets.

*****Is the CFTC trying to put the high again in bitcoin?~JJL


Emmanuel Macron Has the Same Problem as King Louis XVI; France is going to be a critical test case for Europe’s ability to speedily immunize its population.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
When King Louis XVI, his two brothers and his sister-in-law were inoculated against smallpox in 18th-century France, the public worried about the risks. Though the experiment was a success, even sparking a new type of hairstyle, the doubts never went away. As vaccines took off during the 19th century, the age of Pasteur, so did resistance, apathy and distrust.

*****Yes, they have some similar problems, but Macron has more at his disposal to solve them.~JJL


London’s Camden Passage: 60 years of antiques trading; Meet the dealers who recall its pre-gentrified heyday of mods, rockers and famous clients
Peter Chapman – FT
Caroline Carrier is discreet about how long she has kept a shop in north London’s Camden Passage market. “Quite a time,” she answers in a manner which, though polite, suggests I need inquire no further.

*****I love Camden Market. What a great venue to find unique treasures.~JJL


A reporter spent 10 bitcoins on a sushi dinner for dozens of strangers in 2013. Those coins are worth $230,000 today.
Shalini Nagarajan – Markets Insider
A tech reporter once lived on bitcoins for a week straight to test how valuable they were in the real world. She bought a bunch of bitcoins in 2013 for $136 each on Coinbase, hoping to use them for daily expenses. On the last night of her experiment, she spent 10 bitcoins on a sushi dinner for dozens of strangers. Today those would be worth about $230,000. The restaurant’s owner has now retired from the food business, thanks in part to his cryptocurrency earnings of 41 bitcoins, or $902,000 today.

*****Hope the sushi was good.~MR


CryptoMarketsWiki Coin of the Week: Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, reached new all-time highs this week, exceeding $23,000 per BTC. The previous high of $19,921 was reached in 2017, around the same time that Cboe and the CME Group announced the launch of bitcoin futures.


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story Thursday was the job description for a deputy chief compliance officer at ADM Investor Services in Chicago. Second was the surprising news that Fifty Years of Tax Cuts for Rich Didn’t Trickle Down, Study Says, from Bloomberg. (The study was done by David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London.) Third was, for the fourth time in the top three list, How Kelly Loeffler’s Firm Facilitated an Enron-Like Scandal, from Mother Jones.


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Lead Stories

SEC Charges Robinhood Financial With Misleading Customers About Revenue Sources and Failing to Satisfy Duty of Best Execution
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Robinhood Financial LLC for repeated misstatements that failed to disclose the firm’s receipt of payments from trading firms for routing customer orders to them, and with failing to satisfy its duty to seek the best reasonably available terms to execute customer orders. Robinhood agreed to pay $65 million to settle the charges.

U.S. Cyber Agency: Computer Hack Poses ‘Grave Risk’
Bill Chappell – NPR
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Thursday delivered an ominous warning about a major computer intrusion, saying it “poses a grave risk” to federal, state and local governments as well as private companies and organizations.

Russia-Linked SolarWinds Hack Ensnares Widening List of Victims
Michael Riley, Kartikay Mehrotra, and William Turton – Bloomberg
U.S. states, nuclear weapons agency systems breached; Software giant Microsoft says systems were exposed to malware
It was clear from the start that a cyber attack by suspected Russian hackers aimed at several U.S. government agencies was going to be bad. One clue: National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien cut short a trip overseas early this week to rush back to Washington to help manage the crisis.

Robinhood Financial to Pay $65 Million to Settle SEC Probe; The brokerage firm settles investigation over early failure to highlight deals with high-speed trading firms
Dave Michaels and Alexander Osipovich – WSJ
Robinhood Financial LLC has agreed to pay $65 million to settle regulatory claims that it didn’t sufficiently disclose its business deals with high-speed trading firms, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.

Robinhood Pays $65 Million Fine to Settle Charges of Misleading Customers; Millions of investors have turned to Robinhood in recent years, lured by a sales pitch of no trading fees. The charges announced on Thursday apply to Robinhood’s disclosures from 2015 to late 2018, the regulator said.
Nathaniel Popper and Michael J. de la Merced – NY Times
Robinhood, a fast-growing financial app, has attracted millions of young customers in recent years by making it fun and free to trade stocks, as well as riskier investments like options and Bitcoin.

Robinhood Is Not Gamifying Markets. It’s Democratizing Them; Despite the complaints by Massachusetts, the online brokerage firm has led a massively beneficial revolution in retail trading services.
Aaron Brown – Bloomberg
Securities regulators in Massachusetts have decided to attack the popular online brokerage Robinhood Financial LLC, the latest in a long pattern of regulators harassing hugely beneficial innovations. Who can forget the early 1980s, when inflation was running at double-digit rates and banks were prohibited from paying interest on checking deposits, but the Securities & Exchange Commission was fighting money market funds? 1

Microsoft Says Its Systems Were Exposed to SolarWinds Hack
Dina Bass – Bloomberg
Software giant found no sign customers’ data was accessed; Company says the malicious code was isolated and deleted
Microsoft Corp. said its systems were exposed to the malware used in the Russia-linked hack that targeted U.S. states and government agencies, adding that investigations so far show the malicious software wasn’t used to attack others and didn’t impact customer data or outward-facing systems.

Hack Suggests New Scope, Sophistication for Cyberattacks; Suspected Russian hack involving SolarWinds software that compromised parts of the U.S. government was executed on a scale that has surprised even veteran security experts
Dustin Volz and Robert McMillan – WSJ
The suspected Russian hack that compromised parts of the U.S. government was executed with a scope and sophistication that has surprised even veteran security experts and exposed a potentially critical vulnerability in America’s technology infrastructure, according to investigators.

Midtown Is Still Empty, and Landlords Are Sounding the Alarm; Developer Aby Rosen would really like this whole work-from-home thing to be temporary. And by the way you should see what he’s done with the Chrysler Building.
Devin Leonard – Bloomberg
The 61st-floor terrace of the Chrysler Building, the Jazz Age wonder of the New York skyline, is studded with massive steel eagles. On a misty October night, Aby Rosen, the German-born investor who’s redeveloping the building, leans against a railing beside one of the birds. It’s beginning to drizzle, but Rosen, who has long white hair and alert blue eyes, is in an ebullient mood.

How 2020 Changed the Auction Market for the Better; To say that this year was unexpected would be an understatement. But to argue it was all bad would be very wrong.
James Tarmy – Bloomberg
For the past 250 years, art auctions have stuck to the same format with an almost astonishing fidelity. People who want to sell art (consignors) give it to an auction house, which prints a catalogue with some fancy language about the artwork and then sends it to prospective clients (bidders). On the day of the auction, the room is filled with these bidders and/or bidders’ representatives such as art advisers, art dealers, and auction specialists. One by one, works sell, or don’t sell, until the auction is over. And then it repeats.

Barnier warns EU-UK trade deal talks reach ‘moment of truth’; EU’s chief negotiator says hours ahead will determine outcome with fisheries a major sticking point
Jim Brunsden – FT
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned on Friday that trade talks with the UK had reached a “moment of truth” with the crucial hours ahead determining whether or not there is a deal. Speaking before the European Parliament on Friday morning, Mr Barnier said he believed an agreement was possible but that difficult sticking points remained, notably on the issue of fisheries.

World Bank Says Managers Pressured Staff to Alter Global Business Rankings; Manipulated data helped China, Saudi Arabia gain ground in survey of nations’ business climates, according to internal audit sparked by employee concerns
Yuka Hayashi – WSJ
World Bank management pressured staff members to manipulate data used in its flagship report on business competitiveness, resulting in improvements in China’s and Saudi Arabia’s global rankings, the bank said after an internal investigation.

Bitcoin Exchange Coinbase Files for Initial Public Offering; Coinbase will be the first major bitcoin-focused company to test the public markets
Paul Vigna – WSJ
Coinbase Global Inc., the largest U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, said it has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, the first major bitcoin-focused company to test the public markets.
The company disclosed the news in a blog post Thursday afternoon.

LCH plans Libor swap switch to RFRs; Clearing house proposal would see trades moved to compounded RFRs, with cash compensation paid
Ben St. Clair –
CH is planning to automatically convert all Libor-referencing swaps to directly reference compounded-in-arrears versions of their respective risk-free rates (RFRs) when the benchmark ends, instead of relying on contractual fallbacks to deal with legacy contracts.

Lloyds cancels staff bonuses after profits fall; UK bank tells employees it failed to meet criteria for payouts in 2020
Nicholas Megaw and Stephen Morris – FT
Lloyds Banking Group has cancelled all staff bonuses for 2020 because of a sharp fall in profits caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

ADM to stop making additive cited in 1990s price-fixing case; “Market conditions for dry lysine have eroded, as global industry capacity has expanded faster than demand.”
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the world’s largest agricultural commodity traders, plans to end some production of an amino acid that was at the center of a price-fixing case in the late 1990s.

ICU availability in Southern California at 0%, and it’s going to get worse, officials warn
Luke Money, Long-Gong Lin II, Soumya Karlamangla – LA Times
The availability of intensive care unit beds throughout Southern California hit 0% Thursday, and officials warned that conditions in hospitals are expected to erode further if the coronavirus continues to spread unchecked.


Jakarta Sets Curfew for Restaurants, Malls to Curb Virus Spread
Tassia Sipahutar – Bloomberg
Offices must shut by 7pm, restaurants and malls to close 9pm; Indonesia has cut short the year-end holiday to curb outbreak
Indonesia’s capital is stepping up movement restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus as more people are set to travel to and from the city over the year-end holiday.

Montenegro Says Closing its Borders Over Covid Was a Big Mistake
Misha Savic -Bloomberg
Finance minister pledges open borders, despite pandemic; Montenegro’s economy is Europe’s most-dependent on travel
Montenegro won’t repeat the mistake of closing its borders to curb Covid-19 because it has to resuscitate its tourism-dependent economy, the Adriatic nation’s new finance minister said. Making up almost a quarter of the $6 billion economy, the 90% plunge in tourism revenue between January and September hurt. That’s put travel front and center for Milojko Spajic, a former Goldman Sachs credit analyst who worked in Japan, Singapore and the U.S. Earlier this year, he has returned to his homeland and now runs the Finance Ministry.

Spain Facing Concerning Pandemic Trend, Must React To Stop Surge
Rodrigo Orihuela – Bloomberg
Spain must react right away to stop the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic given a recent change in infection trends, according to the country’s health minister. “Spain is facing a very concerning situation with the pandemic” as the trend of infections changes in many of the country’s regions, Health Minister Salvador Illa said in a press conference Friday. “We need to react,” he said, adding that vaccination will start in the country on Dec. 27.

Vaccines for sale on dark web as criminals target pandemic profits; Cyber attacks on vaccine infrastructure have been widely documented, with theft and fraud expected to rise
Cynthia O’Murchu – FT
Vendors were offering coronavirus vaccines for sale on hidden parts of the internet days after the first Covid-19 shot was approved this month, as criminals seek to profit from global demand for inoculations.

Secondary schools to delay new term after rising Covid rates prompt mass testing; Headteachers are to set up rapid diagnostics programme for first week pupils return
Bethan Staton, Anna Gross and John Burn-Murdoch – FT
Most secondary school pupils in England will return to class later than usual in January to allow for mass coronavirus testing as new data shows a high number of Covid-19 cases among children.

America’s PPE supply chain looks distinctly sick; Nearly a year after the crisis started, equipment is being traded online in shadowy markets
Gillian Tett – FT
Earlier this week Martin Steinbauer, an American entrepreneur, showed me a video message he had received via WhatsApp that looked like the kind of “proof of life” message used in hostage dramas. But what the video depicted was not people, but nitrile examination gloves, stashed in a dingy warehouse — with an identifying time stamp to show it was “real”.

Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Could Widen Immunization Effort; The vaccine can be more easily shipped and handled than Pfizer’s, helping smaller hospitals and rural areas overcome logistical hurdles
Peter Loftus – WSJ
Health officials across the U.S. are counting on the arrival of a second Covid-19 vaccine to boost scarce supplies and sidestep logistical issues encountered by the first vaccine, which began distribution this week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may issue an emergency authorization for a vaccine from Moderna Inc. MRNA 5.09% as early as Friday after an advisory panel recommended the agency approve its use. If authorized, Moderna’s vaccine will join a vaccine from Pfizer Inc. PFE 0.50% and BioNTech SE BNTX 0.61% that received authorization on Dec. 11.

Eight elderly nuns dead from COVID-19 at Wisconsin convent, four on same day
Tamar Lapin – NY Post
Eight elderly nuns at a Wisconsin convent died of COVID-19 complications in the last week — including four who passed away on the same day. The women were all in their late 80s and 90s and had been residing at Notre Dame of Elm Grove, a retirement home for sisters in suburban Milwaukee, authorities said.

More Than 1.1 Million People Have Been Vaccinated: Covid-19 Tracker; We’re following the nine most promising shots around the world
The first Covid-19 shots have been given to more than 1.1 million people in four countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. It’s the start of the biggest vaccination campaign in history and one of the largest logistical challenges ever undertaken.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Miami International Holdings Acquires 100% Ownership of
The Bermuda Stock Exchange
Miami International Holdings
Miami International Holdings (MIH), the parent holding company of MIAX®, and the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) today announced that MIH has acquired 100% ownership of the BSX. MIH previously announced the acquisition of a majority interest in the exchange in November 2019. The BSX will continue its operations as a wholly owned subsidiary of MIH.

BEWi listed on Oslo Børs
BEWi has today taken the step from Euronext Growth to Oslo Børs (ticker code: BEWI). When BEWi was admitted to trading on Euronext Growth less than four months ago, the company already had plans to list on Oslo Børs’ main market.

Cyviz lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
Cyviz has today been admitted to trading on Euronext Growth (ticker code: CYVIZ). Our ambition is to become a world leader in providing solutions for large digital control and conference rooms. Digitalization is a trend that enables collaboration with growing scope and complexity. Going forward, hybrid meetings will be the trend, where some participants are at their home office and others are in meeting rooms. This is where Cyviz offers the best solutions,” says CEO of Cyviz Espen Gylvik.

Skitude lists on Euronext Growth Oslo
Euronext today congratulates Skitude, the provider of digital platforms for skiers and other mountain enthusiasts, on its listing on Euronext Growth Oslo (ticker code: SKI).

Nasdaq to Hold Fourth Quarter 2020 Investor Conference Call
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) has scheduled its Fourth Quarter 2020 financial results announcement.

TriOptima Completes First Benchmark Conversion Risk Replacement Trades at Japan Securities Clearing Corporation
CME Group
TriOptima, a leading infrastructure service that helps to lower costs and mitigate risk in OTC derivatives markets, has announced the completion of the first triReduce enhanced compression Japanese yen cycle, which includes Tokyo Overnight Alternative Rate (TONA) risk replacement trades. The cycle took place on December 4, 2020 at the Japan Securities Clearing Corporation (JSCC).

Modification to Sizing Calculations for Base and IRS Guaranty Funds – Effective January 27, 2021
CME Group
Effective January 27, 2021, CME Clearing will enact a revision to the methodology used in calculating the appropriate size of the Base Guaranty Fund and IRS Guaranty Fund (“the Guaranty Funds”) that are required pursuant to amendments to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) regulations. See the full advisory for additional detail.

New Product Summary: Initial Listing of Three (3) CBL California Carbon Allowance Vintage Specific Futures Contracts (2021, 2022, 2023) – Effective January 11, 2021
CME Group
Initial Listing of Three (3) CBL California Carbon Allowance Vintage Specific Futures Contracts (2021, 2022, 2023).

Product Modification Summary: Reduction of Minimum Price Increment of the Quarterly IMM and MPC SONIA Futures Contracts – Effective January 25, 2021
CME Group
Reduction of Minimum Price Increment of the Quarterly IMM and MPC SONIA Futures Contracts

Performance Bond Requirements: Agriculture and Energy Margins – Effective December 18, 2020
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below.

Performance Bond Requirements: Energy & Metal Margins – Effective December 18, 2020
CME Group
As per the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Clearing House Risk Management staff approved the performance bond requirements for the following products listed in the advisory at the link below. Please email any questions to

CME/CBOT/COMEX Exchange Transaction Fee Amendments Effective February 1, 2021
CME Group
Effective February 1, 2021, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. (“CME”), The Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. (“CBOT”), and Commodity Exchange, Inc. (“COMEX”) will increase certain transaction fees as more specifically described in the tables below.

CME Globex Notices: December 14, 2020
CME Group
Critical System Updates
New Resource for Critical Configuration Files
iLink 2 on MSGW Decommission – February 26, 2021
Update on Order Routing and Front-End Audit Trail Requirements for iLink 3
Removal of Korea Exchange (KRX) Markets on CME Globex – This Week
iLink 3 SBE Schema Update – January 24, 2021
Phase 1 CME FX Link Enhancements – February 21, 2021
Phase 1 CME FX Link Enhancements: Drop Copy Impact – February 21, 2021

EBS Market Integration Notice: New Content
CME Group
In Q4 2021, subject to applicable regulatory approvals, EBS Market’s Central Limit Order Book and eFix Matching Service will launch on CME Globex. You will receive subsequent notices with additional details and actions required to support the EBS Market integration onto CME Globex.

CME STP Notices: December 17, 2020
CME Group
CME STP Support of BrokerTec Markets – January 18, 2021
Update – New Aggressor Indicator Flag on CME STP – January 24, 2021 UPDATE
Enhancements for Exercise and Assignment Trades on CME STP – January 25, 2021
BrokerTec Stream on CME STP – February 1, 2021
CME STP FIXML API Connectivity Documentation

SGX welcomes G.H.Y Culture & Media Holding to Mainboard
Singapore Exchange (SGX) today welcomed the listing of G.H.Y Culture & Media Holding on its Mainboard under the stock code “XJB”. G.H.Y Culture & Media Holding (G.H.Y.) is an entertainment business focused on the production and promotion of dramas, films and concerts in the Asia-Pacific region. The company has produced several dramas and films in the PRC, Singapore and Malaysia that have been broadcasted and/or distributed on major TV networks and leading video streaming platforms in the PRC. It has also undertaken the production of concerts for well-known international artistes in Singapore, with upcoming concerts to be held in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. G.H.Y. also provides talent management services and costumes, props and makeup services in the PRC and Singapore.

Publication of the “Recommended Directions for Further Promotion of Corporate Governance Reform”
The Council of Experts Concerning the Follow-up of Japan’s Stewardship Code and Japan’s Corporate Governance Code (Chairman: Kanda Hideki, Professor, Gakushuin University Law School) has published the opinion statement No.5 ” Board Effectiveness and Ensuring Diversity in the Core Human Resources in Companies for Post-COVID Transformation of Companies “.

Thailand Futures Exchange Presents TFEX Best Awards 2020 To Four Brokers
Thailand Futures Exchange PCL (TFEX) today announced winners of four categories of TFEX Best Awards 2020. Kiatnakin Phatra Securities pcl won Most Active House award, Country Group Securities pcl won Most Active Agent award, KGI Securities (Thailand) pcl won Most Active Prop-Trading award, and MTS Gold Futures Co., Ltd. won Market Maker Best Performance award.


Gojek Buys Slice of Indonesian Bank in Biggest Fintech Deal Yet
Yoolim Lee and Yudith Ho – Bloomberg
The ride-hailing giant paid about $159.5 million for shares; Gojek is vying with Grab to set up regional fintech services
Indonesian internet giant Gojek paid about $160 million to increase its stake in PT Bank Jago, making its biggest investment in financial services to date. GoPay, Gojek’s payments and financial services arm, bought almost 1.96 billion shares at 1,150 rupiah apiece, according to a stock exchange filing. The internet firm used call options to acquire its stake, completing the deal at a steep discount to Friday’s close of 3,900 rupiah and paying about 2.25 trillion rupiah ($159.5 million) in total. Combined with an existing stake of 4.14%, the additional investment takes Gojek’s holding in Bank Jago to 22.16%.

Robinhood Pays $65 Million Fine to Settle Charges of Misleading Customers
Nathaniel Popper and Michael J. de la Merced – The New York Times
Robinhood, a fast-growing financial app, has attracted millions of young customers in recent years by making it fun and free to trade stocks, as well as riskier investments like options and Bitcoin. Now the same practices that drove Robinhood’s success are increasingly leading to fines, complaints and scrutiny from state and federal regulators. On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Robinhood had misled its customers about how it was paid by Wall Street firms for passing along customer trades and that the start-up had made money at the expense of its customers. Robinhood agreed to pay a $65 million fine to settle the charges, without admitting or denying guilt.

Ant Group removes small banks’ online deposit products from its platform as it toes the line with China’s new fintech rules; Small and medium-sized banks across China have used digital platforms as a way of attracting deposits
PBOC official worries such online-deposit products have high returns and low thresholds for accepting customers
Alison Tudor-Ackroyd, Enoch Yiu – South China Morning Post
Ant Group, China’s dominant online payments service provider, has removed the deposit-taking products of several banks from its financial platform, as it falls in line to comply with tightening regulations in the world’s largest fintech market.


Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinbase Says It Filed to Go Public
Olga Kharif and Michael Hytha – Bloomberg
Announcement comes as Bitcoin hits record high this week; Coinbase going public seen as ‘watershed’ for crypto industry
Coinbase Global Inc., the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, said it has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public it what’s anticipated to be a break-through moment for the industry.

*****See also: FT’s coverage of this story, Coinbase files for US listing in first for a cryptocurrency exchange; San Francisco company to follow spate of tech listings as bitcoin hits record; the WSJ’s story, Bitcoin Exchange Coinbase Files for Initial Public Offering; and The Block’s story, Coinbase files confidential S-1 ahead of potential IPO.~MR

Quants Ride Into Crypto Wild West in the 500% Bitcoin Comeback
Justina Lee – Bloomberg
Systematic traders dabble in crypto momentum, price arbitrage; Vol and market inefficiencies offer opportunity and challenge
Three years ago, Doug Greenig stopped trading the momentum of the S&P 500 to bet on everything exotic from Malaysian palm oil and Chinese plastic to Colombian interest rates. Today, the founder of $820 million Florin Court Capital trades in some 350 alternative markets — and none have felt as wild, lucrative or cutting-edge as Bitcoin. As it soars past $22,000 for the first time, Greenig and a growing number of his peers are trying to exploit systematic rules like trend-following and price arbitrage in the booming world of crypto.

CoinFLEX Sets Up Short-Term Lending Facility for Crypto Traders
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrency futures exchange CoinFLEX is setting up a blockchain-based market for unsecured lending as the digital currency boom continues. Firms can borrow U.S. dollars and Bitcoin for short-term trading purposes, with the note tokens expected to offer a yield of 8% to 10%, according to a CoinFLEX statement and Chief Executive Officer Mark Lamb. Lenders will also be compensated with 30% of the borrower’s trading fees for the first 12 months, the statement showed.

Japan’s SBI, Securitize Bringing Security Tokens to Crypto Wallet for Institutions
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
SBI Digital Asset Holdings is to integrate its institution-focused digital assets wallet with the digital securities platform from Securitize, a regulated U.S.-headquartered firm. In an announcement, Securitize’s Japanese arm said the integration would enable users of the “sbiwallet” to sell, issue and manage tokenized securities directly within the app. Securitize, which is regulated in the U.S. by the Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA as a transfer agent and broker-dealer, offers a way to issue and sell blockchain tokens representing securities and manage them over their lifecycle.

FCA Registration U-Turn Still Leaves Costs for UK Startups
Benedict George – Coindesk
The U.K. financial services regulator admitted defeat this week in its effort to register all of the country’s crypto-asset firms by Jan. 10, too late for firms that already racked up costs preparing for that deadline while they awaited registration. Back in January 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that no firm would be allowed to engage in “crypto-asset activity” in the U.K. after Jan. 10, 2021, unless it was registered. But with less than a month until that date, the FCA’s website only lists four registered firms, of which two are subsidiaries of Gemini. Zero new registrations have been processed in the last three months.

Stellar Development Foundation invests in Settle Network to support stablecoin-based payment too
MK Manoylov – The Block
The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) invested $3 million worth of Stellar lumens in Latin American cross-border payment and exchange platform Settle Network. The investment is intended to bolster Settle’s stablecoin-centered payment tools. Settle Network recently launched StableX, a stablecoin exchange, with the goal of building a Latin American foothold in the fiat-to-crypto market as well as in its home in Argentina.

DeFi lending protocol Warp Finance attacked, lost $7.7 million worth of stablecoins
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Decentralized finance (DeFi) lending protocol Warp Finance has experienced a flash loan attack that resulted in a loss of $7.7 million worth of stablecoins. Warp said the attack essentially allowed one user to borrow more funds than their collateral value, resulting in a loss for other users or lenders. Flash loans allow users to borrow funds without collateralization, provided the funds are repaid within a single blockchain transaction.

Deribit’s New Options Allow Bitcoin Traders to Bet on Rally to $100K
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
Bitcoin traders can now bet on a potential price rise to $100,000 via crypto derivatives exchange Deribit’s new options contracts. Call and put options at the $100,000 strike price expiring on Sept. 24, 2021, went live on Deribit Thursday. “A few trades have taken place, as thus far 45 [call option] contracts have been traded,” Luuk Strijers, chief commercial officer at Deribit, told CoinDesk.

Paxos, Firm Powering PayPal’s Crypto Service, Raises $142M
Zack Seward – Coindesk
Paxos has raised a fresh $142 million to facilitate the mainstream adoption of digital assets. “We think that opportunity is now, our investors think it is, too,” Paxos co-founder and CEO Charles Cascarilla told CoinDesk in an interview. “We want to really be able to put the pedal to the metal to make sure that we take advantage of that.” The Series C round was led by Declaration Partners, which is backed by the family office of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. Also joining the round were Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital, newly formed Alua Capital and PayPal Ventures. Notably, PayPal’s new bitcoin (BTC, -1.53%) offering is powered by Paxos’ crypto brokerage service.

Goldman Says Bitcoin’s Surging Popularity Won’t Harm Gold
Ranjeetha Pakiam – Bloomberg
Digital currency not existential threat for bullion, bank says; Two assets can coexist, although there’s ‘some substitution’
Gold and Bitcoin can coexist, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said, while the largest digital currency may be pinching some demand from the oldest of havens, the precious metal’s standing will endure.

Sure, Bitcoin’s Price Is Cool, but Bitcoin’s Technology Is Hot
Colin Harper – Coindesk
As a wave of institutional liquidity pours into Bitcoin’s markets, even some of its staunchest critics are finding it hard to dismiss the 12-year-old asset as its price surges to new all-time highs.

Introducing Bitcoin Zero [BTC0]: Real Bitcoin, Net Zero Emissions
Today Universal Protocol Alliance (UPA), a coalition of leading blockchain companies launches Bitcoin Zero (BTC0): real Bitcoin, net zero emissions. Bitcoin Zero is a wrapper token that consists of 1 BTC which has been rendered carbon neutral at the time of minting by the retiring of 10 tonnes of REDD+ carbon credits in the form of 10 Universal Carbon, UPCO2 tokens. Bitcoin Zero (BTC0) will be available for trading today on digital money platform Uphold.


AP sources: Biden to pick Rep. Haaland as interior secretary
Ellen Knickmeyer – Associated Press
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, according to two people familiar with the decision, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations. Tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, cheered Haaland’s selection after urging Biden for weeks to choose Haaland. They stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination.

Deripaska’s Rusal Role Was Flagged for U.S. Sanctions Review
Alan Katz, Kitty Donaldson, and Stephanie Baker – Bloomberg
Pact called for blacklisted Russian to step back at Rusal, EN+; Influence seen over management, in bid to undermine China
European officials have provided information to the U.S. government indicating that Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska continued to exert control this year over United Co. Rusal International PJSC, which the officials say was a breach of a U.S. sanctions agreement reached in 2018.

Joe Biden’s financial team could create a giant stock bubble
Paul Lamonica – CNN
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has made abundantly clear that he is more concerned about the challenging job market than the possibility that more stimulus may eventually lead to higher inflation. It’s a view shared by his former boss — Janet Yellen.

Jacob Rees-Mogg brands UNICEF donation to feed UK children a ‘political stunt’ – and says it ‘should be ashamed’
Greg Heffer – Sky News
One of the world’s leading children’s organisations should be “ashamed” of a “political stunt of the lowest order” by helping to feed children in the UK, a cabinet minister has told MPs. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, hit out at UNICEF after the organisation this week pledged £25,000 to the charity School Food Matters.


FCA did not ‘effectively supervise’ collapsed mini-bond issuer LCF, says report; Bondholders ‘were entitled to expect, and receive, more protection’ from UK financial regulator
Matthew Vincent – FT
The UK financial watchdog “did not effectively supervise and regulate” the mini-bond issuer London Capital & Finance, an independent review into its 2019 collapse has found.

Google accused of abusing search monopoly as antitrust cases mount; Thirty-eight US attorneys-general challenge deals they say freeze out rival search services
Richard Waters – FT
Dozens of states and territories have launched the first US antitrust challenge to Google’s core search engine, the latest in a spate of lawsuits targeting the internet company. The bipartisan group of 38 attorneys-general took aim at what it claimed were deliberate moves by the search giant to block rival services from reaching users.

EU regulator launches revamp of insurance rules; Changes to Solvency II regime will take account of effect of ultra-low interest rates
Oliver Ralph – FT
The EU’s insurance regulator has launched a revamp of its Solvency II capital regime, promising that it will take account of the impact of ultra-low interest rates on the insurance industry.

ASIC commences civil penalty proceedings against La Trobe Financial Asset Management Ltd
ASIC has today commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against La Trobe Financial Asset Management Ltd (La Trobe) in its capacity as the responsible entity of the La Trobe Australian Credit Fund (the Fund).

Former director disqualified from managing companies for five years
Guy Powis of West Perth, WA, has been disqualified from managing companies for five years for his involvement in failed companies.

Queensland director disqualified from managing corporations for five years
Kevin Humphries of Thornlands, Queensland, has been disqualified from managing corporations for the maximum period of five years. Between 20 July 2017 and 11 December 2020, Mr Humphries was a director of three companies involved in the recruitment and labour hire industries. The three companies failed within the last three years:

ESMA registers DTCC Data Repository (Ireland) PLC as trade repository under EMIR and SFTR
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU supervisor of trade repositories (TRs), has registered today DTCC Data Repository (Ireland) PLC as a TR under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) and the Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (SFTR), with effect from 23 December 2020.

ESMA consults on the impact of algorithmic trading
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets regulator, has today launched a consultation seeking input from market participants on the impact of requirements under MiFID II/MiFIR regarding algorithmic trading, including high-frequency algorithmic trading.

ESMA Publishes Cloud Outsourcing Guideline
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s securities markets authority, has today published the final report on its guidelines on outsourcing to cloud service providers (CSPs).

Statement on the Renaming of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations to the Division of Examinations

SEC Approves 2021 PCAOB Budget and Accounting Support Fee
The Securities and Exchange Commission voted today to approve the 2021 budget of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the related annual accounting support fee.

CFTC Staff Extends Temporary No-Action Relief from the Trade Execution Requirement for Certain Affiliated Counterparties
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Market Oversight (DMO) today extended previously issued no-action relief from the trade execution requirement for certain inter-affiliate transactions.

Statement of Commissioner Dawn D. Stump Before Global Markets Advisory Committee Meeting
Good morning and welcome to the final Global Markets Advisory Committee (GMAC or Committee) meeting of 2020.
I would like to begin by thanking Chairman Tarbert and my fellow Commissioners for attending today’s meeting. Your contributions to the discussion are much appreciated. I also want to recognize that due to the global nature of this Committee, there are many participating in less than ideal local time zones, and I am very grateful for their willingness to do so. I would especially like to thank all of today’s esteemed presenters for being here and for taking the time out of your busy schedules to contribute to today’s important discussion. Additionally, I would like to thank Chair Angie Karna for her leadership of the GMAC and Andrée Goldsmith, the GMAC Designated Federal Officer, for organizing today’s meeting.

SD holiday filing requirements
Visit NFA’s website to view the schedule of 2021 swap dealer (SD) holiday filings. We recommend viewing the calendar and keeping this Notice as a reference for the upcoming 2021 holiday filing requirements.

Blue Gate Capital Limited ordered to pay Connaught investors £203,007
The FCA has publicly censured Blue Gate Capital Limited (Blue Gate) and ordered it to pay £203,007 in restitution to investors who lost money investing in the Connaught Income Fund, Series 1 (the Fund).

Court allows appeal against FCA in introducer case
Amy Austin – FT Adviser
The Court of Appeal has granted unregulated introducer Alexandra Associates UK and directors Craig Lummis and Lee Lummis permission to appeal their case against the regulator over the transfer of £92m in pension assets.

Credit Suisse faces anti-money laundering charges linked to Bulgarian mafia; The bank has been accused of failing to take all the measures that were reasonable to prevent the laundering of assets belonging to and under control of the criminal organisation
Paul Clarke – Financial News
Credit Suisse has been drawn into a criminal investigation by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland into money laundering related to a Bulgarian mafia allegedly responsible for trafficking drugs.

Autorité Des Marchés Financiers Adjusts Its Annual And Other Fees
As of January 1, 2021, the annual and other fees payable under the laws administered by the Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) will be adjusted.

Investing and Trading

Who Counts as a Retail Investor? With the growth in retail trading this year, it’s time to look in more detail at who exactly is a retail trader, what they trade and how the market works for them
Phil Mackintosh – Nasdaq
With the growth in retail trading this year and plans to deepen the Securities Information Processor (SIP) data that retail uses, it’s time to look in more detail at who exactly is a retail trader, what they trade and how the market works for retail investors.

A $19 Billion Player Enters Battle for Thematic Funds in Europe
Ksenia Galouchko – Bloomberg
New York-based Global X lists two products on London exchange; CEO Berruga expects to hire in sales and capital markets
One of the major players in the U.S. market for thematic exchange-traded funds is firing the first shots in its bid to conquer Europe. New York-based Global X is launching two new products in the region on Friday, its first foray into the $1.3 trillion European industry — the world’s second-largest after the U.S.

Copper Tops $8,000 as Goldman Points to Commodities Super-Cycle
Bloomberg News
Rising demand, supply snags and weaker dollar lift prices; Global inventories have sunk to the lowest level in six years
Copper topped $8,000 a ton for the first time in more than seven years, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and BlackRock Inc. pointing to the start of a new long-term bull market as supply lags an expected demand boom.

Can the UK stock market get its mojo back? London is struggling with weak returns and a lack of big tech stocks
Daniel Thomas – FT
When The Hut Group floated in September at a £5.4bn valuation, the online retailer’s chief financial officer rang a small bell in its offices near Manchester airport.

At Least 240,000 Chickens Are Killed in Fire at Florida Egg Farm; The financial loss from the fire, which destroyed two barns owned by Cal-Maine Foods in Dade City, Fla., was estimated at $1 million, officials said.
Neil Vigdor – NY Times
At least 240,000 chickens were killed early Thursday when a fire swept through two densely packed barns in Florida owned by one of the nation’s largest distributors of eggs, the authorities said.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Greener Beer, Cleaner Buses and More Good Climate News; Finding signs of progress in the latest issue of our magazine
Leslie Kaufman – Bloomberg
The third issue of Bloomberg Green is out, and readers can now browse through the complete run of digital stories from the magazine’s pages. There are big pieces examining the carbon offsets sold to corporate giants, the climate-forward direction of European architecture, the future of coal in China, and the hope for building a sewage-treatment system for the skies.

Copper bulls bet green agenda will push metal on towards record high; Surge in sustainable energy projects sends metal to $8,000 for first time since 2013
Neil Hume – FT
A growing number of analysts and investors view copper’s recent rally as the first leg of a “green-tinted” bull market that could carry the metal past the record high of more than $10,000 a tonne that it reached in early 2011.

ESG Investors Are Being Duped
Ross Gerber – Forbes
The essential premise of so-called ESG funds is that your investments reflect your values. Unfortunately, if you genuinely prize social responsibility, protecting the environment and good corporate governance, it’s challenging to find a fund that reflects those principles entirely. In fact, many such funds are packed with big names that have a minimally positive or even overall negative impact by any logical evaluation of environmental, social and governance standards, including the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook and J.P. Morgan.

Rising ESG Demand Has Helped Debt Issuers Lower Borrowing Costs
ETF Trends via Nasdaq
s socially responsible investment strategies gain popularity, new data shows that the influx of new money is starting to make an impact on green bond issuers. For example, a growing body of research reveals that companies and governments that borrow using so-called green bonds are saving some money, the Wall Street Journal reports.

ICE to host UK carbon trading from next year
David Sheppard – FT
Intercontinental Exchange has confirmed it will be the venue for UK carbon allowances to start trading in 2021 after the government backed a post-Brexit emissions trading system in its energy white paper this week. The UK Emissions Trading System, which will be closely modelled on the EU system that UK companies have been part of for almost 15 years, is designed to raise the cost of polluting over time, and is seen as a key pillar of the UK’s plans to tackle climate change.

How Farmers Can Help Reduce Carbon Emissions
The world needs to reach net negative emissions in less than three decades. It means we’ll have to rely on other methods to capture carbon dioxide. And, luckily, there are quite a few available. Bloomberg’s Akshat Rathi has more in this installment of “Net Zero.”


World’s Richest Banker Made $16 Billion After a Brush With Death
Suvashree Ghosh and Anto Antony – Bloomberg
India’s Uday Kotak now has a net worth of $16 billion; Kotak Mahindra Bank shares are up more than peers this year
If it weren’t for a cricket accident that almost killed him, Uday Kotak probably wouldn’t be the world’s richest banker. A ball that hit him in the head and led to an emergency surgery pushed a 20-year-old Kotak to abandon his dream of becoming a professional player. After a brief stint at the family’s cotton-trading business, he went on to pursue his MBA at the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai before starting out in finance in 1985 at the age of 26.

BlackRock revamps style ETFs with retail investors in mind; The nine iShares will switch to new Morningstar indices that will go live in January
Jackie Noblett – FT
BlackRock will revamp a set of iShares Morningstar-backed ETFs to better reflect how retail investors allocate to growth and value stocks.

Bonds specialist joins BCS Global Markets as deputy head of fixed income research; Kiti Pantskhava joins BCS Global Markets as deputy head of research for fixed income based in London bringing with her 20 years of industry experience.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
BCS Global Markets has appointed a fixed income industry veteran, Kiti Pantskhava, as its new deputy head of fixed income research. Kiti Pantskhava joins the Russian brokerage with 20 years of industry experience, most recently serving as a senior credit analyst at investment research firm Tellimer for two and a half years.

Northern Trust wins unique outsourcing mandate from Strategic Global Advisors; Northern Trust has won a unique servicing mandate from US hedge fund Strategic Global Advisors, where it will provide middle-office outsourcing and FX dealing.
Joe Parsons – The Trade
The mandate signifies the shifting outsourcing trends from hedge funds, moving from traditional back-office outsourcing to include greater parts of the trading desk.

Goldman Sachs to go live with SIGMA X Europe MTF on 21 December; The SIGMA X EU MTF will launch on 21 December in Paris at Goldman Sachs ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
US investment bank Goldman Sachs will launch its Sigma X EU trading venue on 21 December in preparation for the UK leaving the European Union on 31 December.

Give Citigroup’s Bankers a Three-Month Break. Why Not? The Wall Street giant’s sabbatical plan should be applauded. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our work-life balance must improve.
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
Like many of his fellow bank bosses, Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mike Corbat isn’t convinced that remote working should become the norm after the pandemic. But he clearly thinks an improvement is needed in the work-life balance of finance industry workers.


US investor Tishman Speyer pins hopes on Paris property bounceback from pandemic; Owner of New York’s Rockefeller Center invests EUR750m as it predicts demand for offices returning
David Keohane and George Hammond – FT
US property investor Tishman Speyer has ploughed more than EUR750m into Paris office buildings in recent weeks, betting that the French capital will still be a magnet for companies after the pandemic. The investment by the group, whose almost $100bn portfolio includes New York’s Rockefeller Center, comes as Covid-19 cases continue to climb in France and the government urges people to avoid commuting into offices.

US adds China’s largest chipmaker to export blacklist; SMIC shares fall in Hong Kong as Trump administration moves to tighten screws
James Politi and Hudson Lockett – FT
The US commerce department has placed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation on its export blacklist, tightening the screws on China’s biggest chipmaker and ramping up technology tensions with Beijing.

South Korea’s Zombie Companies Are Scarier Than the Movies;The pandemic has exacerbated South Korea’s burgeoning corporate debt, too much of which is going to ossifying firms and dragging on the country’s economic potential
Mike Bird – WSJ
In 2016, the South Korean zombie film “Train to Busan” took the world by storm. In 2019, Netflix’s “Kingdom” followed. Next year, the focus may be on the country’s zombie companies.


Barnier Gives Johnson Fishing Ultimatum as Brexit Reaches Climax
Ian Wishart and Alex Morales – Bloomberg
EU’s chief negotiator says talks are in their ‘last few hours’; U.K. controls on fishing will cost access to the single market
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he will have to to accept limits on access to the single market in return for greater control over fishing — or face no deal.

Brexit disruption leaves nasty taste for fine wine trade; Plans to roll over protectionist EU rules on wine imports illustrate the friction to come for many businesses
Pilita Clark – FT
Of all the pitfalls looming as the UK lurches towards its final parting from the EU, few are more baffling than the one unfolding in a draughty warehouse by the river Thames, east of London. The site is run by Britain’s Liv-ex, a global wine trading group few Britons may have heard of, and stacked inside are row upon row of the world’s finest wines. Château Lafite. Petrus. Krug. Cristal.

‘Just a few hours’ left to agree Brexit trade deal, says Michel Barnier
BBC News
There are “just a few hours left” for the UK and EU to agree a post-Brexit trade deal, says Michel Barnier. Speaking in the European Parliament on Friday, the EU’s chief negotiator said it was “the moment of truth” for the two sides to come to an agreement. He said there was still a “chance” of a deal, but the “path is very narrow”. Boris Johnson said the UK side was willing to “keep talking”, but added: “Things are looking difficult and there is a gap that needs to be bridged.”

Christmas Canceled for Traders as Brexit Goes Down to the Wire
Greg Ritchie and Viren Vaghela – Bloomberg
For London traders hoping to unplug over the Christmas break, their managers have a message: be ready to work. With Brexit still unresolved before the year-end deadline, many firms are warning staff that the usually quiet festive period could turn frantic. Traders are being told to have their laptops close to hand or return to the office when news breaks. “It’s not all ‘down tools’ on Christmas Eve to the fourth of January, unfortunately,” said Neil Burns, operations director at foreign exchange trader Monex Europe. “The planning and uncertainty has easily been the most difficult thing we’ve seen.”

EU, UK leaders concede big gaps remain in post-Brexit talks
Samuel Petrequin and Pan Pylas – Associated Press
The U.K. and the European Union provided sober updates Thursday on the state of post-Brexit trade discussions, with only two weeks to go before a potentially chaotic split. While Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union’s executive commission, noted “substantial progress on many issues,” she voiced concerns about the discussions taking place around fishing rights. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also warned that that a no-deal outcome seemed “very likely.” The two spoke early Thursday evening, their latest in a series of conversations in the past couple of weeks aimed at unclogging the talks which have moved at a snail’s pace ever since the U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31.


Chat Service Discord Doubles Valuation to $7 Billion; The service popular among videogamers raises $100 million as it aims to go mainstream
Marc Vartabedian and Rolfe Winkler – WSJ
Chat startup Discord Inc. roughly doubled its valuation to $7 billion in a financing that comes amid the service’s efforts to expand its user base beyond videogamers. The San Francisco-based company said it raised $100 million in a funding round led by venture-capital firm Greenoaks Capital, which was already an investor in the company. Discord makes voice- and text-communication software that is popular among computer and mobile gamers because it allows them to hang out and talk with their friends and communities. The service’s rise coincides with the explosion in popularity and valuation of online multiplayer games such as Epic Games Inc.’s “Fortnite.”

An Elixir From the French Alps, Frozen in Time; Only two monks know the full recipe for Chartreuse, and even in the pandemic they stuck to their Middle Ages motto: “The cross is steady while the world turns.”
Marion Renault – NY Times
When the world went into lockdowns this year, the monks of Chartreuse simply added another tick to their 900-year record of self-imposed isolation.

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