Hits & Takes
Our Page Of The Day yesterday was industry legend Robert J. O’Brien, who turned 100 years old yesterday. His contributions to the industry and interviews with Mr. O’Brien were documented in the RJO O’Brien Centennial Video about the firm’s own 100 year anniversary in 2014, a video produced by John Lothian Productions.~JK
Longtime accounting and back office professional Mark Connelly has left the futures industry. He started a new position as senior vice president – operations for All Clean Services responsible for running the Midwest Region. His responsibilities include managing and growing the operations and customer partnerships in the Midwest Region. I first met Mark when our oldest sons played in a YMCA basketball program.~JJL
Can Richard Sandor hit another home run? His American Financial Exchange (AFX) has grown its membership from just six banks when it launched in December 2015 to 80 members on March 9. It also posted a record day and week last week.~JK
A quick recap of a tech rabbit hole: LEO stands for “low earth orbit” (link to a recap of a satellite conference) and refers to a type of satellite deployment. While it might be the key for global internet coverage/access, it also has potential implications for data connectivity in the latency sensitive trading space. One of the big LEO players is Elon Musk’s SpaceX (link to SpaceX site).~SD
The Civic Federation in Chicago has partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to co-host “Navigating Pension Reform in Illinois: What Lies Ahead?” Held at the Federal Reserve Bank, 230 S. LaSalle Street, on April 17th from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., it will feature distinguished government, nonprofit and financial sector panelists. They will advance the conversation on the future of public pensions in Illinois and introduce the new Kearney Center for Public Pension Reform. Friends of the Civic Federation and their colleagues pay only $65 for this half-day conference and luncheon. You can RSVP HERE.~JJL
The @JohnLothian Twitter account has achieved a 100% relevancy score on the site Streeteye.com, which votes on the top financial news stories. We are the top ranked Twitter handle for relevancy on the site, more than 21 percentage points higher than the number two ranked Twitter account.~JJL
This Is No Way to Run the U.S. Stock Market; Private interests are corrupting its public purpose.
John Ramsay, IEX – Bloomberg
When my employer, IEX Group Inc., received its stock exchange license two years ago, I gained a seat on the committees that oversee much of the critical infrastructure of the U.S. equity markets. From that insider’s perspective, I’ve come to a troubling conclusion: Private interests are corrupting the markets’ public purpose.
****The SIP and the CAT get attention in the same piece?! And it’s fiery?! How about that? Coincidentally, IEX sparring partner Nasdaq also has some some insight on the SIP via TabbForum – Revenues Trend Down for U.S. Stock Market Data Backbone. That story is in “Leads” as well.~SD
Heated Arguments Light Up The 43rd Annual FIA Boca Conference; Experts were pitted against one another and friction between speakers kept audience members on the edge of their seats.
Jessica Darmoni – Hehmeyer Blog
The Futures Industry Association (FIA) held their annual Boca conference last week in Boca Raton, Florida. While most panels saw smooth sailing, the conference was not without some strong opinions. Experts were pitted against one another and friction between speakers kept audience members on the edge of their seats.
Monday’s Top Three
Our top read stories yesterday were all CME-NEX, from three different angles, led by John Lothian’s take on it in Potential CME-NEX Deal Is Full of History, Dilemma, Risk and Reward. Second was the FT’s Decision time for Michael Spencer and his ‘beautiful’ creation Nex. Third was the CME Group Statement Regarding Potential Offer for NEX Group
122,337,730 pages viewed; 23,045 pages; 212,084 edits
SEC Urges Exchanges to End Standoff on Trading Data; Consolidated Audit Trail is meant to help regulators spot market manipulation and explain incidents like the ‘flash crash’
Dave Michaels – WSJ
The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday pressed exchanges to end a standoff that has delayed the launch of a massive database meant to track all activity in the stock and options markets.
Deutsche Boerse plans FX expansion through launch of new clearing house; Deutsche Boerse annual report outlined plans to launch new clearing house for foreign exchange.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Deutsche Boerse has announced plans to establish a foreign exchange clearing house ahead of a possible expansion of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) requirements to include other asset classes such as foreign exchange (FX).
HKEX working with ASX on blockchain
Emma Dunkley – FT
Hong Kong’s stock exchange is working with its Australian counterpart to share information on blockchain, as global exchanges accelerate plans for the technology in an attempt to compete and cut costs.
Making Sense of the World’s Cryptocurrency Rules
Regulations for exchanges, ICOs vary wildly across countries; Much of the crypto industry operates in a legal gray area
Getting your head around cryptocurrencies was hard enough before governments got involved. But now that policy makers around the world are drawing up fresh regulations on everything from exchanges to initial coin offerings, keeping track of what’s legal has become just as daunting as figuring out which newfangled token might turn into the next Bitcoin.
Global regulators turn up the heat on Facebook; Politicians call for company’s chief Mark Zuckerberg to testify about privacy breach
Kadhim Shubber, Mehreen Khan and Barney Thompson – FT
Regulatory scrutiny of Facebook is ramping up around the world after revelations that an analytics firm used by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign improperly received data about 50m users of the social network.
****Other sources: CNBC – Facebook security chief is reportedly leaving; The Verge – Facebook will hold an emergency meeting; Washington Post – Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg need to come clean about 2016; and CNN – Is your data safe on Facebook? Not really
EU Offers U.K. ‘Improved’ Equivalence for Financial Services
Nikos Chrysoloas – Bloomberg
EU proposal is based on unilateral equivalence system; New draft negotiating guidelines obtained by Bloomberg
The European Union will consider offering the U.K. “improved equivalence” for financial services after Brexit, according to the latest draft of the bloc’s negotiating position, a system Britain has rejected as “wholly inadequate.”
What if there was no online marketing?
Nicc Lewis – FinanceFeeds
Expozive CEO and FX industry marketing, branding and public relations specialist Nicc Lewis delves deep into Google and Facebook’s stance on FX advertising, and looks at how to conduct good quality marketing and gain wide coverage to a good audience going forward.
Revenues Trend Down for U.S. Stock Market Data Backbone
Oliver Albers, Nasdaq via TABB Forum
Information is the lifeblood of markets. The consolidated market data feed and infrastructure that links U.S. securities exchanges and trading systems enables investors to trade instantaneously and execute every trade at the best price possible. Unique to the United States, this market data backbone, known as the SIP (for Securities Information Processors), is operated by a group of exchanges and trading firms overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Whistleblowers Helped SEC Bring $415 Million Settlement Against Bank of America; SEC announces highest-ever whistleblower awards totaling about $83 million
Jenny Strasburg and Dave Michaels – WSJ
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced its biggest-ever whistleblower awards, with roughly $83 million combined going to three whistleblowers who helped the regulator reach a $415 million settlement with Bank of America Corp. BAC -0.59% , according to an SEC statement and a lawyer representing the whistleblowers.
****SEC announcement of the whistleblower awards here.
UBS Plans to Start MiFID Dark-Pool Workaround for Stock Trades
Viren Vaghela – Bloomberg
More than 600 stocks were barred from dark pools on March 12; More trades will flow through periodic auctions, UBS says
UBS Group AG is helping its clients to live without dark pools. The Swiss bank plans to start a periodic auction service next month, the head of its multilateral-trading facility said in an interview. That will enable companies to trade stocks that have been suspended from dark pools under MiFID II regulations.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
The American Financial Exchange (AFX) Announces Record Day & Week: Eighty members and membership representing a record of over $1 Trillion in assets.
Richard Sandor – LinkedIn
American Financial Exchange (AFX), electronic exchange for direct interbank lending and borrowing for American financial institutions, announced a record day and record week of of trading. On Thursday, March 15, $700 million were traded across all AFX products. For the entire week, a new record was set, with $2.5 billion traded. AFX facilitates the determination of Ameribor, a transaction-based interest rate benchmark for small- to mid-sized banks via its electronic trading platform. Since opening, more than $120 billion cumulative has been successfully transacted.
Short sterling futures business at decade high on BoE expectations
Philip Stafford – Financial Times
Trading in short-term sterling futures at Intercontinental Exchange, the US exchanges operator, has hit its highest level in a decade as investors position themselves for a hawkish Bank of England to push for a rate rise in the next few months.
****ICE press release here.
NSE: Severing ties with SGX won’t impact NSE: Ashok Chawla
Quashing all the conjectures that cutting ties with SGX (Singapore Stock Exchange) will put NSE in a spot, Ashok Chawla, Chairman, NSE has said that there will be no impact from the move.
Beyond MiFID II: LSEG focusing on the future; Brian Schwieger, global head of equities products at London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), talks to The TRADE
John Brazier – The Trade
“In terms of trading, 2018 will be a period of adjustment and experimentation,” says LSEG’s global head of equity products, Brian Schwieger, referencing the sweeping changes the markets are adapting to under the new MiFID II rules.
Ex-Deutsche Boerse CEO could receive another EUR9m over the next four years
Olaf Storbeck in Frankfurt – FT
Deutsche Boerse could be on the hook to pay its former chief executive Carsten Kengeter another EUR9m over the next four years, the German stock exchange revealed on Monday.
Deutsche Boerse places corporate bond of 600 million euros; Current market environment used for favorable refinancing
Deutsche Boerse AG
Deutsche Boerse AG has successfully placed a corporate bond in the amount of 600 million euros in the market. The bond is divided into shares of EUR1,000 each, has a term of ten years, a coupon rate of 1.125 percent per annum and will be listed in both the regulated market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. Deutsche Boerse AG is also planning a listing in the transparency segment, the Prime Standard for corporate bonds.
Blockchain, Bitcoin and Co: Understand the technology correctly; Deutsche Boerse’s Capital Markets Academy is organizing its first seminar from June 20 to 21
Deutsche Boerse AG
Blockchain technology was once developed as the basis for the crypto-currency Bitcoin. But it can do more – for example in digital business – to enable and archive transactions directly from user to user. Although the finance industry has quickly recognized the potential of Blockchain, there is often a lack of the right know-how. Through its Capital Markets Academy, Deutsche Boerse is now offering a seminar to help interested parties build up sound knowledge. The seminar, the first time from 20.-21. June in Eschborn near Frankfurt, is aimed primarily at employees of banks and capital management companies and is now a regular offering of the Capital Markets Academy.
SGX to report 3Q FY2018 results on 20 April
Singapore Exchange (SGX) is reporting its third-quarter (3Q) results for Financial Year 2018 (FY2018) after the market closes on 20 April 2018.
Advanced tech will be essential to fixed income trading in a post-MiFID II marketplace
While eighty-six per cent of firms have technology in place to comply with the MiFID II European regulation implementation date, the same percentage are currently in the process of re-configuring workflows, while 68 per cent are improving data collection.
CAIA embraces data with new digital initiative
James Comtois – Pensions and Investments
Telegram Loses Bid to Stop Russia From Getting Encryption Keys
Ilya Khrennikov – Bloomberg
Messaging service plans to appeal Supreme Court’s decision; Regulators could block Telegram service if it fails to comply
Telegram, the encrypted messaging app that’s prized by those seeking privacy, lost a bid before Russia’s Supreme Court to block security services from getting access to users’ data, giving President Vladimir Putin a victory in his effort to keep tabs on electronic communications.
Northern Trust Enables Audit Access for Private Equity Blockchain
Emilia David – WatersTechnology
The bank’s blockchain, developed with input from PwC Channel Islands and other Guernsey-based auditing firms, allows companies to gain access to information via the blockchain and perform real-time auditing. Audit companies have the ability to move the data to internal applications or to build their own tools to act on information from the blockchain.
UK’s first cryptocurrency mine open to qualified investors launches
The first investable British cryptocurrency mine has launched. The mine, which will be Britain’s biggest, will be open to qualified investors through a limited company – The Third Bladetec Bitcoin Mine Ltd – which is governed and protected by UK law.
HashChain Technology Votes to Promote Dash Cryptocurrency Awareness Initiatives in Brazil,
HashChain Technology Inc. today announced their vote to approve Dash proposals designed to help establish the cryptocurrency’s presence and build awareness in Brazil, Venezuela and Africa. HashChain holds a Dash masternode that grants the Company voting privileges on budget proposals funded by the Dash treasury and important decisions that affect the currency. HashChain also recently voted on two other Dash proposals to build a Dash Academy, and develop a retail payment system in the UK.
**** NOT to be confused with Dash Financial. The first event in Venezuela it funded was called “Help! There is a cryptocurrency in my soup!”
When Is a Bitcoin Not a Bitcoin? When It’s an Asset, Says G-20
Jess Shankleman – Bloomberg
Countries increasingly see cryptos as an asset, not a currency; Asset definition means countries could collect more taxes
Finance ministers seeking to crack down on tax evasion this week in Buenos Aires have cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin at the forefront of their minds.
Bitcoin Bust Reminds Morgan Stanley of Nasdaq Crash, But Faster
Camila Russo – Bloomberg
Bitcoin has long been compared to the dot-com bubble. Morgan Stanley says its recent moves are similar to the tech boom and bust, but on steroids.
Kyber Decentralized Crypto Exchange Goes Live; Trustless and decentralized means it holds no user funds
Adam Selene – Cryptobriefing.com
One month after a successful invitation-only beta launch, the highly-anticipated Kyber decentralized crypto exchange is now open to the public as a full beta.
Trump Prohibits U.S. Purchases of Venezuelan Cryptocurrency
Toluse Olorunnipa and Patricia Laya – Bloomberg
President Donald Trump banned U.S. purchases of a cryptocurrency the Venezuelan government is rolling out, as part of a campaign to pressure the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Trump ‘enthusiastic’ about reaching NAFTA deal – Canada’s Trudeau
U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be “enthusiastic” about coming to an agreement on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
How Lawrence Kudlow’s Rise Breathes New Life Into Indexing Capital Gains to Inflation; The idea is backed by Mr. Kudlow, the incoming director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council
Richard Rubin – WSJ
An old but provocative tax-policy ideaóadjusting capital gains for inflationóhas renewed life, thanks to a push from conservatives and a new ally in the White House.
Cambridge Analytica CEO Offered to Ensnare Politicians: Report
Robert Hutton – Bloomberg
The data firm accused of harvesting Facebook Inc. user profiles was captured in secret footage bragging about how it could use prostitutes and former spies to ensnare politicians and influence elections.
Mnuchin Takes Heat From Global Finance Chiefs Over Trade
Jana Random, Sales Mohsin, Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg
EU reps say collapse of multilateral system must be avoided; G-20 removes reference to risk of inward looking policies
Global finance chiefs were unusually blunt in warning that the U.S. had put the international trade order at risk as President Donald Trump pushes ahead with his “America First” agenda by imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Merrill Insiders Get $83 Million in SEC Whistle-Blower Awards
Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
Three individuals helped agency bring 2016 case, lawyer says; SEC didn’t name people involved, citing confidentiality rules
Three Merrill Lynch insiders will get more than $83 million from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — the biggest-ever payouts — for providing information that helped the agency bring a 2016 case against Bank of America Corp., their attorney said Monday.
The WFE Names Richard Metcalfe As Head Of Regulatory Affairs
The World Federation of Exchanges (“WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, is pleased to confirm the appointment of Richard Metcalfe as the Head of Regulatory Affairs for the WFE.
The Return of Haim Bodek
…Haim has been relatively quiet for the past few years (at least publicly) but he has just resurfaced as the whistleblower in the latest SEC case against the NYSE. Last week, we wrote about the details of this case and how the NYSE was fined $14 million by the SEC for five serious violations. Haim Bodek was the whistleblower for the most serious – in our view – of these five violations in which the NYSE failed to state that pegging interest orders created the possibility of detection of prices of non-displayed depth liquidity.
****Missed this last week.
Broker Charged With Repeatedly Putting Customer Assets At Risk
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Electronic Transaction Clearing (ETC), a registered broker-dealer headquartered in Los Angeles, has agreed to settle charges that it illegally placed more than $25 million of customers’ securities at risk in order to fund its own operations.
BNY Mellon’s MiFID II advisor appointed regulatory affairs head at WFE; Richard Metcalfe joins WFE as head of regulatory affairs, replacing Gavin Hill who will join the compliance team at the London Metal Exchange.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) has appointed industry veteran Richard Metcalfe as its new head of regulatory affairs.
UK’s FCA plots global expansion of FinTech sandbox; FCA FinTech sandbox creates safe space for firms to test new products and services.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The Financial Conduct (FCA) is looking to expand its FinTech regulatory sandbox operations to meet demand from firms to roll it out globally.
Regulatory reporting startup appoints European sales head from NEX Group; RegTek.Solutions bolsters sales team with new hires from NEX Group and SmartStream Technologies.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Regulatory reporting software provider RegTek.Solutions has appointed a new head of sales for Europe from NEX Group.
New York State Fund Snubs All-Male Boards; Campaign reflects growing impatience with pace of progress on gender diversity
Joann S. Lublin – WSJ
A major state pension fund intends to oppose the re-election of all directors at hundreds of U.S. corporate boards without a single woman.
High risks persist for European securities markets and investors, ESMA says
European securities markets, infrastructures and investors remain at risk, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) said today in its latest Trends, Risks, and Vulnerabilities (TRV) Report (No 1, 2018). ESMA also re-iterated its concerns about retail investors investing in speculative and risky products, such as virtual currencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
Updates to NFA swap dealer annual questionnaire
NFA’s Annual Questionnaire provides important information regarding Members’ business activities and operations. NFA has added a number of questions to the swap dealer (SD) Annual Questionnaire, which will provide NFA with information that was previously collected during the course of its examinations.
Investing and Trading
From Wall Street to weed: How the financial crisis lit up the pot industry
David Randall – Reuters
As a senior vice president at Wachovia and then Morgan Stanley during the dark months of the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis, Derek Peterson watched as colleagues lost their jobs and life savings and wondered if he was next.
Lower returns on horizon for venture capital
Arleen Jacobius – Pensions and Investments
Jonathan Grabel said venture capital has more binary win-or-lose outcomes than other asset classes.
Venture capital investors are going to have to lower their expectations for the asset class that, not that long ago, produced outsized returns, industry sources said.
Goldman Sees ‘Financial Fragility’ Rising in Markets
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Early-February VIX spike might be a symptom of a larger issue; There are reasons to believe ‘liquidity is the new leverage’
Markets are becoming their own worst enemies, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The stock-market rout in early February that caused a spike in the Cboe Volatility Index is a symptom of growing “financial fragility,” or big swings in prices caused by breakdowns in markets themselves as opposed to changes in fundamentals, an economist at the bank wrote Monday in a note to clients. To make matters worse, Goldman says there’s reason to be concerned about liquidity drying up during periods when markets are distressed.
Activist Investor Takes Major Stake in Barclays
Margot Patrick – WSJ
Barclays PLC came under further pressure to step up turnaround plans after activist investor Sherborne Investors said Monday it has taken a 5.2% stake in the bank.
Sherborne, founded by investor Edward Bramson, hasn’t said if it plans to seek any changes at the British bank, whose share price has lagged behind rivals in part because of questions about its business strategy combining investment banking, credit cards, and retail and commercial banking.
Is It Time to Adopt a Uniform Fee-Only Standard for Financial Advice?
Good financial advice is hardly ever free. But there’s a spirited debate over how investors should pay for it.
Many investors get their advice from brokers who earn commissions from the sale of products they recommend. Others seek the counsel of fee-only advisers, who don’t earn commissions; instead, these advisers charge fees that can be hourly or annual flat fees or a percentage of the client’s assets.
John Paulson’s Merger Arbitrage Fund Plunged at the Start of the Year
Hema Parmar, Katia Porzecanski and Katherine Burton – Bloomberg
Billionaire John Paulson can trace his loss of assets and senior executives to a familiar refrain: poor performance.
ADM restructures business groups as grain margins falter
P.J. Huffstutter, Tom Polansek – Reuters
Archer Daniels Midland Co said on Monday that it would restructure its business units, as the U.S. agricultural merchant seeks ways to remain competitive in the face of persistent tight margins in the global grains sector.
Goldman Sachs adds LPL Financial to its securities-lending business
Catherine Ngai – Reuters
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has signed LPL Financial Holdings, the largest U.S. independent broker-dealer by revenue, to its securities-based lending platform, the bank said on Tuesday.
City Credit Capital (UK) partners Argentina Clearing and ROFEX
City Credit Capital, a London based online multi-asset trading specialist, has formed a new partnership with Argentina Clearing and Rosario Futures Exchange (ROFEX).
A small oil field in Oklahoma is seeing big bets from producers
John Benny – Reuters
A little-known shale oil play in Oklahoma is attracting more drilling and investment as rising output from newer wells is enticing companies to boost production beyond the giant Permian basin in Texas.
The Meramec formation is a part of what is called the STACK region – Sooner Trend Anadarko basin Canadian and Kingfisher counties – where companies such as Marathon Oil and Devon Energy bought up acreage following the oil slump in 2014.
New investment drives revival of North Sea oil and gas; Up to 16 developments expected to receive go-ahead in next 12 months
Sylvia Pfeifer – FT
Energy companies are preparing to invest £5bn in new capital projects in the North Sea this year, according to the industry’s trade body, in the latest sign of recovery in the region after the oil price crash in 2014.
U.K. Announces New Crackdown on Irresponsible Company Directors
Alex Morales – Bloomberg
Measures come two months after the collapse of Carillion; Steps include fines, disqualification if firms sold recklessly
The U.K. government proposed a series of measures to punish directors who behave irresponsibly and protect workers and suppliers from the worst effects of bankruptcies.
China’s Born-Again Free Traders
David Fickling – Bloomberg
Presume not that China is the thing it was. That’s certainly the message Premier Li Keqiang intends to convey with his promise Tuesday to cut levies on imports. Almost simultaneously, Bloomberg News reported that the Trump administration will impose tariffs on as much as $60 billion of Chinese products as soon as this week. Have the world’s great protectionist and its leading free trader switched sides?
China’s New Central Banker Is Just as Important as the Fed’s
Eswar Prasad – NY Times
The recent appointment of Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve was the subject of intense scrutiny. After all, the Fed’s every action reverberates in international financial markets. The announcement on Monday of Yi Gang as the new governor of the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, received somewhat less notice.
China Approves Giant Propaganda Machine to Improve Global Image
Keith Zhai – Bloomberg
China approves merger of state-run media organizations: Person; New entity would mimic U.S.-funded ‘Voice of America’
China has approved the creation of one of the world’s largest propaganda machines as it looks to improve its global image, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A Brexit withdrawal agreement in name only; The EU and UK have agreed to keep things just the same for a while longer
David Allen Green – FT
A revised draft withdrawal agreement was published on Monday, and we can now see the likely shape of Brexit.
Brexit Deal Too Late to Stop Some EU Firms From Moving Business
Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Companies with U.K. suppliers have shifted operations: report; Some firms have increased their prices to cover Brexit costs
The U.K.’s transitional agreement to smooth its departure from the European Union is too late to stop some of Brexit’s fallout.
EU firms scale back presence in UK as Brexit nears – survey
One in seven businesses from European Union countries with a presence in Britain have moved parts of their business out of the country because of concerns about disruption after Brexit, according to a survey published on Tuesday.